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Jane Stuart – Writer

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

Blackpool v Morecambe: FA Cup First Round

After the leasing.com trophy win against Wolves on Tuesday night, I had remained in Blackpool for further midweek excitement in the form of a Buckcherry gig at Waterloo Music Bar.  I cannot tell you how excited I was to see one of my favourite bands play in my home town.  We really are very fortunate to have such a fantastic music venue on our doorstep.  This was my first time at a gig here but I knew from previous visits that the beer was good (Cross Bay Setantii is a regular) and the toilets were epic:

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Prior to tonight’s visit I had already earmarked where I was going to stand during the gig (being a Short Person this has to be right at the front).  I had also researched the support act The Treatment and resolved to arrive in time to see them, as they sounded really good.

On arrival in Blackpool I made sure to get some food down me before heading out (I figured Sunday night’s leftover pizza would still be ok, as it was only Wednesday).  It was bloody cold out so I decided to order a taxi to take me to the venue.  Now I never used to take taxis anywhere unless I had absolutely no other choice but, since falling for a taxi driver, I have warmed to them somewhat – and now use taxis all the time.  Tonight’s driver recognised my name on the booking and he admitted to being a fan of the channel (Lee Charles TV on YouTube – have you subscribed yet? Link below.)

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCohyWZEokbt9OOssfv2j5TA

He was a little disheartened that his 11-year-old daughter wasn’t interested in football but I told him not to lose heart, as it wasn’t too late.  I remember my dad telling me all about the 1953 FA Cup Final (which he attended) and showing me Stanley Matthews memorabilia when I was a little girl and I wasn’t remotely interested.  It wasn’t until I was 13 and was mesmerised by the Italia 90 World Cup that I fell in love with football.  It seems I just needed to discover it for myself.  And boy how that World Cup changed my life!

Now at the Waterloo I headed straight to the bar for a pint of Setantii.  I wasn’t planning on drinking tonight, as I had an early start tomorrow, but I had had a slightly stressful day so decided I could have a couple and get away with it.  I don’t need to drink to relax and let my hair down at gigs, though – indeed the last time I saw Buckcherry, in Birmingham, I didn’t have a drink at all because it was a Sunday night. Drink in hand, I shuffled to the front to take up my pre-arranged position to watch The Treatment.  And boy did they not disappoint!  

These guys have promised to return to headline at the Waterloo next year so do look out for them.  I certainly plan to be there.

After checking out the excellent facilities, I returned for a second – and final – pint before failing miserably to get back to the front.  The place was now rammed, so I just got as close to the front as I could.  It took me many years to learn to completely relax at gigs.  I used to stand at the back, looking on with envy at the people at the front really letting themselves go and losing themselves in the music.  Now I am one of those people, singing and dancing and letting myself go without caring who might be watching.  I was even filmed doing the dad dance at a Lancashire Hotpots gig last year and I didn’t care.  I lose myself in the moment, in the music – and it is a wonderful feeling.

Buckcherry were of course bloody magnificent and I got so immersed in their set that I managed to distract myself from how hot and sweaty it was in the mosh pit!  There was a man in front of me pogoing and going completely mental for the whole gig.  He bumped into me a few times (there is always one and they are ALWAYS standing next to me) but I didn’t even care because he was having FUN and I even joined in with him at one point when he grabbed my arm and raised it in the air for a little dance.

My only complaint was that Buckcherry weren’t on for long enough.  I could have watched them all night long because I love everything they’ve done.  But of course I had to get up in the morning, so it was just as well.

After putting in a call to my favourite taxi driver, I had a brief chat with one of The Treatment before parking myself on a bench outside because I needed to cool down.  A roadie from California with the most radiant smile stopped for a chat and told me he was looking forward to enjoying a day off in Blackpool tomorrow.  I do wonder what he made of it.

***

Dear reader, it was a busy old midweek for me, hence I was feeling a little weary when it came to Friday night.  I bustled my way to the front of a crowded Platform 14 on Manchester Piccadilly, surrounded by my fellow commuters, exhausted from a week of being compressed into a tired train.

