Jane Stuart – Writer

Writing about real life Up North: football, ale, food and mental health – with a good dash of humour.

Blackpool v Oxford United: It Never Rains But It Pours

I’d forgotten how much it rains in The North.  Having grown up under a constant cloud, I am never deterred by going out when it’s raining (otherwise I never would have left the house when I lived in Blackpool).  But it is only since driving up and down the M6 regularly this last month or so that I’ve come to realise it actually rains ALL THE TIME in Lancashire.  I’m growing used to the driving rain, but on Friday night it was a tough old drive to Blackpool, with poor visibility, surface water and congestion.  The drive was so challenging that I relaxed my rule of refusing to leave the M6 once I’m on it and followed Waze’s directions to come off at J19 and divert via the M56 for a while, which broke up the journey a little.  It still took me three hours to reach Blackpool, though. 

On arrival I was so exhausted I immediately tucked into the beef salad sandwich I had packed to eat ahead of the match the following day.  Food on matchdays is always difficult – especially when dieting – and I have yet to find a satisfactory sustenance solution.  But I will get there, dear reader…just not this weekend, it seemed…

I had a bowl of cereal on Saturday morning, which I hoped would be enough to see me through to the match.  After a rendezvous with the fanzine sales team at 1.15pm, I took up my position outside the old No.1 Club/casino on Bloomfield Road to sell fanzines myself.  What I particularly love about selling fanzines is the number of people who stop for a chat when they are passing or buying.  Today I was promised two interesting articles for Issue 2 and was presented with a copy of the ‘View From The Tower’ fanzine from 1993.  I also chatted with a man from Hednesford who remembered me from Chasetown – and I was lightly taunted for having gravy on my fish and chips. It was also lovely to hear plenty of positive feedback on Issue 1 of ‘Now That’s What I Call Progress’ from many passers-by.  If you haven’t subscribed yet you can do so online at the link below:

I managed to get into the ground for kick-off today (my organisation and the lack of queues helped) – and my pre-ordered steak and kidney pie was waiting for me when I took my seat in the South Stand (cheers Besty). 

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Alas this was a disappointing effort (more mush than gravy) and I left half of it for the wasp that was bothering me.  Mercifully I also had a Twix to satisfy my hunger and take the taste away.  I’ll be heading for Macro’s Health Bar for my food at the next home match, make no mistake. Watch this space!

And so to the match.  The Seasiders were first out of the blocks once again with an early goal – but proceeded to be bullied by visitors Oxford, who went on to dominate.  Pool scored a second against the run of play, a superb through-ball from Liam Feeney putting Armand Gnanduillet through on goal before the big man was brought down in the box – and duly converted the resulting penalty.  Oxford pulled one back just before half time and we feared they would get back in the game.  However, Pool held on to win 2-1 – goodness knows how!  It looked as though Oxford were playing with an extra man – and Pool could not keep possession for love nor money.  The highlight of the game for me was one move from Sullay Kaikai that left me breathless with my heart racing.  Boy this player is exciting!  

I left Bloomfield Road with a headache, having spent the afternoon frustrated and cross with referee Darren Drysdale and Blackpool’s inability to keep possession.  It didn’t feel like we’d won!  However, win we did – and the Seasiders remain joint top of League One.  And to come away from a match against such tough opposition with all three points really is some achievement. 

Post-match Lee and I headed to Water’s Edge in St. Annes for food.  The menu here was VERY exciting and I wanted pretty much everything on it: Bury Black Pudding & Bacon Fritter, Black Eye Bean Chakalaka, Jackfruit & Pepper Balti, Beef & Black Eye Bean Chilli…. I opted for the healthy choice of Mediterranean Chicken Salad…washed down with a pint of Holts IPA (this is a Joseph Holt pub).  There was a poster behind the bar inviting customers to ask about the Manchester Bee Glass, a yellow and black striped pint glass that certainly grabbed my attention.  Check out this stunner:

I love a good pint glass and have quite a collection at home.  I don’t steal them from pubs but find if I ask nicely I am allowed to take them.  Alas a prerequisite to obtain one of these bee glasses was to buy five pints of craft ale.  Much as I coveted the glass, I wasn’t that thirsty – plus I had already ordered my pint of IPA.

I paid a visit to the facilities – and was delighted to see the walls of the stairway adorned with Victorian railway posters promoting North West Seaside resorts.

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The food was delicious and we resolved to return here.  I did need to work through the rest of the menu after all.  Not least the Cherry Bakewell Sponge Pudding with Custard – yum yum!

Before leaving I was coerced into my first TV punditry role, summarising the match, which you can see in the video below:

It had been a good day today and we took the three points.  But boy I had forgotten how much football can wind me up! On the flipside, it is delightful to be part of a vociferous, passionate crowd again, watching players and a team that we care about – nay love.  Blackpool, you might drive me to distraction sometimes – but I bloody love you and am so happy to have you back in my life.  We’ve got Simon Sadler; he knows what we’re after – and we’re going up.  UTMP.

 

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