Jane Stuart – Writer

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

Accrington Stanley v Blackpool: Another Warm Welcome

Oh Lancashire – how I love thee!  Blackpool is my favourite town, of course, but I do love getting out and about and exploring other parts of the county too.  This weekend I was off to Accrington – and very excited about it too. On Friday evening I jumped into my car, pumped up the tunes and set off on my merry way up the M6.  I was expecting some diversions tonight – what with the illuminations and World Fireworks Championships traffic – but was hoping to arrive in Blackpool in time to enjoy the fireworks at half past eight.

Waze directed me off the M6 at J19 and I found myself heading in the direction of Altrincham…then Manchester City Centre…which again had me wondering if I had input the correct destination.  My ETA was getting later and later, from an initial estimate of 1950 to 2020.  This was not looking promising for the fireworks.  I’d had a stressful day as it was, and battling to arrive to a deadline was not helping my headache.  I set off ridiculously early for matches specifically to avoid such stresses.  Mercifully Lee rang to advise the fireworks were off the agenda anyway, as he had been called out to work.  I breathed a huge sigh of relief and took my foot off the gas for the remainder of the journey.

On landing in Blackpool, I grabbed some food (mainly handfuls of sweets), put my feet up and watched Corrie before retiring to bed, finally relaxed.

Saturday morning brought glorious weather and I resolved to go to the match coatless, with the forecast for Accrington that afternoon 22C and sunny.  Armed with a bottle of water and a Snickers, I headed to Blackpool North to meet my friends on the 1011 train to Accy.  The train was packed with Seasiders.  How wonderful it is to have these away days back in our lives.

On alighting the train, we headed into Accy in the direction of The Commercial Hotel, the Wetherspoons.  

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Mercifully the exuberant Seasiders from the train piled into another pub en route; however there was still some queue for the bar in Spoons.  I used the time to survey the pump clips and was delighted to see Bowland Hen Harrier on tap.  That’s breakfast sorted, then.

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Only joking of course. I did tuck into a Spoons breakfast as well, which I ordered from the table via the Wetherspoons app.  Given the length of time it takes to get served in many Wetherspoons, this app is an absolute godsend (particularly in airports). The only downside is that guest ales aren’t listed on the app – and I’m not drinking Doom Bar when there’s Hen Harrier on. Hopefully the app will become more dynamic in the future. 

I was gobsmacked at the prices in here, with the beer costing £2 and the breakfast £5. I can’t wait to move back Up North. 

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It was lovely to see so many Seasiders in the pub and I stopped to chat with friends old and new. There is something magical about encountering fellow Seasiders in a strange town. And today it seemed like we had taken over Accrington, with 2,000 of us making the trip across to East Lancs. 

I reluctantly left the pub early to continue my explorations in the name of Lee Charles TV – and boy was I glad I did! Since falling into vlogging at the start of this season (still not sure how that happened), I have found myself seeking out more fun things to do and see on matchdays. I can draw in and conjure up any old nonsense to go in these blogs, but vlogging causes me to open my eyes still further and seek out visual stimulation for viewers. 

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Boo! A week early for this one. Hmm but I could pop in on my way back from the Lincoln match…? No! Remember the diet, woman! 

Today’s adventure was taking me to the Fanzone at the Wham Stadium. This was a marquee right next to the ground, open for home and away fans to drink (happy hour 12-2pm) and enjoy live music from noon. It wasn’t difficult to find, as my ears led me there. The acoustic guitarist/singer Zackoustic was passionately belting out tunes and I paused to enjoy (film) the music for a moment before heading to the bar to see what they had on offer. I was pleased (teased) to see a cask ale on sale – but alas it was a hoppy one and I’m not a fan of those (I tried it but it burned my throat on the way down). But I had my drinking head on now so found an acceptable alternative in Kopparberg Mixed Fruits (which I today learned is a bit sickly if you have more than one). 

