hampden

Pie 126: The Queens Park “Cheese & Onion” Pie

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Welcome back to another edition of Meat Filled Pastries where we’re always on the hunt for some meaty thrills whilst holding back on the spills because a spilled pie leads to a sad guy.

Now unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of weeks we have seen the dawning of a new year and with it the thoughts of new hopes and expectations that it will bring. I’m not one for the phrase “New Year, New Me” philosophy that blights social media for those first few days of January but I do see it as an opportunity to set some goals and try new things.

It’s also the time of year where people declare their body a temple and health boards and charities across the country champion well-meaning campaigns such as “Dry January” and the awfully named “Veganuary”. Now this may perhaps come as a surprise to some but I am quite happy to eat a meal without meat, in fact when you consume the volume of Meat Filled Pastries that I do it is somewhat of a treat. However with that being said I cannot get on board with replacements such as “Facon” and “Tofurky”. I’ve got in to many a debate about this with non-meat eating friends before but for me if you don’t want to eat meat why are you then replacing it with things that look and (supposedly) taste like the things they don’t have any interest in eating? It’s an endless riddle to me. Most vegetarians are sound and rational people. Most vegans however, are in my experience (bar the odd exception), raving lunatics who must burn all of the 150 calories they consume a day telling the world that if you eat meat you deserve to burn in the depths of hell for having the audacity to like the occasional chicken nugget. It’s not my fault you’ve chosen a life of cauliflower “steaks”. I accept that as your life decision so don’t come preaching, and I mean preaching, to me because I don’t agree. All of which, kind of ironically, brings us to today’s pie review; The Queen’s Park Cheese & Onion Pie, a veggie (but not vegan) friendly option at the much debated home of Scottish football Hampden Park.

So without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

Where: Hampden Park, Queen’s Park 2-2 Albion Rovers, Scottish League One

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Price: A whooping £2.70. For a pie with zero meat in it. Now I’m making an assumption here but I’m guessing that pie prices for Queen’s Park games are dictated by someone other than the club as history has shown that a pie at a Scotland game will cost you exactly the same for a (supposedly) much higher level of football. I’m not even going to begin to claim to the understand the economics behind Queen’s Park playing at Hampden, and for what it’s worth I think they should continue to do so, but £2.70 for a pie definitely needs looking at when compared with their League One peers.

Presentation: The tin foil case of potential doom accompanied by a large white napkin for mopping up at this point the unknown treasures within.

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Meatiness Cheesy-Onionyness: Sigh. This was fairly rubbish. Always a disappointment in the pie game. Inside this pie was a mushy yellow and white paste that I presume was meant to be rich and cheesy with a strong onion linger in the background oozing as you pull away each bite and where you try to stop a small string of cheese getting stuck in your beard. Positively dreamy.

What actually happened was the appearance of a bland blob that tasted more of uncooked roux and a hint of cheese tainted with a pepper kick so offensively strong that the acrid burn stabbing at the back of my throat resulted me going and having to get a second beverage. On review fairly rubbish seems far too genteel. This was looking to be a bit of a disaster and then there was the pastry…

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Pastry: I have often talked about the pit falls of the tin foil case. A Sophie’s Choice of a decision for butchers and bakers between the appearance of uniformity and the risk of the pie sticking to the bottom of the case. It’s a risk that often backfires and in this instance the result was no different as half my pie stayed glued to the bottom as I lifted it to take my first bite. The pastry on the top edges was golden and crisp but at the base was as near to raw as I think I’ve ever had at a football game. So raw infact, that I could actually leave a thumbprint in the bottom with the mixture of filling and pastry creating a texture that I’m sure could be used as a Play-doh substitute at a nursery. I can’t think of the last time I thought, “I might not even finish this” but it was really that poor. I am however a trooper, and so I powered through like any good pie muncher should.

Brown Sauce: Regular readers will know that a luxury pie (i.e. a non-Scotch Pie) does not get dotted with some of the brown stuff but given how consumption had gone to this point I thought I’d grab a sachet to try and save it. Sadly, even this most wondrous of condiments couldn’t prevent me from experiencing culinary doom.

