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: Accy Pubs

Accy was in my top three away days last season, predominantly due to the magnificent fanzone they had at the ground, where the music and atmosphere were so good I happily overlooked the lack of interesting beer. We spent the afternoon bathing in glorious sunshine and enjoyed a last minute equaliser to go home happy.

As this was a relatively local match – another against a Lancashire team that we don’t consider a derby – an early start was not required today. I headed to Blackpool North and boarded the 1022, which only stopped in Poulton, Preston and Blackburn, before arriving in Accy at 1110. Nice one!

In terms of pubbage, last year I only visited the Spoons (which I’m now boycotting, which is remarkably easy since they’re shut), but I know from previous visits that Accy has far much more to offer in this area. I set about my virtual pre-match crawl round Accy and wondered if anything new had popped up here (since 1970). Well, let’s find out, shall we…?

The Big Clock Brewery

Yay! There’s a brewery here!

Their range is as follows:

  • Pals 1916 (golden ale)
  • Golden Brew
  • Bitter & Twisted IPA
  • Dark Knight (porter)
  • Ruby 100
  • Ghost (imperial stout)
  • Lucifer (Irish red)

Bloomin’eck! Does EVERY town now have an exciting brewery? The British beer scene is way more advanced than I had thought. I really hope the beer landscape is equally as exciting in a year or two’s time. Dear reader, I urge you to support local breweries during these challenging times. Beers are certainly helping me no end. I went 19 weeks during and after the first lockdown with no beer and I have found week 20 onwards (with beer) much more manageable. I’m certainly worrying far less, despite my outgoings still exceeding incomings. Yay for fuck it therapy (a great read, by the way).

But I digress (as I do)…

I’m going for a half of the porter and half of the Lucifer because you know I’m easily enticed by an alluring pump clip and I’m never going to be able to resist this one…

Grants Bar Brew House & Pizzeria

This is the brewery tap for The Big Clock.

I’ve noticed I’m more adventurous in terms of my food choices on these virtual crawls. Today, instead of opting for the Penne Arrabiata, which I undoubtedly would if I was there because that’s my Italian staple, I’m having a pizza. Well, I am (not) in a pizzeria, so I really ought to. Now my pizza of choice would ordinarily be the veggie option, but of late I have been enjoying more meaty pizzas and am going to go against the grain and even plump for pepperoni today, because the fresh chilli and spicy sausage meat are too much to resist:

The beer list here (available to take away in 2L containers) is as follows:

  • Accrington Pals
  • Golden Brew
  • Bitter & Twisted
  • Dark Knight Porter
  • Black Jack Porter

I’m going for the Black Jack here, which has blackcurrant and liquorice flavours. Yum!

Honestly I might not have looked twice at this place if I passed it on the street, but it just goes to show a little time (three hours!) spent researching and writing these blogs unearths some little gems that I will be sure to visit when I’m allowed out again.

Peel Park Hotel

This is my favourite pub – and a must-visit – in Accy. It’s up by the old Accy ground – a bit out on a limb – but definitely worth the trek up to Turkey Street (how festive!).

This is a proper, traditional, multi-roomed boozer and I like it a lot. There are six real ales on, and (not particularly) recent checkins on Untappd include:

  • Brewdog Lost Lager
  • Farm Yard Holmes Stead
  • Farm Yard TVO 54
  • Jennings Cumberland
  • Theakston Pale Ale
  • Batemans Combined Harvest
  • Shepherd Name 1698

I’m going for the Batemans because I am a fan of their beers but especially this one, which is made with barley, wheat, oats and rye malts.

There’s no menu as such in here, but bar snacks are available, including pie and peas. That’ll do!

They even have a pubdog, so get bonus points for that:

Grey Horse

This is a Thwaites pub and is also dog (and presumably horse) friendly. I’m looking forward to enjoying a Wainwright in here. I can’t remember the last time I had that from the cask.

The beer list here is:

  • Lancaster Bomber
  • Original
  • Wainwright

I was actually only joking about the horses but it transpires that Thwaites do have dray horses that go on tour round their pubs. Here’s a video of Wainwright and Bomber visiting a pub:

I note there is a micropub in Oswaldtwistle called The Vault, which is in the 2021 Good Beer Guide. Alas I don’t have time to nip over there today, but will note it for a potential post-match visit on a future Accy awayday.

Accrington Stanley v Blackpool

We were expecting a tough game today – and we got it. Accy simply didn’t let us play, attacking feistily at every opportunity. Mercifully, we now have a defence that can cope with having the kitchen sink thrown at it. We’ve cut out the reckless mistakes (Michael Nottingham is playing for Accy today) and deal with forwards coolly. How have we achieved this? Great coaching, of course. They seem less panicky, unafraid to tackle when necessary, anticipating where attackers want to be and blocking their route to goal.

