Jane Stuart – Writer

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

Blackpool v QPR – Tony Green’s 75th – Shickers Micropub

It’s been a busy weekend here at LCTV Towers: a party, a match, a disco and a new micropub. Here’s how it all panned out…

Tony Green’s 75th Birthday Party

Lee and I headed to the Stanley Matthews Suite at Bloomfield Road at 1730 on Friday. Tonight was the first opportunity I had had to dress up since Christmas 2019 and I opted for my tangerine and black tiger print dress, as organiser Chris Hull had invited everyone to wear something tangerine. This was only the second time I had been in the hospitality lounge since the end of the boycott. The first was for the 19/20 end of season awards do, which was weird because I didn’t know anyone there (especially the players). Tonight was different, though.

The room was empty as we were the first to arrive, as Lee was setting up his cameras and lights to film and photograph the evening. I took the opportunity to stroll around the room and take some photos to set the scene for you, dear reader.

I don’t remember Tony Green – as I only started supporting Blackpool in 1990, the year I discovered football – but I was here to learn about Blackpool’s history, support the event and spend the evening with fellow Seasiders.

The room was swarming with waiters and waitresses setting up the tables and placing the bread rolls on the side plates. I felt like I was in the way wandering around the room, so I retreated to my table. This was a good table, I thought, right by the bar at the rear of the room.

I was determined to stick to my diet tonight, which actually solved a problem I usually have in this hospitality lounge, as there is no cask ale here. I ordered a diet lemonade but these were the offerings on tap.

The barman was a friendly Leeds fan, who I promptly reminded about the recent anniversary of our 5-0 win at Elland Road, which he had blocked from his mind.

Around 1820, the guests started to arrive and the room filled up very quickly. We were on the Yorkshire Seasiders table, hosted by Phil. His friend Paul sat next to me. Also on our table were Alan and Christine from Leeds, Harry and Pieter from Donny, Houstie, Karen and Lee. It was already getting loud from the buzz of conversation in a room full of people like we haven’t experienced in years – including the throng of people standing behind me at the bar – and I was struggling to hear conversations around the table. A hearing test is next on my list of sensory improvements after I finally get me some contact lenses I can see out of.

I was already starting to get a little nippy in my seat. I think there was a draught coming from the door round the corner where people might have been nipping out for ‘air’. Hence I was grateful I had brought my little cardi, as there was no beer coat for me tonight. Perhaps this wasn’t such a great table, after all?

This was confirmed when the food started to come out. The tables at the other end of the room, by the entrance, were served first and we were served last. By the time our starters came, I was ravenous. Here’s what I had to eat over the course of the evening.

Sans cheese sauce

The other dessert offerings were sticky toffee pudding and custard and cheesecake, which both looked delicious. Mercifully my willpower was strong (which it would not have been, had I had beer), plus I was very tired by the time desserts came round. so not really hungry anyway.

There were a number of guests on the night who shared stories about Tony Green – and the birthday boy himself spoke at the end of the evening. Unfortunately the sound system in the Matthews Suite didn’t reach our end of the room, so I hardly caught a word. I did manage to catch a couple of jokes from comedian Mick Miller, though, who was very funny indeed.

It was strange but fascinating observing everyone around me getting more and more lashed as the night progressed while I remained sober: the increased frustration of some at not being able to hear proceedings (leading to abuse and almost a fight), the football chants from the rowdy table at the back, the slurring speech and increased noise levels. I think I would have enjoyed the night more with a few pints of Seasiders Way. I’ll be drinking that next time I’m here (when I should be at my target weight).

Even sober at the end of the night, I could not figure out what the design on this glass was supposed to be. Any ideas?

We headed home at the end of the event, around 2345. I was very tired indeed by this point, having been seated in the same chair for six hours. I would have liked to have circulated more but there wasn’t much room between the tables and it was a battle to even get to the ladies. But it was great to see the room so packed full of Seasiders. I am looking forward to many more party nights here.


A lie-in on Saturday morning would have been epic. I hadn’t been feeling great all week and needed to recharge my batteries. I wasn’t sure if my physical exhaustion was impacting my mental health or whether my depression was kicking in and manifesting in physical symptoms. I woke around 0800 – after a good eight hours sleep – and desperately wanted to roll over and go back to the Land of Nod. But Birmingham City tickets went on sale at 1000 and there weren’t many available. I knew they had issues with a restricted capacity at their ground – was this still the case? I wasn’t sure, but I knew I needed to be on the ball and get those tickets bang on 1000 to satisfy my anxiety (and Karen’s by proxy as I was buying her ticket too). After a lazy hour scrolling through social media, I finally hauled myself out of bed at 0920.

What could I do to perk myself up? I blasted out my ‘Get Up! Mix’, jumped into the shower, pampered myself with beauty products (my skin is taking a battering in this cold snap), dressed in snug clothes and was ready to face the day.

At 0955 I logged into my eticketing account ready to purchase the Blues tickets. Not there yet. Refresh. Ooh there they are. Not available yet. Refresh. Wait until 1000. Tickets not available for your level of membership. Check out our membership packages here. What?! Refresh. No joy. I wasn’t having this.

‘We’re going to have to go down to the ticket office. The online system isn’t working.’

So off we went down to Bloomfield Road, me still with my wet hair from the shower, but needs must. Tickets were promptly purchased and we returned home.

Hmm what to do on a Saturday afternoon when kick off isn’t until 1730 and I’m on a diet, which prohibits an afternoon sesh in the pub?

