Danny Westhorpe, 23, Newcastle Upon Tyne.

Last Orders: Eight Reasons The Pub Trade Is Dying

According to the statistics pubs and bars are on the decline. With between twenty and twenty-five shutting for good every week, the question is being asked – Is the whole idea of the once beloved watering-hole slowly fading into nothingness. Ironically only a few years ago the drinking game seemed to be one of the best businesses to get into. Trade was good, customers plenty and longevity seemed a certainty. Oh how times have changed. More and more people are staying in, and I think I understand why.

“£3 a pint, you must be joking!”

We'll start with an oldie – cost. When the recession first really became prominent, unnecessary luxuries were obviously the first thing people cut back on. Right at the top of that list, lies our old friend alcohol.

Imagine stopping off at your local boozer after a hard day at work for a nice cold pint. It's only a couple of quid, you've been out earning money all day anyway, and it's a nice way to unwind before heading home for the night. However, when times do become tight, people start to do the maths. £3 a pint over a week is just over £20. Over a month, that's over £80. Over a single year, that's upward of a thousands pounds for one measly beer after work. Worth it?

When I first started drinking in pubs (and this was only around five years ago), I paid £1.50 for a pint of lager. Nowadays, £3 is pretty much the standard that's come to be expected. That's a 50% increase in less than five years. A quick look on the Tesco or ASDA websites only makes things worse. Twenty cans of Fosters or eighteen cans of Stella Artois costs between £13 and £15. That's four or five times as many beers for roughly the same price. In the current financial economy, what's the average joe going to opt for?

“No Trainers, No Shorts, No Jeans, No Custom”

Dress code is a bit of a conundrum. On one hand you don't want to have to suit up in full shirt and tie attire for a swift half in your local, while on the other you don't want shirtless, shoeless, scoundrels stood next to you at the bar. However, surely there's a middle ground most establishments could agree on.

This point is more focused on bars than traditional pubs, but it stands true all the same. While we don't get much sun in jolly old England, we do get the odd day where temperatures rise that bit too high and trousers just don't cut it. Is me wearing a pair of three...

Posted by Danny Westhorpe on July 11th 2013.

Ritchie Humphreys Interview

Another old piece of work, this time something I definitely did for university. As part of my Sports Journalism module, I was required to interview a sports personality for a short write-up of their career. Born and bred in Hartlepool, I decided to stay local and try and do something on Ritchie Humphreys, a Hartlepool F.C. legend whose had a long and interesting career to say the least. Due to a terribly intrusive word-count (a cross every journalist must bear), the final draft is an all too short account of a career that could take tens of thousands of words to fully examine. However, it is an interesting insight into one of the Monkey Hanger's most prolific players of recent times.

There was a time in football when players cared more about the club they represented than the amount of money they pocketed each week. The thought of people like Alan Shearer leaving Newcastle or Tony Adams walking away from Arsenal for bigger and better contracts was laughable. Club loyalty was an important part of the game.

Nowadays footballers seem to be much less interested in that particular tradition and more concerned with the transfer fees and lucrative contracts they can command. Their more than happy to jump ship without a second thought for the fans who supported them through years of prosper and turmoil.

One player who eludes that stereotype is Ritchie Humphreys. The 34 year old has been at Hartlepool United for over a decade and remains as dedicated to the club now as he was when first signed in the early 2000's.

Football was certainly in Ritchie's blood from the moment he was born. His grandfather played for a number of Scottish teams while his father had trials at Sheffield United - the club he supported. The two definitely played a part in Humphreys choice of career, himself describing football as “the family trait” and “loving the game for as long as I can remember”.

Just like his father, Ritchie had trials as his beloved United and just like his father, he failed to make the cut, being picked up a few months later by bitter rivals, Wednesday.

“I thought my chance had gone after being released from United, but Wednesday came along, I joined the centre of excellence when I was thirteen and was lucky enough to be took on.”

After a bright start to his career at Sheffield Wednesday, Humphreys fell out of the first te...

Posted by Danny Westhorpe on February 01st 2013.

Old Article - Binge Britain

I was searching through my computer a few days ago looking for a file when I stumbled across something I wrote a few years ago. Not at all sure whether it was for university, a website or a newspaper but after a bit of digging around I couldn't find it in my portfolio or university work backlog, nor a single trace online. Seems a shame to have wrote something just for it to sit among my computer files gathering proverbial dust so I decided to post it here, simply so it can see the light of day.

