So, I've had a double dose of real football this weekend. On Saturday an old mate invited me to his table at Deepdale for the Lancashire derby, Preston North End v Blackpool. Or Nob End v Donkey Lashers as it had been vociferously built up. It wasn't just because we were in the posh seats, but I thought it all seemed quite low key to be honest. It certainly wasn't the seething cauldron of hatred of a Rovers v Burnley encounter.
Deepdale is now totally rebuilt from the stadium I first went to in 1973 to see PNE v Burnley, my first ever big game (Lancaster City doesn't count). And it's the first time I've been back since I disgraced myself by running on the pitch at the end in 2001 when Rovers got promoted. Unlike then, the home fans don't seem to have a noisy end of their own where the drummers and singers whip everyone up. The Blackpool fans were pretty quiet too.
I'd also forgotten how miserable North End fans get when it doesn't go their way. Paul McKenna, who I thought created lots of space for himself in the middle and could have bossed the game if he had better options to pass to seemed to get dogs abuse. Sometimes before he even received a pass.
There were three ex-Rovers players Eddie Nolan for PNE and Brett Ormerod and Ben Burgess for Blackpool. Burgess was slow, unfit and pretty useless. Nolan looked tricky and was man of the match, in the way that only home players ever get it. Keith Southern for Blackpool was probably the best player on the day.
Having only watched Premier League dross and occasional Champions League games recently the main difference was the number of errors the players made. It brought it all back from when Rovers used to grind out 1-0 and 3-0 wins against grim teams in yellow back in the 2000-2001 season.
And today I took Max and Louis to see Morecambe beat Macclesfield at the Moss Rose. It's only half an hour away, I've never been, kids get in free and it was great. Morecambe are a decent side, quite direct, use the attacking full backs well and are very solid in defence. Macclesfield probably try and play the more artful football, with John Rooney (brother of Wayne) a two footed creator in the middle. But they have some young lads who get knocked off the ball easily. The referee disallowed 3 goals for Morecambe, all for rough and tumble in the box. A weaker ref would have let it go.
The kids for free offer is a wonderful gesture, but I didn't notice a great uptake. The crowd was 1,773, and we were the 3.
I've reviewed my total for grounds I've watched football on. It's 118.
Quite fancy Hyde v Southport on Wednesday night.