What to eat the day before playing in the biggest sporting fixture of your life? Elite athletes have access to the finest nutritionists and top chefs to make sure they are at their peak, but sadly, the budget of Northallerton Hockey Club doesn't quite stretch to such expert guidance.

Instead, we have to "trust the process" as the new buzz-phrase seems to be, going with what has worked before to ensure success. For me, that process is usually something stodgy with plenty of protein and carbs.

So, last Friday, with the clocking ticking down towards Saturday's big match – the last game of the season and our chance to win the Yorkshire Division Two title – I found myself out and about in search of a not-so-light lunch.

After doing a nervous supermarket shop, having a nervous haircut and nervously getting my eyes tested (all great distractions), I decided on Guisborough as a destination. It turned out to be a great choice.

The town centre looked stunning in the spring sunshine, despite the roadworks, with cheery daffodils bobbing their heads in the breeze. I wandered down Chaloner Street with its eclectic mix of independent shops and cafes, and tucked away in a little courtyard found The Priory Bistro, which looked a perfect spot to spend another anxious pre-match hour.

Darlington and Stockton Times: The Priory Bistro is tucked in a little courtyard off Chaloner Street in Guisborough

Outside, The Priory looks fairly plain, but inside it is both smart and homely with a red tiled floor, and well chosen accessories. It was also pretty busy, bearing in mind that thanks to all my nervous faffing, it was well after lunchtime by the time I got there.

The menu is extensive and split into lots of different stand-alone sections, such as breakfasts, hot main meals, sandwiches and toasties, salads and sides, and jacket potatoes.

I ordered a cup of tea while I agonised over which would be the most high-performance option. It was delivered a couple of minutes later with the tiniest of tea pots and a cup that held its entire contents. It was a terrific cuppa, but for solo tea drinkers, surely save on the washing up and do mugs of tea instead?

Darlington and Stockton Times: An interestingly proportioned tea pot and cup

Anyway, in my search for stodge, I originally ordered ham, egg and chips (£7.95) only to be told they had run out of ham. No matter, instead I went for (what I consider) the ultimate power food, steak and ale pie, chips and peas (£9.75).

For that price, it was a great lunch. Tasty gravy so thick it could probably have had held its shape without the pie dish, and plenty of flavoursome meat and veg. The shortcrust pastry lid could perhaps have had a couple more minutes in the oven, but it was lighter than it looked and great for dipping in the gravy. The chips, described on the menu as "proper chips" were just that – plentiful, chunky, nicely seasoned and piping hot.

Darlington and Stockton Times: The steak and ale pie, great value for £9.75

I was too full to seriously consider dessert, although the several custardy options looked delicious. Instead, I took away a couple of tray bakes for nervous snacking later in the day – tiffin for me and yoghurt and cranberry slice for my sister. Both were top notch.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Sweet treats from The Priory, tiffin and yoghurt and cranberry slice

Service throughout was seriously good. Friendly and efficient, with a vibe that everyone was enjoying being there and was genuinely interested in their customers. A few people were on first name terms with their servers – always a sign a venue is doing something right in my view.

The bill, for my cup of tea, main meal and two tray bakes, came to £16.65. That's not a typo. Incredible value at a time when our money doesn't go as far as it used to.

I wandered back out into the bright sunshine ready for a nervous walk in the Cleveland Hills, confident that The Priory's lunch would be a lucky one.

And so it proved – the next day we won our match 6-1, with our goal difference good enough to win us the league. Trust the process – and the pie.

2 Chaloner Street, Guisborough, TS14 6SA

01287 635284



Open Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm, Saturdays 9am to 5pm and Sundays, 10am to 4pm

Ratings (out of ten): Food quality 8 Service 9 Surroundings 8 Value 10