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: New Matchday Routine

I have settled into a new routine on a matchday now – home or away, it’s always the same. Indeed, I often don’t know where we’re playing, let alone who…

I wake naturally – as I have every day since March. Alarm clocks are horrible things and my life has been enriched through not having one startling me awake every morning at an ungodly hour. I blast out some rousing tunes and dance in the shower. This morning it was Kylie’s new Disco album, which is brilliant.

I listen to Apple Music via bluetooth into a shower speaker. Apple, however, have seemingly decided they want me to buy one of their new HomePods (they do everything for a reason), so my iPhone automatically reduces the volume after a certain time (while I’m either in the shower or inserting my contact lenses), in the guise of protecting my ears, which is very annoying. This now has me rushing in the shower, so I’m out in time to increase the volume manually. So this is a less relaxing start to the day than I would prefer.

Once dressed, I stick the kettle on and prepare my morning brew. The kettle doesn’t appear to be working this morning, so I call Lee for help. He gets it working but I worry the kettle is on its last legs, so order a sexy new one that changes colour from Amazon.

My first brew of the day is Twinings Rooibos with Honey and a hint of Fig. I can’t drink black tea because it is a migraine trigger, but I love flavoured green, red and herbal teas.

I then settle into a chair and work on my book for four hours. This morning I’m researching the promotion season of 2007, The Perfect Ten and pre-season tours of Latvia so I enjoy reliving lots of very happy memories. I find this great photo in an old Gazette of me and my pals ahead of a match against the locals on Ventspils beach.

When I get hungry around 11am, I make myself a turkey sandwich with mayonnaise, stuffing and cranberry sauce on wholemeal bread. I have my advent calendar chocolate for pudding.

At 2pm I start getting ready for our livestream. As it’s a home game, I haven’t had to fork out a tenner for this one, as it’s ‘free’ (at least paid for in advance) with my season ticket. I also get a free soft copy of the match programme, which is mainly adverts but has some player and manager interviews. I make sure I look presentable, as I had a complaint about my hair on Tuesday night, grab a drink and check the iPad is set up with the team news. I’m surprised to see Ben Woodburn in for Jerry Yates, but less surprised to see Jordan Gabriel starting after his impressive performance midweek.

At 2.30pm we go live on Lee Charles TV on YouTube, interacting with football fans from around the world as they watch us watch and react to the match. We have a competition today to give away three beers from The Pouring House to the person who correctly predicts the full time score (at half time). The beer man kindly dropped over some beers last night for us to showcase (for me to drink later).

I really enjoyed the match, despite there being no goals. We played a 4-1-4-1 formation for the first time, with Madine the lone striker. Oxford couldn’t handle CJ Hamilton – indeed they didn’t appear to be trying too hard to contain him – and he hit the bar and the post. Sadly, a decent final ball was lacking for much of the match. Just as we were getting into our stride in the second half, Critch made a triple substitution that all but killed our attacking threat and momentum. Chris Maxwell pulled off a wonder save towards the end of the match to maintain the deadlock. That chance aside, Oxford hadn’t looked like scoring, despite breaking clear a few times. With both teams difficult to score against, I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised with a goalless draw.

After the match, I head straight to the kitchen to prepare tea, which is dictated by the expiry dates on the shopping we clicked and collected from Asda last night. Tonight we’re having salmon, Mediterranean vegetables, five-bean salad and vegetable rice. It’s very nice. For afters we have Bahlsen Choco Leibniz Baileys biscuits, which taste exquisite (I have never tasted a better biscuit) but give me indigestion.

Saturday night is Christmas movie night and tonight we watch Klaus on Netflix on the recommendation of one of our viewers this afternoon. Despite not being overly impressed with the trailer, the movie blew me away. I can see why this was nominated for an Oscar. This has now surpassed Jingle Jangle as my favourite ever Christmas movie. Watch it and you’ll see why. It’s beautifully done.

So Saturdays are much different to how they were – but at least we have football (and don’t have to endure inclement weather). I never much enjoyed the travelling home after the match (without the anticipation of what the afternoon will bring – and with the hangover from the pre-match beers kicking in), so it’s lovely to already be home as soon as the final whistle blows.

We’re at home again on Tuesday night, playing Hull City, who are top of the league despite losing today. However we fear no-one in League One, so let’s see what the night brings…

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