What do you think about when you’re cleaning your teeth? On Friday morning I was pondering whether BBC Radio Lancashire had blacklisted me because, on a couple of occasions towards the end of last season, I’d said I couldn’t be on because I was already in the pub. We had a big Lancashire derby tomorrow against Burnley and they hadn’t invited me on. Had they deleted my number?
I thought no more about it as I tootled my way through my day and then at lunchtime the invite came. Hooray! Now usually I’d want to be prepared and armed with questions I’d be asked so I could prepare answers in advance and give a better account of myself. Not only did I forget to do this (as it had been so long) but I had managed to sail through over two hours of ad libbing in our live watchalong of the QPR match in midweek with zero preparation so I was pretty relaxed about this. And I think it went pretty well…what do you think?
On Saturday it was time to research this Football Tourist Guide To East Lancashire. You’ll notice I’m lumping Burnley and Blackburn in together because they are geographically very close and Blackburn matches do tend to involve drinking in my Hotpotting friend Lisa’s shed, which is not an official tourist destination. This also allowed me to cast the net a little wider and consider Clitheroe and Colne for inclusion – two towns that I had discovered during my Northern Premier League years with Chasetown (and who were ironically playing each other in the FA Cup today). As we were conducting our research mission in a limited period pre-match today, I reluctantly culled Colne (but you can read all about my visit to its micropubs here and my wider pub crawl of Colne here) and Whalley (which you can read about in this blog, which also includes my pub crawl of Clitheroe), leaving three locations on the list to visit pre-match.
I woke up around 0730 on Saturday and listened to an odd Apple Music Megamix in the shower. I then hopped on the static bike for a bit and listened to the latest SlimmingWorld podcast episode while I exercised. I find this a good motivational way to start the day on the right track mentally and physically.
I checked today’s weather forecast on the weather app on my phone. It was forecast to rain today, both pre- and post-match (but oddly not during), although the temperature would reach 20C. This called for a lightish top and jeans and cagoule as well as a hat and brolly (as our first stop was an outdoors one).
We weren’t due to leave until 0930 but we were both ready early so headed out around 0915. I found an errand to do on our way out to slow us down a little (out first stop was only 35 minutes away and didn’t open until 1000). We headed out in search of a postbox so I could post out fanzines to my latest subscribers. Have you subscribed yet? Here’s a video explaining WHY you should subscribe and HOW you can subscribe:
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Right now we’re on our way to East Lancashire.
I’d punched our first location into Waze and now it was time to find a playlist for the short journey. I tapped into Google ‘musicians from Burnley’ and was surprised and pleased to discover this song was a product of Burnley.
I tucked into an Alpen Light bar as I searched in vain for any other musicians from East Lancashire that I wanted to listen to. I ended up banging on a playlist of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, as we’d been to see Jersey Boys at the Winter Gardens in the week and loved it.
The sky was looking grimmer as we headed East and, by the time we landed in Blackburn, it was so blowy that I immediately donned my cagoule and hat and grabbed the brolly for this outdoor stop.
Happily the car park was free. I couldn’t tell you what the entrance price was because what we were charged did not remotely reflect the price list at the entrance. It was the goats and dinosaurs which drew me here today – but there was so much more to Mrs Dowsons than that.
I learned that buffalo mozzarella was made from buffalo milk and wondered why I hadn’t realised this. I suspect buffalo wings may have planted that seed of doubt.
They have goat yoga sessions here on a Friday and Saturday evening and I was gutted that tonight’s session was fully booked. Much as I’m enjoying my gym classes, they would be far more entertaining (if possibly less productive) with goats.
The Jurassic Adventure was scheduled for 1100 so of course we waited around for that – although hoped it wouldn’t take too long, as we had a couple of other stops to make before the match. Happily, it only lasted around 15 minutes but during that time we got to see a brontosaurus and a T-rex!
