TAB Tips & Suburban Watering Holes

With all due respect to the fairer sex (and “fairer” is somewhat of an understatement –women are far more caring, empathetic and very aesthetically appealing), the majority of the female species seem to lack a certain level of understanding for the finer points of all things sport-related. This is not to say that all males should expect their respective “better halves” to embrace the same excitement that they do, nor should they feel obliged to. For mine, it highlights yet another difference between genders which further distinguish often complimentary (rather than similar) attributes. This particular difference led a group of us sports-inclined males to amble away from the TV set and up the road to, what we envisaged would be, a comfortable “watering hole” of sorts.

The promise of full TAB facilities, cold Waikato on tap and a pool table led me to question what sort of establishment AJ’s in Matua, Tauranga would be. Expectations were low and initially confirmed as the four of us (all pre-liquored and in good spirits after a few relaxing hours involving an online TAB account, the Trackside channel and a crate of Waikato) entered the non-descript, spring-hinged door and proceeded into a space resembling a well-worn RSA mixed with equal parts circa-1980’s beer paraphernalia, roughly drawn-up sports sweeps and old-man smell. Had we been sober we would probably have walked straight back out again.

However, what comes with walking any further than the letterbox, and a voucher for a $3 handle of the Hamilton region’s finest Draught, is a need for gratification for energies spent. Needless to say we ended up gracing AJ’s bar for a few hours and helping the publican gain some much-needed beer-pouring practice. We also made some friends in the form of some half-cut middle-aged locals who were, for the most part, friendly enough and pretty stoked to have some competition on the newly-resurfaced pool table.

The point of all of this is to make the most of anything and everything. Granted, the good company made up for any deficiencies found in beer selection, atmosphere or general ‘vibe’, but a back-to-basics approach came up trumps in the end. Also – never underestimate the enjoyment, and potential gain, to be had from having a ‘flutter’ on the horses. A few bucks each way on the third or fourth favourite is always a goer, as were the handles of Waikato that resulted from similar bets.

So, next time you’ve had a few quiets and think you’re IQ is getting higher than it should, head down to your local suburban watering-hole/TAB. Unless you live in Auckland. In which case the online version is much safer… and more sanitary too.

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