Overall: This was not very good. The filling was bland but yet somehow offensive and the pastry was near raw and stuck to the case. If you go to a Queen’s Park game I’d avoid this and stick to your traditional Scotch or Steak. If you’re feeling fancy wire into a Chicken Curry but if you’re a vegetarian I’d just settle for a Mars Bar.

Gravy Factor: Literally better off eating a spoonful of unwatered Bisto.

Well that was disappointing. It’s often said it’s easier to criticise than praise but for me the purpose of this site is to champion the best pies around the grounds and beyond and so when I’m met with something bad it’s a chore to break it down. That said, if I’m not honest and go about proclaiming every pie as the greatest I’ve ever had then I lose all credapie-ility.

Next up is a first review from Clydebank, something I couldn’t quite believe when checking the archives before the game so hopeful we see a return to pie glory. But until next time, go forth and eat pie!

Chris Marshall, is a BJTC accredited Radio Journalist with an honours degree in Communications & Mass Media from Glasgow Caledonian University. He has contributed to prominent football sites including Pie & Bovril, The Terrace Podcast, The Football Pink and The FBA’s as well as featuring in The Scotsman, STV and a number of other media outlets. A perennial ‘Scottish Sporting Optimist’ with a passion for food that has manifest itself in the wonder that is Meat Filled Pastries.

 

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Pie 86: The Queens Park ‘Chicken & Tarragon’ Pie

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Hello and welcome to Meat Filled Pastries. Now STV approved, don’t believe me? Then just follow this link:

http://glasgow.stv.tv/articles/307195-chris-marshalls-blog-meat-filled-pastries-judges-nationwide-pies/

In fact, that’s not the end to this quasi-madness as on Monday 26th January I’ll be on The Riverside Show on STV Glasgow telling my story of pie. It’s a 7pm kick off, so if you’re reading this before it goes out live then why not have a swatch, it’s bound to be noteworthy. If you’ve missed it, then you might get lucky if you scout about the STV Player. Given my media exploits over the past week I’ve not really had time to let anything in the world of football really grind my gears, although if you’re into that kind of thing then I highly recommend The A-Z of Football Hates by Richard Foster it pretty much hits the nail on the head in every possible way. If I’m lucky I might get some input in a second edition.

But for now let’s focus on the pastry. Today a visit to the home of my first football memories, Hampden Park, and a chance to watch every romantics favourite team, Queens Park, playing for the sake of playing since 1967. So without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

THE SURROUNDINGS

Where: Hampden Park, Queens Park v Arbroath, Scottish League Two

It finished 2-1 to Queen's Park, but the Arbroath goal was so late they didn't bother updating the scoreboard so you have this shot instead.
It finished 2-1 to Queen’s Park, but the Arbroath goal was so late they didn’t bother updating the scoreboard so you have this shot instead.

Price: Get ready for this. A whopping £3.20. Equivalent to 3 junior pies in some cases and a massive jump in price when compared with the Spiders League Two rivals. Now the thing is I have reviewed pies from Hampden before during my Tartan Army visits and so I spent a wee while debating whether to dub this another Hampden Pie, but as my mantra for this project is just as much about the teams I visit as it is the humble pie Queens Park get a shout out on this occasion. I have no doubt in my mind that if this wasn’t a Hampden this pie wouldn’t be £3.20. It doesn’t make it right but it does, in part, give an explanation.

Presentation: The pie was placed in a heat retaining tin foil case with a small(ish) white napkin for after consumption dabbing. On a sub-zero Saturday I was grateful for the retained heat.

THE PIE

There was more than one bite to this expose
There was more than one bite to this expose

Meatiness: I was looking forward to this pie, partly because its always good for the cholesterol to see a chicken pie on offer and partly because I reckon my Chicken, Bacon and Tarragon Pie is the best in my repertoire. I’ve always loved that slight aniseed kick that the tarragon gives. Sadly I found this pie pretty disappointing, Firstly as I made my way through it I felt no pop of chicken flavour in my mouth, in fact I was so concerned about the lack of flavour I had to tilt my head back to have a look for the meat inside. It was there but it’s flavour remained weak. The gravy wasn’t as unctuous as you would expect but more like an underdone roux and if I’m being honest at some points I felt I was eating a frangipane such was it’s sweetness. There would be the occasional burst of tarragon but its presence was oh-so fleeting. I applaud the courage of the folk at Hampden for diversifying their pie menu but I think in this instance it needs a lot of work, perhaps my judgement was clouded by own attempts at making such a pastry. The filling wasn’t unpleasant but I wouldn’t be in a rush to have another one.

