Jane Stuart – Writer

Writer on beer, football culture and Blackpool FC.

Blackpool v Everton

The superfans amongst you (that’s you, Martin) will have noticed the lack of midweek Salford action. Frankly, I don’t like hot weather, I’m not overly keen on beer in hot weather (as you know I’m a mild/stout/porter drinker and they are GLOOP in hot weather), the trams were cancelled and I didn’t fancy (a) walking or (b) bussing from Manchester to Salford in the heat. So I headed home instead and Lee and I did a watchalong of the match.

Today the weather had cooled to a pleasant 22C and it was time for a home friendly against Everton.

Pre Match

I have taken to getting up early to catch up on admin, correspondence and writing. On my to do list this morning was the editing and distribution of the Blackpool Fylde & Wyre CAMRA minutes and agenda for the July meetings. Past Me proved helpful here in typing up the minutes during the meeting and saving templates in a special CAMRA folder on my desktop, so this didn’t take too long.

Next Lee and I headed out to Morrisons on a fruit run (yes the diet is in full flow here). I’ve been 100% on plan this week apart from a couple of hours on the pizza and lager (neither of which I like) at a social in Manchester in the week. Neither of these were worth a photo – I only consumed them to be sociable – but here’s some graffiti from the toilets.

Indeed I was so on plan – and already 2lb down this week – that I was reluctant to go to the pub today, which would have been just for the sake of this blog. I was calculating in my head where I might go before or after the match (should I tackle Lytham Road?) but my heart really wasn’t in it. I was beginning to worry that this blog might start to become a bit of a chore, which I really didn’t want at all (oh, do I HAVE to go to the pub?). And then, on the way to the checkouts in Morrisons, I was struck by a genius idea. Of course! I’m a creative so of course there’s a creative way out of this problem, allowing me to include beer in this blog without risking my diet and without even going to the pub. I headed for the beer aisle to contemplate what I would have bought, had I still been drinking at home. Et voila.

This is one I never can resist. Surprised it’s 5% though. Fruity.
Ooh this sounds PERFECT for the hot weather. I’d be all over this.
Love a bit of fruit beer with ice in on exceptionally hot days.
When did supermarket beers get THIS good? It was all Badger and Banana Bread in my day.
Remember my virtual blogs when I’d try things I might ordinarily be scared of? This is one of those things.
I’ll confess this one almost leapt into the trolley but, dear reader, I resisted.

Don’t worry, I’ll have pubbage to report in next week’s blog, as I’m off into town on Wednesday (for exciting food action as well as the obligatory beers) then St Annes on Thursday for a CAMRA meeting.

Back home it was time for breakfast and I rustled up this light offering from some new bits and some leftover bits

Smoked ham, tomatoes, grapes, smoked vegan cheese & pineapple.

After last week I know better than to head to the match on an empty stomach.

Now it was time to promote the fanzine. Issue 6 of Now That’s What I Call Progress is now with the printers ahead of distribution to subscribers later this week and sale outside the ground before next Saturday’s season opener at home to Reading.

Do you like the Magic Mike front cover? That’s courtesy of Pool fan and graphic designer Rob Clarke.

And have you subscribed yet? If you enjoy reading these blogs and would like to thank me for my efforts and read more quality content please do subscribe. For £15 you’ll get four issues of this 32-page quality publication delivered to your door – starting this week! I really am proud of this zine – every single article brings me joy.

So, what is a fanzine? It is a celebration of football fan culture and an opportunity for fans to have their opinions committed to the page to be read on a matchday (or on the toilet or wherever people read these days). Like match programmes, fanzines are collectors’ items and are kept as a snapshot in history. I have copies dating back to the 1980s. They celebrate history with a collection of memories and memorabilia. They offer commentary on current events, jokes, cartoons, photographs, poetry, quizzes…an eclectic mix of football stuff.

‘Physical media is still the best form, whether it be magazines, books, vinyl/CD or DVDs – it will always, in my opinion, trump digital. I love holding a product in my hand, the smell and feel and it getting a bit battered or worn over time.’ 

Chris O’Keeffe – Now That’s What I Call Progress – Issue 6

The current issue of Now That’s What I Call Progress begins with the thoughts of a gay Blackpool fan, who writes about what Jake Daniels’ brave announcement means to him. We then move on to managers old and new. We feature plenty of BFC nostalgia and memorabilia as we share stories and celebrate our proud history. And there’s an insight into the academy, which we hear about almost anecdotally as a vital component of our growth model without really seeing it for ourselves. We welcome new Seasiders to the family as well as paying tribute to those we have lost. Finally, there are a few pieces from the wider world of football culture, including creative ideas that fans came up with when cooped up during lockdown. Whilst the zine is centred around Blackpool FC, the content is culturally diverse and will appeal to the wider football and literary community.

Here’s a quick and easy way to subscribe – just click the button below:

I spent the rest of pre-match writing all of the above because I get my Saturday home match blogs out on the day of the match now to free up my Sundays for other stuff. Oh but, hang on, it’s Sunday today, isn’t it? Well this one saves me burning myself out writing it on my commute tomorrow so I can focus on how to do a mail merge from Numbers (a new fangled thing since I last published a fanzine). The work of a fanzine editor is never done! Speaking of which…

If you’d like to write something for Issue 7 of the fanzine please drop me an email at jane@janestuart.co.uk. I’m looking for contributions that are loosely (or overtly) related to Blackpool FC or general football culture. These can be in the form of commentary, stories, cartoons, poems, photographs, memorabilia…anything that will evoke interest or emotion from readers.

