Jane Stuart – Writer

Writer on beer, football culture and Blackpool FC.

A Football Tourist’s Guide To Wigan – Part Two

At the end of part one, Karen and I had just escaped the post-match kettling and were heading into Wigan town centre for some much-needed beer.

Disco horses.

It is important for my weight loss that a sesh begins with a meal (so I’m not tempted to make unhealthy food choices once the alcohol takes hold) so our first stop was my Wigan foody pub of choice.

The Raven

You’ve seen the beers in Part One so I’ll get straight to the food.

Hotpot. Couldn’t eat it all as I was still full from this afternoon’s curry and this morning’s German dinosaurs.

As we dined – again in the back room – a man caught my eye and shook his head, as we were united in heartbreak at this afternoon’s match. I didn’t encourage conversation because when we lose I like to forget as soon as possible (beer is helpful in this regard).

We waited in vain for Houstie to join us – perhaps he was still stuck in the kettling? We later learned he had train trouble and was trying to find a way home.

Tap n Barrel

We retraced our steps to the next pub, which was the furthest one out but really not very far.

Here were the beers on offer tonight.

I went for the local Mobberley beer.

This is a narrow micropub down a pretty little alley. We made our way through the bar area to the room at the back and managed to find a vacant table.

I didn’t remember the music decor from previous visits.

I like this pub a lot and it’s a staple of any town centre pub crawl.

But we had another three pubs to visit tonight – and Karen was insistent on getting an early train home – so we didn’t have time to stay beyond our half pints.

The Anvil

This used to be our Pub of Choice on matchdays. It’s cheap and friendly with a good range of beers and the capacity to cope with what was then quite a big group of friends. It was clearly still a popular haunt, with the crowds of drinkers bustling up to the door.

I squeezed my way through to the bar and contemplated the beers.

I again went local with the Wigan Brewhouse stout.

After a quick chat with someone who recognised me from my blogs, I spotted a familiar name behind the bar and my curiosity was piqued.

Ooh it was the Wigan fanzine!

I sporadically correspond with Mudhutter on Twitter, without realising this was a fellow fanzine editor.

We managed to find a table in a little side room, where I sat and flicked through the zine. I tweeted about it too and received a reply from the writer of the article in the centre pages, who told the story of how he had arranged for a blue plaque at the birthplace of Wigan Athletic Football Club.

You can buy Mudhutter here. It’s a belting read.

And if you’d like to subscribe to my Blackpool fanzine, here’s the link to that.

I conducted a Loo Review before leaving and the highlight was the surprise foliage.

On our walk down Wallgate I pointed out Wallgate Chippy and we stepped inside to peruse the menu for exciting items and peer at the chips on diners’ plates. They looked sensational and once again I was kicking myself for already having eaten twice at the same place. But then I remembered I’d be back here in a fortnight’s time on a Hotpotting mission so a Chippy Tea was pencilled in for that night (see next blog for deets).

Swan & Railway

It was busy in here. In fact all of the pubs we’d been in tonight had been bustling. Ordinarily I don’t like busy pubs but tonight I was so pleased for these excellent pubs that they were being fully utilised.

Dammit why do I keep forgetting to eat here?
I’m rarely in one pub long enough to be able to utilise the jukebox but just look at this beauty.

As I ostentatiously considered the pump clips (really waiting for Karen to appear from the loo because it was her round), I got chatting with another man who recognised me from my blogs. I don’t get recognised as much in Blackpool as I do in Wigan.

Here are the beers.

When there’s a dark mild on you know I’m having that.

Date for your diary. It’s a regular fixture in mine now (any excuse to go to Wigan). Was just wondering why my nails weren’t painted then I realised those are Karen’s hands. This flyer also opens out into a handy Wigan pub map.

We took a seat in one of the side rooms where it was a little quieter. We’d been here many a time before as this pub pre-dated The Anvil (and Frankie and Benny’s shh) as our Pub of Choice when we played Wigan. Indeed we only stopped coming here because the pub shut for a while. Happily it’s back and it’s magnificent.

But now it was time for the pub I always have to leave til last because it’s so damn hard to leave and it’s what my late friend Sally called a Crawlwrecker.

Wigan Central

What a pub this is. There’s nothing bad to say about it. It has EVERYTHING: lush cask, keg, a Beer Library with shelves and shelves of cans, a train departure board, exciting snackage, a naked locals calendar…

Oh get me a drink…

I had this one and it was like liquid After Eights. So good.

As Karen wanted to get an early train home (half nine!) I had a cunning plan to make the most out of Wigan Central. Train beers!

I’d been dying to try this since I’d seen it on Beer Twitter recently. And beers from the Beer Library here come with Beer Tapas, hence the sweets. I can recommend the Chewits Xtreme.

This is Karen’s cask carryout. I think I got the better deal there.

We made our train and got chatting to some Liverpool (I think) fans from Fleetwood.

It had been a great evening out in Wigan and I’d recommend the short journey over there to anyone who enjoys good company, good pubs and good beer. Wigan rocks.

But I’ve not done with Wigan yet! I’ll be exploring a different part of town in my next blog…

Next Up: More Wigan Pubs.

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