I thought long and hard about whether I wanted to go to Luton or not. Well obviously I didn’t want to go. Every therapy session I have when I write down what I need to do to address the root cause of my depression/stress, I write STOP GOING TO MATCHES and I underline it and everything and yet here I am again today. Why? Perhaps because I
clearly have a problem already bought the match and coach tickets on autopilot. Perhaps to support Lee, who’d be coming anyway to do a match vlog for his viewers on Lee Charles TV (it was, after all, me who got him into doing all the away games). As I continue to work through the ‘why’, perhaps I’ll come to understand the root of my addictive personality. Perhaps next season will be different. I’ve stopped blogging every match, after all, which is a start. And I’ve started watching the televised matches at home. But, for now, I’m still here, watching Blackpool on the road, knowing we’ll lose, knowing the journey home will be long and hard and painful. I had Paddington with me today to stop me succumbing to service station comfort food. He’s always a great support and I knew he would help me keep my eating on track as far as possible.
My therapist asked me what it was about football that I liked. Perhaps I could concentrate on those areas more? Good idea – I could run with that. So, with that in mind, I boarded the BSA coach with a plan in place for the day ahead.
I enjoy travelling. I suppose that’s something I learned to do through necessity over the years I spent going to every Blackpool match when I lived in Walsall. I enjoy the ‘me time’ of being away from daily distractions and only having a limited amount of things (mainly mindful things) I can be doing.
I enjoy food so I tucked into the apple and cinnamon overnight oats Paddington had prepared for me the night before. He knows I enjoy eating on plan so I can maintain my weight within target range.
I enjoy writing so I continued writing my book (football related) which is a great way for me to while away hours at a time, as I am transported away to another place, another time and get totally immersed in the pages. This is the first book I’ve written but I’ve found my rhythm, found a routine, found a way that works for me and have a realistic plan in place for completion. Watch this space.
I enjoy reading so I brought some quality reading material with me. I recently met up with Dave, my fanzine editor counterpart at QPR, and he gave me some zines to read.
I also had a book about our Jimmy Armfield sent to me for review. I’d started it in the week and finished it on the journey down. What a wonderful tribute this is to a very special son of Blackpool. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It made me smile and made me cry.
I enjoy exploring new
pubs places so I was pleased to look up and see we had already arrived in Leighton Buzzard – a town I had never visited before.
On arrival, Leighton Buzzard appeared to be shut – with the exception of Spoons, which I’m boycotting. It was also raining so we tramped the streets searching in vain for somewhere to shelter.
‘Ooh the bike shop’s open,’ Lee suggested.
I harrumphed and continued down the high street.
There was a great little art shop – one of those where I’d definitely have bought something because it oozed joy. But it was closed.
There was also an old fire station that had been converted into a Pizza Express (Paddington kept me at a distance from this place but it was shut anyway).
I had, of course, checked the CAMRA GBG app for suitable hostelries but one wasn’t open today (Bald Buzzard Micropub) and another not open til 1300 (Leighton Buzzard Brewing Company Brewery Tap) and it was only 1115. There was a pub that opened at noon so I was resigned to tramping the streets until then. But then, as if by magic, an oasis appeared…
An Easter egg wreath! How could we not go in here?! There was a lovely outside seating area further down this secret alley but, as it was raining, we headed inside.
As we contemplated the menu, we were excited to see a novel item.
Now I’ll confess I’ve started using Avon’s Cannabis Sativa Oil cleanser in the hope it will help calm me down a bit. This CBD shot seemed a good idea on a matchday, but sadly they didn’t have any available today. Boo. I had these instead.
Paddington chose this. I’d have had the chilli but he pointed out it came with nachos and sour cream and that wasn’t the best choice. This breakfast was filling and tasty. It came with bread but I only had half of the serving (on Paddington’s recommendation) to soak up the beans.
Scrolling through Twitter over breakfast, we were annoyed to learn that today’s match was available to watch live at home on Tangerine TV. Thanks, Blackpool, for not letting us know this until after we’d paid for two match tickets (£54), two coach tickets (£70) and two breakfasts (£23.35) and were well on our way to the match.
I didn’t see these beers until we were on our way out. I think Paddington was deliberately blocking my view, although he denies this.
This place had come recommended by Phil (more of him in a bit). I could see why as soon as I set foot inside. Being greeted with a long row of pump clips is one of life’s great joys.