‘The next train to arrive on Platform 14 will be the 16:30 Northern service to Blackpool North.’

‘HURAAAAAAAAAAYYY!!!’

But of course!  This was the party train on a Friday night, with weekend revellers headed into Blackpool to enjoy fun and frolics by the sea.

Isn’t that just wonderful?  It is too easy to forget what a magical place Blackpool is – especially when you are living there and take it for granted – but this excited reaction really made me smile.  I was heading home for the weekend and it was just brilliant.

After a delicious M&S tea of salmon fishcakes and veg, followed by Asda’s Extra Special Coconut & Rum Dark Chocolate and some lebkuchen (which Lee had never tried before but now agrees ‘tastes of Christmas’), we headed out to collect some fanzines that I had bought from a Seasider friend.  Now despite having cupboards full of match programmes, football shirts, signed photographs, every match ticket I have ever bought and dozens of fanzines, I don’t consider myself to be a collector of football memorabilia.  Clearly my trip to the Memorabilia Fair on Sunday had tipped me over the edge into becoming a purchaser of yet more goods (you can see the video here, it was a great event):

So I am now the proud owner of a complete set of VFTT and AVFTT fanzines.  You know football fanzines are of particular specialist interest to me as a fanzine editor – both of AVFTT in its latter years and now the new Blackpool fanzine Now That’s What I Call Progress, which you can subscribe to at the link below:

https://issuu.com/blackpooljane

Soon enough it was Saturday morning – and Blackpool certainly hadn’t got any warmer as the week progressed.  Brr!  I resolved to wear a jumper and jeans today – before realising I hadn’t brought a jumper.  Lee found me one of his that fitted nicely.  As I was fastening the belt on my jeans I became confused when I couldn’t manage it.  Well I’ve only lost that much weight that I need an extra hole punching in my belt now!  I can’t remember the last time I had that problem!

After a session with my beauty therapist (one’s a TV star now daaaaahlings, so one must look one’s best) Lee picked me up and we went for a hot breakfast to get us through the afternoon.  Lee is a big fan of the All Day Breakfast at the Half Way House but I didn’t fancy that, instead tucking into a Jackfruit & Pepper Balti, washed down with a hot chocolate (I turned down the cream and marshmallows because that would have been too much for breakfast).  Ahh that was me nicely warmed up in preparation for the match.

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Now Lee has a penchant for parking the car as far away from where we are going as humanly possible.  Hence by the time we got in the car, I was freezing again.  I had left my thermal vest at home and wasn’t sure I was going to survive the match.  For many years now I proudly stated how I don’t feel the cold.  When friends and colleagues in Birmingham have complained about the cold and the weather, shivering with hot water bottles and wrapped in shawls – and the Chasetown family looked on in horror as I walked around the ground wearing just a dress in winter –  I’ve just shrugged it off, saying ‘I don’t feel the cold.’  But bloody hell do I feel the cold these past few weeks since relocating back to the North West!  It’s like a different climate up here!  Lee can’t believe how much I’m noticing it – after protesting that I wouldn’t – and my only explanation is the loss of two stones worth of insulation.  Lee decided it was time for emergency action to stop me complaining about the cold, so we took a detour to the club shop, where he bought me the body warmer I had been eyeing up last week.  What a hero!

Back home, as I was gathering my fanzines and money belt together, Lee dug out his hat collection and tried them on me until I found one I liked.  I squealed with delight as I realised the body warmer also had a hood.  Oh but I hadn’t brought my winter fur-lined boots!  Lee came to the rescue again with some foot warmers to wear inside my shoes.  I was saved!  And I was now ready to stand out in the cold for 90 minutes selling fanzines.

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Now I drove to the match today, which I was ok about, as I don’t mind driving – but I did have some concerns about parking.  I followed Lee in his car and he led me to a suitable parking space on the end of a road.  As I stepped out of the car, I asked Lee whether I ought to edge a little further forward in case someone parked in front of me.  

