Jane Stuart – Writer

Writer on beer, football culture and Blackpool FC.

Blackpool v Preston North End: Now That’s What I Call A Derby

It has been sooooo long since Blackpool had an actual Proper Derby that I can’t actually remember the last one. I’ve just looked it up out of interest and we last played the Nobbers in the League Cup in 2013. I have no memory of that. Before that, it was 2009/10 in the Championship. So we haven’t played them in the league since we were in the Premier League. Obvs we’ve been on a bit of a journey since then but we’re back now – boy are we back!

So, how do you prepare for a Proper Derby when you’re on a diet?

BBC Radio Lancashire

Dan from Radio Lancashire contacted me to ask if I’d like to appear on their preview show on Friday night. It was me, a Preston fan called Jack Bridge and Brett Ormerod (the Blackpool legend we have conveniently forgotten played for That Lot Down The Road). I honestly had no intention of having a dig at our opponents but Jack fired the first shot and…well the words just came out. Here’s the link.

As the show progressed, I realised even more how important tomorrow’s match was. God we needed to win this one! That really would be a statement of intent that Blackpool Are Back, wouldn’t it?

Regent Cinema

I was invited along to a little indie cinema on Church Street for a viewing of Nightmare on Elm Street.

I wasn’t sure if I’d seen this film before – Lee ribs me all the time for having a memory like a goldfish when it comes to (not) remembering films. But I’d definitely not been to this cinema before and I was excited to see what it was like.

The Regent ‘is an antiques, vintage, craft and retro emporium spanning 3 floors in an old 1920’s cinema‘. I had been in the antiques shop on the ground floor – which is ace in itself – but never the cinema upstairs.

We’d pre-booked, so – after checking in with the man on the door – we headed straight upstairs to the cinema. The walls of the stairwell were lined with posters for classic movies, which is what Regent specialises in.

The cinema room was well-lit, which made a refreshing change from your regular cinema screens; it’s nice to be able to see where you’re going. There were ‘couples seats’ for two on the back row. I was with Lou and Steph so we headed down to the front row, where the seats were separated by a little table/shelf where you could comfortably rest your drinks.

We headed to the little refreshment room at the back of the auditorium on the left (as you look up). They sold popcorn, alcoholic and soft drinks and bags of sweets. As I’m back on the Slimming World plan, I took my own drink to the cinema with me (diet pineapple and grapefruit pop). I was half-tempted to buy a cheeky vodka to add to it but they only had Smirnoff, which I’m not a fan of. There was also bottled beer, wine and other spirits. But I resisted. And obvs popcorn and sweets were a no-no. But I’d wolfed down a (healthy home-made) curry before I’d come out, so I wasn’t hungry.

We settled back in our comfortable seats. I was amused to look over the balcony at the front of the auditorium and see the antiques shop downstairs in all its glory. This place was so quirky! I loved it.

It was a bit nippy in here so I kept my coat on. It was a huge space and must take some heating. Plus it has been very cold in Blackpool this last week or so. As I snuggled down, I warmed up as the evening wore on.

I was straining to hear the film at the start but either it got a little louder or I tuned into it as it progressed.

I really enjoyed Nightmare on Elm Street. It was a sufficiently interesting storyline such that I couldn’t tell where it was going. It featured a young Johnny Depp. And it was full of brilliant 80s cultural props: wired telephones, cassette players, record players – as well as some great 80s haircuts.

I also really enjoyed the Regent Cinema. I’ll definitely be back there to see another classic movie (and remember to take photos next time!).

On Saturday morning I took full advantage of a rare lie-in. I was still catching up on my sleep after the long midweek trip to Reading. The adrenaline had carried me through Thursday but I’d almost nodded off in my seat at the cinema on Friday night.

I was determined to get to the half-stone mark at my next weigh-in and, mindful that matchdays can be a challenge for a diet, I rustled up a cooked breakfast from stuff I found in the cupboards.

  • Baked beans with diced tinned lean ham and Worcestershire Sauce
  • Fried potatoes, lettuce and leek with black pepper
  • Fried egg
  • Drizzled with Tabasco Sauce (you can blame those Lincoln fans and Nibble in Hull for the hot sauce on breakfast thing – but do try it!)

I caught up on last night’s Corrie, which was incredibly dark and had an 18 rating despite being aired before the watershed. How does that work, then? I was in floods of tears at the end. It was great drama.

Wot no pub? Well no.

(a) I was trying to have a Good Diet Day; and

(b) I was anxious about being out and about, what with the high risk nature of this match.

