Jane Stuart – Writer

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

Eastbourne Borough v Blackpool: Look What We Could Have Done

It was(n’t) off to Eastbourne in the first round of the FA Cup at the weekend. How exciting! I love exploring new seaside resorts because they are all so different – and quirky. There was Gravygate at Clee; a seal sanctuary and Bucks Fizz (of Eurovision fame) in Skeggy; boy racers and Wimpy in Southend. What would Eastbourne have to offer?

My favourite singer is from Eastbourne – a wonderfully talented songsmith by the name of David Ford. I’ve been enjoying his music and going to his gigs for the last 20 years and love everything he’s done. He’s been streaming performances from his garage for a number of months now and Lee and I look forward to his (alternate) Sunday night sessions. This was his most recent – and best – performance. Please do watch and enjoy. There are some great tunes in this set – both his own and some quirky covers.

Everyone I’ve introduced to Ford’s music loves it – I hope you do too.

I confess I didn’t know much else about Eastbourne, beyond its pebbly beaches, Beachy Head and ageing population. Even the Eastbourne fans I spoke to in our livestream couldn’t offer much beyond ‘a pier that burnt down’ and ‘a few Victorian hotels’. Surely Eastbourne would have more to offer if I looked closely enough?

The Journey

The train fare was extortionate – a whopping £123.70 Off Peak Return from Blackpool North. Ouch! The match was on Sunday at 2.30pm so of course I set off on Saturday to make a weekend of it – and break up the journey, which was five and a half hours each way. No way I was doing THAT return journey in one day…

I took the 0827 from Blackpool North, armed with a chicken salad sandwich, two packets of beefy Hula Hoops Puft, a flask of rooibos honey and fig tea and a big packet of Midget Gems. I spent most of the journey studying how to create tension and suspense in a script for a stage play.

I changed at Preston; then disembarked at London Euston. Here I had to find my way to London Victoria. You know I have issues with the underground but I’m tackling my phobia head on during these virtual trips. Now, I’m not going to lie, I did check how long it would take me to walk (one hour – too long). Tube it was, then – the blue Victoria line. I took a few deep breaths and braved it. From Victoria, I boarded the 1224 Southern train to Eastbourne. This was the stopping train, but it wasn’t stopping anywhere I was interested in visiting, so I remained on it until arrival in Eastbourne at 1349.

Right…are there any breweries in this town?

Beer Me Brewery

Oh yes! Beer Me brews Belgian beers – and I confess I wasn’t expecting to find anything THIS good in Eastbourne.

  • Mango Loco Belgian Triple
  • MIB Mangoes In Black
  • Mango Reggae Mango Meets IPA (blimey they must have a good deal on mangoes)
  • Big Blonde
  • Mango Unchained
  • Dubbel Trubbel
  • Eastbourne Blanche White Beer
  • IPA-21 India Pale Ale
  • Cherry Popper
  • Belgian Tripel
  • Honey Dripper
  • Oyster Stout
  • You’ve Earned It Saison

I opt for a half of the Mangoes In Black – because I love the pump clip as well as the sound of the beer – and a half of the Cherry Popper because I never can resist a cherry beer.

They have a drive thru at the brewery, where you can collect beer between noon and 6pm every day. They also deliver locally.

The Belgian Cafe

Beer Me Brewery is based at The Belgian Cafe – ‘Eastbourne’s finest fresh fish, seafood and mussel bar’ – so of course I’m calling in here. And boy am I glad I did! Here’s what I had:

…because I can never resist chicken liver or a brioche (never mind a warm one!)
…because where else could you get THIS?! Plus kudos for the word ‘crabster’
…because I don’t actually know what Pana Cotta is and I want to find out

Wow what a menu! There is a bar menu here too (including cheesy chips and beer for two for a tenner).

This place looks out onto the front too. Dear reader, I am in heaven! Sure the weather is blustery but I feel ALIVE here and it’s wonderful.

I want to go to sleep after all that but I’m only just getting started.

The Stage Door

The name intrigues me. The Google Maps teaser of ‘architecturally unusual seaside pub’ clinches it.

https://whatpub.com/pubs/HES/EASTB-0800/stage-door-eastbourne

There’s ale on here, of course:

  • Long Man Best
  • Dortmunder Union Vier

As I enjoyed my half of best, I looked out onto the famous Eastbourne tennis courts. I used to be really into (watching) tennis before football took over my life – and of course Eastbourne is the tournament that directly precedes Wimbledon. I actually went to Wimbledon once – I managed to secure Centre Court tickets for the tournament at the London 2012 Olympics. That was one off the bucket list.

