I wasn’t feeling the best this morning. I’d done seven pubs last night, woken up at 0500 dehydrated and found myself unable to get back to sleep – and my cold was coming out again with a vengeance (adding to the deafness in my right ear). As I lay awake I got to thinking about plans for the day ahead. We really wanted to do Peterborough justice in this Football Tourist’s Guide but I didn’t think we had nearly enough material for the video. I really wanted to go to Railworld (open 1030-1600) but also wanted to join the match afterparty on Charters. But the match was a 1230 KO. With the model railway stopping running at 1530, realistically that meant we had to go to Railworld pre-match. So we’d need to be down for breakfast by 0930 and I needed to be up around 0830. Urgh.
I crawled out of bed and made my way to the bathroom. God I was glad the season was ending today. These mad exploits every other weekend probably had a hand in how I was feeling today as well. I just wanted a rest! But it wasn’t happening today.
This was a brand new Premier Inn (used to be a police station, apparently). We choose to stay at Premier Inns because they’re all the same and you know what you’re going to get. But we’ve learned this season that they do vary in quality and have their own little quirks.
We had been excited to see a bath and a shower (over the bath) in this particular hotel. I stepped into the bath, was delighted to find a movable shower head, so I lifted that and held it between my knees while I twiddled with the controls on the bath taps. And then –
SWOOSH! A torrent of water rained down on my head. What?! How had that happened? I looked up and there was a static shower head AS WELL as the movable one. WTF? Why?!
I was in too much of a state now to figure out how to transfer the flow to the movable shower head (I have deduced that hotel showers are harder to control when I’ve been on the lash the night before) so I grumbled to myself and got on with the task at hand. I strongly dislike static showers because it messes with my morning routine. I like to wash my hair first and then wrap it up in a towel before continuing my shower. But static showers are difficult to navigate when you’re trying to keep the towel on your head dry. The bath was also perilously slippy and I had to take extra care in my fragile state so I didn’t slip. This was like the Krypton Factor and I DON’T NEED THAT WHEN I WAS OUT LAST NIGHT AND HAVEN’T HAD ENOUGH SLEEP AND DON’T FEEL WELL.
There were no soft pillows in this hotel, which may have been another factor in lying awake for over three hours this morning. I had to make do with a brick pillow, folded in half to raise my head to the required level (as I couldn’t cope with two brick pillows).
The TV had restricted volume. I understand why – so it doesn’t disturb people in neighbouring rooms – but the maximum volume wasn’t really very loud at all. Especially when you’re a bit deaf like me. I got up too late to catch the Corrie omnibus this morning so I wasn’t that bothered.
The hairdryer had more puff than usual but in my fragile state I’d forgotten to apply mousse to my hair so I ended up with fluffy hair. I couldn’t even wear a hat to cover it up as the forecast was glorious weather. Oh well.
Right. Breakfast. It was already approaching 1000 – and we needed to be at Railworld for opening at 1030 if we were going to do that justice before the match at 1230. I couldn’t function very well this morning so I defaulted to ‘follow mode’, following Lee down the corridor, into the lift and into the dining area. I soon realised that this doesn’t work when Lee is in filmmaker mode (most of the time) because he’s always stopping to film stuff and talk to people. I somehow ended up at a counter paying for breakfast but, because I had a cold in my ear, I couldn’t hear what the woman behind the counter was saying to me. I referred to Lee:
‘Did she just tell us where to sit?’
He was too busy filming and I felt lost. I think she’d said she was just going to clean this table here for us, so headed over there and Lee soon joined me.
Right. Now I needed to hunt down some food. Hmm. Was there any brown bread? I couldn’t see the top shelf of the bread rack because it was higher than my head. I asked Lee for help and he confirmed there was no brown bread as he stuck a bagel in the toaster. I looked round and found a member of staff scurrying past.
‘Excuse me – could we have some brown bread please?’
I headed over to the hot food counter and moved to pick up a plate – ow! that was hot. I found a stray napkin and used that to pick up the plate. Right. Hmm. There wasn’t much here. I added some bacon and beans to my plate as well as the three remaining mushrooms.
‘You have to ask for an egg.’
I got chatting to a friendly Seasider who was waiting for an egg he’d already ordered.