Blackpool v Preston North End

Lee and I headed out a little earlier than usual to ensure we got a decent parking space and also I wanted to get into the ground early, as I was conscious our entry point to the ground was next to the away fans, who I was anxious to avoid.

It was around 1410 when I entered the ground. The South Stand concourse was already milling with Blackpool fans. The queue for the refreshment kiosk was also really long. I had been hoping to avoid a long queue – will they ever get this right? – but at least there was no time pressure, with kick-off still a long way off. I got chatting with a man in the queue and admired his shoes.

I am not sure what this was all about.

A bottled beer bar I could understand. A little kiosk just selling crisps, snacks and soft drinks I could understand. But a wine and frosé stall? Every credit to the girls for giving this a go but I’m not sure a football ground is the right place for this! Nor does it appear to be what the fans want, judging by the non-existent queue…

After finally getting my bottle of water that I had queued for maybe ten minutes for, I made my way round and up into the South Stand. Perhaps it’s my diet starting to kick in but I found the stairs a little easier to climb. That said, I did stop for a chat with someone halfway up.

The Seasiders were in full voice half an hour before kick-off as the stands began to fill up. After the players had gone back to the dressing rooms after their warm-up, this magnificent work of art unfurled in the North Stand.

This was the work of the supremely talented Blackpool artist Rob Purdon (already under the Nobbers’ skin and rebranded ‘Wanksy’). And what a spectacle it was.

The flag made it all the way across the North Stand then, as it turned the corner into the West, it ended up on the wonk. To be honest, it was a poor effort by the West Stand. I think we righted it in the South. And then somehow it ended up back in the North, although I am not quite sure how that happened.

The players came out to a rapturous reception. We were back and we believed in these boys. There was no way we were not going to win this match. We didn’t even consider it an option.

I was delighted to see Bowler back in the starting line-up. Madine for midweek man-of-the-match Sonny Carey was a more curious selection, but I explained this away as Big Gaz being able to ramp up the shithousery to the required level for an important derby.

Blackpool continued exactly where they had left off at Reading midweek: buzzing and rampant and all out attack attack attack. Lee remarked that this was typical Blackpool, making chance after chance but failing to capitalise with a goal. But I knew this was different. This was Blackpool in a completely different gear. There was something terrifying about these Blackpool attacks. Like at Reading, we had a number of penalty appeals. We were getting in the box. And we were looking deadly. It was only a matter of time. Bowler and Gabriel were linking up brilliantly on the right.

And then I’m not really sure what happened. I’ve just watched the highlights of the match and I’m still none the wiser. Keshi made a weak shot and the Preston defence and goalkeeper just watched it trickle past them and over the line into the net. Had there been a whistle? Nope. It was 1-0 to Blackpool. Ok – I’ll take that!

The first time we looked at the clock there were 41 minutes gone. Where had that time gone? The first half had flown by. Preston put their first really good move together but nothing came of it. And then it was half time. I was happy and relaxed and remained in my seat.

The second half started very differently. Preston were having their little spell which was bound to happen. We wouldn’t let them score, though, would we? They remained on top (whilst still trailing 1-0) until the 68th minute, when Jerry Yates did a sweet little nutmeg and Gary Madine tapped one in at the North Stand end. 2-0. Game over.

When the board went up for six minutes added time (there was a clash of heads with Gabriel and one of theirs), we made our way down to the front of the stand so we could get out of the ground early to avoid any trouble that might occur when the two sets of fans exited close to each other.

We couldn’t see much of what was going on on the pitch from down there but apparently there was a melée and Alan Browne was sent off for the visitors. Having watched it back, it was all started by a proper shithouse of a challenge from Callum Connolly, a player making his first appearance since his sending off earlier in the season. This followed an earlier shithouse challenge from James Husband, who had somehow managed to clear the ball and then take the player out in the same move. We simply NEED to be shithouses in the Championship because that’s how this league works.

And then the final whistle blew. YES! FUCKING YES!

And that, dear reader, puts us joint fifth.

Here’s our video memory of the day.

It turned out that the exit from the ground was not as hairy as I had been dreading. We were diverted off Bloomfield Road down one of the side roads; Bloomfield Road being blocked by police vans, with Nobbers on the other side. It worked well as far as I could see and I felt safe on my walk back to the car.

Home early and safely, I settled down onto the sofa and wrote this blog, interspersed with reheating a homemade Sweet & Sour Balti Chicken Curry and rice, watching You and battling with the printer to try and connect it to the new WiFi (so far unsuccessfully – tips welcomed).

Today had been a Good Day.

Next Up: A Football Tourist’s Guide To Sheffield.

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