Blackpool away...bring it on

The Premier League fixtures are out tomorrow and I have my kiss-me-quick hat ready for when we travel to Blackpool for the curtain-raiser of the 2010/11 season.
Of course, I am merely hoping that we get the early away day in the north west so we can soak up the sun, sink a few scoops and generally enjoy a late summer break in the seaside hotspot. What’s the betting that we get them mid-week and midwinter?
But the prospect of taking in a new ground when we eventually hike up country to Bloomfield Road — where the reduced capacity means that tickets will be be difficult to get your hands on unless you are in the away scheme or know some dodgy geezer in the ticket office (and they do exist) — got me thinking.
As I know bugger all about Bloomfield Road, I thought I’d put together a guide to other grounds, well pubs, that I have been to that we will need to pay a visit to next season. This is part one. Part two coming at you tomorrow. One question, of course, is will Cesc be playing at these grounds for us next season. See our picture from the World Cup shock defeat for Spain against the Swiss and there is some support out there for him in South Africa.
With all of these suggestions it is perhaps wise to keep your allegiance to God’s Own under wraps, but none of the pubs I have recommended are full of vicious pits of seething nutters. Well, maybe the Black Rose.
Aston Villa: Instead of going to the away boozer almost opposite Witton station (Cap and Gown, I think), stop off at the Aston Hotel. Might be asked if you are Villa but a simple nod gets you in and you can get served easily and swerve a few of the barmy army packed into the aforementioned pub. Remember, if you want a gargle in the ground it’ll have to be smuggled in as they don’t have a bar in the away section.
Birmingham: City Centre is lively, obviously. Take a 10-minute walk past St Andrews to Bordesley Labour Working Men’s Club. Massive venue, cheap ale and friendly regulars. To be fair you can easily get a pint in the ground but plastic pint pots and all that.
Blackburn: Those of you who know Ewood Park know there aren’t too many options for away fans near the ground, except for that one massive boozer up the road from the ground. For a change, park up near the ground and jump in a cab back into tow. For three quid fare you can enjoy a pint in any of the pubs and change the landscape for what is generally a tedious away trip in general.
Bolton: Talking of tedious away trips, it doesn’t come much worse than the soulless Reebok and its un-noteworthy environs. For a change of scenery book a table at the Whites Hotel restaurant which is in the ground. The food is good, reasonably priced and you can get to the bar easily. And you can leave at ten to three and still be in for five to.
Chelsea: Is this shit-pit the ground with the most pubs within it’s immediate radius? Every season we end up somewhere different. Black Rose is an interesting pint!
Everton: Town centre is jumping obviously but closer to the ground the Arkles tends to fill up with Arsenal fans. Again, for a change walk across Stanley Park to the ground and opposite the main stand at Goodison is what can only be described as a drinking den heaving with Evertonians. Goes by the name of the Winslow Hotel but I very much doubt you’d want a night there with the missus. Or indeed any one’s else’s. Pound to get in and has an upstairs bar which you get a gargle easily. Again, ideal for a late drink just before kick-off.
Fulham: Down by the river. End of. Only if we play them in the warmer months. Untold hostelries in Putney High Street. Be prepared for a leak in the park on the way to the Cottage. Over-priced warm lager in bottles at half-time.
Liverpool: in the city centre try the Pen and Wig for excellent, er, views. The Arkles gets rammed but if you want a laugh head for the Flat Iron on Anfield Road. This is a very basic boozer but is full of, how shall we say, Scouse charm. The nearby Cabbage Hall in Breck Road is another pub in which ale can be bought and consumed without too much waiting. Ta la. Until part two…

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