CHRISTMAS MOVIE TIME!!!

This was a funny feelgood film – and our first of the festive season. I LOVE Christmas. I might not be able to enjoy the lebkuchen and mince pies this year but there’s plenty about it I can enjoy – and I fully intend to. Next stop Kylie Christmas!

After a lunch of Thai Red Chicken Curry and Rice to warm me up, it was time to head down to Bloomfield Road (again) for this evening’s televised match.

Blackpool v Queens Park Rangers

It was lashing it down as we drove down Bloomfield Road, so I leapt out of the car outside the ground and trotted to the turnstiles. In the ground, I headed straight to the refreshment kiosk queue, which was again shorter than usual. I spied a tip jar on the counter, which I though was a bit rich, given that service had only just reached a tolerable level in recent weeks. Although I was delighted to spot the kissing couple in front of me buying some nachos to share during the match. I also remembered to snap the food menu for your perusal.

Absolutely zip on there I can have on my diet, hence eating beforehand. Bottle of water it was. I was pleased to note they serve Bovril, though, which I could have when it gets into the real depths of winter.

I headed up to my seat (I remembered my seat number tonight, so that was a win) and settled down for the evening. David quietly handed me a boiled sweet, as is his custom, and Stephen enquired after the team news. He was delighted to hear of Owen Dale’s inclusion.

‘He’s great at centreing the ball.’

I’ll confess that’s something I hadn’t observed, but I resolved to keep an eye out for it.

As mentioned above, my contact lenses aren’t the best, so I struggle to make out players when they are down the other (North) end of the pitch. But my goodness someone was whipping in some brilliant corners for Blackpool tonight. Was that Owen Dale? I was convinced of the fact, but have just checked and Matt Scrafton in the Gazette attributes the corner for our opening ‘goal’ to Ryan Wintle.

So, about that ‘goal’; it was the strangest thing. Replays showed the ball was over the line (ergo a goal) before Gary Madine (offside) connected with it. The goal was not disallowed for a long time – after all the celebrations – and I wonder what the delay was? If we do have goal-line tech, as Critch confirmed, what is the point of it? It seemed an absolute nonsense.

But Blackpool were not deterred. We are learning that we need to overcome dubious officials if we are to succeed at this level. We cannot keep letting them control the game in the favour of our opponents. The boys continued to battle hard and well, looking threatening on the attack. I found myself sitting forward on the edge of my seat on numerous occasions. This is brilliant stuff from Blackpool.

QPR took the lead with a belting strike (possibly their only one of the game?) but I wasn’t concerned. I knew we were the better side.

We were awarded a pen after their keeper flattened the sprightly Gabriel as he was trying to round him. The Blackpool fans were screaming for the keeper to be sent off but Gabriel wasn’t running towards goal at the time, so I think a yellow was the right decision. Madine stepped up and failed to be influenced by the keeper’s tricks to get him to shoot right, banging it into the left side of the net.

The game ended 1-1. We had to be satisfied with that, because it could have been a lot worse with those officials. For the third successive home game, the 90 minutes flew by. That is a sign of entertaining football. That is what we want. We aren’t always going to win and, for me, I am not sure that is as important as being entertained. It’s a fine balance at any rate. And I think we are getting it just right at the moment. It’s joyous. These are special times.

Here’s the matchnight vlog.

Lee headed off to The Armfield Club to do the post-match disco, while I headed off down Lytham Road, pushed forward by the wind.

Shickers Micropub

I had arranged to meet Karen after the match in this nearby micro which I hadn’t tried yet.

As soon as I opened the door and stepped inside I realised I was in heaven. It was dimly lit, warm and snug. It was bustling but not crowded, with tables available.

I joined the orderly queue at the bar and got chatting to the man in front of me about Nottingham pubbage.

Here are the beers on offer tonight.

Of course I had the Wigan stout. One beer was allowed on my diet. I would later switch to Diet Coke.

I opted for the dimly-lit table to the right of the bar and waited for Karen to arrive. She wasn’t too long – and was accompanied by her dentist, Steve, and his girlfriend, Tracey. Steve is a groundhopper from Scotland and today was his 40th ground of the 92. Today was Tracey’s first game and next weekend Steve is ‘treating’ her to a Friday night game at Hartlepool. Having experienced Hartlepool on a Friday night, we tried to prepare Tracey.

‘I had ten layers on and I was still cold.’

It was lovely to catch up with some Seasider friends in here, too, including Mark, who I hadn’t seen in yonks. I also had a bit of a debate with another Blackpool fan, who disagreed that promotion was a realistic option for Blackpool this season.

‘We’ve done it before. Surely the club is in a better position now than it was in 09/10, with a proper board and everyone pulling in the same direction?’

‘But would you say this current team is as good as the 09/10 team?’

That was an interesting question. I find it hard to compare players and teams of different eras. All I know is that something magical is happening at Blackpool right now. And this team – this squad – will only get stronger as Critch continues developing each player. We will be stronger at the end of the season than we are now. And look how good we are now.

At length I noticed a phone charger attached to the lamp on our table. How exciting was that?

There were also some pretty flowers in the ladies.

This was a lovely pub and it is ideal for holeing up in and getting warm after a winter match at Bloomfield Road.

I walked home. It wasn’t quite so blustery now and I was well-insulated in my Big Coat and bobble hat. It had been a lovely evening out.

Next up: Drinking in Darwen & Hotpotting in Blackburn.

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