The egg man didn’t appear behind the counter for ages – come on, come on! – and I was beginning to regret adding food to my plate, as it was surely getting cold by now. I was beginning to understand why the plates were so hot. Eventually the egg man appeared with a tray of fried eggs so I added one of those to my plate.
By now the brown bread had arrived and I added a slice to the toaster. It toasted quickly – and slightly anaemically – but we were in a hurry so it would have to do.
I returned to the table with my plate to find Lee applying honey to his bagel with his fingers.
‘There’s no cutlery.’
I hunted down another member of staff, who assured me ‘there’s some on the way’, before I headed to the drinks station to make myself an Earl Grey.
Back at the table, very conscious of the time (or lack of it), I considered the items on my plate and wondered if it was possible to construct some sort of sandwich so I could eat it without cutlery. Hmm I could pile everything on top of the toast and make an open sandwich? But what about the beans? That could get messy. Could I dunk the toast in the beans and egg? But then how would I eat the rest of the egg? And where did the mushrooms fit into this scenario? NO IT’S TOO HARD! WHY IS EVERYTHING SO HARD THIS MORNING?! I’VE PAID £9.50 FOR THIS BREAKFAST – IT SHOULDN’T BE THIS HARD! I would have complained but I didn’t have the time or the energy and hospitality is having it hard at the moment and I’m sure they’re trying their best and maybe they didn’t order enough cutlery before they opened the hotel but for FUCK’s sake how long does it take to wash a knife and fork…
I made one final attempt to hunt down some cutlery and – ta-dah! – miraculously found some (hot from the wash).
I wolfed down my breakfast and didn’t have time to finish my brew before we needed to rush off. We headed back up to the room and I waited around for Lee to pack (I’d packed my stuff earlier) before we headed down to load the car.
Now the car park here was unusual. It wasn’t free for us, even though we were staying at the hotel. There was a 20-minute leeway of free parking for loading and unloading. Beyond that there was a charge every time you left the car park. We had planned to leave the car there for 24 hours (for which the charge was reasonable). But time was of the essence now – and I thought Railworld was further away than it was. So we incurred a charge for leaving the car park (much to Lee’s chagrin) and headed not really very far away at all to our next stop on the tourist trail…
Waze took us to where Railworld was supposed to be, but we were faced with a gated car park – with the gate firmly closed. Hmm. I tapped in Railworld Car Park but that was no use either. I was left with no alternative but to hop out of the car, walk round the gate and ask the car park attendant for help.
‘You drive to the end, turn – what way’s that?’ he pointed.
‘Left,’ I surprised myself.
‘Yeah turn left then you drive through that tunnel there and carry on through this car park then follow that little track there and that’s where Railworld is, down there. I could just open this gate for you but I’ve left the keys in my car and I’m a slow walker so by the time I’ve got there and back, you might as well just drive round.’
Lee was perplexed when I explained all this to him.
‘He’s left his keys in the car so he’s making us drive all the way round?!’
‘Oh never mind that – just drive. It’ll be quicker and we are running late, remember.’
Lee parked up in his favourite parking space (the one furthest away from where we need to go) and I scurried up to the ticket booth. Our entrance fee included free car parking, so that made us feel better instantly, as we could leave our car here until after the match (we had to drive through the football car parking to get here on our scenic route). As Lee returned to the car to display the ticket, a friendly man talked me through the map of Railworld.
Blimey there was a lot to get through here! We had to see the nesting moorhens, the Nene Valley Railway, the model railway…how long would it take us to get all the way over there? Hurry up back from the car, Lee!
We were instantly drawn towards the one thing that had attracted me to this place: the hovercraft.
We have seen all sorts of transport this season, from the Aviation Museum at Carlisle, onto Concorde in Bristol; we’d ridden on a fire engine in Sheffield, seen an FA Cup winning tour bus in Coventry and been aboard a warship in Hartlepool. But this was our first hovercraft of the season.
We learned that this train – billed as the future of transport in 1970 – hovered above the tracks using magnetic force and got up to speeds of 100MPH before funding was pulled by the Government.
There was an old steam train here, too – now rusting after the asbestos had been removed from its exterior.
There had been an old diesel engine here, too, but this had fallen prey to thieves, who had stolen various parts. Because these parts were irreplaceable, the engine ended up being broken up for scrap, with its salvageable parts given to Nene Valley Railway to maintain their similar unit.
