Feeding 5000 Without The Miracle

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Obviously the most important thing on a Saturday is watching football, a point so obvious that there is really no need to state it, a little like saying that the sky is big or the sun is hot. Yet, regrettably, during this day of football one also has to eat.

Now as we all know the food at football grounds is deplorable, almost entirely inedible and the cost of two burgers, a hot dog and a coffee rival two weeks half-board in Albefuria. And an early copy of the “Off The Ball” fanzine even went so far as to print a league table of the clubs responsible for the very worst suffering of supporters with there gravel ridden pies and food poisoning outbreaks.

Now a lot of football grounds that I have visited prefer to offer their very own style of burgers. Totally unavailable outside of soccer grounds, football clubs have a monopoly on the grizzle ridded soya burger which is obviously due to their secret all-flavour-extracting machine which is produced by a famous high street fast food chain and sub-letted on Saturdays to football grounds.

Two years ago at Maidstone’s ground, watching Boston fall two goals behind in the pouring rain, I queued for a steak and kidney pie; only when I received it did I realized that the sign said .nothing, of course, about it being heated. Stone cold and in the packet. Although the price suggested it, there was no microwave enclosed with it, so it had to be consumed raw.

Special mentions should also be given to purchasing hot drinks at our nation’s football grounds. Again such horrendous tasting tea and coffee is a closely guarded secret which only the F.A. and British Rail share. Basically, if someone had been stumbling lost across the Sahara desert for a week with only enough water for a day, and was then offered a cup of football ground tea, it is almost certain he would carry on walking past.

So what are the alternatives from this gastronomical torture chamber? Travelling to away matches with ready made sandwiches may be sensible and economical, but sadly this is just not fashionable, and is about as trendy as wearing a viking’s helmet. Arm yourself with lots of Mars bars instead, although the police may confiscate these at League matches, especially if Paul Gascoigne is playing (which is unlikely against Boston because Dave Cusack and Martin Hardy would mark him out of the game), since these could easily be construed by the constabulary as being offensive weapons, while club burgers aren’t?

Speaking as one of the few people who has been searched going into a GMVC game, it is best to stuff your pockets full of handkerchiefs, inhale some pepper before approaching the searching policeman on the turnstiles, and then droll on in a faint nasal voice about what a terrible cold you have -this should offset his want to pocket search you and see how poor you really are.

Having smuggled your illegal chocolate bar into the ground, resist all temptation to throw it at your useless goalie as he picks the ball out of net again after the inevitable conclusion of your teams defence looking like they’ve all rushed straight to the ground after a lunchtime L.S.D. and bourbon party, and save it for half-time when you bite into it while they’re playing the really naff records (why don’t they play all fifteen minutes of the Velvet Underground’s “Sister Ray”, and indeed when Boston are playing, why not leave the album on over the P.A. for all the second half) and get sticky chocolates stains all over your programme which has more about the sponsors product than the club anyway.

Vitally important to remember whenever contemplating visiting the ground’s tea bar is that there is ALWAYS a queue. It does not matter what time you go to the tea bar, if you were to break into the ground at half past six on a Monday morning, you would still have to patiently wait in line to get to the front.

From purely personal experience the best food on offer at Boston’s away games has been at Sutton United where during one freezing January afternoon while Boston were conspiring to lose 3-1 because our defenders were frozen fast to the pitch for all the second-half, suddenly an old lady took a break from dishing up hot dogs and came out of the tea bar into a group of lads who were getting slightly rowdy and told them off, after which they all behaved. It could only happen in non-league football.

There are a number of things not to like about Welling United, especially their eight goals against us last season, but the burger bar at the back of the main stand was certainly acceptable, if not a culinary breakthrough, although by the .time of last season’s visit it had disappeared. As for the League, Watford’s burger bar in the away end is reasonable although I was incredibly hungry so that probably serves as a disclaimer. Obviously Chelsea’s match day food is exceptional – remember the Fat Man hooligan trials?

Naturally tea bars are usually located in a position where it is impossible to watch the game while queuing, thus the way to beat this obstruction is not to go; there is little point in spending three hours in a train, negotiating the underground with a nutter strategically placed in every other carriage, and then arriving at the game, only to miss Paul Wilson’s first six goals because you’ve spent the entire first half looking at someone’s head in a tea bar queue.

The most loyal Boston supporter should be able to spent six hours in a sauna, eat ten ounces of salt, and still wait until after the game before getting a drink. Almost always these tea bars will serve the most greasy food imaginable, burgers, hot dogs and pasties will be oozing oil all over your smart jacket(the one your brother bought from an end of season sale at Fosters four years ago but has just come back into fashion), and their proprietors use so much oil that most have already joined OPEC.

Experience football goers always make mental notes of where the conveniences are located on their way into the ground, and will have a well worn copy of Egon Rounay Restaurant Guide confiscated by the police at the turnstile.

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