Jane Stuart – Writer

Writer on beer, football culture and Blackpool FC.

A Football Tourist’s Guide to Middlesbrough – Part Two

If you missed Part One you can find it here.

Now before I begin I must apologise to The Kopper Keg for forgetting to include their loo review from Part One. I blame that cocktail at the end. Anyway, here it is.

Second rope loo roll holder in recent weeks.
Love this! Ideal for a micropub.

Right – now to breakfast…

Premier Inn, Middlesbrough Central

This was a nice little Premier Inn. Fancy opening the curtains to this view in the morning.

Mmm beer…

Breakfast was just downstairs adjacent to the lobby. We hadn’t paid for it in advance because the one time we did that (in London, I think) we weren’t up (down?) for breakfast so it ended up being a waste of money. This morning we paid at reception and headed into the breakfast room.

This one wasn’t a help yourself buffet jobby (probably owing to lack of space) so we listed the items we wanted on our cooked breakfast to our waitress. Meanwhile we got up and helped ourselves to drinks (black Earl Grey for me) and toast. Ooh and orange juice and yoghurt.

I frowned as there was only white bread but, after that had finally (hardly) toasted, some brown bread was brought out. Hmm. I headed back over to toast a slice of that.

Blimey – how long is THAT taking to toast? Hmm what’s that child doing by the toaster? He’d better not help himself to my toast. This really is taking a long time. Hmm can I smell burning?

I headed over to check on my brown toast and it was burnt. I suspect foul play from the child. But I ate it regardless.

We had allowed ourselves plenty of time to conduct our final item of tourist business this morning. We headed out in search of dinosaurs. Rawr!

Teessaurus Park

This was SO EXCITING! A park full of dinosaurs! Dinosaurs are an important factor to make a good away day even better. We’d already seen dinosaurs yesterday in the Dorman Museum but this promised to be next level.

It was a pleasant morning for a stroll around a park. It was quite a hilly park but we can do hills now we’ve been practising walking on inclines on the treadmill at the gym three times a week. The acid test will be Steep Hill in Lincoln in the summer so watch this space to see how that pans out.

Anyway Teessaurus Park was ACE. Just look at all these dinosaurs.

Not a dinosaur.

This park was free to enter (as everywhere is around here) and open 24/7.

It didn’t take us as long as I’d factored in to take in all the dinosaurs so we found ourselves with over an hour to kill before meeting up with my Twitter/beer friends Ian and Adele in the pub. Now we learned from our trip to Luton last season that, when we have free time without a rigid itinerary, magical things happen. This belief was reinforced by my latest Fuck It Therapy session, which encouraged factoring in such time so you can actually be present and immerse yourself in what’s happening now. And thus something magical happened…

On our drive up to Teessaurus Park, we’d seen a side of Middlesbrough that we’d missed the previous day. Lee wanted to get some footage for his video so into town we headed.

Look at this stunning building.

And this was next door….

Middlesbrough Town Hall

We were intrigued as to what this stunning building was and were pleasantly surprised to find there was an open door just round the corner. Of course we had to go in to explore.

Now, whilst I can sneak around anywhere incognito as a writer, Lee is a bit more obviously recording what we’re seeing with his camera. He therefore got chatting to the guy who was working there and holding the fort today. This was Ian and he turned out to be a little gem, as he proceeded to speak passionately about the Town Hall (as well as the town itself) and offered us a guided tour. What a wonderful find this was!

The building had previously housed the fire station…

…and the police station.

This was used as one of the Nightingale courts during COVID.

These gas meters are very rare.

And, before we knew it, we found ourselves on stage with a band, who were recording a music video.

This was The Guillotines, a punk/ska band from Glasgow, who knew Blackpool well from the Rebellion festival. Here they are in action.

Whilst Lee was interviewing the band for his video, I continued with the tour and discovered this huge organ behind the curtains.

Sadly it’s not functioning as the repair costs are prohibitive – running into the millions – and there’s only one company in Bavaria (where it came from initially) that can do it.

They were hosting a comedy club in the room below tonight but sadly we’d be on our way home by then.

What a find this had been! And not planned at all. We thanked Ian and he provided us with excellent directions to the pub across town where we were meeting Ian and Adele.


This micropub is a converted chapel (hence the name) next to a church, just off the main road into/out of Middlesbrough (we would wave at it on our way home later).

The gaffer had been advised that we were coming but I think he was still surprised when Lee walked in with his camera poised. While I left them both to the video I was greeted warmly by Ian and Adele. I’d never met this couple before but we regularly interact on social media and share a love of the same sort of beers.

Oh the beers! Yes here they are.

I was shown the quirky bespoke flights and of course had to order a flight of three thirds. This is something I don’t think to ask for in general – except at Black Country Arms in Walsall, where it’s compulsory, with so many to choose from. Here I opted for the mild, the plum porter and the non-hazy hazy French bitter.

It seemed that everywhere I looked there was something interesting to photograph for you, dear reader.

Numbers from the hymn board.

We really enjoyed Ian and Adele’s company. Whilst it was beer that brought us together (on Twitter and in person in the pub today), we spoke on a range of subjects as we found much more in common. I particularly enjoyed Ian’s nickname for Gary Taylor-Fletcher of Barbara Taylor Bradford.

As Lee lined us up for a photo, Ian grumbled that he never looked good in photos. I pooh-poohed this at the time but this turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy, as somehow he ended up looking like his head was bleeding purple blood.

Here we also met up with Paul, who had recommended The Golden Smog, which we’d visited yesterday. He’s a Blackpool fan but was in disguise today wearing a red and white scarf. I was appalled that he’d go as far as unnecessarily wearing the opposition’s colours but was appeased when he pointed out it wasn’t a Middlesbrough scarf but Atletico Bilbao. I recalled that – randomly – Blackpool had played them pre-season a couple of times (at home, sadly).

We really felt at home and amongst friends here – despite never having been here or met any of these people before. We were sad to leave but we had a long walk to the ground – and also needed to call in at the car en route.

Middlesbrough v Blackpool

The highlights of our walk to the ground were thus.

And so to the match. Quite honestly, I’m trying to block the football from my mind at the moment. We haven’t won in the league since October, we’re now bottom and have had ten players sent off (I think the record for a season is 11 and I’m confident we’ll smash that). Anyway, if you are a sado-masochist interested then here’s Lee’s match vlog.

Oh I do have a loo review though! First up they had mirrors for tall people.

I shouldn’t complain really since most loos in football grounds don’t have a mirror at all.

The match had been cold so I was looking forward to warming my hands under this tap.

But of course the water was cold. That just about summed up our afternoon here at the Riverside.


Our satnav, Mike, had been playing up this weekend, repeating his directions over and over and over again. We began to wonder if he was trying to tell us something else, something really important, like how he was trapped in our satnav and needed our help to escape. Perhaps we’d been watching too much Westworld, I don’t know. Anyway we switched to the 70s DJ satnav. He was funny at first but soon started glitching in a similar way to Mike.

We then switched to the car satnav (Mike and the DJ had been on Waze) but she confused us with her talk of half turns. We’ll be reverting to the A-Z at this rate.

As we hit the M6, I decided I needed cheering up, so we stopped off at Lancaster Services so I could have a selfie with Percy Pig.

Still not oinking.

And that, dear reader, was that. As usual, we’d had a great weekend until ‘the usual’.

Next Up: Blackburn v Blackpool if I can face it. Otherwise Reading v Blackpool.