Pastry: Without doubt the pastry was the best part of this pie in that it was golden and flaky. It didn’t have a soggy bottom and stayed strong under the pressure of even the most greedy of bites. It was a solid foundation to a pie.

Overall: A bit off the mark but should be commended for being something different, I really do think a salty hit of bacon would lift the flavour of this pie exponentially. It’s also worth noting that the price may be a stumbling block for some.

Gravy Factor: Not quite ready gravy. A little more seasoning and some time spent on creating an unctuous mouth feel could have this pie on the path to pastry superstardom.

It’s always tough to write a review for a pie that doesn’t quite hit the mark, and this review should not be taken as an indication that the Hampden scotch and steak offerings are not up to par as previous reviews have shown these more than make the grade.

The plan was to do a Glasgow Warriors Pie but a couple of pints of Best soon put that idea to rest. Next up we return to the juniors and a pie from Central League side Rossvale.

However, until then, go forth and eat pie!

Oh, and tune in tomorrow, it may be the only chance you’ll ever get to see my face.

 

 

Pie 32: The Dufftown ‘Mince, Beans and Tatties’ Pie

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A full dinner, in a pie!
‘There be beans in that pie!’

Hello again, and yes that is a bean peeking out of a pie but more on that in a bit.

As those that follow the exploits of Meat Filled Pastries know this Halloween instead of spending my time chasing trick or treaters away from my door I will be in the studio for the ‘Nugent4Nil’ Junior football show on Pulse 98.4 (http://www.pulseonair.co.uk/) from 8-9pm. In preparation for this I thought now would be as good a time as any to throw some pie stats at you:

Pies consumed: 32, this figures is taken from the start of the season, which for me began at Dundee North End on the 20th July a few weeks before the inception of the Meat Filled Pastries site you see before you know.

Pie Consumption Rate: 1.4 pies per game.

Pie Varieties Consumed: 4 (Scotch, Steak, Chicken & Haggis, Mince, Beans & Tatties).

Most Expensive Pie to Date: £2.60, Pie 18 ‘The Hampden Steak Pie’ (this is disregarding the Wembley ‘Bonus’ Pie which was a pie in name only)

Cheapest Pie to Date: £1.00, Pie 12 ‘The Rob Roy Pie’.

Biggest Surprise so far: Beans in a pie!

Biggest Let-down so far: That on my last 2 visits to Hampden they had NO BROWN SAUCE!

Those are the pie facts so far, and yes I am aware there is a particular type of chart that would be remiss of me not to use when discussing meat filled pastries but for that analytical beauty you will have to wait until the end of the season. For now though we are back in Dufftown, so without much further ado, let’s rate some pie!

Where: Westburn Park, Dufftown v Pollok, Scottish Junior Cup 2nd Rd

Price: As with ‘Pie 31: The Dufftown Pie’ this was £2 and was part of the ‘one price fits all’ structure used at Westburn Park. As this can be deemed as a luxury pie the £2 price tag sits better than it did for the standard pie they offered.

Presentation: Simply presented in a medium sized white napkin much like its Dufftown contemporaries.

Meatiness: So this pie had mince, beans and tatties in it and therefore was only conceived with a 33% meat content in mind. That being said what was there was very tasty although I would question if it managed to reach that 33% level. On top of the mince was a single layer of baked beans, adding a tomato taste and an extra bit of texture and bite. It’s a shame that there was not a few more beans as I felt there should have been more of a satisfying ooze coming from the beans themselves once bitten into. The mashed potato on top was piped lovingly although not to the edges and as such some of the beans caught in the oven and were a little burnt. The mash itself was nice but could have done with a good knob of butter in it before piping for added richness. As traditional Scottish dinner’s in a pie go this was pretty good.

