Jane Stuart – Writer

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

Blackpool v Crewe Alexandra: Lytham Pubs

Dear reader, it is time to continue the pub crawl of the Fylde Coast. I haven’t been drinking in Lytham for several years, so let’s see what it has to offer.

The Craft House

This place wasn’t here last time I was in Lytham and I’m so excited to visit, I make it my first call. Billed as ‘friendly’ and ‘dog friendly’, I already know I’m going to love it. They serve hot and cold food – and won Blackpool Fylde & Wyre Pub Of The Year in 2019.

Recent checkins on Untappd include:

  • Seven Bro7hers Easy IPA
  • Tiny Rebel Stay Puft
  • Wily Fox Blonde Vixen
  • Lancaster IPA
  • Squawk Toco
  • Titanic Plum Porter

I sense that this place – as with most micropubs – has to be experienced to be fully appreciated and I can’t wait to visit in person.

Ship & Royal

This is a Greene King pub – which there are a lot of up here – but I am learning that they do vary in terms of beer and food offerings.

I’m so excited to see toasties on the menu, I can look no further.

Recent beer checkins on Untappd are:

  • Moorhouses Blonde Witch
  • Moorhouses Pendle Witches Brew
  • Moorhouses Broomstick Bitter
  • Greene King IPA

Many of the TripAdvisor reviews highlight the warm welcome offered by the Ship & Royal and I look forward to visiting this one.

I’m interested to note that bottled beers are currently available to buy online from Greene King. I’m not nearly excited enough by their range to place an order, but the highlights for me are:

  • Abbot Reserve
  • Greene King IPA Reserve
  • XX Mild
  • Belhaven Black
  • Belhaven Wee Heavy
  • Belhaven Scottish Oat Stout

I can’t remember the last time I had a mild on my virtual travels (possibly the goth pub in Ipswich?). Indeed, I’m horrified at how long it has been since I have enjoyed an actual pint of mild. This is the one drink I always crave when I return from an overseas holiday. Oh what I wouldn’t give for a session on the Church End Gravediggers Mild in Katz in Walsall right now! Perhaps I’ll call in en route to Lincoln for the Lincoln Imp Trail this summer.

The Deacon

Now this ‘modern British tavern’ is exciting, dear reader. The ‘Deacon at Home’ service provides takeaway/delivery so you can enjoy the pub’s food during lockdown. I’ve noticed Steak Box Kits in Manchester and been quite jealous. It would have been perfect for Valentines Day (that said, Morrisons steaks will be very hard to beat).

I’m going for the:

  • Chicken Liver Parfait
  • Fillet Steak (charred)
  • Dauphinoise Potato
  • Roast Field Mushrooms

If I was eating in, though, I’d be having these:

Black pudding on a crumpet!

Beerwise, they have:

  • Deacon Ale
  • Founders All Day IPA

And here’s how it looks:

Taps

Well, well, well. I never knew this was a Greene King Pub.

What excites me most about the menu here is the quirky pricing:

  • Steak & Ale Pie – £10.05
  • Hunters Chicken – £9.44
  • Chips with your sandwich – £2.18
  • Scampi & Chips – £8.13
  • Bacon & Egg Sandwich – £4.36

I don’t know why this amuses me so much, but I’m chuckling my head off here. This sounds like just the place to get rid of that loose change you haven’t been able to do anything with for the last year.

I want to have the Chicken Tikka Massala (which comes with Coconut Rice, Mango Chutney and a Poppadum) but it’s boringly priced at £9.99. I pay with a £10 note and £2.37 in loose change and say they can keep the change.

Recent beer checkins on Untappd include:

  • Acorn Sunset (bitter)
  • Kirkby Lonsdale Ruskins (bitter)
  • Greene King Old Speckled Hen
  • Bowland Bumble (honey)
  • Bowland Deer Stalker (stout)
  • Pennine Bohemian Raspberry
  • Settle Ernie’s Milk Stout

That’s a great range of different beers. I have to try the raspberry and the milk stout, so I order a half of each.

I haven’t been to Taps since its revamp a few years ago, so I’m interested to see what it looks like now. On previous visits I have enjoyed its traditional, nooky, dark interior. This is a pub that I could happily spend hours in, reading, writing, chilling. Sadly, there’s no time for that today, so onwards I go…

County Hotel

I was recently asked by Martin if it was still compulsory for me to have a substantial meal in every pub. The answer, of course, was a resounding YES (purely for research purposes). So let’s see what’s on the menu here:

The gammon lures me in because it comes with pineapple and egg and doesn’t force me to choose between the two, as so many pubs do. It’s like being asked to choose your favourite child or favourite song. How can anyone have a favourite song when there are so many bangers?

