Saturday nights are all right for pubbing. Now the new football season is upon us – and I can face Bloomfield Road again after a three-month hiatus – I’m enjoying Blackpool’s best boozers after the match.
I spent Saturday morning plugging issue 10 of my Blackpool fanzine Now That’s What I Call Progress on social media. If you haven’t got your copy yet, what are you waiting for? Christmas? Get signed up here. You’ll not regret it.
I took a break to have breakfast, as I’d found myself starving during the previous home match. My new breakfast of choice is two soft boiled eggs with two slices of toast: one cut into soldiers for dipping and the other smothered in this lush jam I picked up from Gloucester Services on my way back from Exeter.
En route to Bloomfield Road, we made the now customary pit stops at the post office (to post fanzines to new subscribers) and the library (to return a book).
I had planned to buy my Lincoln ticket before the match but we were running a little behind schedule. It was 1.45pm by the time we arrived at the ground, so I got straight into position outside Arcade Club on Bloomfield Road to sell fanzines. I still haven’t been into Arcade Club (despite really wanting to) but I do have a great photo of their toilet to share with you, courtesy of my friend Michelle (more of her here).
I love selling fanzines here. Even more so when it’s not raining (it wasn’t today). I get to see all the lads and lasses, smiles on their faces, going down to Bloomfield Road to see the Blackpool aces. And it is August and we’re all full of hope and we’re going up and we’re unbeaten and we haven’t even conceded a goal yet so the faces are smiling. And I’m smiling because I’m nurturing my inner artist and I’m writing prolifically and doing lots of fun stuff like listening to music and going to gigs and dancing and painting and going to the theatre and reading. I’m smiling and people automatically smile back because smiles are infectious. More smiles please!
I smile and say hello to familiar faces as well as many who I haven’t seen in years – since before the boycott. There are new faces too and two lads walk past telling me that I’m gorgeous and I’ll take that but buy a fanzine next time lads please? My new Lancashire Hotpots tee gets lots of approving comments. Get yours here.
I appeared to have been stood up by my Leyton Orient fanzine editor counterpart who’d promised me swapsies and decided to chastise him about that later. After I’d recommended all those pubs to him too.
Blackpool v Leyton Orient
I met my sales target and headed towards the turnstile at 2.50pm. As I was loading up my ticket on my phone and wondering what the point of being this organised was when I was going to have to put it down while I had my bag searched at the turnstile before opening it up again and thinking I wouldn’t have this trouble if I had a physical season ticket card but they could fuck off if they thought I was paying another £20 for that, I was interrupted by someone commenting on my furrowed brow. I explained my thought process about the ticket farce.
‘Well they’re taking sweets off people going in the away end. Put that in your next report.’
‘I will. Bloody fun police!’
Contrast this with the reception we got at Exeter, where they were practically handing us sweets on the way in.
I made my way up to my seat to enjoy the match. I’m actually very zen about the football at the moment. It of course helps that it’s August, we’re unbeaten, haven’t conceded a goal and I’m comforted by the return of Critch as Head Coach. I love Critch.
I was surprised when people around me started booing before half an hour had passed. What was their problem? Seemingly Marvin Ekpiteta spending too long on the ball. What a great idea to boo a player when he’s on the ball. A player who appeared to struggle with his confidence last season. A player who’d had a bloody good start to the season and was starting to get that confidence back. I raged for a bit about this before remembering I was zen now and fuck it, why should I worry about that? Not my problem.
The game ended 0-0 and I’d rather enjoyed it. There had been chances at either end but I never felt we were under threat at any time. I was relaxed when we were on the ball. It’s kind of calming, us retaining possession. Perhaps it calms the players too. And it must frustrate the opposition. And it’s effective. Sure, we’d all love a 3-0 win every week but this is a solid foundation to build on. And we never finish building our squad until deadline day, so hopefully there will be a striker or two added into the mix by then.
Here’s Lee’s match vlog.
Do you see what I’ve done there? I’ve written about the football in a pub blog. Whereas I usually write about pubs in football blogs. Well I am in charge here so fuck it, why not? And here are some pubs for your enjoyment.
This place is too handy for the football and is the post-match rendezvous pub of choice. Oh-ho and what’s this?!
I’m only ever going to have the Plum Porter in this situation.
I secured a table in the front window and relaxed with my pint while I waited for Karen to arrive.
I didn’t have long to wait and Karen was soon updating me on what she’d had to eat in the 1953 club today. I don’t know how she stays so slim.
I had a pasty in here on a previous visit and it was lush.
As I knew I was blogging this visit, I thought I’d better make an effort to showcase the pub. As I headed through to the BFC lounge, I was stopped in my tracks by this beauty.
Enquiries revealed that the tee had been acquired from Bundobust (in Manchester, I think) but it was some time ago and may not still be available. For the uninitiated, Bundobust is a fab Indian street food pub chain and you can read more about them here.
Anyway I’ve looked up their merch and sadly there are no tangerine tees to be had but LOOK AT THIS!!!
Once I’d got over the Bundo tee, I headed through to the back room (well technically it’s on the left) to continue my mission.
There’s a lot of love going into this place – always the sign of a good pub in my book. Please do pop in on a matchday or any other day.
You can even pick up a fanzine while you’re there. If you can’t see them on the bar please just ask and you’ll have a copy of the latest issue in your hands before you know it.
Now time to call in at the newest micropub on the block.
Backstage is a micropub within the same building as the Waterloo. As the latter is a live music venue, Backstage offers a separate venue in which to enjoy some fab beers away from the noise of the soundchecks.
Here’s tonight’s cask offerings.
It was until after I’d ordered a pint of the one on the left (obvs) that I spotted the fridge.
Oh. My. Word.
As my eyes wandered further around the pub to spot things to show you, dear reader, I found EVEN MORE BEER.
This place is shaping up to be a right little belter. I mentioned above about love going into a place reaping dividends and there’s no pub in Blackpool with more love gone into it than this one. You really must visit.
I’ll report back separately on the Waterloo Proper because it deserves a blog all to itself, I think.
We took a seat at a table next to one man and his dog.
Backstage will soon be opening a sister pub in Cleveleys and I’ll be straight down there to report on that for a future blog in this series.
I’d have happily stayed in here all night but we needed to eat (and avoid that fridge at all costs…for now) so headed on to our final stop of this favourite post-match crawl.
This is the sister pub of the Fylde Coast’s first micropub (RIP) – and the start of the brilliant micropub revolution over here. I love this pub because the beer is always well kept and delicious – and the Thai food is divine.
There was a new barmaid on who I hadn’t met before and she was brilliant and super helpful.
I love that it always feels like Christmas in the back room with these fairy lights.
There was some Premier League match showing on the TVs but that’s never held any interest for me (except in 2010/11 when we were in it).
This is another pub I could happily stay in all night. I’m always saying I really ought to visit more often. It’s one of Blackpool’s absolute gems. The beer, food and people are top notch. But we had our sensible heads on tonight and stayed for just the one before retiring for the night.
As I seek to explore my hometown further after 20 years living away, I’ll be delving into more of its cultural offerings. In recent weeks I’ve been to live music gigs and open mic nights and have booked tickets for the theatre and comedy club. If you’re heading into Blackpool and are looking for things to do, head to Blackpool.com for inspiration.
Next Up: Cleethorpes Pub Crawl.