These dinosaurs were great – and on a par with those we saw in the Jurassic Earth show at the Winter Gardens last year (a great show which is on again soon). We’d seen way inferior versions on Britain’s (and America’s) Got Talent.
Before we darted off we paid the obligatory visit to the farm shop – which was brilliant!
But the piece de resistance was this little fellow, who I could not leave on the shelf.
But now it was time to head further East to Clitheroe and the next stop on our itinerary…
We parked up at Sainsburys in Clitheroe (in a vain attempt to hunt down a Caramel Twirl, which I’ve heard is the new best thing in chocolate) before strolling over to Holmes Mill – via this doggy in the window.
On arrival at Holmes Mill – a former mill that has been transformed into the most WONDERFUL social space – we spotted this Everyman Cinema, which hadn’t been here on my previous visit in 2019.
Lee had some Everyman Cinema vouchers from Father’s Day so we decided to come back here tomorrow (as it really wasn’t that far – and closer than Manchester). Fast forward to tomorrow and I squirmed my way through a very dated and sexist Top Gun at home before returning here for Top Gun: Maverick. I was fully prepared for the sequel to be as bad, so I contemplated the Everyman menu, ordering a bottle of Purity Ubu (£6.10!!! But I still had two…) and a Dark Cherry & Almond Cake to consume during the movie (which was actually pretty good – and WAY superior to the original).
The outside area of Holmes Mill was mightily impressive – and surely developed since my last visit, as I remembered none of this.
I’d stayed at the hotel on my previous visit but that did not stop us having a nose around this afternoon.
There is SO much to do here – easily enough to fill a full day and night, if not a whole weekend. There’s even a bowling alley opening next week. And it’s bang in the centre of Clitheroe, opening up opportunities for venturing out to the Castle and pubs (see previous blog for further details of those). But we were at Holmes Mill for two things in particular today: food and beer – both of which were here in abundance.
This place is MIND-BLOWING! If you like your food, you’ll find plenty to float your boat here. It’s like nowhere else I’ve been and the closest comparison I can think of is the farm shop at Gloucester Services but frankly Bowland Food Hall is better and less expensive. Let me show you around:
It was so hard to resist buying EVERYTHING but my willpower was strong today, so we headed almost immediately to the seated area for eating and I ordered something healthy from the menu.
Right – now it was beer o’clock!
With 30 (THIRTY!!!) beers on cask & keg here – oh and six ciders – there has to be something for everyone at Bowland Beer Hall. The massive island bar in itself is hugely impressive and this award-winning beer hall really is quite the most spectacular setting in which to enjoy a beer or several.
It was very hard to decide not only what to drink but also where to sit in this stunning beer hall. We ended up sitting in the room with the wheel and here’s what I drank:
I couldn’t NOT have the Bowland Hen Harrier – and nor could I resist the Vocation Naughty & Nice Salted Caramel; so I had a half of each – both on cask.
I once encountered an angry man on social media who would simply not believe me when I told him how many beers there were on at Bowland Beer Hall. Yes, some of the pumps were duplicated around the bar (certainly the Bowland ones). So, in order to evidence the number quoted above for any non-believers, here is the full beer list:
Actually I’ve only just noticed that this is only the GUEST beers – the Bowland beers (brewed here) add at least six to this number.
Of course I needed to conduct a loo review here – and of course they were FABULOUS.
Can I draw your attention to the silver object on the wall? I held my wet hands underneath it and was shocked and disappointed when nothing happened. A broken hand-drier in an impressive place like this? Surely not! Closer inspection revealed that said silver object was, in fact, a paper towel dispenser…
We were in no hurry to leave this place and decided to cut out our planned visit to Queen Street Mill Textile Museum as we were still half an hour outside Burnley and it would have been too much of a rush.
We headed back to the car before our time ran out on the car park and continued Eastwards through some stunning scenery – East Lancashire is, in my opinion, the most beautiful part of the country…
…and then we arrived in Burnley.
