3/9/22 Preston North End v Blues. North Goes South Because Of The Middle Bit.

This was to be the first game after the Transfer window had shut. For Blues, the whole window had been pretty disappointing, and Deadline day was a damp squib, (Whatever one of those actually is.) My concern was the lack of a striker with pace. I could only see a season of struggle before Deadline day, but after the window slammed shut, those fears were exasperated even further. For me, it would now just be all about the day surrounding the horror of the game. I met up with a threadbare crew of ale trailers at New Street. Only Spoons, Ian, JK, Daryl and me. Jinksy was otherwise absent, and Steve was already up in the North West and was to join us in Preston with his nephew Joe. Ian had renewed our railcard so at least I wouldn’t be spending as much money as I dragged myself round the country, smashing my mental wellbeing with appalling, inept Blues performances. After the usual kind of conversations and banter, we touched down in Preston and made for the better of the two Wetherspoons in the city, The Twelve Tellers. It’s one of the chains bank conversions, and along with keeping several original features, is quite impressive. I have of course, taken enough photos of it for the purpose of this rubbish in the past, so won’t foist any more on you. We’ve been tentatively discussing attending the European Championships in 2024 in Germany, but after JK had done some research, we started to go into more detail. I’m now planning on attending along with the rest of the ale trailers that will be travelling over. I’ve got to save up for it, of course, but before I do anything else, I’ve got to sort a passport out. I haven’t had a passport before, as I’ve never been in the position where I’ve needed one, but even I know I’ll need one for Germany. So at some point, I’ll have to pop to the Post Office to get an application form. In all honesty, at 54 years of age, I really should have been abroad by now, but life has tended to get in the way. From the Twelve Tellers, there was only ever going to be one place we were going to next, and besides, it’s where we were meeting up with Steve and Joe, The Black Horse. Although I didn’t take anymore photos of the place, I say it on here every time I visit the place, that it’s even boring me now, but I simply can not stress enough, how beautiful the pub is. Unless you’ve no soul, you just can’t fail to be impressed with the Black Horse. Everyone who I’ve ever been in there for the first time with, is just wide eyed at its splendour, and anyone who I talk to who knows it, can’t help but wax lyrical about the place. From there, we went to The Orchard, a small micro pub on Preston Market.

“Wallace and Gromit, born in Preston…..ish”

With the bar being so close to the market, the lure to explore was too great to resist. Especially as I’d spotted a secondhand book stall. In mitigation, I hadn’t been the only one, Spoons had already spotted a secondhand record stall and was flicking through their stock. I also spotted a secondhand clothes stall selling a healthy amount of Adidas Originals. One item in particular grabbed my attention. Unfortunately, it was way too small for me, and so I’m now not the proud owner of a purple track suit top with the famous three lines in yellow. Disappointed, I consoled myself that at least I was going in the Guild Hall Tavern next. A micro pub that isn’t so micro anymore. A place that just gets better and better, and I was really impressed with it, the very first time I went in there. They even have bands playing in there now. After there, we went in another micro pub, wine bar type place called Plau. Ordinarily, a decent place, but I’m really having no luck with beer at the moment. My choice was yet another that had turned to vinegar. Was someone trying to tell me that I shouldn’t drink anymore? Sorry, not listening. Never going to listen. We got chatting to a trio of Blues we recognised and recognised us from away games. One of those familiar faces slipped out that he’d been to over 600 football grounds. It’s not as many as Steve Mundy (Or however his surname is spelt.), but it’s far more than I’ll ever get to, and although others might be impressed with the amount I’ve been to, it actually makes my efforts look quite pitiful. I would love to get to more grounds. Would love to spend the rest of my life combining it with public transport and ale trailing, but unfortunately, unless those lottery numbers fall into place and I can give up work, it just isn’t going to happen. A trip to watch Preston, means a trip to The Moorbrook. I only wish we had a pub as good as it near St Andrews. Oh we used to, but The Anchor is now just utter rubbish. It now even has a sign on the wall outside, exclaiming to be a ‘Football free zone’. Never mind the rainbow flag hanging outside, inclusive, the pub obviously is not.