We weren’t really supposed to be in this part of the museum, as it was being renovated following the break-ins – and a new garden railway was in the process of being constructed. However, when we explained that we were here researching the Football Tourist’s Guide, we were welcomed and even shown a vehicle we would never have found for ourselves.
The volunteers were very keen to talk about the museum and Lee was in his element, filming away. I remained conscious of time, thinking this is all great stuff but we’ve got to be at the match soon.
‘Oh here’s the steam train! You’ll be wanting to see that.’
The steam train had been on my list of things to do but, as it only ran on Saturdays and we were pushed for time as it was, I hadn’t imagined we’d be able to fit it in. But, lo and behold, thanks to my witchcraft, as if by magic, here it was, just pulling in at the station right next to Railworld!
I vaguely remembered a steam train at Aviemore from our pre-season trip to the Scottish Highlands back in 2005, but I have no idea if I went on the train or not. Whilst we sadly didn’t have time to ride on the train today, we were invited onboard to have a nose.
And we got to see the train depart at 1115.
Again Lee was in his element here, interviewing the porters, who looked very smart in their uniforms, as we learned more about steam trains, including how fast they could travel. Keep an eye out for the video accompaniment to this Football Tourist’s Guide on Lee Charles TV on YouTube for more on this.
By the time we returned to Railworld, it was almost 1130 – and we only had an hour to go until the match kicked off. I was feeling much better now, after an hour in the glorious sunshine learning interesting stuff, so I was more relaxed about arriving later at the ground. Besides, we had already visited the ground yesterday and knew exactly where the away turnstile was, which should save us time.
We also soon realised that Railworld was much smaller than it seemed from the map. There really wasn’t much ground to cover at all. We got slightly lost looking for the moorhens – and didn’t find them in the end – but were at the model railway in no time at all.
There was even a Thomas the Tank Engine model railway.
And there was a little train running round the perimeter of the room.
Our visit was now complete, so we made our way back towards the car.
Lee decided to move the car into the football car park, having confirmed that our ticket was valid for this car park too. This was a bit nearer to the ground but not much. And the ground wasn’t too far away either, so we were there in no time at all.
Peterborough United v Blackpool
As we walked round the ground, I remembered that my Twitter friend Justin had invited us to come and say hello to him, as he was working on the door of the club shop, so that we did. I was excited to find this ace Lego display inside.
As I approached the turnstile, I was surprised to see a man holding a ticket scanning device.
‘Ooh a person!’
‘Yeah, the machines cost too much for our owner – plus they’re knocking it down anyway.’
I was confused by the latter part of that sentence, as we were in a new stand. But this wasn’t the first person we’d heard complaining about the Posh owner’s lack of investment; none were surprised they were heading straight back down to League One – and they were expecting little from today’s match. This was encouraging for us, at least.
On entering the ground, my first stop was, as usual, the Ladies. On this visit there was only a confusing tap to report – but my half time visit would reap dividends, so keep reading.
I managed to get a shot of the menu at the refreshments kiosk, which I often forget to do.
I paid visits to a few friends in the stand for a pre-match chat, which proved tricky as (a) I was still a bit deaf, despite feeling better; and (b) the PA system was LOUD. I eventually settled on a seat towards the side of the goalmouth, where I thought I might be able to sit down and watch the match. I’m not one for standing for 90 minutes when I don’t have to.
The Blackpool fans were armed with inflatables, inspired by the visiting Derby fans last week – and also having enjoyed playing with the stray football at Barnsley the week before. We had loads of tangerine balloons, too – and I smiled as I saw a steward near me juggling with a balloon in his hands. This was in contrast to the miserable steward at the front of the stand, who attempted to deflate one of our inflatable balls. Why not just let us have our ball back? Blackpool’s Owen Dale gave the travelling Seasiders a wry look as he popped a balloon that had strayed onto the pitch.
I was interested (and not a little jealous) to see Peterborough still had terracing behind the opposite goal. Apparently they never stayed in the Championship long enough to have to replace it with seating.
But oh dear God, dear reader, this match was DULL. Blackpool made zero attempts to attack, passing sideways and backwards and it was like watching a Russell Martin team but EVEN DULLER, if you can even begin to imagine that.
