TWO friends have been on a mission to sink a pint in every pub featured on a map of Portsmouth - before and after every Pompey home game last season.
And the pair completed their ultimate drinking challenge last Thursday after Portsmouth FC’s goals draw to Sunderland, managing to sink at least one drink in 142 city pubs.
Aaron Haggard and Dale Poulter, both from Gosport, were inspired to take on the mission after seeing a map of Portsmouth’s pubs called Pub Stops of Portsmouth hanging on the wall in the Red, White and Blue.
The artwork, created by John Coats and his design firm JJM Designs in 2015, shows 162 pubs in the style of a London tube map.
However, the pair soon came a cropper as the second stop on the map they tried to visit - the Royal Marine Artillery Tavern in Eastney - had actually closed down. As had 19 others featured.
Aaron, an air conditioning fitter, said: ‘I’ve had a Pompey season ticket for about 20 years. I have been going to games all my life. There’s a group of us that go and we always seemed to be going to the same places like the Ship Anson before and after the games.
‘On the first game of the season in August we saw the map hanging in the Red, White and Blue and it started as a joke but we thought it would be good to tick off all the pubs.
‘We started before the next game in Eastney, with the Eastney Tavern, but the next pub on the map the Royal Marine Tavern had shut down a couple of years ago. Then the next pub was closed too. So we thought we’d have to come up with a proper plan if we were going to tackle it.
‘That’s when we started mapping out each route to coincide with each home game, checking the pubs were still open and what their opening hours were, using a website called portsmouthpubs.org.uk.’
Aaron, 32, and Dale, 38, tried to visit an average of 10 pubs per game, some before and some after. However the map includes pubs as far away as Port Solent, Drayton and Cosham with large distances between them - so some games saw them either enlist help from a friend to drive them or involved long walks.
Aaron, who has been friends with Dale for about 15 years after meeting through a local football team, said: ‘We had a rule that we had to have a pint in each pub but by the end we were having a spirit. You get a bit bloated after 10 pints but we had at least one alcoholic drink in each pub.’
The pair finished on Thursday, saving the pubs in Old Portsmouth for last. They say their favourite pubs on their journey have been the Duke of Bucks and the Pembroke but they have enjoyed discovering others.
Aaron said: ‘At some points we were enjoying the pubs more than the football. We discovered some really good places like the Hole in the Wall, the King Street Tavern, the Auckland and Wave Maiden - all pubs that we would never have gone in if it wasn’t for the map.’
They have been documenting their visits on Instagram through Aaron’s page - cannon14aaron - and say they have been encouraged by the positive response so far.
Next season they say they would like to take on the new pubs of Portsmouth - with Staggeringly Good Brewery in Fratton being their first port of call.
But for now, Aaron urged everyone to support their local pubs.
He said: ‘For me it’s all about meeting people. I like to support local businesses too. There are a lot of good local pubs closing down. Twenty have already gone from the map in a short time.
‘Pubs are great places. We have met new friends and rekindled old friendships.
‘It’s all about getting out. I don’t really enjoy drinking at home. There’s a lot going on in the world and going out, having a pint with your mates, and talking about things, is a lot better than sitting at home and bottling things up.