picks on local pub
by Richard Belbin
News of the World wanted to run a story about how
crack cocaine had spread from the inner-city ghettos to the
middle-class suburbs … so they came to Pitsmoor. And
that wasn’t the only thing odd about the story.
… in the middle-class Pittsmore area of Sheffield …The
Rock House is a popular refuge for students of the local university.’
The paper went on to claim that they had been
in the pub and bought crack “under the noses of the
unsuspecting landlord and drinkers” – a claim
the Landlord, Donnie McFarlane vehemently denies:
no way that goes on in here. It’d stand out like a sore
Donnie McFarlane with his wife Carol took
over The Rock House, on Rock Street, eight years ago. Since
then they have strived to turn it into a ‘community
pub’, with ‘a corner for everyone’. From
the beginning Donnie and Carol made it clear that drug dealing
and drug use were not welcome there. Before they took it over
The Rock was well known as a place where people would come
to score, since it has ‘not had an ounce of bad publicity’,
has been a regular in CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide, and was
their ‘Pub of the Month’ last August.
Donnie and Carol were practising their French
when I went to see them, they are hoping to sell the Rock
next year and move to France. Now though, they fear their
plans are at risk.
an insult, not only to us, but to all our customers, and everyone
who lives in Burngreave. We know just about all our customers
by name, and them saying they bought the drugs in the pub
makes it sound like it must be one of our customers.”
So why would the News of the World make up such a
story? Well, the pub’s called The Rock isn’t it,
buying rocks in the Rock, that would seem quite clever to
them, wouldn’t it?
Donnie and Carol have received a lot of support
from their regulars and neighbours. Seaton Gosling, who likes
to call in, said the article was ‘disgraceful, a complete
set-up’, whilst another local – who does not even
visit the pub – thanked Donnie for having ‘made
their lives bearable’ over the years.
of the World claims it has video evidence of the deal
taking place, but has refused to show it to Donnie and Carol.
Nor have they answered letters and questions put to them by
both the couple and the Messenger. Donnie and Carol
hope to have more luck with the Press Complaints Council.