‘Is it half time yet?’ asked a steward, a minute or so after I was wondering the same thing and checked the time only to find out there was ONLY HALF AN HOUR GONE.
‘How are your eyes today,’ asked Karen. I’d been struggling to see at Barnsley in my old contact lenses; I was trialling some new ones today.
‘They’re working, unfortunately. I wish they weren’t.’
We were deservedly 1-0 down at half time. Peterborough were looking sprightly but honestly we offered nothing at all. I just wanted to fast forward to the end of the game and the end of the season. Thank God there was no more of this dross to endure next week.
I escaped to the toilets at half time. I’d almost finished my first bottle of water in the first half, hence the need for a second visit. As soon as I turned into the Ladies, I was greeted by the most amazing sight.
‘Ohmigod I LOVE your jumper!’ I said to this complete stranger.
We got chatting and I soon learnt that this was Blackpool player Sonny Carey’s mum. She told me where I could get one of these jumpers (look it’s here and it’s on offer) and I had one ordered by the end of the day.
Also, now I knew how hard to miss she was, I now had a chance of successfully recognising Sonny Carey’s dad, who I famously never recognise (see Christmas Day in the pub, when I didn’t recognise Sonny either, and Huddersfield), to the extent that he said he was going to wear a badge saying ‘I’m Sonny Carey’s Dad’ for his next match. That was before Sonny had been injured but today was Sonny’s first start following his return. I’d messaged Sonny’s dad to ask if he’d be wearing the badge and he said he’d decided that he was just going to avoid me if I didn’t recognise him this time.
Anyway, while all that was going on, I’d missed the half time dinosaurs.
Dear reader, the second half got even worse. How? Well we lost 5-0. We just rolled over and let them tickle our bellies, just as Birmingham had done for us the other week.
Just as they had when we’d lost in the last minute at West Brom the other week, the Blackpool fans began singing their hearts out in advance of the final whistle. This time it was a defiant ‘you might have been shit today but we still love you’. On the final whistle, Blackpool players and staff stood and applauded us, hopefully in recognition that we had been better than them today.
The concourse was tricky to navigate, as there was a lot of beer spilled on it, rendering it very slippy. I was wearing my notoriously gripless Skechers today (as no rain was forecast), so I walked round the perimeter of the concourse to try and avoid the spillages.
As I exited the ground, I realised I was glad I hadn’t been sat with Lee during that drubbing. He’s bad enough when we concede a goal when we’re 3-0 up, let alone 4-0 down.
We were outside the ground for ages while we said our goodbyes to friends for the summer and Lee was conducting his post-match interviews. Someone pointed out that Jordan Gabriel was making his way past, so I pointed him out to Lee, who interviewed him for the video. I went over to join them after a while and Jordan greeted me warmly.
He was pleased to meet me, as I’m not usually around when Lee is filming, as I’m off doing my own thing (loo reviews et al). And what a lovely lad he was.
I then got chatting to Chris, who was sporting some great shark socks.
As we walked slowly round the ground, I spotted Sonny Carey himself and asked him how he’d enjoyed his Christmas dinner and told him how much I loved his mum’s jumper (why do I always say stupid stuff to this family?).
And then we somehow ended up by the player’s entrance when the players were coming out (how long had we BEEN here – and why weren’t we in the pub yet?!). There was some man giving all the players abuse as they came out but people were generally nice. I knew that the players would be feeling a lot worse after that than we were (I wasn’t that bothered, really, as the result was immaterial). I know it was important to some fans that we finished above That Lot Down The Road but they don’t matter to me at all and don’t occupy my thoughts apart from when we play them or if I need a pick me up after we’ve lost and want a laugh at their result.
Anyway here’s Lee’s match vlog:
Now it was time to join the after party on the barge! Speaking to the locals last night, they’re not such a fan of Charters and don’t understand its appeal to away fans. I feel the same about the Manchester in Blackpool (not that I’ve ever been). Charters is a real ale barge with a huge beer garden with outdoor bars, so it’s a great space for an awayday party, as there’s room for everyone. It’s also very handy for the ground. They mainly serve Oakham beers and also Thai food. As we approached, we could see the party was in full swing.
