Blackpool v SAFC: meeting Mr Punch

Following his tales of Blackpool trips in the 60s and 70s (read them here), Pete Sixsmith concludes his memories of visits to that cauldron of football, Bloomfield Road …

Our last visit was in October 1987 on a cold and windy day where there were no wrecks and nobody drowning, in fact nothing to laugh at at all.

As in 1964, I travelled on the Shildon bus, now run by George Michael Thompson. We met the Horan family in the town and my brother and his then wife travelled up from Southport, Blackpool’s snooty neighbour.

Pre match drinks were taken in The Kings Arms, a fine Higsons pub near Blackpool North station and a place where I had spent a considerable amount of my Conference allowance at a Union gathering a couple of years previously.

The game was relatively uneventful with John McPhail scoring the two goals that gave us a decent 2-1 win and set us on the way out of Division Three. This was a most enjoyable season as we played at places like Aldershot, Chesterfield, Northampton and Port Vale, grounds I would have struggled to visit normally.

After the game, with no mission for pigs and no instructions to keep out of pubs, we quaffed several pints of Thwaites Best Bitter in a venerable pub called The Empress. It had a landlord with the most outrageous and ridiculous toupee and it was difficult to keep a straight face as we ordered our beers.

Puns on wig and rug were the order of the day and then the brother decided to regale us with his impersonation of Mr. Punch. He had obtained a swazzle from some itinerant Professor and proceeded to be Mr. Punch. It was hugely entertaining for our party and for the other drinkers, but the toupee’s wife took exception to it and told us to be quiet.

Mr. Punch remained in character in the ensuing argument and this annoyed her even more. The poor woman then committed the cardinal error of turning to the pub and saying “And none of these find you funny either”. To a man (and woman) they replied in true Mr. Punch fashion “Oh yes we do” and she departed for the phone to call the police. We left to a round of applause and with tears in our eyes.

The coach left at 11.30p.m. and, on boarding, I saw a sight that I had never seen before. Mr Alan Metcalfe, a Sunderland fan par excellence and sadly no longer with us and also a man who I genuinely believed had hollow legs, was seen to be not only drunk but incapably drunk as he snored away on a double seat. Even as a man of 36, it was sad to see that heroes had feet of clay.

Which brings me back to Darren Bent……….

2 thoughts on “Blackpool v SAFC: meeting Mr Punch”

  1. Beautiful!

    That really was a wonderful season, even if we wouldn’t want to repeat it. We went to some real football grounds that year.

    I distinctly remember being behind the goal at Aldershot stood with Messrs Sixsmith and Horan and co, and expecting a landslide when we went 2-0 up in the first quarter of an hour, only to let the game slip from our grasp as a brace from the most unlikely source; Steve Berry of all people helped the Shots back in to the game.

    We’d arrived very early in Aldershot and couldn’t find the ground, having already mistaken an MOD Sports Complex for the “stadium” which took some locating. The sight of people playing lawn bowls behind the far goal as the game went on was one of the most bizarre experiences in following the lads for all these years. Hard to believe that was almost a quarter century ago.

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