I couldn’t face attempting the Football Tourist’s Guide To Rotherham midweek. The touristy stuff looked decent but the pubs – oh dear reader the pubs! I couldn’t find ANYWHERE to go for lunch, so decided to sack off the whole trip in a fit of pique (also because Rotherham is not our favourite awayday – see this blog for why). Happily (or not so happily, as it turned out) the match was watchable online so we did a watchalong from home instead, which you can watch here:
It’s in two parts because the house was invaded by a spider the size of a hamster at half time.
After that shambles, I can’t say I was looking forward to the long coach trip to London for the Millwall match. MG had been fretting about the traffic all week, with the lying in state queue being within a mile of The (is it still New?) Den. The Blackpool Supporters Association (BSA) coach was leaving Blackpool at 0610. Would that be early enough?
The alarm went off at 0500 and frankly a day snuggled on the sofa watching Christmas movies appealed more than Millwall away. As I conducted my morning toilette (to the soundtrack of the new Suede album Autofiction), I wondered why I was bothering. And this only September! How do I ALWAYS get addicted to football and go along when I don’t really want to? Is this part of the Josh hangover? Now that I don’t have Josh to excite me on the pitch, why bother going?
I had a plan of action for the coach trip to put the time to practical use. Consequently the southbound journey flew by as I:
– finished reading Far From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy, which I’m studying for my latest Open University module;
– finished the first week’s work for the same module;
– listened to the latest F**k It Therapy podcast;
– researched pubs in Greenwich, where the coach was scheduled to stop. Happily Past Me had already done this in this blog.
Foodwise, I’d packed plenty of SlimmingWorld friendly scran in a cool bag. I breakfasted on frozen blueberries and quark and later snacked on ham and cherry tomatoes.
We stopped off at Norton Canes services, where I used the facilities but did not buy anything. I was, however, interested to note this Italian food outlet:
At 1150 we landed in Greenwich and I knew exactly where I was going.
Except I didn’t and I got lost. But I don’t generally mind taking indirect routes (unless it’s dark and scary or there’s a subway involved) as this means I do more steps. I’ve been much more active of late (to supplement my diet) and have been to the gym most days this week. So a few extra steps were welcomed. Especially when I discovered my new route took me past a brewery (oops!).
Well I couldn’t walk past when it was right here, could I?
The tasting room was open so I strode up to the bar and surveyed the taps for something alluring.
‘I’m after something dark.’
‘Well the red one’s quite dark. Here – have a taste.’
‘Mmm yes. I’ll have a half of that please.’
I plonked myself down on some bench seating and surveyed my surroundings.
This was a cold crafty place if you know what I mean. There was one other solo drinker. Swansea v Hull was being shown on the big screen next to me. My beer was tasty. And I spotted this food menu on my way out.
Mmm. When I get to my target weight next month I’ll be all over yummy food like an Aberdeen Angus Burger on a Brioche Bun.
Oh and there’s a beer list on the back.
Ah there was a chocolate porter! But half a red is better for my diet so I wasn’t complaining.
Before heading on to the pub I had intended on visiting in the first place, I popped into the brewery shop.
It was a pleasant walk on this bright but pleasantly cool day to the next pub.
I was greeted by a friendly Australian barman.
‘How’s your day going?’
‘All the better now it’s got beer in it. Er is that all you’ve got on?’
‘Ah. Well if you wouldn’t mind waiting a few minutes I just need to change the barrels. It looks like we sold out of beer last night. Is that ok?’
‘Sure no problem.’
I used this time to have a wander round the pub and take photos for you, dear reader.
I took a comfy seat at the bar.
The barman returned muttering something about the London Pride (for which a pump clip had now appeared) and asked what I wanted.
‘Anything really. What’s good?’
‘Well the Bombardier is in good form.’
‘A half of that then, please.’
Meanwhile a local further round the bar was less patient than me and was leaning over the bar trying to pour his own pint. I nodded my assent and the barman went over to rescue him and got ‘one for himself’ for his efforts (not the only drink he was bought during my short visit, assuring me that he was a top guy).
