Jane Stuart – Writer

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

Blackpool v Burnley: Back Home

Home games are a doddle now I’ve moved back to Blackpool. I don’t need to block out an afternoon to travel because I’m already here. After a couple of epic weekenders at Southport and Carlisle, it was refreshing to just tootle down the road for the Burnley match.

No 10 Alehouse

I remain a vagrant when it comes to Blackpool pubbage. Gone are the days when the football family would congregate in the Dog & Partridge (we were barred for celebrating the play-off win against Oldham too loudly when the locals were trying to watch the FA Cup Final) and latterly the Pump & Truncheon (sadly no longer with us). The five-year boycott ripped the football family apart. We never really got time to reconnect before COVID ravaged it again less than a year into our return.

Thus I don’t have a pre-match local these days. The football family can be found split across a number of different pubs. Some will be in the Waterloo; others in the Armfield, the Corner Flag and Bloomfield Brewhouse. But tonight, Matthew, I was heading for the No 10 Alehouse.

Situated on Whitegate Drive, adjacent to the Saddle Chippy (of battered haggis fame) and Saddle Inn (another good ale pub), No 10 Alehouse is a 15 minute walk from Bloomfield Road. Just enough time to finish your chippy tea en route.

I was pleased to see some outdoor seating available on our arrival. It was way too hot for me this afternoon – the promised storm had yet to arrive – and a beer garden (well patio, I suppose) was just the ticket.

I headed straight to the bar, though – because that sort of thing is allowed these days. I ordered half of each of the two cask ale offerings.

I cursed myself for failing to remember to bring my local’s discount card, but was advised that it could only be used when ordering pints anyway. Not sure how that’s different from two halves, really, but there you go.

As we basked in the, er, breeze outside, we began chatting with the locals. Much like its sister pub in St Annes, No 10 is very much a friendly local’s pub, where you just get chatting with anyone and everyone. Funnily enough, I don’t really remember it being like this when I visited previously. Perhaps, like when we all returned to Blackpool matches after a lengthy absence, people are just happy to be surrounded by like-minded souls again and embrace their company. Perhaps I’ve inadvertently become less anti-social since being allowed back out into the wild. Indeed I recall starting conversations with the man at the other end of my table (because he was there) and a randomer at the bar (because I deduced he was from Stourbridge and I like it there).

My second trip to the bar involved ordering a pint of the draft beer that I hadn’t noticed when ordering initially (my eyes are drawn by muscle memory to the cask pumps).

Indeed nor have I ever noticed this in the Joseph Holt pubs that I frequent (Water’s Edge and Half Way (sic) House) for the same reason.

When we had left the house, I had refused to take my tangerine cagoule with me because Alexa had promised it wouldn’t drop below 17C this evening. It was getting a little nippy now but I resolved I would be fine in the shelter of the ground. Besides, I would rather be a little on the cool side as opposed to too hot. I’m not one for the heat. Migraine trigger and all that. Nonetheless, Lee (succumbing to peer pressure from the locals) nipped home to fetch my cagoule. It is because we live locally that such things are possible. Amen to that.

On Lee’s return, we headed to the ground for this evening’s friendly fixture against a team we once had a fierce rivalry with – back in our Division Four days – but whom we have had a grudging admiration for in more recent years. Indeed it was Burnley’s promotion to the Premier League in 2009 that helped us believe that we could do it too – and indeed we followed suit the following season.

Blackpool v Burnley

I was dying for a wee by the time we arrived at Bloomfield Road – and of course we were seated round the other side of the ground tonight, so the turnstile was further away than usual. The South Stand (where we have our season tickets) was closed tonight owing to a lower-than-usual expected crowd. I was relieved to see no queue at our (adopted) turnstile.

‘Can I just check your bag, please?’

‘Yes of course – but could you make it quick please because I REALLY need a wee.’

That was a schoolgirl error, of course. I ought to know – with over 25 years’ pre-match drinking experience under my expanding belt – to go to the loo immediately before leaving the pub and then again in the ground immediately before the match. That, dear reader, is the key to not needing to go again during the first half (weak bladder notwithstanding).

After again being pleasantly surprised by the availability of hot water in the Ladies, I tried to figure out exactly where it was I was supposed to be sitting tonight. I pulled my (print at home) ticket from my handbag and looked lost in front of a steward, who kindly pointed me in the right direction. On realising we were seated practically on the back row, I immediately turned on my heel.

‘I’m going to need a drink before I can tackle those stairs.’

Mercifully there was no queue at the refreshment kiosk, so I was quickly equipped with a bottle of water and (oops) a bag of Haribo.

Not that you’d notice from what I consume in these blogs, but I’m attempting a health kick at the moment. We’ve recently acquired a static bike, which now lives in our living room to encourage us to get active as opposed to couch potatoing. You’ll have noticed that I enjoy good food and beer – and I would like to continue to do so without putting on weight.

But I digress. There were a few changes to the ground. There was a sturdier, more weatherproof looking press gantry beneath the roof of the ‘temporary’ East Stand. And there were sexy electronic advertising hoardings round three sides of the pitch (North, West, South). I knew they were coming but I had expected them to be annoying and distracting, like they are on the telly. But in real life – from the North West corner in the daylight – they looked mighty fine.

Blackpool’s squad was still paper thin as a result of COVID and injuries. Not sure that pre-season training camp was worth the subsequent isolations. It is certainly going to be a tough start to the season. And, with things being as they are with COVID, I wonder if more matches will be postponed across the board over the coming weeks and months.

But things are as they are. Our starting line-up was pretty strong.

It was all Burnley for the opening spell but Blackpool soon grew into the match. We have some pace going forward, with CJ Hamilton on the left (confusingly), Demi Mitchell on the right and OnThePissWithJerry Yates covering every blade of grass. And new signing Richard Keogh is already attracting rave reviews for his commanding performances at the back. And what else is there to say about Chris Maxwell? The man is an absolute hero in goal. Certainly the best I have ever seen between the sticks for the Seasiders – and we’ve had Joe Hart.

We made a flood of subs midway through the second half and our performance deteriorated – as it had when we did the same at Carlisle on Saturday. Some of the subs were slow to get up when they hit the floor and that is not what we have come to expect from this Blackpool team. There is much work to be done here. This squad still isn’t finished.

Burnley took the lead and held onto it, winning 1-0. Here is our matchnight vlog.

It feels great to be back out and about vlogging again. It was also heartwarming to hear a couple of our viewers remark how Lee and I had ‘kept them going’ through lockdown with our relentless content.

It almost seems as though we are destined to have another poor start to the season, what with all these players out and a less than ideal pre-season. It is going to be tough enough as it is in a higher division.

But how hard is it going to be really? We had three really good goes at relegation from the Championship when we were last up here, before finally entering freefall. It was almost easier to win promotion to the Premier League. So who knows what we can expect this season?

Next stop Morecambe (via Lancaster) on Saturday. See you there?

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