‘No, you’re fine there.’

I was reassured.

I assumed my position outside the West Stand today, where I had been selling fanzines on Tuesday night.  So, who paid me a visit while I was selling today?  My old star fanzine salesman Tim, who I’m working on re-recruiting; a photographer who presented me with dozens of photographs of the redevelopment of Bloomfield Road for consideration for the fanzine; a Yorkshire Seasider, who presented me with two different types of Werthers Originals (‘mind that one, they get stuck in your teeth’); and someone who said: ‘I thought you only did away games.’  I explained that, whilst I had a different job at home games, I was still there!

As Lee approached, I resolved to follow him into the ground today, because (a) I was too cold to stand out there any longer; and (b) I wanted to avoid getting lost on the way to my seat again, as we were in the unfamiliar territory of the North Stand today.

I gave the refreshment kiosk a miss, as I was armed with a flask of hot chocolate (lets face it, I’m never going to feel at home in the North Stand, am I? I was also craving a blanket to cover my cold legs).  We took our seats in C Block – and found our view blocked by one man standing a couple of rows in front of us.  In his defence, he did turn around and ask if it was ok if he stood and, being English – and very laid back these days – I gave him the thumbs up and said it was fine (it wasn’t, of course).

I found it odd that today was the first round of the FA Cup.  For the past few years I have been so used to the FA Cup starting in August (when it does actually start, with the preliminary rounds, ahead of the qualifying rounds).  Indeed I went to watch Chasetown play in the FA Cup back in September.  So how could it only be the first round today?  I felt it ought to at least be the second round by now.

The match itself was a bit weird.  It just felt a bit odd.  Was it because we were displaced from our usual seats?  Was it because it was so bloody cold I found myself watching the clock and counting the minutes until I could GET WARM?  Was it because it was too easy, romping to a 3-0 lead, before coming out comfortable 4-1 winners?  It can’t have been the latter, because even the reaction to the first goal was unusually muted.  I think it was a combination of the displacement and the cold.  It is horrible watching matches in the cold.  It can be all-encompassing.  It is just so uncomfortable.  This was a stark contrast to Wednesday night’s gig, where the entertainment had distracted me from the temperature.  But we won so yay!

The video memory of the match can be found here:

Of course when I got back to the car I found that someone HAD parked in front of me, which was just great.  I sat patiently for about a minute before trying in vain to squeeze out of the space, before being rescued by the man in the car behind coming to move his car.  Phew!  Lesson learned to park RIGHT on the corner next time.

Much as a night wrapped up at home with a curry and a hot chocolate was very tempting, I had arranged to meet Karen for drinks, so I removed my hat, sorted out my hat hair and promptly ordered a cab to take me to the Bloomfield Brewhouse.  The C Cabs app told me I had half an hour to wait for a cab, so I took the opportunity to touch up the paint on my nails, which would probably need that long to dry.  Almost as soon as I had finished, my phone pinged to tell me my driver was outside.  Oh bloomin’eck!

Karen and I caught up on the day’s events over a Loweswater Gold, before deciding it was a little loud and busy in here to relax over dinner, so we took a stroll down to the old faithful No. 10 Alehouse.  Here I could look no further than the Titanic Plum Porter, quaffing three pints of this, accompanied by Sesame Prawn Toast and a Thai Green Curry.  Oh yes!  Now THAT’s just the ticket on a cold winter’s night (it must be winter now, right?).

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I wondered what the story was behind this:

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By 9pm we were flagging (rock’n’roll) so headed off to our respective homes.  According to the app, my taxi was going to take an hour, but I called and one was with me within minutes.  Is it me?  

Despite the bitter cold, it had been a good day once again – and we continue on the road to Wembley.  Larry, you’ve already given us the Perfect Ten.  Now we only need eight wins in total to lift the FA Cup – and we’ve already got one of those in the bag.  How about it? #UTMP

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