I really wasn’t expecting anything from this game, let alone very little. I’d been to Deepdale many, many times before, and the best I’d seen Blues get, was a solitary point. Usually, it’s a turn up, watch us get beat, go home ground.

“Looked a lot different to this, the very first time I watched Blues get beat here”

It wasn’t a great game, but then, I was just waiting for Preston to score. The first and only goal of the game, arrived a quarter of an hour into precedings. Taken completely by surprise, I immediately looked straight at the linesman, lino, referee’s assistant, (Delete where applicable, according to age and preference.) it wasn’t offside. Blues were not only winning for a change, but it was a lead that they were going to go on and hold quite comfortably. OK, we never really looked like we were going to add to it, but given the dire circumstances at a club that’s shrouded in mystery, it was a welcome victory. Not only that, but after seven attempts, I’d finally seen us win at Deepdale

Coming out of the ground, I met up with JK, Steve and Joe, destination Vinyl, a unique pub, not just in Preston, but the country. Preston isn’t the biggest of places, and Deepdale isn’t the furthest ground from the city centre, but even with having been there enough times to know exactly where I’m going, somehow, I contrive to forget. I wasn’t the only one who it seems to trip up though, both JK and Steve were confused as to the way too. Both consulted different Apps on their phones, whilst I tried to look for different landmarks that would trigger any kind of memories. Eventually, we worked it out, and finally joined Spoons, Ian and a very happy and smug Daryl. The reason for Darryl’s smugness? He’d had a tenner on Blues to win at 5/1. Darryl’s not really, what you could say, a bookies regular. He does dabble, but knows when the fun stops (See, I do take notice of things.) I certainly didn’t begrudge him his luck. I was just glad I’d seen us win.

“Yes I know it doesn’t look unique”

If anyone remembers record shops of old, then you’ll have spotted the racks to the left of Ian pulling a face. Behind Spoons, (Even if he is in camouflage and you shouldn’t be able to see him.) is another rack of records. The last time I went in Vinyl, it hadn’t been open that long, and so the concept was very much in its infancy. I didn’t get to go in there last season, and hadn’t been in since before Covid wrecked everything. The emphasis may now be heavily on rock music, but you can still sort through the racks of records, and choose something that you want to hear, and the bar staff will put it on to play on a deck behind the bar. Along with a good selection of real ale, it’s a cracking place to visit and enjoy the experience. There are actually now pubs where you can download an App, and paying for it through your phone bill, can tap in something you want played without leaving your seat. As a dinosaur, that just leaves me cold. Jukeboxes were always a good talking point when I was growing up. (Yeah I know, I’m still growing up.) If anyone you knew went to put something on the Jukebox, you were immediately interested to find out what. The choices were discussed as the tracks came on. With one of those App things, you haven’t got a clue who’s put what on. It’s yet another sign we’re loosing the art of communication in a social situation. Is it any surprise that the plethora of dating Apps keeps growing? As the world becomes increasingly sterile, the more anxiety and depression will get worse. I’m just glad I’m the age I am, and my best days are behind me. I really wouldn’t want to be young now. It’s far too overrated. Daryl, JK, Steve and Joe went off somewhere else, me, Spoons and Ian decided to go to Plug and Taps. Ordinarily, Plug and Taps is a great little place, but it was an absolute sweatbox in there. We did get chatting to a couple of locals though. She was heavily into Formula One and although I’m not into the it in the slightest, it was great seeing her genuine passion for a sport not usually known for having female fans. The humidity was really having an effect on us mind, so we moved closer to the door and cooler air, to finish our pints. From there, we finished up in Preston at the Old Vic. It’s a place we usually avoid, not because it’s overly rubbish, but because of its proximity to the station, it can get a bit lairy in there. Walking through the door, I instantly spotted Paul from the Roost with Clacker and his lads. Saying hello, I joked that it was another terrible result. The rest of the day’s ale trailers caught up with us, and all got takeouts for the trains. All except me that is. For some unknown reason, I was truly tired, and spent biggest part of the journey back to Brum asleep. Getting off back in New Street, as the rest headed for The Colemore, I headed home.

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