To go or not to go? To pub or not to pub? Those were the questions. I think you know me well enough by now to have figured out the answers to those.
I started out the day with good intentions. I had a bit of a lie-in (a rarity these days) while I pondered what I was going to have to eat today. We have our groceries delivered on a Sunday, so the cupboards look pretty bare come Saturday. I was struck by inspiration and decided on a turkey and cranberry wrap. We had no cranberry sauce in, so I improvised with marmalade. It worked well enough. Nonetheless I added cranberry sauce to tomorrow’s shopping list.
I washed this down with a brew while I continued reading W C L D N by Glen Wilson. This book charts the 2018 World Cup through the eyes of a man suffering with depression and watching (mainly) from London. The main thing I took from this book was quite how multicultural London is – he managed to find people of every nationality represented in the competition in some interesting-sounding bars. It made London seem human. Perhaps I don’t give the city enough credit. Anyway, it’s a nice, short read that will transport you back to the summer of yellow grass.
Karen made a flying visit and we exchanged Christmas presents and it was apparent my gift was beer. Shortly afterwards, the postman delivered me another box of beer (from a mystery sender, as I hadn’t ordered any). I haven’t drunk beer at home since starting my diet ten weeks ago so the naughty cupboard is stocking up nicely. I would have more to add to it before the day was out.
Blackpool v Peterborough United
I decided to get to the ground early today to get through the COVID pass checks while it was quiet. Lee dropped me at Bloomfield Road around 1345 and there were no queues at this time. I stopped to chat with Steve Rowland, the Supporters Liaison Officer, about the poor customer service I was receiving (i.e. none) from Nottingham Forest in response to my recent complaint, which he assured me he would follow up.
I headed straight to the refreshment kiosk (again, no queue – this is a genius time to arrive), where I purchased my now customary bottle of water and Bovril.
‘We’ll have to take the lid off your bottle of water, I’m afraid.’
‘Why, what do you think I’m going to do with it? Apart from lose half of the contents when it’s kicked over? Can I at least have a glass for it?’
I am really not happy about this lid situation and kicked myself for not raising it with Steve just now. It’s ludicrous, annoying, unhygienic and a bloody nuisance. I hoped at least this makeshift lid would have some effect in the event of a horizontal bottle.
Lee had armed me with a lid in my handbag but unfortunately this did not fit. Mercifully, my row was not so full today, so there was no spillage on this (rare) occasion.
Now in my seat, I pulled out my phone and finished off my book as I sipped my boiling Bovril. At length I was joined by my neighbours Derek, Besty and finally Lee.
We were delighted with the team today, with Gabriel, Lavery and Bowler all starting. We know a winning team when we see one. And weren’t Peterborough’s shirts nice?
Then Peterborough took the lead on 11 minutes. The handful of travelling fans in the sub 10k crowd went wild. Grr. Was this going to be the same as the last few long weeks? I soon realised not. Because this was Darren Ferguson’s Peterborough we were playing – and this always means a good, open game of football – where Blackpool usually come out on top. And besides, Joshy was looking electric. There was a lot more to come from this game yet.
And, sure enough, things started to look up. We took a couple of good corners – and then Joshy delivered a perfect ball to Keshi to equalise. Game on.
To be honest, I did drift off quite a bit during the rest of the match. Peterborough were very Gillingham in breaking up our good spells with long injury breaks, which was really annoying. The ref gave some questionable decisions, too. Shortly after failing to award us a penalty for what we thought was a handball in the box, he got belted in the head with the ball, which I thought served him right. No histrionics from him, though, nor from our Reece James, who was also hit in the face and just got up, manned up and got on with it.
The game sprang to life in the closing minutes, with goals from substitutes Sonny Carey and Jerry Yates. I was delighted for both of them as they did what they had been brought on to do, having replaced Lavery and Madine who had both failed to score in 72 minutes on the pitch. Ha! Your time-wasting didn’t do you much good there, did it, Peterborough?
And so we came out 3-1 winners, which I was delighted with. We hadn’t scored in our last four matches so it was brilliant to break our duck. You could see how delighted the players were, too, which was lovely.
Here’s Lee’s video memory of the match:
We finished off the bottle of water and I stuffed it into my handbag so I could research a lid that would fit. It was all a bit Cinderella.
