Jane Stuart – Writer

Writer on beer, football culture and Blackpool FC.

Blackpool v Bristol City

It was back to Bloomfield Road today – hoping for more of the same (sans the red card) after last week’s pulsating derby at Burnley. We weren’t about to be disappointed…

Pre Match

There was a time when pre-match would be all about getting to the pub for opening time, supping three (or four) pints in the company of pals – talking about everything BUT the football – and heading to the ground just in time for kick-off. Those were great days. My matchday routine has changed now – for a variety of reasons but mainly due to that strong friendship group breaking up during the boycott, when we found other habits and routines and friends and pubs. I’m picking up my footballing autobiography again (watch this space) which has had me thinking about how many companions and friendship groups and matchday routines I’ve had over the last 30-odd years. That’s one of the beauties of the football family, really, as it’s such a large and varied group and there’s always a tribe for you within the bigger tribe. Today I would be going to the pub – but that would come AFTER the match, so keep reading for that bit.

This morning I was up around 0730 and soon settled on the sofa with my journal open as I compiled a to-do list for the bank holiday weekend. This week I’ve signed up for another module with the Open University (‘Telling Stories – the novel and beyond’) which means things are going to get busy and I’ll need to make plans to fit everything in (what with the fanzine and the book and the OU and the blog). I am fully aware that I have a tendency to take on WAY too much at this time every year – and this usually ends up with a little breakdown when I get overwhelmed with everything – but I am actively managing my mental health every day (with my ‘F**k It Therapy’ and SlimmingWorld and now actively going to the gym) so wish me luck!

I put the washing on, ate a breakfast of frozen blueberries and quark (my new favourite thing because IT’S SO FLUFFY!) and put last night’s Corrie on as background while I worked through my to-do list. I was pleased that I’d managed to complete more than half of it in a few hours this morning.

  • Make a new folder on my laptop for my book
  • Move draft chapters over to new folder
  • Type up new chapter notes
  • Make a new folder on my laptop for my OU course
  • Start editing Issue 7 of fanzine
  • Get emails up to date
  • Get up to date on admin

Having completed all of the above, I realised ‘f**k it – I can relax now’ and put my feet up and picked up my Kindle to read a few chapters of the excellent ‘Burnt Shadows’ by Kamila Shamsie. I’ve got a few books to be reading for my OU course so I was keen to get this one finished so I can get on with the first of those (‘Far From The Madding Crowd’ by Thomas Hardy, which I have read before for pleasure – if one can call Hardy pleasure).

I got to the end of a section, which seemed a sensible place to break, so I set my Kindle aside and settled back to watch The Adventures of Paddington (the series) on Netflix.

This is SUCH a joyful series and made me laugh out loud a lot. I love Paddington.

I received a message from Maltmeister, a pub-ticking Bristol City fan who you may recall had stood me up after the corresponding fixture last season. Did I want to meet up today? We agreed to rendezvous in No 10 Alehouse at 1830 (crucially agreeing an actual TIME to meet, the omission of which had resulted in us missing each other last time).

Lunch today was a SlimmingWorld fry up: egg, bacon, potatoes and leeks with tomato and cheese. I hoped that would be enough to see me through to teatime.

The weather was PERFECT for selling fanzines: it wasn’t raining and it was sunny but not stupidly hot at a nice 19C. I ummed and ahhed about whether I might need a cardie or not but resolved to take one with me, as I’d be out until late tonight, when (according to Alexa, who I always consult on a matchday) the temperature was forecast to drop to 12C.

En route to Bloomfield Road (as I was singing ‘It’s A Beautiful Day’ because it was), we stopped at a postbox to post fanzines to my latest subscribers before I assumed today’s zine-selling position by the West Stand outside the Main Entrance. I should get some different passing trade here today to my usual position on Bloomfield Road by the Arcade Club.

Today I was approached by a Bristol City fan who engaged me in conversation for quite some time but seemingly had no intention of actually buying a fanzine.

