Regular Raven Readers (Hi, mom!) will know that last holiday season a friend and I embarked on a Premier League pilgrimage to celebrate the bounty of football that is festive period, aka the Feast of Saint Arlo. You can read about last year’s trip HERE. It was always going to be difficult to top that itinerary, which included Crystal Palace vs. Chelsea, Arsenal at City, and the Merseyside Derby at Goodison. This year, the fixture Gods weren’t as generous. Before getting to the most important part of the trip, a quick recap of the games and experiences...
Chelsea 1 - 0 Southampton - Missed the game due to a delayed flight. We were scheduled to leave at 8:30 the evening prior, but didn’t take off from JFK until 2:18 a.m. By the time we touched down and cleared customs, it was past 3 p.m. UK time. The game had already kicked off and the sun was almost completely down. The sun may never set on the British Empire, but, in the winter, it is perpetually setting on Britain itself.
Bournemouth 0 - 4 Liverpool - Not the most competitive game of football I’ve ever witnessed, but watching Liverpool attack, “running like a five-line poem,” in the words of John Oliver, is a site to behold. While the Cherries’ football was more, shall we say, prosaic, the game day experience at the Vitality Stadium was worth the two-hour train ride to the South Coast. The 11,360 capacity ground offers a look at the sweeter side of Premier League football. Families abound. A custom coffee shop serves flat whites in a tent on the South End. And, even at 4 - 0 down, a group of elementary school-aged kids in Bournemouth strips chanted, “Eddie Howe’s Barmy Army,” with unabashed enthusiasm. To visit Bournemouth is to time travel back to an age in one’s life when football really is everything.
Arsenal 1 - 0 West Ham (Carabao Cup Quarterfinal… Guitar Slide)- Shortly before the game, my friend and I sat in the hotel lounge when a fellow barfly muttered, “Here comes the Arsenal.” Confused, we turned around. Low and behold, the Arsenal squad had emerged from their pre-game meeting. At our bloody hotel (which, to be honest, wasn’t anything special). I stood, mouth agape, watching players walk mere feet in front of me. I managed to recover my composure just in time to snap a pictureof Olivier Giroud, while my friend, an Arsenal supporter, got a wave from Wenger himself. The game’s quality befit Thailand’s second most popular energy drink, the lone goal coming from Welbz. The plus side of each team fielding largely reserves: Crazy Joe Hart, who did his run-around-and-frantically-look-for-someone-to throw-the-ball-to-routine a mere 40 yards from me! And it was England’s No. 1 who was the target of the best bit of heckling I heard this trip. With Sead Kolasinac surging forward with the ball, barely across midfield, a gentleman behind me yelled, “Come on. Have a shot. It’s just f$#cking Joe Hart.”
While football in person is always a treat, and memories made with my friend will live forever, the real star of this trip was one-word, three letters: PIE. Getting an early start on my New Year’s resolution to up my starch intake, I tucked into four pies in four days. A steak and kidney number at Bournemouth (pictured below) that was, bar none, the best football ground pie I’ve ever eaten. A chicken and mushroom at The Pig’s Ear in Chelsea, which was delicious, but a touch highfalutin (I like my pie like I like my football, agriculture). And, at the suggestion of GFOPs via The MiB Universal Pie Guide, not one, but two from Piebury Corner: The Tony Adams, steak and ale. And The Vieira’gterian, potato, cheese, onion and garlic. Like the player after which it was named, the former is sturdy, dependable, and does a job. The latter needed some HP Sauce and a pint of Guinness to help it down.
All in all, an amazing trip, best summed up by this Pieku I wrote on the flight home.
Buttered flaky crust
Are you sure this meat is safe?
GFOPs, send us your Piekus and all pie-themed poetry (and prose) via EMAIL or via social, using the hashtag #MiBPiekus