Pastry: Aaah the pastry, not really designed to add much other than to hold the smorgasbord (when it comes to pies 3 count as a smorgasbord) of fillings inside. It was a standard scotch pie case but what I can say is that parts of the base were well-fired enough that the smoke alarms must have been going off somewhere in the kitchen. That being said the burnt nature of the pastry underneath somehow worked really well with the pie filling itself. Now once again this is my personal taste and preference for pastry to be overdone than under of not done to perfection but despite this gastronomical faux pas the pastry did a sufficient job for what it was designed for, holding the rest of the pie together.

Overall: This pie definitely scores high on the novelty factor. It would have been better with a few more beans, a little more meat and the base a little less burnt but all in all it provided a satisfying match day snack. If I ever end up in Dufftown again I would certainly have this pie again and also consider a squirt of brown sauce on top as I think this would have added an extra zing to this meat, bean and tatties filled ensemble.

Gravy Factor: A gravy that’s a work in progress, you know you need the bones to make it tasty but you can’t figure out what to do with them. Potentially excellent, but not quite yet.

Well, that’s Pie 32 added to those condemned to the pit of my stomach as this journey of one man and his love of football and a tasty scran rumbles on. Next time out we go back to the SPFL as ‘The Stenhousemuir Pie’ is taken out of the oven and thrust into your faces courtesy of Meat Filled Pastries.

However until next time, go forth and eat pie!

Did you know you can Subscribe to Pie? Simply click on the ‘Follow’ link on the right and you will get an email advising of the glorious news that a new pie blog is ready for your consumption and while your at it why not have a look at ‘Leading The Line’ a blog not based solely on Pies, crazy I know! The link is on the left hand side, and remember to tune in to Pulse 98.4 the ‘Listen Live’ function on  http://www.pulseonair.co.uk/. on Thursday 31st October for some live pie on ‘Nugent4Nil’ and visit ‘MeatFilledMerch’ for all your pie fashion needs where any personal profit made will go to the now child friendly Grambler: Kick Cancer’s Backside Fund’ a truly worthwhile cause.

Pie 26: The Cowdenbeath ‘Steak’ Pie

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Back in the lap of luxury.
Back in the lap of luxury.

Well here we are again, as promised, the Cowdenbeath Steak Pie is next to go under the taste test of Meat Filled Pastries. The site is currently under some modifications, hopefully culminating in a snazzy new banner so don’t be scared of the change, embrace it. Anyway back to pies. One of the things that you learn to appreciate when you go to a lot of football games is the variety of food that a particular ground can offer. Whilst some will stock solely Scotch Pies, Bovril, Juice, Sweets and Crisps others are a bit more adventurous although I’ll never forget my disappointment that you couldn’t get Arbroath Smokies at Gayfield. Cowdenbeath, however, certainly fell into the more adventurous heading as can be seen below:

Variety is the spice of life, except when you want to review a pie.
Variety is the spice of life, except when you want to review a pie.

Please focus your attention past the Bacon Rolls and Lentil Soup to the bottom item on that list, Corn Beef Stovies. A truly unique addition to the footballing menu. Now in these circumstances I have a difficult decision to make and I have to remind myself that I need to put pies before what my stomach desires for the benefit of this little project. Normally I would have had my mits wrapped around a warm cup brimming with Corn Beef Stovies but knowing how unlikely it is that Central Park will bw somewhere that I will visit again soon, and knowing that this site is called ‘Meat Filled Pastries’ and not ‘Corn Beef in a Cup’, I selected a steak pie for my secondary consumption,

I know, I’m your hero. You’re Welcome.

Before we get into the review let me remind you of a couple of the rules that surround a ‘luxury’ pie. Firstly no brown sauce should be required and secondly as you are paying more than for your usual scotch pie the overall quality should be of a higher standard.

So without much further ado. let’s rate some pie!

Where:  Central Park, Cowdenbeath v Dundee, SPFL Championship

Price: At £2 this ‘luxury’ steak pie is actually cheaper than the scotch equivalents found at Ibrox and Hampden getting this review off to a good start without a bite being taken,

Presentation: Identical in presentation to the Cowdenbeath Scotch Pie, presented in a silver tin foil case with a medium size white napkin, sufficient enough coverage of the case to prevent you dropping the pie due to excessive heat.