The decision to appoint goalkeeper Chris Maxwell as captain – criticised by some – I think is key here. Maxwell is by far the best keeper I have seen in a Blackpool shirt. I don’t even worry when he does something unusual because I am confident that he can judge situations and – crucially – times his reactions to perfection. Sure, he sometimes hares outside the box, but he always thinks outside the box. This afternoon, under pressure in front of goal, with an Accy player bearing down on goal, he chose to win the ball with his feet, as opposed to his hands or body, simply because his feet were nearer the ball and it was the quickest and most effective way of dealing with the situation. Having such a special keeper – and captain – behind them must give the defenders confidence.

Going forward we weren’t so effective today. Like against Hull on Tuesday, there were too many sloppy forward passes and too few decent chances carved out. Accy neutralised CJ Hamilton to all but a handful of opportunities, none of which were converted. And Sullay Kaikai wasn’t even in the squad today. Even when Kaikai is having an off day (as he did on Tuesday), he is still capable (like Hamilton) of producing that one moment of magic, that one delicious pass to put someone through.

One area in which we don’t miss Kaikai so much is with set pieces. Yes, dear reader, we now have two players who can deliver quality corners and free kicks, the other being Luke Garbutt. Garbutt was on set piece duty on Tuesday night – when Kaikai was playing – and I wonder if the diminished responsibility was partly to blame for Kaikai’s dip in form? Or perhaps he was carrying a knock or somehow not right. Anyway, I hope to see him back very soon.

The dream team of Yates and Madine Goal Machine was back together up front, but no goals were forthcoming today. Accy simply wouldn’t allow it – as we wouldn’t at the other end.

It wasn’t a pretty match – indeed quite the reverse. The conditions didn’t help, with the pitch becoming boggier as the rain became more torrential as the game progressed. The kitman must have been rueing the decision to deck the team out in the white away kit, the combative players caked in mud even at half time. In addition to muddy patches in the goalmouths, there were muddy channels running the length of the pitch. That said, the ball ran well along the ground, although players were slipping all over the park. As I watched the players’ shirts rippling in the wind, I was quite thankful not to be standing on the open terrace behind the goal at the Wham Stadium today. It would have definitely been one of those games where I spent half of the match watching the clock, desperate to hear the final whistle so I could get home to a warm house and a curry. Some games I just don’t want to be at (but endure anyway, because I’m addicted).

Quite how this game ended 0-0 I’m still not sure (despite having explained it to myself above), as we really were under the cosh for much of the match. That was a hard-fought and well-earned point.

You can watch us watch the match on Lee Charles TV on YouTube here:

We do a livestream every match, so please do pop in and join us and say hello. Next stop Rochdale at home (I know, they’re all technically at home these days) on Boxing Day.

My train home at 1812 had me back in Blackpool for 1906. I was gutted to discover that Yorkshire Fisheries had closed at 7pm so made a hasty diversion to Saddle Chippy (open til 8pm), where I picked up battered haggis, chips and gravy. Show me a better chippy tea than this (that isn’t from Steels in Clee).

Once home, I plated up my tea (one of the best in Blackpool), cracked open a Banana Bread Beer and settled in front of the telly for a spot of pre-Hotpotting chat with fellow Hotpotters.

Yes, dear reader, tonight was The Lancashire Hotpots Christmas gig live on YouTube. Lee and I spent the evening laughing, singing and dancing along with hundreds of fellow nutjobs who know exactly how to have fun on a Saturday night. I was quite relieved there was no conga tonight, as Lee has been busy painting the hall walls this week, and I wasn’t sure they (or our clothes) would survive a conga…

The Hotpots have a new Christmas album available for download here. There are some belters on there and it’s well worth the £6 and will raise a few smiles. Here’s the lyric video for ‘Santa Claus is COVID Secure’:

Sure, we can’t go anywhere, but we’ll always find football and live entertainment and that isn’t half helping. After a rocky first few months – with no beer and mood swings – I’ve now settled into being at home 24/7. It’s certainly great for my book. I’ve been in contact this week with an agent who’s expressed interest in taking on me and my book, so fingers crossed it will be out there in good time. Better crack on with getting it finished, now…

Merry Christmas, dear readers. Stay safe and keep smiling.

UTMP.


NB Pics above are taken from the websites referenced, with the exception of the chippy tea, which I took myself on a previous visit to Saddle Chippy.


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