13 September 2019

Hold my beer, make it a Bateman Bitter

| Michael Weaver
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Queanbeyan Hotel publican Mathew Griffin and barman Sammy Vucago will be serving up the best of the Raiders on tap this weekend. Photos: Michael Weaver.

Take a Charnze on a CNK Carlton Draught? A Soliola full strength? Or would a Ricky lite hit the spot?

These are just some of the re-badged beers you’ll find at the Queanbeyan Hotel, also known as the Top Pub, which is getting right behind the Raiders with player-themed frothies.

Publican Mathew Griffin is not only a very keen Canberra Raiders’ fan, but barman Sammy Vucago’s father was also one of the original Raiders from 1982.

Griffin was also the Raiders’ ball boy before he graduated to being timekeeper.

“My dad was their bus driver and masseur, and I used to be ball boy until I was about 15,” Griffin told Region Media.

“Then Tim Sheens made me timekeeper for two years, so in 1989 and 1990, I actually rang the siren for the grand finals.

“Dad worked for the Raiders for 20 years and has four seats at the games for the rest of his life.”

Griffin said he first turned the pub green in 2016.

“I just thought it would be a different way to decorate the hotel. Just like the Raiders, I think the place looks a bit better this time around,” he said.

Coming up with who would take pride of place on the beer taps proved as tough as selecting the team each week.

“The ginger beer was pretty easy, because there’s only one redhead in the team – Corey Horsburgh.

“I know Jarrod Croker drinks Carlton Dry so I gave him that.

“For John Bateman, a few people told me he was a cider drinker, but we don’t have that, so I gave him the hard-working man’s beer, the VB. The others just fell into place.”

When asked about allocating the lite beer decal to coach Ricky Stuart, Griffin said it also proved a selection nightmare.

“I probably should have given the lite beer to Jack Wighton because I know he likes to behave himself these days, but I had to give it to the coach,” he says with a laugh.

With the pub being a bastion of Australian beers, Griffin said he, unfortunately, couldn’t cater to the acquired tastes of the many English players in the Raiders’ squad.

Queanbeyan Hotel publican Mathew Griffin will have green beer on tap for the Raiders’ game this weekend.

He said the Raiders are not only a big chance against the Melbourne Storm this weekend, but they are also a massive chance of going all the way this year.

“I think a few people forget that when they played the Storm a few weeks ago, they had two players sin-binned, so when it was 13 on 13, we won 22-0. Melbourne only scored tries when we had players off,” he said.

“I think Wighton will have a massive finals series. He’s a brilliant player and reminds me a lot of Laurie Daley.”

Griffin reckons the Raiders’ 1994 side was the best one they ever had.

“The ’94 squad was just a complete side. It’s hard to compare that side to this year’s, but they still have a big chance this year to rewrite their own history.”

For the game on this afternoon, Griffin expects a full house at the Top Pub.

“We’ll have the $5 schooners and $5 Raider limes. I’m actually thinking about going out and buying a drum and get our own little Viking clap going, too.

“Good luck to the Raiders. I’ll be having $100 on Jack Wighton for the first try, and if he gets it, the winnings go on the bar.”

You heard it here first.

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