Right, where next…

The Eagle

Well this one sounds a bit different, too. It has a ‘Gourmet American Style Diner Menu’ as well as ‘amazing cask ales’. And how can I not love a place that has a Dog of the Week feature on its Facebook page>

I am also ALL OVER these Walk o’Shame Fries!

Harvey’s Sussex Best Bitter is a regular in here, as well as three changing guest beers. I recall being disappointed with Harvey’s beer the last time I tried it – I think in Crawley. I WANT to like it, though, so I ask for a taster before making my decision.

Bottle Grove

Just round the corner is a bottle shop, where I’m stocking up for a carry out for the train home. And – oh my! – this is one of those places where I feel like a kid in a sweet shop. Just look at EVERYTHING!!!

  • Ora X ABC There Cannoli Be One 7% Chocolate Pistachio
  • Sussex Small Batch Tiramisu Stout
  • Fierce Very Big Moose 12% Imperial Stout
  • Unbarred Mango Pale (what IS it about this place and mangoes?!)
  • Unbarred x Brew York Cherry Berry Pastry Sour
  • ABC Juice Springsteen Tropical IPA (a firm favourite of mine)

MUST STOP LOOKING OR ELSE I’LL BUY THE SHOP.

This one sounds the most intriguing:

I misread it at first as ‘tropical stout’. But, dear reader, it’s better than that. It’s like a Topic chocolate bar! Ooh that’ll go down a treat on the way home.

It’s in this magnificent bottle shop that I discover there’s a new Eastbourne brewery on the block, so of course that has to be my next stop…

Route 21

This really is a brand spanking new brewery. Its first two batches are exclusively on sale at the above bottle shop:

  • Coast (hazy IPA)
  • Roast (black IPA)

Hmm, what next? Boast, Toast, Ghost? Meanwhile, I’ve bought a bottle of Roast for the train journey home. Love this photo from their Instagram:

Of course I’m zonked after all that, so retire to my hotel for the night. An exciting morning of being a tourist/kid awaits…

Eastbourne Miniature Steam Railway Adventure Park

Yay! A ride on a miniature steam train! This is the stand-out thing to do in Eastbourne on TripAdvisor and simply had to be done…

What a delightful morning. I could have stayed here all day – but of course I had a match to go to. And, of course, a new non league ground to visit: Priory Lane Stadium. This was all very exciting!

Eastbourne Borough v Blackpool

I confess I was a little worried going into this one. Yes, we’d won three out of the last four, but we hadn’t played anyone any good – and only won by the odd goal. I was pleased that we put out a strong team. Indeed the FA Cup – and its prize money – is more important than ever this season. A good run in the competition would be very much welcomed. It would also provide a bit of excitement – indeed it already is. It’s something DIFFERENT. And it’s MAGIC.

Our hosts were ace, displaying ‘Big Bertha’ the huge Blackpool flag behind one of the goals. Blackpool fans joined in the love-in by doing a crowdfund to raise money for Eastbourne Borough, to compensate them for the money we would have spent down there, had we gone. You can still donate via this link.

Blackpool played well – but didn’t break the deadlock until the second half – largely thanks to a great display from the Eastbourne Borough keeper. The Seasiders’ confidence grew thereafter – and they romped to a 3-0 win, goals from Gary Madine Goal Machine (2) and Jerry Yates.

Critch did that thing again where he took a player off who was on a hat-trick. He explained his reasoning in his post-match interview (tactical reasons) but is that more important than the confidence of the strikers? I could hardly see Eastbourne coming back at that stage. I was also puzzled with his withdrawal of Yates just ahead of the penalty shoot-out against Stoke, when he was sure to score one.

Anyway, I’m glad we won – and not by a hatful, which is disrespectful (I’m looking at you, there, Liverpool, with your seven goals against us).

You know I’m not one for detailed match reports, but if that is your thing let me point you to this magnificent blog from Mitch Cook’s Left Foot, who tells it like it is.

Here’s our watchalong of the afternoon’s events. It was lovely to see so many non league fans visiting our channel for the afternoon – from Eastbourne and other clubs.

Next stop – in round two – is Harrogate Town – another magnificent beer town. I’m looking forward to that virtual pub crawl already.

In the meantime, I’m having a snooze on the train home. Wake me up at Preston…

UTMP.


NB All pics above are taken from the websites referenced.


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