On the way out of the ground I noticed these, which seemed exciting.
No idea how they work but I’ll investigate further and let you know.
I was so cold by the end of the match – and I was walking home tonight, too, with Lee DJing the Christmas party at the Armfield Club. I contemplated popping into the pub ‘for a warm’ on the way home. It was so cold as I exited the ground that I was jogging on the spot at pedestrian crossings to avoid freezing. I quickly realised that I needed to get warmed up sooner rather than later as I had been exposed to the cold for over three hours now (a downside to arriving at the ground so early).
I looked across and noticed the top of the tower had disappeared in the fog.
How could I resist the warmth of Shickers? The mere thought of it was like an oasis in the desert. I knew it was tantalisingly close and I could not wait to be in its warm bosom.
When I got there, there was a queue for the bar that was winding out of the door. Oh. I stood outside and recommenced my jogging on the spot. I really needed a wee as well, as I’d been avoiding the concourse at the ground at half time. I contemplated pushing my way in to the back of the pub to use the toilet but the small pub was looking crowded and you know I don’t like crowds at the best of times – nor did I deem this a sensible move in these days of a virulent virus.
I took the decision to carry on walking because I really needed to not be cold for much longer. I didn’t resist Shickers, but Shickers resisted me. However I soon realised there was another pub – more spacious and not very far away.
You may recall I called in here (as well as Shickers) on my walk to the ground ahead of the Luton game and was met with a warm welcome. So I crossed the road and was here in two shakes of a lamb’s tail (whatever that means).
I was hit by a welcome wave of warmth on entering this pub. Ahh…
I headed straight to the bar, where I surveyed the pump clips.
CHOCOLATE ORANGE PORTER!!!
As I ordered that and complained about the cold, I was invited to stand by the radiator to get warm, which I promptly did. But, now I was standing still, I remembered I needed a wee, so I took the opportunity to visit the best pubtoilets in Blackpool.
When I returned to the bar, I took a seat at the bar – something I have not done for a very long time. For this is a very friendly pub where staff and locals alike will happily chat with you at the bar. And that’s a beautiful thing. That’s a sign of a Good Pub.
I chatted with the BFC fire safety officer, who told me about different types of flares and the injuries sustained by people who came into contact with them. Quite why people take these into grounds makes no sense to me.
I engaged in dark beer chat with Fletch, the gaffer, who invited suggestions for future selections (ooh, where to start?). He said there was one beer that no-one liked and kept getting re-donated as a prize when people won it. My interest was piqued and I enquired what it was. I said it sounded nice and was duly gifted this can to sample.
I stuffed it into my pocket to add to my ever-growing naughty cupboard.
Meanwhile the chocolate orange porter was going down very nicely and what was only supposed to be one pint quickly and easily turned into three. The beer and the company were so good I felt compelled to stay and support this wonderful pub.
I made a point of posting on the Blackpool Fylde & Wyre CAMRA Facebook group to spread the word about this excellent hostelry.
Please do visit. A lot of love has gone into this pub – as you will see from the decor – and it deserves to thrive.
In addition to the free can of beer, I was also offered (nay, practically force-fed) garlic bread from tonight’s caterers, Bedrock Pizza. It looked and smelled amazing but I had to decline for diet reasons. I was already two pints over my daily syn limit. It was heartily snaffled by my fellow bar-hoggers.
My hunger forced me regretfully out of the door and back out into the cold Blackpool night. I hadn’t taken my coat or hat off in the pub and – now with my beer coat on too – I was not at all cold on my walk home.
Safely home, I put some pasta on the hob and a tin of plum tomatoes in the microwave. That would have to do. And it was pretty nice, by all accounts.
I was also delighted to find that the lids from the bottles of pop that I drink a lot of fitted the bottle of water I bought at the match. Problem solved! Where there’s a will, there’s a way…
And then I settled down to watch the film I had been looking forward to all day.
What a delightful day that had been. I don’t know if I’ll be going to a match or a pub again any time soon but, if not, those are nice memories to keep me warm. And at least my beer supplies are nicely stocked up in preparation for hibernation.
Merry Christmas, dear reader. Keep warm and stay safe.
Next up: Christmas Day in the pub & Boxing Day at Huddersfield. I hope.