‘Oh is that a fanzine? I just asked the programme seller over there if there was a fanzine and they just looked at the floor and muttered that they didn’t know.’

‘Oh really? If anyone asks me about the programme I point out where the sellers are.’

‘You don’t often see fanzines these days. How many have you had over the years?’

‘Er well there was one that passed through three different editors, eventually ending up with me…then there was another one for a while…so I think this is the third one in total.’

‘We’re just down to the one now.’

‘Yes, that’s ‘One Team In Bristol’, right?’

‘Oh you know him, do you?’ (Come on, I can see you’re impressed, aren’t you going to buy one?)

‘Oh yes.’

‘So do you put this fanzine together yourself?’

‘Yes I do. And I sell it all by myself, too. It’s hard work.’ (Please buy one!)

‘Oh wow. Yes I bet it is. I tell you what, I’m not going to buy one but I’ll take a photo of one and post it on the Bristol City forum.’

‘Er…ok. Thanks?’

This conversation went on in this vein for a good few minutes. Was I going to make a sale here or not? I do enjoy chatting to random football folk but I’d also like to get back to shouting ‘FANZINE!’ to attract passers-by who might actually want to buy a fanzine. At length my new friend drew out his wallet and pulled out his emergency fiver. I’d finally made the sale – yippee!

My favourite sales today were the three separate folk who walked past me and then doubled back and changed their mind and decided to buy one. Why not give it a go? It’s only three pounds after all.

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Blackpool v Bristol City

I headed round to the South Stand to get to my seat in time for kick-off. After the heartbreak of the last home game I decided to shake up my routine a little today to help change our luck. Turnstile 16 was clearly no longer lucky, so I entered through Turnstile 15 today. I then selected a completely different toilet cubicle on the other side of the Ladies. I headed up into the stand and made sure I sat in my seat, not the ‘visitors seat’ between me and Derek, where I’d accidentally sat last week.

I was extra keen to put some distance between me and Derek as he had taken to winding me up about Josh Bowler because he wanted a mention in the blog. I’d refused to mention Derek last week for this very reason. But this week he persisted and I snapped and had to let him know he was actually upsetting me with his constant references to this probably being Josh’s last game for us. It will break my heart when Josh moves on and I don’t want to get upset about it in advance as well. He’s our player right now and I want to enjoy every minute we’re lucky enough to have him with us.

Ooh I loved their animal print keeper kit

I remembered James had messaged me just as I was leaving the house regarding a post-match rendezvous so I composed a reply to him before I forgot. Just as I was pressing send, I was aware of the crowd getting animated, so I looked up just in time to see Josh opening the scoring. Go Joshy!

Bristol City equalised bang on half time. Lee was livid but I pointed out that it was a great time to concede as they’d be punished for that. Appleton would now gee the players up at half time and they’d come out all guns blazing.

It was pretty nippy in the shade of the South Stand and I’d had my cardie on throughout. Half time always sees a drop in temperature for some reason (probably because we don’t have the match to distract us). I decided to engage in a bit more clapping in the second half – a successful strategy, as it turned out.

True to form, Blackpool went ahead after the break – Tony Parr announced Callum Connolly as the scorer, but it was Jerry Yates – and for the first time we heard the chant ‘Appleton’s Tangerine Army.’ Yes! I LOVE what I’m seeing from our new manager and I was so pleased to hear this recognition. He promised us aggressive attacking football and that’s exactly what we’re seeing – and I love it.

Bristol City equalised – and then went 3-2 ahead on 70 minutes. Lee was livid again (‘I TOLD you we needed another goal!’) but I could see there were still 20 minutes to go and I knew this team were perfectly capable of digging deep and coming back from this.