As Lee stopped to chat and film, I headed onto the barge to look for Mark and the Leyland & Chorley Seasiders and get the drinks in.
So plenty of beers on but I struggled to find one that appealed. I really wanted a dark beer (I’d earned one after enduring that 5-0 defeat) but I don’t like Oakham beers. It’s just one of those breweries (like the now defunct Wapping Brewery, formerly based at the Baltic Fleet in Liverpool) whose beer my palate is averse to. Maybe it’s something to do with the beer/boat combo, as I don’t like IPAs, either.
But then I spotted this.
After chatting with the indoor lot for a bit, I headed out in search of Lee to deliver his drink and see what was what in the beer garden. There were dozens of groups of partying Seasiders – including the Yorkshire Seasiders and Blackpool Association of Supporters In London (BASIL) and this really is a delightful place for an away trip. Loads were staying over tonight.
See this guy in the tangerine suit (and shoes!)? That’s Chris, who you may recall we met on HMS Trincomalee in Hartlepool. Well, when he came back from the bar with a tray of black sambucas, we knew it was time to leave.
It was now approaching 1600 – the time Railworld closed – and we couldn’t be confident of the car park remaining open much longer after that. So it was time to reclaim the car and head home after yet another amazing weekend away watching Blackpool (despite the result).
I hadn’t eaten anything since my rushed cold breakfast, so I raided the boot for some snackage. We’d been to Asda yesterday for a holiday food shop. I was excited to find some Alpen Oat Blends Cocoa and Peanut bars (which count as a Fibre Healthy Extra on SlimmingWorld), so I tucked into one of these now to keep me going until we got to the services.
Again Waze sent us via the A1 and again we stopped at Blyth Services, which again confused me because I thought Blyth was in Northumberland. However, on this visit (after a 5-0 defeat), I could not resist a visit to Burger King.
This is described as ‘A Chicken Royale patty, katsu curry sauce, pickled slaw, crispy onions, mayo and two cheese slices between a long sesame seed bun.‘ Sounds lush, right? With lots of flavour?
Dear reader, I wolfed this down on a bench outside the services. And was disappointed that there wasn’t MORE flavour. I suppose that’s a problem with these chain places – as they’re catering to the masses, it seems that they’re frightened to overpower them with flavour. But if I didn’t WANT flavour, I’d have ordered a plain one, wouldn’t I?
That said, perhaps I’d have tasted more if I had taken the time to savour it, instead of practically swallowing it whole. I have been told that I ‘eat like it’s about to be taken off [me]’ so maybe I should slow down a bit.
I raided the boot again for pudding.
We’d been listening to my Upbeat playlist for the first part of the journey but something happens to the music when we stop at services and it went a bit miserable, so I switched to something cheerier.
The journey home was strangely much quicker than the southbound journey and we were home by 1930.
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And that, dear reader, is that for the 2021/22 season. It has been an absolute blast, with many happy memories made (some of those even at the football!). Despite the season peter(borough)ing out, Blackpool maintained a steady mid-table position in the Championship all season, which is no mean feat for a newly-promoted club with our budget. Lee and I made loads of new friends on our travels and I hope you’ve enjoyed our Football Tourist’s Guide series – which will be back for 22/23 after we’ve had a well-earned rest!
I’ve usually got the summer weekends booked up well in advance – but not this time. Sure, I’ve got the odd thing pencilled in – including the annual pilgrimage to Clee and Lincoln – but mainly I’ll be chilling at home. It’s a combination of being exhausted and the rising cost of living, which I suppose is one reason I’m out all the time, as it helps me forget about the bills.
I will continue to write, of course, and have already started thinking about my next project – the return of the Blackpool fanzine, Now That’s What I Call Progress, which will return for 22/23 after a two-year hiatus because of COVID. So that will keep me busy throughout the close season. Back issues 1-5 are available online here and hard copies of issues 1-4 are available on request (email email@example.com for details).
And of course I’ll be getting itchy feet soon and having blogworthy adventures locally (and I’m conscious I’m overdue a Manchester Mission).
Meanwhile you can read about many more of my adventures on this website, navigating using the menus above. All of my content is FREE but you do have the option to buy me a beer on a forthcoming trip – or make a regular donation to the football and beer tourism fund – by clicking on the link below:
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