Pub review: The Holdy, Glenelg South


Just before our youngest son was born I became, through an outlandish crinkle in the space-time continuum, that most unhinged of aquatic creatures: a XXXX Gold beer ambassador.


An eager supporter of Coopers beer it was a mystifying position in which to find myself, but I remain grateful for all I was gifted: a corporate box experience at the Adelaide 500, the fully-catered BBQ I hosted one autumnal afternoon, and a seemingly endless, almost terrifying supply of XXXX Gold beer.


I call it the year I barracked for Collingwood.


The highlight was a XXXX function at the Holdfast Hotel during which I spent some time with former Australian cricket captain, Allan Border. How good? He was generous and wry and I loved it. I opened by telling him that because of his tenacity he’s my Dad’s favourite cricketer.


He replied with champion modesty, “Well, we all have our own style.”


Later, we spoke of when Warney exquisitely seduced Gatting with the Ball of the Century, and AB commented how fielding at backward square leg he’d not enjoyed a great view of it.


But he then added that during drinks Heals noted in a hyperbolic understatement, “It was a fair seed.”




Once upon a time, The Holdy was the summery destination: post-Test sunburn and panel vans and West Coast Cooler.


Having spent much of the past month indoors recovering from foot surgery the urgent medical advice was to bask in some vitamin D and I’m sure Doc ordered me to accompany this with schnitzel and necessary quantities of Coopers.


In these matters I’m nothing if compliant. It was time to get back to the Holdy.


The street bar offers daily specials, and we leapt at two parmi’s and a jug of beer for $25.




Coastal value not spotted since on a distant, sweltering Sydney weekend a young AB himself padded up for Mosman.


In my misshapen youth beer brought forth in a jug was a wildly exciting event; a bold announcement of intent; a brazen promise of future mischief. Holding a jug of ale like Liberty extending her torch skywards I burst back into the beer garden, an adolescent cockiness in my (limping) stride.


My dining colleague Puggy and I calculated that with this special offer either the schnitzels, or the jug had cost us a solitary dollar. How good? This set the tone for an hour or so of luxuriating in this dappled beachside icon, once owned by another cricketing star, GS Chappell.


There was singular application to the culinary and cuppage challenges. Both food and ale were excellent.


Like many a boozer it has bobbed about variously and is again resurgent, having endured hostile seas a few moons ago. Similar to SK Warne on a hat trick, or with his spiky hair gelled, and about to go on the ran tan, the Holdy is finding irresistibility afresh.


Our only critique is that Coopers Session Ale, the ale du jour, is unavailable from her galaxy of glistening taps. Still, for a former XXXX Gold ambassador, this is a tolerable omission. As Indian batting genius VVS Laxman says, “Pale Ale suffices.”


Named for Colonel Light’s ship, HMS Rapid, which once endured a violent storm without breaking its anchorage, I reckon this pub will hold fast for a century or two yet.


It’s tenacious, just like AB.


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About Mickey Randall

No, instead I get out my Volleys, each with the inescapable hole, just by the little toe. What if someone bought a pair of Volleys and they didn’t develop these holes? The absence of holes would itself make a psychological hole.


  1. george smith says

    Why why why were you promoting that bottle of disappointment? Not exactly the devils brew, but certainly the sort of thing they would serve at the Middle Park Hotel, in the brown corduroy lounge, whilst playing ABBA and Bucks Fizz on the jukebox…

    For gods sake Micky, are youse South Australians so intoxicated by your wine that you will neglect your beer? Get some real Fourex into you, the stuff with the red label, that made Queensland what it is today! Well, at least makes it easier for us to understand it…

  2. Good old XXXX Gold, Mickey, providing stable mass to refrigerators since whenever it was invented.

    The Holdy is the venue for my school reunions. Looks different with each of my five yearly visits. Hope that foot is coming along nicely.

  3. Had lunch at Harry’s Sports Bar on Clarke Quay today. The food and drink was average and v.expensive.
    The Millman delivered. Wish we were at the Holdy.

  4. Thanks george. I was lucky that on that fateful night when a stranger in another local pub said I’ll buy you a beer if we can have a chat I knew what was coming after he spoke frequently about XXXX Gold and my various social circles. I was being interviewed for what might now be called an “influencer” role as the bloke asked me about my connections. I knew what this was about as a chap I’d gone to uni with had had a similar experience the previous year when XXXX was trying to build its brand here in SA with a grassroots campaign. As someone with an interest in marketing and advertising I thought it’d be fun to see what that had in store while understanding that I was being used, albeit in a minor and willing capacity, to sell their product. I was happy to see what they offered up in exchange for a year of my beer affection. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Did they convert me or any of the audience I provided them to XXXX Gold? Me- no, anyone else- doubtful.

    Thanks Dave. I guess we’re all unsure what the Holdy will be like in five years, but my money’s against it being reinvented as an Irish pub. Our annual Clare long weekend trip is approaching and I’m unsure I’ll be able to play golf. I’m reminded of Bill Murray’s character in Caddyshack-

    “If he bothers you, I’ll take care of him. What you’ve got to do is cut the hamstring on the back of his leg right at the bottom. He’ll never play golf again, because his weight displacement goes back, all his weight is on his right foot, and he’ll push everything off to the right. He’ll never come through on anything. He’ll quit the game.”

    Thanks PB. Sounds like you’re in Singapore. The good (or bad) news is there’s plenty of options if you want to watch your Eagles on the weekend. The Boomarang (sic) also at Clarke Quay has the best atmosphere- doubtless you’ll find a fellow West Coast supporter or two decked out in an guernsey, but the beer and food prices are Virgin Galactic.

  5. AB…!
    Mickey, that is superb.

    Curious about the Holdy.
    Being close to water, I’m imaging plenty of chrome and mirrors.
    Bleached blonde floorboards?
    A bit of Cold Chisel Saturday Night “well if you don’t like it why ya standin’ there for 20 minutes…?” in the front bar?
    I can imagine AB with that line.
    To Fat Cat. Or perhaps to Mo. Or CJ McDermott.

  6. Thanks Er.

    The Holdy- timbers , space, sky. It’s a disconnected pub with quite disparate rooms, but it does possess an odd magnetism. Not sure about Chisel. My regular haunt The Broady attracts an older masculine crowd when I’m there of a Friday afternoon yet plays a Triple J-type of soundtrack. I reckon most aren’t listening though!

    “AB. Without his brutal captaincy we wouldn’t enjoyed the Warne-driven magnificence of the Taylor/ Waugh/ Ponting era.” Discuss.

  7. Peter Crossing says

    Enjoyable rant.
    I can see your prejuduce.
    The Holdy has beer. So that puts it one step of Slim Dusty’s pub.
    Other than that ……….
    I’ll catch you at the Broady, Mickey.

  8. Thanks Peter. I rate the Holdy well in front of that big beer barn over on Anzac Highway. It’s impersonal, high-viz menace.

    Should my afternoon progress well I’ll be at the Broady at, let’s say, 4.27. See you there!

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