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Catching up for a chat and a beer at the MSA on Friday were (from left) Guildford Lane, Trevor Robertson, Malcolm McCormick and Tony Inwood.

Regulars are back enjoying a beer and a yarn with mates at the Ashburton Club and MSA.

Bars like the MSA reopened last week after an eight-week shutdown due to Covid-19.

There was a buzz in the air and a steady stream of members heading through the door for post-work drinks late last Friday afternoon when the Ashburton Courier paid a visit.

MSA president Murray Campbell greeted most by first name as they signed in and found a table to sit at.

Unlike previous times, the bar has to provide table service for now and numbers are limited to a maximum of 100.

Enjoying a favourite ale on a table of four were drinking mates Guildford Lane, Trevor Robertson, Malcolm McCormick and Tony Inwood.

Collectively they share around 150 years of MSA membership.

Guildford Lane said he had missed his regular trips to the MSA and the camaraderie he enjoyed there.

The beer and atmosphere at the venue were both good and he had been a member for around 45 years.

“It took me eight years to get balloted in, but I wouldn’t drink anywhere else.”

The MSA has taken on two extra staff members to manage the current table service requirement.

A video running on one of the screens shows in virtual reality how the venue will look after the current big refurbishment project has been completed.

Mr Campbell said the project has been delayed but work is well under way again. He said the new-look MSA would feature three ground floor restaurants and combined seating for 200 people.

There was also a retractable roof planned and billiards and conference rooms would be relocated upstairs.

Mr Campbell said it was great to see the venue back operating and good to see the smiles and hear the banter of members.

By Mick Jensen