‘WHAT game did you want to watch – we had some guys in here earlier asking for some random cricket match?”
You can understand the barmaid’s confusion.
This was the first Saturday of the Six Nations, Leeds Rhinos were playing, there was Premiership football – and later Leeds were at home to Norwich at the top of the Championship.
All of these were being televised live, and the Editor’s Draught prides itself on its multi-channel TV system, which allows customers to choose whatever they want to see.
“Actually, we’re here for the random cricket too,” I said, hoping to be able to catch a little of the test series from the West Indies over a late lunch, before heading up to Elland Road.
This famous old pub has been through myriad changes over the years, and in its latest guise it really caters for the sports fans.
Big screens around the bar ensure that wherever you choose to stand or sit, you’ll have a good view of the action; booking a booth allows you to indulge in whatever game you fancy.
Thankfully we had taken that precaution, and we are able to watch the cricket in privacy though the volume of the rugby commentary – and the enthusiasm of those watching it – easily drown out the gentler tones of David Lloyd and Michael Holding.
No matter, we pass a enjoyable hour and a half in a venue which has re-invented itself as a sports bar, since the closure and demolition of the Yorkshire Post building along the road robbed it of a very natural constituency.
No longer Scruffy Murphy’s, The Wellington or The Central, the current name at last honours that long-standing connection with journalism.
Typewriters in the window, and a huge mural of hot metal printing blocks play to the newspaper theme, as do a cocktail bar named Writer’s Block and a large function room upstairs where the local NUJ branch once held its meetings, which has been renamed the Press Box.
As you turn your back on the relentless Wellington Street traffic to walk through the front door, you find the bar is in its familiar position on the right.
Here the four real ale handpulls serve a changing choice of real ales, from which I choose a pint of the crisp and reliable Mary Jane from Ilkley Brewery.
The handpulls are flanked by two sizeable banks of bronze taps, where big-name lager brands compete for attention with the changing choice of six craft keg ales served from taps in the wall of the back bar.
The menu covers most of the significant pub food bases – pizzas, burgers, chilli, fish and chips, steak pie – and I go for the loaded mac and cheese, a sizeable portion of steaming macaroni topped with shreds of barbecued pork, and served with garlic bread and a side salad for good measure. It’s probably never going to win any cordon bleu prizes but it’s a hearty lunch before heading off to the football – and decent value at £8.50.
And on days like this, that’s really all that matters.