Burnley v Blackpool
We had been heading for Burnley Cricket Club to park up but the traffic got quite heavy on our way into Burnley (the ground is in the centre of town).
We could see the floodlights of Turf Moor towering ahead of us and decided to turn off up a side street, following a sign for football car parking. The car park cost £4 (we had emergency car park cash available) and happily there were still a few spaces left. I was worried when I observed not a small amount of broken glass around the car park – including in the spot next to ours. Would our car be safe here? Lee pointed out that the glass was round and probably not from smashed car windows, so I relaxed a little.
Remarkably the sky was now blue – and there had been none of the forecast rain. Was this a good omen?
Benedictine is a very popular drink in Burnley and I had been assured that a bene’n’ot (a benedictine topped up with hot water) would be available inside the ground, which was quite exciting.
As we joined the stream of pedestrian football traffic on the main road, I became conscious that we were on the Burnley side of the road.
‘You can stick your fucking tower / Stick your fucking tower / Stick your fucking tower up your arse.’
‘Sideways!’ (I joined in.)
I thought it might be best if we crossed to the Blackpool side of the road – although had observed the Blackpool fans were being kettled towards the ground (from where, I don’t know, as there was a rail strike today). I don’t like being kettled and wasn’t about to have any of this – nor did I have any intention of entering the ground at the same time as or any later than this big group (as I have anxiety in crowded concourses). I handed Lee’s ticket to him and darted directly to the front of the Blackpool fans. The police then decided to hold the group back to allow the others to catch up. A couple of lads decided they weren’t being held back and a scuffle ensued. I took full advantage of the police being distracted to race ahead to the away end.
I was neither sniffed, searched nor frisked as I approached the turnstile – where there was a man waiting to take my ticket and scan it for me. On the other side of the turnstile I spotted this on my left:
That seemed like the last place I wanted to be (despite probably being the place where I’d find the bene’n’ot), so instead I continued ahead towards the refreshment kiosk in the concourse, where happily there was no queue. There’s much sense in having a completely separate area for alcohol. Other clubs please take note. I ordered two waters, which were served like this:
Burnley were our first ‘proper’ rivals as far as I was concerned, having started following Blackpool in 1990. Back then, we were both in Division Four and – in 1991/92 – the two of us were challenging at the top of the table for promotion. We beat them 5-2 at home that season and I bought the match on VHS video I’d enjoyed it so much. However something has shifted in recent years. Indeed, I believe it was Burnley who inspired Blackpool’s promotion to the Premier League in 2010; Burnley did the same the year before and, well, if they could do it, why couldn’t we…? Since then, of course, they’ve had a longer stay in the top flight and seem like a completely different club to the one we encountered in Division Four 30 years ago. Plus I’ve changed, too – and am veering away from the ‘hate’ element of football (obvs I’m still far from being a fan of Preston after that horrific experience at Deepdale recently). But Burnley? Burnley are all right.
Indeed we were impressed with their ground this afternoon. So THIS is what you can do with Premier League money when it actually gets reinvested into the club’s infrastructure.
I loved that the tech was used to celebrate the club’s history, with their honours list displayed along the plentiful electronic advertising strips and highlights of Burnley from yesteryear played on the impressive big screens in the corners of the ground.
Now onto the match! Well, where should I start?! Burnley opened the scoring with a worldie after just three minutes. Pah! That was WAY too early a goal to be worried about. We had ALL MATCH to bounce back from that. The travelling Tangerine Army responded immediately with defiant chanting in full voice. Then Burnley scored again on 11 minutes. But that was STILL too early, wasn’t it? Why were they scoring so early? We pulled one back through Theo Corbeanu ten minutes later and I was encouraged that we had unearthed another goalscorer (we didn’t have many these days). This player sounded great on paper and he was starting to impress on the pitch too. Then Burnley scored AGAIN – we were looking ropey at the back now – and at half-time it was 3-1. Worried? Not really. It was strange, really, as I knew we hadn’t scored more than one goal in a match yet this season – but I had a strong sense that everything was going to be all right.
