While walking in the rain for a half hour on a grey Sunday morning, I questioned why I’d crawled out of bed at the crack of dawn. But, as I approached the turn for Bolton Road at Alan Shearer Way, the prospect of what lay ahead had me tingling.
As well as witnessing the clash of two former top flight titans, I’m here to feast on some proper football food. In the shadow of Blackburn’s Ewood Park, my eyes are drawn to a scattering of little sheds outside the stadium.
The words ‘Footy’ and ‘Curry’ together are too tempting to ignore, although it’s not curry I turn to. A seekh kebab roll doused in yogurt and mint sauce is a perfect little starter, followed by a nice and crispy meat samosa which was a moist dip away from pure ecstasy. Meanwhile, Finch Bakery sold me a sticky slice of School Cake with sprinkle flecked icing and I really didn’t mind it sticking to the roof of my mouth like fresh handiwork from a professional plasterer.
Once inside the ground, you can’t look further than a potato & meat pie with mash, peas and gravy to comfort your cockles when you’re been soaked to the skin. Then there’s the joy of opening the pie up, releasing its sloppy insides, and letting the steam envelop your face like a freshly boiled kettle.
HALF-TIME: Blackburn 1 Leicester 2
Earlier on, a bloke queuing for the bar beside me talked of a slow-cooked brisket burger doing the rounds on social media. But a half-time hunt for the mystery beef bap proved elusive. Instead, I turned to a reliable source of meatiness. As I made my way back to my seat, I purchased a cup of Bovril. It’s been a while since I dabbled in beefy drinks and so I’d forgotten the pleasant surprise at the end of the beverage when you’re struck by a big hit of beefy yeasty sludge.
Back to the football. Sitting in the stalls on this murky afternoon in Lancashire, I overheard one fan make their feelings known to the ultimate pantomime villain – the referee – with a bellowing cry of “what a fucking bag of bollocks that is!”
There was one final surprise. As I left the ground, I turned to my right. Perched next to the Jack Walker Stand was a food van selling 16-hour premium slow smoked brisket burgers. The rumours were true. The brisket lives and breathes. By this point I was fit to burst, full of pastry and liquid meat, but the menu at Pitmaster was too alluring. A BBQ brisket burger was bagged and carried all the way home in my parka pocket to consume once my belly began rumbling again.
FINAL SCORE: Blackburn 1 Leicester 4