I opted for a half of the Magpie despite not liking magpies because they kill our baby blackbirds every year (any tips to deter them welcomed, as Mr & Mrs B are busy nest-building as I write). Then it was time to explore the pub.
The board games were an unexpected bonus and Lee selected Battleship as our game for the afternoon. As I opened the box, I exclaimed:
‘Ooh is it an electronic version?!’
It wasn’t but I made the sound effects myself every time I hit one of Lee’s ships and he hated it. Of course I carried on doing it, apart from the times when I was laughing too hard to make the noise.
I won the first two games and Lee won the third.
I’d gone back to the bar in the meantime, of course, opting for a half of Bass (to see if I could fathom what all the fuss was about) and a half of the marmalade porter (my fave).
Is it the lacings Martin likes, I wondered.
Oh did I mention they had a beer menu too? Always the sign of a good pub.
Wot no Floris Chocolat? Is that even still a thing? Used to be a fave of mine in the Welly in Brum.
Before heading back to the coach, it was time for a loo review. And what a belter this was!
Fresh flowers! They smelled delightful.
Back aboard the coach, I walked into a row between a passenger and driver about the positioning of Stanley in the front window.
I didn’t get involved, silently smug in the knowledge that Paddington would never get me in a fight.
Luton Town v Blackpool
I enjoy making new friends across football so I had arranged to meet up with a Twitter friend in Luton today. @Kitman_Phil (Phil Duffy) has written a book entitled They Played for David Pleat at Luton Town. We were meeting him to find out more about his book and to feature him on Lee’s match vlog. Phil was waiting for us outside the away end as we got off the coach and he handed me a copy of his book.
Phil is currently working on Volume 2 of this series of interviews with players who (you guessed it) played for David Pleat at Luton Town. This will include former Blackpool players Bob Hatton and Richard Harvey.
I headed in to the ground after a frisk and received a warm welcome from a woman on the turnstile. How nice to not be faced with a bar code reading machine.
On entry into the ground, I was surprised to spot what appeared to be some sort of refreshment kiosk with two women manning (womanning?) it but no wares on display. I needed a bottle of water so headed to the counter.
‘Er what have you got?’
‘Well everything’s out of stock.’
‘Oh…er…have you got a bottle of water?’
‘Out of stock. Sorry.’
I chuckled to myself and headed in the direction of the away supporters bar.
I’d arranged a ticket to today’s match for @ToffeesTours, an Everton fan who groundhops with his dog (who was sadly excluded from today’s match as part of the EFL’s campaign to sap joy from the game) but sadly I didn’t see him in the ground today.
I did, however, see MG – who had exciting news. He’d stopped at Rugby Services en route, which you may recall from this fixture last season, is my new favourite service station for a number of reasons but mainly because it has a Percy Pig that oinks. Well apparently today there was a REAL LIFE PERCY PIG at Rugby Services posing for photos. This, dear reader, means I have a new quest. I must find this real life Percy Pig and have a picture with him.
Anyway match blah went 1-0 up but lost 3-1 blah at least it was sunny.
I also learned that ‘Luton’ is pronounced by the locals as ‘Lu_on’.
Here’s the loo review.
Here is Lee’s vlog of the day.
Ok now back to things I enjoy.
I enjoy food, so tucked into the contents of the cool bag immediately on taking my seat on the bus, under the watchful eye of Paddington. I wasn’t that hungry so just had a few slices of beef, packet of Salt & Vinegar Square Crisps and an Orange HiFi bar, washed down with Tango Berry Peachy (best pop ever).
I enjoy writing so I wrote this blog on the northbound journey. Usually I’d be too wound up to relive the match but (a) I’ve hardly relived it here; and (b) I think my coping mechanisms are actually working, as I feel quite calm writing this.
I follow @VFTAE – the North Ferriby fanzine – on Twitter so I decided to buy their latest issue to see what they’re all about. I knew nothing about North Ferriby (even where it is) so was looking forward to reading this and learning all about them.
Wow what an exceptional fanzine this is! I now know that North Ferriby are a phoenix club who have just won promotion to the Northern Premier League – and three of their players mysteriously ended up in Australia (this wasn’t explained). However, as I delved deeper into this zine, I found myself totally immersed in the absorbing articles on a range of topics across football and culture. My favourite was a well-argued piece against three promotion places from the National League to the EFL. Dear readers, buy this zine – you’ll love it.
Phew! That was a productive and (generally) enjoyable day out. We arrived back in Blackpool at 2130 and I headed straight to bed because I was zonked.
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Next Up: Best Blackpool Boozers #2