Jane Stuart – Writer

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

Blackpool v Coventry City: The Hand of Cov

It was Lee’s birthday today so we headed into Manchester for some pre-match adventures.

Everyman Cinema

It seems it’s now a tradition that we go to see a shit movie that isn’t quite to my taste on Lee’s birthday. Last year it was Tenet (which I didn’t understand even after reading about it on Wikipedia). Today it was Suicide Squad.

The cinema itself was an absolute beauty. Lee fell in love with this boutique cinema chain on a recent visit to Lincoln. And it was easy to see why.

We walked in through a dimly romantically-lit narrow seating area, with padded benches along one wall and table seating down the centre. There were even a couple of desks you could sit and work at if you were so inclined.

We headed through to the lounge, with a prominent bar in the centre of the room and ample comfortable seating in the main room and a number of side rooms. Again the lighting was ambient. As we took a seat we were greeted by our hostess, who took our food and drinks order whilst checking our pre-booked tickets. I clarified that we were able to eat and drink in the cinema room – and our order would be brought to us.

After some consideration, I ordered the Beef Dog with onions, ketchup and American mustard. This despite American mustard and the fact I don’t like hot dogs. I had enjoyed a hot dog at a recent match at Lincoln City Women and, more recently, at the darts at the Winter Gardens. Perhaps I had a taste for them now? Now to the beer menu…

I opted for the Ubu because it reminded me of my time in Birmingham. This was a beer I would often see down there but never order because of that fact. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed its flavour and it went down very well as I settled back into my sofa seat in the cinema.

We entered the cinema early because we could and because it was a comfortable room we could enjoy being in – unlike regular cinemas, where you want to spend as little time as possible in your seat because you’ve usually seized up by the end of the movie.

This was the highlight of the trailers. I wished we were here to watch this movie today:

Our food arrived just as the movie was beginning. The bread was nice (brioche?) but it was tricky and messy to eat in the dark and I would have something different next time.

The movie began. I tried to like it but soon realised that I was going to need another beer if I was going to get through it…

Frankly, the beer did help. It was a win/win, really. Either I’d fall asleep or would find the movie more amusing. The rats were my favourite characters, which I think says it all.

Half Way House

Back in Blackpool, we headed to the Half Way House for tea. We like it here because the food is interesting and – being a Joseph Holt’s pub – they always have ale on (and it’s not Greene King IPA).

This pub is full of local history and tonight we sat in the dining area, where there were outline plans for Blackpool Tower on the wall in front of us. Again, this is a building it is a delight to spend time in.

Tonight I opted for the hanging kebab because I hadn’t tried this here before and it sounded yummy.

Apologies, dear reader – I was so ravenous by this point, I demolished the whole thing before I remembered to photograph it for you. The sweet chilli and ginger sauce was especially delicious. I’ll be having this again (and will try and remember to photograph it for you next time).

I washed this down with a pint of Joseph Holt IPA.


Now it was time to head home and freshen up ahead of the evening’s match. By which I mean Lee was gathering together his camera equipment and I was raiding the naughty cupboard because I had my irresponsible eating head on. Last night we had been to Home Bargains (always lethal) to stock up on snackage for our long road trip to Bournemouth. I found these and tore into them.

I ate maybe a quarter of the packet. What happens to my diet on matchdays? I’m good as gold every other day…

Blackpool v Coventry City

As we parked up south of the ground, a passing driver slowed to a stop and wound down his window.

‘Why did you let Simon Grayson go? We’re lumbered with him now….’

It seems the honeymoon period is over for Larry at Fleetwood. We couldn’t assure him that things would get any better because our performances deteriorated when he was last in charge at Blackpool. Indeed it was a good 12 months after he left before I was able to stomach watching season one of Sunderland Til I Die. But I suppose at least now he is doing some good locally by uniting Blackpool and Fleetwood fans in joint trauma…

At the ground, I headed into the South Stand and was pleased to see a smaller queue for the refreshment kiosk tonight. I guess everyone had had their tea before they came and/or couldn’t face the queues and/or pies. As I took my place in line, I baulked at the price of Bovril.

I guess it might be worth that to be warm for a few glorious minutes on a freezing winter’s night but it seemed extortionate to me at this moment in time (despite the nip in the air). I opted for the bottle of Fanta, which would at least last me the entire match (and beyond – I’ve just finished it the following day).

As Lee had darted off to do a spot of pre-match filming in the Armfield Club, I revelled in the opportunity to spend a few peaceful moments alone. I do still consider football a solitary activity at times, having spent years travelling to matches alone – and often sitting alone. I withdrew into my own thoughts, chuckling to myself as I began plotting this blog.

I got stopped for a chat by three people on my walk to my seat and then by another once in my seat. It is nice to be back and be reconnected with faces that are so random and so familiar. Then David popped up and wordlessly handed me a Werthers Original. I like David.

I am, however, beginning to wonder if the Werthers are unlucky. For, despite me wearing my lucky Fritidsklader tangerine tee tonight, we did not come away with any points at all.

The Cov fans were in full voice for the entire 90 minutes – the best travelling support we have had here since Tranmere 18 months ago. It took me most of the match to figure out the lyrics to the one song they couldn’t stop singing, which I think went (to the tune of She’s Electric by Oasis):

He’s Brazilian

He only cost a million

And we think he’s fucking brilliant

Gustavo

On the pitch there was much shithousery – which we were promised in this league and it is delivering in spades. Indeed, Cov’s winning goal appeared to be courtesy of a handball. Fucking brilliant…

Blackpool had made changes to their line-up tonight, with Lavery, Bowler and James coming in for three below-par counterparts from Saturday. And we did make numerous chances. But we still need to step up a level to counter our opponents and the dubious officials at this level. I’m hoping at least that the latter will level out after a couple of months.

I spent much of the match in introspective mode. When I’m not enjoying a game, I’m rarely there in mind, even if my body is there. It’s a coping mechanism after 30 years watching a lot of poor football. Tonight wasn’t that bad – but I am hoping (and hopeful) things will improve.

Lee does not take defeats very well and he was ranting about the match all the way back to the car and all the way home. I had bought him some noise-cancelling AirPods for his birthday and I resolved to put them to good use in the car on the way home if we lost at Bournemouth…

Here’s our video memory of the night.

Next stop Bournemouth for the next in our Football Tourist’s Guide series….

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