3/4/18 Bolton Wanderers v Blues. Monk Key In Closure.

First of all, sorry to anyone who has been waiting for me to actually post anything. My excuse/reason is simple, bit like the rubbish I write. I went back to work at the start of this week and it’s been a bit of a struggle, both mentally and physically at times and had I kept my eyes open for long enough in the evening once I’d got home, to post something, the drivel would have been even worse than the usual rubbish. Being working class, in a working class town, it was me and my Nephew Dave and not my Nephew and I, walked into town. We were going to do a couple of pubs in Chorley and then get over to Horwich to watch the local team there. With the indoor market open, we took in The Bob Inn. This place has a reputation for its quirkiness as well as having great beer. The micro pub is situated in a market stall.

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what an excuse to pop on the market.

I’ve been in many a pub that claims to be a market pub, but this place goes one step further.

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There wasn’t any bobbing either.

The next port of call was a let down in the fact that it wasn’t open as advertised. Now that really is false advertising. It hadn’t helped with it being a bit of a walk from the centre of town. I will have another go at some point. The Mason Arms is owned and ran by Nicky Reid. He might not have ever played for Blues, (Not that I would have done the “Hero worship” thing anyway) but I am impressed that an ex professional footballer, not only likes and drinks real ale, but has a pub that stocks and promotes the stuff. Goes against the usual stereotyping. We wondered down to a Marston’s pub called The Railway. This one was a fact finding mission. (No, I wasn’t looking for the station. I know where that is.) It’s known for its live music. I was surprised by the traditional pub interior. I didn’t expect the double fireplaces with the mirrors above and the wooden surrounds. Especially, judging by the gig posters, the place likes to hold music of a more rock/punk persuasion. I could quite easily take in a band in this place and so could Dave. We moved on to the Malt and Hops. I might have grown to like the micro pub scene, but the traditional dinosaur in me, still enjoys and feels more comfortable in a “Proper” pub. I won’t wax lyrical anymore about the place, other than it’s brilliant or to put it another way, I don’t want to bore you anymore than I already am doing. With the Spaceship being in a field not too far from Chorley, we got a local bus service to the village next to it. The double decker bus was quite comfy as we lurched around the country roads and headed for Horwich. The Crown is in the centre of the village. A Holt owned establishment that stocked their whole range. It also had a couple of guest ales on too. When the Spaceship had landed, this place was the only place at the time, a discerning ale drinker had the option of. Next place was The Bank Top Brewery Ale House. The old stone exterior was in contrast to the plush interior. Again, it had the whole Bank Top range, but without having to contend with the usual fizzy disgrace to brewing, something I had already subjected Daves ears to the evils of the mass produced, tasteless, over advertised, monopolistic “Big” companies, on the journey over to Horwich. Philistine or not, I am an admirer of L.S. Lowerys work. Where We were sat, there was an example from an artist who was obviously influenced by the great man’s style. Unfortunately for Dave, I fell into a lecture of how working life and the class had changed. Lowery does that to me. The next place we went to was micro pub that had sprung up. A.J.s Ale House. It wasn’t the best micro pub I’ve ever been in but certainly not the worst. It was a welcome addition to the area and it was definitely trying. The pork pies on the counter were tempting. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see that Dave was as interested as me, so we had one each. I’m a harsh critic of pork pies. Being born and raised in Shropshire, I’ve been spoilt with excellent pork pies. It came as a bit of a shock, the first time I had the equivalent of a pint of Carling. Well done to A.J.s as there was no noise except for our devouring of these pies. The rest of the ale trailers landed. I introduced Darrell, J.K. Mikey, Ian and Steve to Dave. They had walked up from Blackrod station. It had been a longer walk than they previously thought. We chatted about the previous day. The Solihull Moors game had been postponed at Tranmere, so they had done an extra couple of pubs. We thought J.K. had knocked a pint over. We mopped it up as best as we could with the paper towel we were given and the same glass went again. We blamed J.K. He was closest. Dave exonerated him, saying the glass went on its own, he’d watched it happen. The floor must not have been level. Probably still isn’t. Watch out for sliding drinks if you happen to go in there. We missed out on the bus going past and walked to the ground. Although the Bank Holiday was technically over, the Lancashire rain wasn’t.

The Spaceship had run out of fuel twenty years previously. They had since built a retail park round it to make it inaccessible to undomestics. They might as well knock one of the corners of ground down and build a supermarket in its place. My ticket was for the upper tier.

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This was my view. The pitch, not the bold spot. 

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where were the rest at Middlesbrough?

I wasn’t able to get a ticket for Dave for the Blues end and he had to rely on his home address details to get a ticket for the Bolton end. There’s a high number of Blues fans who are under the false impression that we’re the best fans in the country. We’re not. We’re a different breed, but certainly not the best. How is it that we can take 4,800 to Bolton for a midweek game but only 400 to Middlesbrough for a midweek game? Anyone who goes to watch Blues home and away and also ground hops around the country will be level headed enough to know we’re not the best, just different. We might have taken the amount we did to Bolton but we are positioned in the middle of the country. We haven’t got the length of trips other clubs have got. Newcastle to Bournemouth is a long trip, but try traveling from Bristol to Norwich, Bury to Southend, Yeovil to Barnet. We have access to the biggest motorway junction in the country in the Gravelly Hill interchange. We are catered by, not one, but two mainline stations. One of which is the biggest railway junction outside London. We have no excuse not to travel in huge numbers to anywhere in the country. Truth is, we don’t travel as well as we should. Truth is, we’re not as big as we like to think we are. Back to the game. Blues and Bolton were looking well matched. An excellent free kick delivery from Maghoma was met by a comprehensive finish from Jutkiewicz. A top drawer piece of football. I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t expecting this to happen. Texting Dave, it was good to know, he was rather enjoying Blues winning and hearing the moans and groans from the home fans around him. Halftime and I went to see if I could spot any of my mates. I bumped into Rob and the gang, including Dave Moyna and Steph. If there was only ten Blues fans at an away game, Dave Moyna would be one of them. Steph was in a good mood. Not to say she wasn’t missing Justin and Seeley, but she was definitely back to her pre Seeley days. I saw Steve. We had a quick chat about what had gone on and also confirmed the Harborne trail for the next home game. I went back upstairs for the second half. Blues being unable to do anything the easy way, Che Adams got shown a red card for what looked a bad challenge from even where I was, about ninety yards away. Forlornly I hoped the ref would be lenient. It wasn’t to be. Up until then, we had got an attacking outlet. For the last twenty five minutes, it was going to be backs to the wall. Thing is, we coped well. Except for a handball shout, we looked comfortable and competent. I hadn’t seen this, this season. I still kept glancing at the digital timer on the T.V. screen in the corner of the ground. Counting the time down. Something you can’t help, as a football fan. We hung on but hang on, we did. As the Blues fans celebrated with the Blues players as the final whistle sounded, I made my way out of the ground. 

I passed the Bolton club shop. Not being able to get one before the game, I wondered if they’d got any left in the shop. The pleasant female security guard shouted over to the counter staff. Two programmes later, I was now on the hunt to meet up with Dave. I finally found him by the statue he had suggested over the phone that I thought I’d remembered and it was then to find how to get home to his. It’s bad enough that it’s an out of town ground and now in the middle of a retail park, but when you’re then trying to work out where to get out as a pedestrian, it isn’t easy. Which carpark is which? Signposts? We walked back up to Horwich centre once we’d managed to find the way out, got the got the bus back to Chorley and got back to Dave’s.

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