It's a brief look into the "Binge/Booze Britain" lifestyle that every newspaper seemed to be throwing down our throats not so long ago. Reading back through it I can vaguely remember writing it, but haven't the faintest idea why or what for. Oh well, it's forever cemented its place online now - enjoy!

As 10 O' clock draws closer the town centre of Hartlepool becomes busier and busier. Men and women pack the pubs and bars, alcohol flowing down many of their throats like water. It's early, so there's no trouble yet. How could teenagers not be drawn into it?

Drinking has been part of their lives for longer than they realise. Magazine ads, billboards, films and TV series, often with alcohol not at the centre of the plots, but a constant image in the background. Even their parents, who might enjoy a glass of red with dinner or a few pints down the pub after work. The culture in Britain is heavily based on alcohol nearly everywhere you go. According to the government, advertising alone is worth an estimated £800 million a year and UK sales come in at a disturbing £33.7 billion.

With figures that good is the industry really concerned about sensible drinking? Or is their priority to start targeting the younger market? When heavy drinking becomes too much for the older generation is it their plan for the teenagers to fill that gap?

Hartlepool isn't the only town where clubs are filled with under-eighteens. Up and down the country teenagers are becoming more and more cunning to gain access to the thrilling nightlife. Fake ID's costing as little as £10 are easily available on the internet. Girls of sixteen are wearing high heels and too much make up to pass themselves off as legal party-goers. Yet despite all this are the bars really that bothered? The problem appears to have become too big for the police to handle and so many landlor...

Posted by Danny Westhorpe on November 08th 2012.

Six Month Hiatus

So, it's been over six months since I last made a post on this blog. During the first two or three months, I was concentrating on the final stretch of my degree and after that, it seems I just continued the habit of neglecting it. However, with my degree complete (I graduated a few months ago with an upper second class honours degree (thanks!)) and the prospect of job hunting now upon me, it seems like a suitable time to start posting again in the hopes that I can get my foot in the door of the industry I've spent three long years training in.

Updates of a more noteworthy nature will soon follow, but for now here's a picture of me during the whole graduation process.


Posted by Danny Westhorpe on October 02nd 2012.

Liverpool - Everton Match Report (13/03/12)

Another short and sweet post this month because the deadlines are really starting to come think and fast now were into March. I've took ten minutes out of my busy day though to get a quick entry online.

As part of my Sports Journalism module we have to do a live match commentary on a football game. Since I've never really done one before I thought it'd be useful to get a few under my belt before I take a crack at the real thing.

The following is from the Merseyside derby that took place last Tuesday (13th March).

The wait goes on for David Moyes who’s still looking for his first derby win over Liverpool. The Scotsman celebrated ten years in charge this week but the celebrations will have been bittersweet as Liverpool cruised to a 3-0 victory over their fierce rivals. Steven Gerrard scored a hat-trick on his 400th appearance for the reds as Liverpool reigned supreme over a lacklustre Everton.

The blues where in good form in the run up to the game, taking ten points from their last four matches. Liverpool by contrast seemed to be suffering from a Carling Cup hangover, with losses against both Arsenal and Sunderland in the league. Kenny Dalglish’s boys though bossed the game from start to finish and the bragging rights always looked like going to the red half of Merseyside.

Liverpool set the tempo early on and only last gasp defending from Everton stopped a Gerrard volley and Jordan Henderson follow-up giving the reds an early lead. The early pressure continued with centre forward Andy Caroll latching on to a Pepe Reina clearance and knocking it down for Suarez to let fly and force a smart save from Tim Howard.

Everton got their act together towards the half hour mark and won a couple of corners that came to very little. They seemed to have weathered the early storm before Gerrard showed his class and fired Liverpool in front ten minutes before half time.

A Suarez cross looked to have gifted Martin Kelly a tap in but for a goal line clearance from Sylvain Distin. The ball rebounded to the edge of the eighteen yard box where the Liverpool skipper was poised waiting and chipped a first time ball over the mass of bodies and into the far corner.

Everton went into the break lucky to only be trailing by one and with just a glimmer of hope that they could salvage something from the match. Gerrard though squashed that hope five minutes after the restart. Once again clever work from Suarez down the right saw him skip past Distin before l...

Posted by Danny Westhorpe on March 19th 2012.

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