I chatted with the Yorkshire Seasiders and began making provisional plans to attend Eurovision next year (we say we’re going every year and are determined to actually make it happen soon). I kept checking outside to see if the club coach had arrived as it had the away tickets on it and I needed to secure some. Whilst I was out there I bumped into Accy chairman Andy Holt, who was happily chatting away with both sets of fans. 

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(Nice photobomb, George!)

The tickets still hadn’t arrived, though, so I headed back inside to enjoy the booze and tunes once more…

‘Na na na NA NA NA NA / NA NA NA NA Hey Juuuuuuuude!’

As the drinks continued to flow and the fans flooded in, the atmosphere in the Fanzone got better and better and by the finale (‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’), the whole place (home and away fans alike) was singing. What a wonderful idea to have this Fanzone at the ground. After Donny on Tuesday (which I didn’t think could be matched), this was the second away game this week where we had been made to feel genuinely welcome. More of this sort of thing please!

I had come out with no cash today and was managing pretty well so far through a combination of card payments and kindly Seasiders, but this did make buying the match tickets a little awkward. The away ticket booth didn’t take card payments, so I was sent to the home ticket office, where I was to make the payment, obtain a receipt, return to the away ticket booth with my receipt and exchange it for tickets. Honestly I felt like I was in the USSR, having to queue twice!

I called Lee to enquire as to his whereabouts (‘just parking up’) and headed to join yet another queue – and a lengthy one this time – at the away turnstiles, where Lee soon joined me. Phew! I could now pass over the baton and retire from vlogging duties for the day.

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I wandered off to the refreshment kiosk to get the rehydration fluids in (it was scorchio here). 

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WHY ARE THERE CHICKEN BALTI PIES EVERYWHERE NOW I’VE STOPPED EATING PIES??!!

I’m not sure how I managed to relocate Lee amongst the crowd but somehow I managed it. The Wham Stadium was packed with Tangerine down one side in the (sold out) stand and behind the goal on the terrace. What a sight! And what an atmosphere! Blackpool are well and truly back. This was quite, quite wonderful. 

‘Hey look – it’s Lee Charles TV! Hiya Lee! Oh and you’re…er…oh…the other one.’

Well, I’ve been called worse! 

And so to the match. Alas with no Armand Gnanduillet, the Seasiders struggled to score – at the right end, at least. A Curtis Tilt own goal (what a roller coaster of a season he’s having) saw us trailing at half time. Again we left it very late, equalising in injury time with a belter from Matty Virtue. Whilst it’s always a treat to snatch something at the death, the match had been disappointing today. We’re missing a certain va va voom. A creative midfielder? Movement up front? Someone to get on the end of Liam Feeney’s crosses? Has the team bonded? Well that’s for Larry to sort out and I have every faith that he will. 

We chatted to some Accy fans on the way back to the car. They were gutted with the result and feared for the rest of the season. Such a shame as they are a lovely set of fans (even the stewards were lovely again, thanking us for our ‘cracking support’). 

We popped into Mr Booze (how could we not?)  for sweets and drinks for the journey home. 

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I can’t begin to tell you how excited I was to see this:

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Ha! Who needs a Chocolate Festival when you’ve got Mr Booze?! I didn’t even know these were a thing! Fry’s Chocolate Creams are my absolute FAVOURITE chocolate bar (although fondant centres give me spots, so I have to ration myself). AND I love orange and chocolate together. This was a dream combination! 

Alas, not unlike the match, it was somewhat disappointing (nowhere near as tasty as the Fry’s Chocolate Cream). I consoled myself with a packet of Revels. I hope the Orange Twirls are more exciting (when I can finally get my hands on one – I’ve even had someone down the Cadbury factory trying to get me one. Has anyone tried one yet? I think they’re available in Scotland).  

Back on the Fylde Coast we went for dinner at our new regular haunt Water’s Edge in St Annes before spending the rest of the evening editing the video of the day’s adventure (we know how to rock a Saturday night), which you can view here:

 

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