THEY’RE knocking our pub down.
So what if they tear down the place we first went in as nervous 15-year-olds to pay our football club tote money on Sunday nights and sneak a longing glance at our dads sitting rosy-faced among the curling smoke, drinking pints.
A year later we were back during a miners’ strike blackout to buy our own beer. Even in candlelight we looked 12.
They laughed and kicked us out.
The landlord and landlady, both ex-coppers of the ‘give the lads a chance’ sort, let us play in the games room from being 14.
Epic pool rounds, a hit-and-miss juke box, hours and hours of pinball, the odd darts match.
I took my first proper girlfriend in there and, to my shame, quickly realised it was much more fun to be playing table football - even in goal - than it was to sit looking into her eyes, lovely though they were.
Still, it’s only bricks and mortar.
It’s only the place where we would go after watching Monty Python and make it funnier than it had been on TV.
The place we met after Bohemian Rhapsody was first on Top Of The Pops. It’s hard to appreciate now how it’s originality divided opinion back then.
But we knew it was brilliant, straight away.
It was just a meeting place.
The place we met at to go to football and to Derby, Manchester, Nottingham and Sheffield on nights out.
We met to go on to Northern Soul nights, jazz nights, rock nights, punk nights, indecipherably bad music nights.
We met to go on trips to see David Bowie, Juventus, the West Indies and Taxi Driver.
It was the place two of our mates left from to go to a Derbyshire village to organise a party.
They never came back, killed in a car crash on the way home, aged 20 and 21.
It was where we all met the next day to be with each other, inconsolable, disbelieving and changed for ever.
We all still think of them most days.
It was just a place we were barred from for 12 hours for relieving ourselves outside at midnight after we staggered off a beer keller bus trip. We were back there at noon to apologise and clean up.
The place where one lad was going home one Sunday lunchtime, turned at the door and said, straight-faced to the landlady: “ Oh, I’d better have a box of matches, my dad’s gone out.”
It was the place we met so many times to go on to other places but never made it out the door.
Some nights in there were simply perfect. Though Tuesdays were always rubbish.
Just because we loved - and hated - the place like it was home doesn’t mean we care now.
Despite the fact that for almost ten years we drank and laughed so much and so often that others thought we weren’t quite right.
It doesn’t matter what its name was or where it stood.
They’ve knocked down thousands just like it all over the country and thousands more will go.
If they mattered to us we’d still be going to them in our millions and they wouldn’t be dying.
But we aren’t and they are.
Not enough of us.