Jane Stuart – Writer

Writer on beer, football culture and Blackpool FC.

Blackpool v Sheffield United & No 10 Ale House

This fixture was sandwiched between two heavy weekends and I wasn’t planning on going to the pub at all. But then:

1. I remembered I get complaints from readers when I don’t go to the pub (whatever the drinking equivalent of a ‘feeder’ is, you’re it); and

2. I saw that No 10 had Titanic Cherry Dark on.

Well that settled it.

I lined my stomach with a SlimmingWorld friendly Pepper Pork Chilli and set out on a nice long walk to start the evening in a healthy manner. I seem to be getting the balance right at the moment, with 3lb lost in the last two weeks, despite Wigan Beer Fest, Cheshire Pubs, my Northern Quarter mission and a Tour of Blackpool.

No 10 Ale House Blackpool & Thai Kitchen

I walked into the pub with my fingers crossed. Please please still have the Cherry Dark on! It had been on since Monday but surely they wouldn’t be THAT busy early in the week?

Ooh close but no cigar.

I patted the Cherry Dark pump clip (as I do).

‘One of those please.’

As my pint was being poured, I enquired about the new locals card. For £10 a year you get the following perks:

I had no idea if the cost would work out to my advantage but I thought it might encourage me to visit more frequently, as well as giving something back to this great pub. Oh and getting 10% off this pint.

‘They’re not on sale yet. We’re waiting til we put the prices up.’

As the famous Hotpots song informs us, the price of EVERYTHING is going up at the moment.

But I couldn’t complain because it was only £3.30 for this pint of lush beer, whereas I’m used to paying upwards of £2 for a half in Manchester.

I surveyed the pub for a suitable seat. I’d usually sit in the quieter back room but the Cheltenham racing was on quite loudly so instead I took a seat at a high table at the front of the pub (despite not liking high chairs because I’m not a baby). There were some coat hooks just behind me so I hung up my coat and bodywarmer. I was hot and sweaty after my long walk. I was going to enjoy this beer. Untappd told me I hadn’t had a Cherry Dark since February 2020 in Oxford.

Now I’ve had a few cherry beers lately, notably the Vocation Naughty & Nice Black Forest Gateau in Cardiff and the Mill Valley Black Forest Gateau in the Waterloo last week.

I can’t help but wonder if that Vocation beer has ruined other cherry beers for me, as the Cherry Dark seemed bland by comparison. Having been looking forward to it all week, it felt a bit meh. It’s funny how the palate develops over time. Indeed I drank lager for over ten years, before progressing to the likes of Landlord, then fruit beers, then dark beers. My favourites remain those with flavours that make my tastebuds dance. Dammit does this mean I’m veering back to keg…?

Nonetheless of course I returned to the bar for a second pint.

‘Same again?’

Ooh she remembered!

The Thai food in here smelled amazing and I began to wish I hadn’t eaten before I came. Which is exactly WHY I ate before I came. That said, I did lose weight the week when I ate here twice, so I don’t think it’s too bad for my diet.

Of note in the toilets here is this excellent and very powerful hand drier.

George the gaffer rocked up and joined me at my table before offering me a lift to the ground. I said yes without thinking that the walk to the ground formed part of my daily exercise. But still, I’d walked all the way here and it was only a 15 minute walk to the ground.

Blackpool v Sheffield United

It took me years to hone my football toilet strategy but I’ve got it sussed now. If you’re going to spend pre-match in the pub, go just before you leave the pub and then again when you arrive at the ground. It might not work for men with prostate problems but it works for me and sees me sitting comfortably through the first half.

Tonight I was disappointed that there was no hot water in the Ladies.

I even tried different taps and left them running awhile as part of further diagnostics. This is not good in facilities that don’t include hand driers (paper towels only). This hot water is usually a little treat at a cold match.

While I’m on the subject of toilet grumbles, it’s also really hard to find the end of the toilet roll in those dispensers. I swear it’s about ten times quicker to take my coat off, hang it on the back of the door (bonus points for the coat hooks in these facilities) and have a wee than it is to find the end of the toilet roll. Grr.

On entering the stand I immediately bumped into Lee, who was nattering with Derek, and I was set to work recording our pre-match thoughts for the vlog. I think I mainly complained about the lack of hot water.

I took advantage of Lee being distracted by someone else to make my way up to my seat. Just as I’d climbed all the steps and settled down, Lee rang.

‘You’ve walked off with the microphone. I need it as I’m about to interview the Canadian Sikhs.’

Mercifully Derek had followed me up the steps and offered to return it to Lee for me. Ooh we’ve got a runner now. We’ve definitely made it.

The team seemed strange again – one up front, Thorniley back in and was he going three at the back? – but we just shrugged and got on with it. We love and trust Critch.

I was approached by the man who bought me Midget Gems at an AFC Blackpool game who we’ve often seen since on our lockdown walks. He enquired where he could buy Lucky Orange Aeros, as he couldn’t find them anywhere. I confirmed they had them at the little shop on the corner of Bloomfield Road and Central Drive. He also praised Lee’s wonderful video of Clare, the daughter of Fulham fan Paul Parish, who passed away at our match there earlier this season. Like me, he had been in floods of tears watching this emotional yet heartwarming video. If you missed last week’s vlog, here it is as a standalone video.

Later another man thanked me for all the content that Lee and I put out.

‘Thank you. It is hard work.’

‘Yeah it must be hard work, drinking all that beer…’

The match wasn’t as frustrating as Saturday but it did end 0-0. The Blades were a good side, closing us down quickly. There were a few chances at both ends but all came to nothing. They had one disallowed, which was very funny and quite a relief. In the end we were satisfied that a draw was a fair result.

I keep forgetting to mention the lads who sit behind us. They drove me mental earlier on in the season with their constant moaning about my beloved Josh Bowler. Now they sing his song every match and it makes me chuckle every time.

We lingered awhile after the match as Lee filmed his closing scenes. Here’s the vlog for your enjoyment.

Back home, I headed immediately to bed. It’s quite tiring all this exercise and I’m sleeping very well.

Next Up: Alternative Blackpool Pubs then Chasetown v Cambridge City & Hotpotting in Derby

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