Right, now to the match…

Blackpool v Everton

You may recall that last week I was concerned about not being allowed into Bloomfield Road wearing a non-Blackpool shirt. I then found myself surrounded by Rangers shirts and scarves once inside the ground. This week I opted for my Blackpool pink keeper kit from…was it the season before last? And then I began to wonder if I’d feel out of place if there were Everton shirts in the home end. I came to the conclusion that I’m just uncomfortable wearing football shirts to matches in general, as I prefer to travel incognito on matchdays.

But now down to business: Chicken Biryani. After last week’s disappointment (which I now understand was sadly down to COVID and a bereavement at the caterers), I knew this delicious dish would be on sale today – and I couldn’t wait to get my chops around it! As soon as I was in the ground, I raced around to the concourse, ducked under the railing and waited impatiently for the queue to go down.

‘A biryani and a bottle of water please!’

‘Here you go. The forks are on the end of the counter.’

Dear reader, this was every bit as delicious as I remembered – indeed possibly all the tastier for the BFC branding and being consumed at Bloomfield Road. This was the first time I had enjoyed food from the refreshment kiosk here since…well probably the bags of Fish’n’Chips they used to sell in the South Paddock back in the 90s. But this biryani was way tastier – and filling too. I spotted a clove and part of a cinnamon stick in there, signs that this is made with love and consideration for flavour. The flavours danced in my mouth and left just a slight heat after eating.

My lunch was interrupted on numerous occasions by people wanting to pass in front of me to get further down the row. Note to self: don’t sit in the middle of the long rows in M block going forward. I did like these posh seats though and could happily relocate to the West Stand.

Again I enjoyed the playlist, with our Eurovision winner(ish) Spaceman being played today. Then Ed Sheeran came on, which reminded me of a conversation I’d had with Alexa this morning, which came to an abrupt end when she asked if I knew she’d recorded a duet with Ed Sheeran. I think I’d only asked how she was.

Everton brought plenty of fans, filling the South Stand (where we usually sit grr) as well as populating other stands too (including the home end).

It is unusual for me to recognise or have even heard of opposition players but today I was pleased to have heard of Jordan Pickford (in goal for Everton) and then recognise Frank Lampard, who I hadn’t realised was their manager. More of him later.

The Everton fans were less exuberant than Rangers last week but still made me chuckle with a chant of:

‘We’re gonna win the league.’

They started brightly and were 2-0 up within ten minutes. Just brilliant(!). Blackpool were playing with little confidence and, just before half time, the man sitting next to me moaned:

‘I don’t know why he’s sticking with this. We already know Madine on his own doesn’t work.’

Within seconds up popped Madine, following up a spectacular effort from Josh Bowler, pulling the scoreline back to 2-1.

The seagulls had arrived early today, swooping round the ground from around 15 minutes in; they usually don’t appear until the second half. Was this because it was Sunday and there weren’t so many people about in town?

At half time, despite needing the loo, I really couldn’t be bothered battling through the crowd on the concourse so decided to stay where I was and hope I could hold out until full time (which I could, as it happened).

I was pleased with the effectiveness of my new contact lenses today, as I could see the whole of the pitch clearly and could make out the players all over the pitch. I was pleased to find that I could even read the advertising boards opposite – although a couple were surely illegible to even the keenest sighted spectators.

I could make out PENNY SMITH but had no idea who she was (deckchair hire?); and that blue one is just pointless. LARGE FONT PLEASE.

Speaking of fonts, I was not at all happy with the narrow font and spacing on the back of the Everton shirts, making the player’s names difficult to read.

Anyway the second half saw a revitalised Blackpool side take to the pitch. I don’t know what Appleton says to them (or perhaps HOW he says it) – or indeed what he puts in their half time oranges tangerines – but it worked at Salford on Tuesday night and it worked again today. We were hungrier and feistier and way more entertaining in the second half. And Josh Bowler – oh my word – he makes me want to cry, he’s that good. If he signed a new contract I would be so happy.

The full-time score was 4-2 to Everton – Blackpool’s second coming from a corner (shock! horror!) and scored by Callum Connolly.

As the final whistle blew, the pitch was invaded by a load of kids (and some adults) and I was most annoyed at Lampard for stopping to allow fans to take selfies with him on the pitch. Surely that only encourages them?

Anyway I headed down to the Ladies (ooh hot water in the West Stand too!) before exiting the ground.

On the walk back to the car I saw this cat.

Indeed, I also saw a second cat through a window in someone’s living room (not photographed) and another who soon disappeared from view behind a hedge. Woohoo! A cat-trick! That wouldn’t have happened in the Neil Critchley days.

Post Match

Back home, Lee set to work on editing the match vlog while I completed this blog, before putting my feet up to watch this award-winning movie. I love dark Spanish thrillers. I picked this one out pre-match as motivation to get this blog finished in good time so I could settle down to watch it.

Next Up: Blackpool v Reading.