The Bristol City fans had woken up from their slumber now and the lads behind us were bemoaning their chants:

‘It doesn’t make any sense to say that Bristol City are ‘by far the greatest team the world has ever seen’. I mean, they’re not Real Madrid – it’s BRISTOL CITY…’

But of course a lot of football chants ARE nonsense. Cases in point:

  • Gary Madine is NOT a goal machine. He does hold the ball up well, though. How about: ‘He’s Gary Madine / Holds the ball up well / Signed him on a free’?
  • Jerry Yates is still alive (unlike George Best, who the original chant is about), so he might not be there to go on the piss with when we get to heaven’s gates (if heaven’s even a thing).
  • Kenny Dougall gives the ball away quite often. For this one, I sing ‘He sometimes gives the ball away’.
  • White boots are not eccentric.
  • Your mum being your dad and your dad being your mum would indicate they’re transgender and not necessarily interbreeding. ‘Your uncle’s your dad, your aunt’s your mum’ would make more sense here.

As I pondered the above – and Lee sat with his head in his hands, accepting defeat – BOOM! Supersub Theo Corbeanu snapped our attention back to the match with a wondergoal in the last minute. FUCKING GET IN!!! I bloody love this club! THIS is what football is supposed to feel like. THIS is the entertaining football that Simon Sadler promised us when he took ownership of the club before putting us through Larry (shudder!) and Critchball. God I really hope this is what it’s going to be like week in week out. It’s so exciting like it was under Ollie. Sure, we’re going to concede goals but I’m loving the gung ho attacking whatever the scoreline may be as opposed to pissing about playing it cagey. Who wants to watch that? Not Aston Villa fans by the sound of it… (teehee!).

I called in at the Ladies again on my way out of the ground and was pleased to observe ‘It’s A Beautiful Day’ was playing to accompany the crowd’s exit. It was indeed a beautiful day! Oh-oh was that a man’s voice? I wondered if I was about to get locked in the Ladies, as we’re always almost the last out of the ground after we’ve finished recording our post-match summary for the match vlog. Which is here, by the way, for your enjoyment:

Right now it’s Pub O’Clock to celebrate!

No 10 Ale House & Thai Kitchen

What a lovely pub this is – and it’s a perfect retreat for a post-match pint (or several, as it is one of those pubs that’s hard to leave). What beers would they have on tonight? Well let me show you…

Now of course what I REALLY wanted here was the Jubilee. This is a lush stout which I often see round these parts. But it was 5.5% and I was on a sesh tonight so my hand was forced. I opted for just a half of the stout, accompanied by a half of the Northern Monkey, as that brewery is becoming a new favourite of mine.

I took a seat in the quieter rear room of the pub, placing my drinks on the table as I pulled out my phone to catch up on social media and see if Maltmeister and James had been in further contact. As I tapped away, I overheard the conversation of the group on the next table, who were debating whether Jerry Yates had scored today. I couldn’t help but interject.

‘Yates got the second goal, but they announced it as Connolly.’

‘Ah that makes sense – thank you!’

I continued with my Tweet as their conversation moved to the award-winning Twisted Indian and whereabouts was it? Was it somewhere near Mandarin? I stepped in again, confirming it was just down from Mandarin, on the same side of the road. I then found myself included in a whole conversation about food, during which I learned of the existence of Joanna’s where you can go and eat cheese (and drink wine) on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday evening. Funny how these non-beery places just aren’t on my radar at all.

I headed back to the bar for a pint of the Northern Monkey (which was lovely and a safe 3.8%). On my return to my seat, I was immediately engaged in conversation with the couple at the other table about our respective local CAMRA branches. This turned out to be landlord George’s sister and her partner, who I’d met on the road in Southend back in 2019.

And then a man popped his head around the alcove into the back room and enquired ‘Are you Jane?’. Maltmeister had arrived! And all of a sudden I was holding court, having conversations with the people on both tables AND my new pub-ticking companion. I love this pub as it’s exactly the sort of place you CAN just get chatting with everyone. This is how I want a micropub to be. In addition to the excellent beer, of course, which is a given in here.

At length I realised that I’d forgotten to have my tea! That lunch clearly did a good job filling me up. I gave the menu a cursory glance but there’s only one thing I want in this place and this is it.