Meatiness: The steak inside the pie was smaller chunked than you would usually find in pies of similar ilk and also seemed to have some coarse mince running through it as well. I took this as an indication that the meat inside was incredibly fall apart tender something that I am happy to confirm after taking that first bite. The gravy was rich and flavoursome and was of a consistency that was sufficient to coat the meat and also ooze a little from the pastry without being runny and causing puddles in the tinfoil casing.

Pastry: The pastry was cooked well, with the underside of the top part of the casing willing enough to absorb that lovely gravy. Unfortunately it had caught a little on the bottom which meant that when I went to pick up the pie for it’s first bite I left 75% of it in the case! Once again, not a massive flavour flaw but more of a potential distraction when trying to watch a game of football. I am however happy to share a couple of tips I have used in the past to resolve this issue.

Tip 1: Break a piece of the outer crust off, if baked well enough this should be sturdy enough to use as a pastry spoon to scoop out that meaty goodness.

Tip 2: Eat all the topping of the pie using your fingers ensuring you have sufficient napkin support for the inevitable mess you get yourself into. Once the majority of the filling has been devoured use the now softened base to wrap up the remaining filling into a Steak and Gravy Taco.

In this instance I went for the pastry spoon option which worked just fine.

Overall: A tasty steak pie, with a well flavoured gravy meaning adding brown sauce never entered my mind. the meat was tender and well textured. The pastry fell apart a bit but as this was once again consumed before kick off provided an amusing aside to the pre-match routine.

Gravy Factor: Tasty but messy gravy although sometimes that’s the best way for it to be.

So that’s another pie quaffed, that’s 26 for the season as we enter the winter months, so until next time go forth and eat pie.

Did you know you can Subscribe to Pie? Simply click on the ‘Follow’ link on the right and you will get an email advising of the glorious news that a new pie blog is ready for your consumption and while your at it why not have a look at ‘Leading The Line’ a blog not based solely on Pies, crazy I know! The link is on the left hand side. Finally if you could take some time to visit ‘The Grambler’ or make a donation to ‘The Booby Moore Fund’ it would be most appreciated.

Pie 21: The Maryhill Pie

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A pie worthy of a cup final
A pie worthy of a cup final.

 

Hi again! Did you think I’d forgot about these meat flavoured beauties? If you did, you’re probably of the macaroni pie quaffing variety and have no place here. I kid, obviously, as all pie’s are welcome here but let me rationalise why this pie blog has been a few extra days in the making. You see footballing pies have passed my lips on more than one occasion in the last week or so but a combination of work and a familiar looking fixture list meant that none of these pies have been new to the world of Meat Filled Pastries, finally on Sunday this changed.

So with the kind of abandon that will be outlawed at Qatar 2022 I headed to Glasgow’s west end for a new pie adventure. Lets Rate Some Pie!

Where: Lochburn Park (Home of Maryhill FC) Clydebank v Pollok, Euroscot Sectional League Cup Final

Price: £1.10, exactly half the price of the previously reviewed Hampden and Rangers Scotch Pies.

Presentation: Presented within a white napkin of sufficient size that a badger could snuggly hibernate in as the winter months draw closer without it’s wee toe sticking out the bottom. This thing was huge and for that I am always grateful.

Meatiness: A scotch pie rammed with muttony goodness from first bite to last in which the meat was incredibly well seasoned.  The mince was coarse and importantly still had enough texture to give it a satisfying bite. I think the highest praise I can give this pie is the following antidote. So, after consuming said pie I needed to visit the little boys room (also known as a well drained concrete wall behind the main stand), after doing the required business I started heading back to where I was standing when I suddenly noticed that the peppery after taste was still very clearly present within my mouth.  With that lingering taste this pie had now marked itself out as a top contender.

Pastry: The pastry was golden and cooked just to perfection, with a bite that required your teeth to break through but enough give that none of the mince inside was at risk of ending splatted on the concrete. The bake on the pastry was consistent and such was my satisfaction at my first one, I quickly purchased a second which again reached these same high standards of crispy perfection combining wonderfully again with the aforementioned meaty goodness.