And the second half? Wow what a whirlwind! Blackpool were TOTALLY dominant – and it was an absolute joy to watch. THIS was the aggressive attacking football Michael Appleton had promised us. So what if we’d conceded a few goals? This was a rampant display reminiscent of the last time we enjoyed our football in the days of Ian Holloway. And it was brilliant! As Appleton said in his post-match interview. the players could ‘smell blood’ (how can anyone NOT love this manager?!). BOOM! Shayne Lavery scored to pull it back to 3-2. Three minutes later BOOM! Jerry Yates finally got his goal to equalise. FUCKING GET IN!!! We were so pleased for both of these workhorse forwards finally getting their reward with goals.
Just as we were beginning to think we might even go and bloody win this (Burnley simply couldn’t cope with us), something happened to bring an abrupt stop to our momentum. Sonny Carey brought down Ian Maatsen in his own half – and Maatsen reacted by leaping to his feet and assaulting Carey from behind, shoving him violently to the floor. The ref instantly whipped out a red card and showed it to, er, Carey?! WTF was going on here? Surely that was a mistake? He then consulted with his assistant and eventually sent Maatsen off as well. Down the tunnel after Carey, who he’d just assaulted. Make that make sense if you can. The game subsequently died a death and ended 3-3.
As the end of the match approached, I suddenly realised I’d been here before. It was 1st May 1993 and on that day – here at Turf Moor for Burnley v Blackpool – I simply KNEW everything was going to be fine. Even when we were losing. Even when Burnley were awarded a penalty. That game ended 2-2 – and what I HADN’T known during the match was that that point was enough to save us from relegation from Division Two that season. So THAT was why I had felt so calm. And the same thing had happened today. I had actually KNOWN we wouldn’t lose this match. Was this my witchcraft coming to the fore, as we were so close to Pendle Hill? Because this hadn’t happened anywhere else in the (almost) 30 years in between those two occurrences. Maybe we should have done the Pendle Witch Trail on this Tourist’s Guide to thank my idols/guardians/ancestors?
We deliberately delayed our exit from the ground so as to avoid any kettling (see Preston). As we ambled down the steps of a now-empty stand, the friendly stewards engaged us in conversation (‘Great game, wasn’t it?’ ‘Ooh are you a You Tuber? What’s your channel?’). Happily there was no kettling or anything going on outside and we were able to comfortably stroll out with no stress at all. We stopped to chat with fellow Seasiders who were waiting for their coaches and minibuses to be allowed to set off.
On the way out of Burnley I noticed there appeared to be a traditional boozer on every corner. I have actually done a Burnley Good Beer Guide pub crawl on a matchday and perhaps I might do that again on a future visit. Quick research reveals there are only two now (Bridge Beer Huis, which I visited last time, and New Brew-m, the name of which I either love or hate).
It took a few minutes for me to get Waze up and running to navigate us out of the town centre and back onto the road home. The sat nav is powered through my iPhone – and our navigation was interrupted by another call from Radio Lancashire, as I needed to hold the phone to my ear for the sound to be clearer.
Phew! What a bloody PERFECT football day out that had been! We’d enjoyed the local culture – including excellent food and beer – and witnessed the most dramatic and exciting match I’ve seen in years. Even the weather had been kind. Happy days.
Back home, I had planned to spend the evening writing this Football Tourist’s Guide – but frankly I was in full on chill out mode and that didn’t happen. Instead, I rustled up a Mayflower Chinese Chicken Curry (using ALL of the powder instead of a quarter of it – oops! On the plus side, it was PACKED with flavour). I treated myself to a foot spa (as I’d been on my feet for much of the day, including walking round the farm and standing at the match). I caught up on last night’s Corrie. And I did at least draft out the skeleton of this blog so as not to lose the most important memories of the day – before collapsing into bed at 2130, exhausted from the day’s excitement.
Up Next: Blackpool v Bristol City.