Fish on Friday. And tomorrow night after Upton Park?


There’s a plaice for us. It is at Wetherby and is therefore, or can be, on the way back from all the clubs we’ve played in the Premier this season, which will tomorrow include West Ham. To hear some people – our Pete Sixsmith among them – drool about it, you might even take a long detour on the way home from St James’ Park next season …

No more fish jokes for cod’s sake. But the mind wanders towards the winter of 2007, and the back and back-but-one rows of a bus in Jaipur, when two people of similar age got talking.

It wasn’t such a huge coincidence that both of us came from the North East because we were part of a tour group on a holiday in India booked through Hays Travel, Sunderland-based with branches all over the region.

But Heather and I had something else in common. Her family ran Robinson’s fish and chip shop when we were kids and I was a faithful customer as often as the pocket money allowed. And what was so great about Robinson’s was the fantastic amount of scraps they’d pile on you fish and chips, or just chips, as if you’d paid for them.

Fish and chips and football seem to go together. And I thought of India, Heather and her parents’ shop in Diamond Street, Shildon while I read a mouth-watering thread – in truth, mainly a non-football thread – at the Blackcats list.

It began with Jeremy, exiled in Canada, musing about the things he wanted to stock up on or re-sample during a flying visit home in July. You see his list in Salut! Smiles to the left: Crunchie biscuits, Greggs corned beef pasties, fish n’ chips from the place across from the pit gates in Murton, an Indian (the Millan) in Easington Lane.

Among the replies came a host of recommendations for the best fish and chips in the north.

Here’s a selection:

Claire (Washington): “I feel I have to stand up for North East fishies here and say that Queen’s Cafeteria at Seaburn makes the best fish and chips in the known universe. Even my fussy bairn will eat fish from there, and usually he wont go near it. Best fish, best chips and best batter. And then the best view lookin over the sea when yer scrannin it.”

Jeremy (memory prompted): “There’s a canny one on the old A642 which I always used to use to connect between the A1 and M1 before they put in the Leeds bypass. The ‘red and yellow chippy’ … but there’s nothing in my experience that can touch the one across from the Murton pit gates, although generally I agree that Yorkshire has the highest overall standard.”

David: “The wife’s family, living in Guisborough, don’t think you find better fish and chips than those served at the Magpie (or the Maggie as they’ll have it) in Whitby. Obviously, unfortunately titled, but the haddock and chips I had in there on Monday were canny.”

Mick: “I had some from there on Good Friday and can confirm they’re magnificent. Colman’s in South Shields is also up there. And there’s a plaice in Seahouses as well.”

Rob (Kent):Bimbi’s in Durham by the bus station was my preferred chippy . . . . they always gave you plenty of scrapings/scramptions/batter (deleted as appropriate).

Terry: Saturday night was fish and chip night and ‘get plenty of scranchions’ rang in me ears when I legged it up to Venus’ chip shop on Brinkburne Avenue in Gateshead.  They had to be back down home by the start of Armchair Theatre, and latterly Public Eye with Frank Marker. Top class entertainment for the whole family (unless you were nine years old).

Mike (USA): “Bimbi’s used to be top class (especially the one at the Durham bus station) but like many chippies went flying downhill when they stopped using beef dripping to fry in. Last time I was there (2005) they were verging on the minging (Gmail wanted to correct that to munging which is harsh but nearly accurate). Colman’s is very good indeed, Mick. I still had a soft spot for Crozier Street Fisheries near the stadium to be honest, though this was probably influenced by the fact that I’d usually had six pints before the game started, especially evening ones.”

whaler1But it is the Wetherby Whaler that gets the votes from the travelling fans I know (though Claire also gave a mention to another Wetherby chippie, “the Frying Pan round the other side of town – Denis Smith’s team used to call in there as well in the late 80s early 90s” – and see Pete’s comment below).

Back to the Blackcats discussion:

Ian: “The Wetherby Whaler happens to be a convenient comfort break point on the trek between the Smoke and the NE. I believe I first started using it as a result of a report that the team coach used to stop off there (after ‘phoning the order ahead) on the journey back from an away game.  Probably in the Reid era. Can anyone in that area vouch for the one at 250 Green Lane, Shields?  Don’t know its name but it has been recommended to me.”

“There is a cracking fish and chip shop in the High Street (or whatever it is called) in Tynemouth. There used to be a fantastic one in Morpeth about 20 years ago.”

Andy: “I can heartily recommend Seashells in Monkseaton too. Whale and chips!”

Maybe Sunderland fans who stop off on their way back from Upton Park will send in their own Egon Ronay ratings – or suggest better candidates for our Golden Cod award ….

* Unsuspecting Hammers with no interest in fish and chips – and here’s a challenge: name one decent London chippie – can start our pre-match build-up at this link and work backwards and forwards

See also: the best fish and chips in the world

** There was also a vote for the chippie at Dyce airport, Aberdeen but that’s probably off most SAFC fans’ matchday route. The top photo? Not Wetherby, nor Tynemouth nor Seaham. Step forward the Big Grill at Sigla, eastern Singapore as recommended at the Flickr pages of Punzy: among “the best battered fish and chips I’ve had. Thick crispy and fresh…the fat chips are heavenly. Comes with a good portion of salad with red vinegar dressing”.

Colin Randall

10 thoughts on “Fish on Friday. And tomorrow night after Upton Park?”

  1. Wilton Purdom must be an afficianado of the SPAM fritter. Give me a pattie anyday or as my sister tells me it was once described in Nottingham – the Corned Beef Fish!

  2. When I was back in Bishop last September, Howe’s was very good, yes. But eclipsed by two stellar meals, taken in the company of Alan Sims, a dyed-in-the-soiled-wool Magpie but otherwise a decent guy. One was a take-out from Lewis’s in Seahouses and the other at the Quayside (otherwise known as Fusco’s) in Whitby. They could even tell you the name of the boat that caught the fish. A pot of tea with that one, beer in Seahouses and Tizer in Bishop, just like the old — very old — days.

  3. Thanks a lot. Still another 6 weeks till my next visit and I’m salivating already. I do miss the fish and chips, and bacon sarnies. Mr. Sixsmith I will be in touch with you later about a beverage or two in Croxdale.

  4. Howe’s in Bondgate, Bishop, is back on top form again, but for a nice evening out in late spring and summer, you can’t beat the village chippy in Frosterley. Swift pint at the Black Bull, get the fish’nchips in, drive up to Tunstall Reservoir, or sit by the Wear with aforementioned supper and some fizzy pop…..

  5. The Frying Pan in Wetherby is the one that the discerning football fans i.e. me and Pete Horan prefer. The Whaler is an excellent alternative on a Sunday. The Queens at Ossett, just off the M1 is another cracker.
    The team used to stop at The Frying Pan as did many others travelling to and from the North East. I once saw the Notts County team c.1974 file in and form an orderly queue under the supervision of manager Jimmy Sirrell. After having eaten their celebration meal (they had drawn at Ayresome Park), they trooped into the Royal Oak next door, and each player was bought a half of beer by the manager. No superstar tantrums from the likes of Don Masson, Les Bradd or David Needham. They were as good as gold.
    Last hit the Frying Pan on the way back from seeing Shildon win at St Ives. Mr Horan devoured his haddock ,fried in beef dripping, in record time, and we whiled away ten minutes looking in the electrical shop next door and admiring the vacuum cleaners and digital radios.
    The exciting life of the travelling football fan!!!

Comments are closed.

Next Post