Chicken Jungle Curry & Coconut Rice.

The above was washed down with another two halves of what I’d had for starters.

Malt had ordered the food and came back with these in addition to the above.

It was very sweet of him but I looked at them aghast as they’d not be great for my diet (pastry!). But they weren’t wasted as he took them away in a doggy bag (I’m a recent convert to the doggy bag myself – indeed it’s necessary with the huge portions at Akash).

Meanwhile I’d called James and established that (a) he was less sober than me at this point; and (b) he was on his way to the Saddle (the pub next door). I headed outside to look for him, as he sounded a little lost. As if by magic, he appeared round the corner at that very moment and I darted across the road to greet him. Meanwhile Malt was very excited to see the price of petrol at the garage next door so headed over to fill up. We’d agreed to reconvene at the next port of call shortly thereafter. Meanwhile I popped into the Saddle for a few minutes to mainly try and persuade James and Michelle to head over to where I was going, which was…

Marton Institute Beer Festival

Now I knew I had been to Marton Institute before because I distinctly remember the excellent Chinese curry sauce at the Chinese/chippy next door (this was MANY years ago and I have no idea if it is still there, although I should probably check). However I have no idea when or what it was like. All I knew was that there was a beer festival on this weekend – at which Ska Face were playing tonight. And I knew I’d seen THEM before but couldn’t remember when or where. Perhaps it had been the last time I was here? Anyhow, whatever – there was no way I was missing out on Ska Face at a beer festival on a Saturday night when I was already in the vicinity.

On arrival it became apparent that the beer fest was taking place in the marquee round the back and that it was necessary to queue (in quite a long queue) for beer tokens. I blindly joined the queue for tokens before realising that I had no idea how many tokens I’d need. Mercifully Malt soon appeared so I sent him off to have a nose at the beer prices. He returned with news.

‘It’s £4.50 a pint. And the tokens are £4.50 each.’

‘OK so how many tokens do we want?’

‘Well the beers don’t look very exciting…’

‘Can I have a bit more information on this please?’ I sent him back to undertake further research (those of you who watch our watchalongs will know I don’t like half a story).

‘Ok, well, they’ve got Plum Porter…’

‘I don’t need to hear any more! That’ll do…’

Whilst £4.50 might seem dear for a pint from a plastic glass in a marquee in Marton, the cost of the band will have been factored in (it was free entry), so I was happy to pay it. Plus it was Titanic Plum Porter.

I was in agreement that this wasn’t the most exciting beer list I’d ever seen in my life BUT what did that really matter when there was Plum Porter? I could only drink one beer at a time anyway…

There was cider and gin and shit as well.

By the time the beer was in my hand (and I’d been heckled by a bartender ‘Lee Charles TV! The good looking half!’) the band were already playing and I transformed into dance mode. This surprised me, as I wasn’t aware I HAD a dance mode outside of Hotpotting. But here I was dancing away with my fourth pint of the night in my hand.

Malt sloped off at some point, James eventually rocked up, the Plum Porter ran out so I switched to the Swan Black (decent, but pretty much anything would have done at this stage of proceedings) but mainly the rest of the night was dancing (and I vaguely remember posing for a couple of photographs but god knows what THEY turned out like).

It had been a truly great night – and exactly what I need every now and again to blow off the cobwebs and really let my hair down and dissolve any underlying stresses that might otherwise surface. It had the bonus impact of putting me out of action and forcing me into having an actual whole day off the following day. Sunday mainly involved watching TV (we’ve just started Another Life on Netflix – seems good so far), buying a second Venus Fly Trap (Jaws 2) as a backup to Jaws, who doesn’t seem very well – and even managing to head to the gym for half an hour on the treadmill and an hour on the weight machines (or whatever they’re called).

Little did I know that the weekend was just about to get even better…

Next up: Blackpool FC Open Day & Blackpool v Blackburn Rovers.