Dear reader, I could have stayed in this pub all afternoon. Given that I wasn’t really that fussed about the football anyway, I did consider it for a fleeting second. It just felt right being here. I wasn’t even fussed that the beer wasn’t the most exciting (although it was in very good nick). This was a proper local street corner pub. And I loved it.
But sadly the clock was ticking and I needed to make my way (ideally without getting lost) back to the others and the coach for the final short leg of the journey to Millwall.
I looked at the map and figured out where I’d gone wrong on my circuitous route to the Pelton Arms. I identified the road that would get me back on track. But there was another route alongside the Thames that looked more interesting, so that was the route I took on my return journey. And here’s what I saw.
Millwall v Blackpool
The coach deposited us right by the visitors entrance. This really is the best way to get to Millwall. Especially with a great pub stop like that factored in. After a cursory bag search (I’m never going to have any trouble when they see Paddington in there) I headed through the turnstiles. I was immediately greeted by Houstie and Christine with big hugs and compliments on how fabulous I was looking – both of which I returned with gusto.
But I had my pre-match routine to conduct. First stop: Loo Review.
As I headed back onto the concourse I spotted Adam shaking his hands.
‘I see your hand driers were as useless as ours…’
Next stop (via a summons and hug and a promise of a fanzine article from Herts Mark) was the refreshment kiosk, where there was happily no queue. I ordered two waters (£4) and they were served like this.
After a quick catch up with the BASIL bunch, it was time to head up into the stand. We were in the lower tier this afternoon. And I was delighted to find seats available on the front row. Woo I’d be able to sit down for the duration of an away match – what a treat!
I enjoyed the music in the ground. I was amused to hear the intro to Gravy by The Lancashire Hotpots which, it turns out, is also the intro to this song.
Ooh and what’s that Millwall are coming out to? Sounds a bit like With My Little Stick Of Blackpool Rock by George Formby…but it can’t be…can it?
It was this:
There was a couple of girls sitting behind us and I enjoyed listening in to their refreshingly alternative take on proceedings.
‘Hear Hate Don’t Hesitate? It’s literally EVERYWHERE.’
The Millwall fans had booed our players taking the knee. And I was dismayed to hear a racist chant directed towards Dom Thompson. But of course our fans are no angels either, with one dubbed ‘Mr Tourettes’ by the girls.
At half time it was 1-1, Charlie Patino equalising for Blackpool. We were playing much better than at Rotherham and I was content with the performance.
Ooh and what was the half time music? I liked this too.
A man I didn’t recognise came over for a chat.
‘I can see your mind is whirring trying to figure out who I am.’
The fact that he was (a) making a point of not telling me; (b) had a Norfolk accent; and (c) soon brought Sonny Carey into the conversation led me to deduce that this was Sonny Carey’s Dad (Neil) who I famously NEVER recognise even when he’s standing in front of me introducing his son to me over Christmas dinner (see this blog…and this one).
Onto the second half and HOW big was their number five?
Then Millwall scored again and won 2-1. We’d done ok but ultimately not enough. Patino looked decent and was surprisingly tough tackling despite his small frame and young age. Theo Corbeanu had a good game but he’s not Josh. And boy are we missing Josh. Selling him was a risk that I hope we aren’t punished for.
The coach journey home was surprisingly jovial. Lauren and I discovered we were birthday twins and she was quite insistent that I go out on the lash with her the following night for our birthday despite my remonstrations that I wanted to try and stick to my diet.
After tucking into a fruit medley, packet of Sour Cream & Chive Harvest Snaps and two mint HiFi bars, I settled back to write this blog.
I’d finished by 1925 so settled back to relax for the remainder of the journey. I remembered I still had last night’s Corrie to watch. And a new Stephen King to read (Fairy Tale). Happy days. Aside from ‘the usual’, this had been a pretty good awayday. Which I guess is why I keep doing it.
Next Up: Calderdale Beer Festival.