Overall: This was a cracking pie, great texture and meaty flavour that managed to linger long after the last bite had been devoured. A pastry shell that managed to be both soft and crispy whilst the brown sauce provided was none other than HP, a cherry meatball on top of this pie flavoured cake.

Gravy Factor: The kind of gravy that you would make too much of deliberately so that after your dinner you could pour the remainder onto your plate and happily sook it all up with half a loaf of bread.

Pie 18: The Hampden ‘Steak’ Pie

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Meat Filled Pastries first venture into the 'luxury' pie market
Meat Filled Pastries first venture into the ‘luxury’ pie market

As promised here comes Pie #2 from Friday night’s adventure to Hampden. This pie is the first one to be reviewed that will be dubbed as a ‘Luxury Pie’. Now to be a luxury pie the criteria is very simple, you just have to not be a scotch pie. That’s it. You can be steak, chicken, mongoose and lingonberry, whatever you like as long as your not a basic scotch mince pie. The reason for this you ask? Well I go to many games of football, and many places more than once, some of these places offer more than one type of pie. Sometimes I’ll do two in one go like I have at Hampden, others I may review on separate occasions. Either way it’s good news because it will mean more pies to taste, and that’s why we’re all here because we love a good pie.

Before we start it is also important to note that unlike a scotch pie, with ‘luxury pies’ you do not use brown sauce, the filling should suffice, that’s why you pay extra, only when something has gone wrong should the ‘Pie Band Aid’ be applied.

That’s the rules of luxury so, Let’s Rate Some Pie!

Where: Hampden Park, Scotland v Belgium, World Cup Qualifying Group A

Price: At £2.60 this is 40p more expensive that it’s scotch equivalent but, as previously stated, is seen as a more high end product, something I will confirm one way or another in the next few paragraphs.

Presentation: Well that extra 40p doesn’t change how the pie gets handed to you, silver tinfoil case and a tiny, tiny napkin. However in this instance the case and napkin combo cause a couple of issues not encountered when consuming a scotch pie which will be covered further down.

Meatiness: Now this is not mutton, this is prime steak in an unctuous savoury gravy, well at least that’s the idea. I’m pleased to say that this was a perfectly acceptable attempt at it, the pie had clearly been baked for the appropriate amount of time as the gravy had not dried out and the meat was still pull-apart-at-your-teeth tender. There was a distinct taste of steak, although for me I would like a bit more pepper, but that’s personal preference as I like a bit of spice.

Pastry: Being a ‘luxury pie’ you are treated to a puff pastry top, which in this instance was sufficiently risen to be called puff pastry but not so much that the pastry to meat ratio was effected. However when picking up the pie the bottom completely fell out of it due in part to the plentifulness of the gravy. This is a common gripe I have with steak pies as it often results in you spending more time getting yourself in a right mess than focusing on the game in front of your eyes. Covering your fingers in gravy and steak rather than using the pie casing to do the work for you. This is why the reason the picture above is still sitting in the case. That being said the pastry complemented the filling very well and compared with some I have had in the past this crust was still relatively sturdy barring the very centre.

Overall: A first venture into luxury pies and it can be deemed a moderate success, tasty filling and nice pastry but while the bottom falling out doesn’t impact on flavour it does mean you get in a bit of a mess. You might even enjoy that. However I think its fair to say that in these circumstances a napkin the size of Papa Smurf’s bed sheets doesn’t really suffice.

Gravy Factor: Tasty Gravy. A good marker for all luxury pie’s to aspire to, need to sort that soggy bottom though.

Did you know you can Subscribe to Pie? Simply click on the ‘Follow’ link on the right and you will get an email advising of the glorious news that a new pie blog is ready for your consumption and while your at it why not have a look at ‘Leading The Line’ a blog not based solely on Pies, crazy I know! The link is on the left hand side and with all things going to plan will have a new article up tomorrow.

One last thing before I go, whilst in ‘The International’ after the game, I came across this gem of a poster. A pie for 30p when you buy a pint. Bargain!

Discount Pies
Discount Pies