There are some good veggie options on the menu here, too. Indeed there’s a separate vegan and veggie menu. There’s a lentil cottage pie, which I can recommend – and only don’t choose because I’ve been eating one a week at home during lockdown.

Recent beer checkins on Untappd include:

  • Marstons Wainwright
  • Moorhouses White Witch
  • Saltaire Best
  • Franciscan Well Chieftain (IPA)
  • Tiny Rebel Easy Livin (pale)
  • Eagle Bombardier
  • Fyne Jarl

It’s almost time to head to the match, but I’ve got time for a flyer at the pub at the station…

Station

Ooh there’s a vegan menu here, too. Is this a thing now? This would make the transition much easier, without the temptation of steaks and chicken curries to tempt me over to the dark side. I’ve been eating a lot of vegan food during lockdown, when it has been easier to control what I eat. I’m not even looking at the regular menu here. I’m going straight in for:

Recent beer checkins are:

  • Robinsons Trooper
  • JW Lees MPA (Manchester Pale Ale)
  • Ringwood Boondoggle
  • Eagle Bombardier

Whilst I’m not overly excited about the beer range (whilst appreciating that recent offerings are unlikely to be representative of what’s on during pre/post-COVID times), it really doesn’t matter. Why? They do slushie cocktails! For pudding, I opt for a Piña Colada Slushie because why not?

Ooh these exploratory pub crawls are the future. And how wonderful that we now have a potential timeframe for getting back to the pub for real. I confess I’m certainly getting thirsty, finding all these cracking boozers and beers on my virtual trips.

But now to the match…

Blackpool v Crewe Alexandra

I had a good feeling about this one and was excited in the run up to the match. Again, this could have been my pre-match dose of midget gems. See the video below for how hyper they make me. We end up asking for ‘likes’ to stop me singing and the viewers duly oblige…

Crewe started off like lightning and we couldn’t get near the ball for the first half hour of the match. Bloody hell – they were good! However, despite our opponents putting the ball in the net (disallowed) and forcing a magnificent save from Chris Maxwell, they had failed to reinforce their dominance with a goal.

I’m not sure what happened with Donervan Daniels, but I looked at the screen to see him having a sit down on the pitch. He didn’t appear injured but definitely had the look of a man who had no intention of continuing playing – reminiscent of Neville Southall and his one-man sit-down protest. He eventually – seemingly reluctantly – got up and trudged off the pitch.

The game changed from this point. Crewe seemed less threatening and Blackpool got to play a bit. And then up popped Dan Ballard with a goal for Blackpool before half time and I considered us very fortunate to be going in 1-0 up at the break. How had that happened?

I had spent much of the first half trying to put a name to the colour of blue the Crewe keeper was wearing today. Have a look at the highlights and see what you think. SPOILER ALERT: Crewe equalise towards the end.

In the second half, one of the linesmen pulled up injured and was at length replaced by the fourth official. This interlude brought a beautiful moment where Critch wiped the flag clean for the replacement liner – and the Crewe manager joined in the bid to win his favour, helping him remove his jacket. It was lovely to see such warmth and banter between the benches and officials, as opposed to abuse being screamed from the dugouts. Football doesn’t have to be like that. Is this the influence of the smiling Jurgen Klopp?

On the subject of the Klopp Effect, I have been studying the way people speak to help me with writing dialogue. I have noticed that Critch often uses the phrase ‘in this moment’, which is unusual phraseology for a native English speaker. I wonder if that’s something he picked up from Klopp, too?

CJ is back! He came off the bench tonight and looked a class above. Boy could he be the man to propel Blackpool into the Championship?! It was such a boost to us fans – and I am sure the players as well – to see this magician back on the pitch. He did look a little match rusty – as to be expected, with him being out since Christmas – and he missed an open goal at one point. But even a match rusty CJ is head and shoulders above most players in League One. This is a player who excites me greatly and will certainly have me looking forward to matches more than I have been. This is a player who has the potential to add hundreds – nay thousands – to a gate, simply because people want to watch him play. Welcome back, CJ. We have missed you so much.

The Blackpool players looked absolutely devastated on the final whistle, slumping over as if they had lost the play-off final. I think that is a very good sign that they care and really want to win. They knew they had been in a game tonight and thought they had done enough. They won’t win every game; that’s just football. I’m proud of every one of them.

I couldn’t argue that Crewe deserved at least a point tonight. Whilst I’d have loved to see us romp up the table, I’ll settle for slowly, slowly, get to Wembley.

Right, we’re at home again on Saturday, so I’m off to St Annes to see what pubbage is there.

UTMP.


NB Pics above are taken from the websites referenced.


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