Rotherham, 21st October 2014

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Weather – Cold Wet and Raining (most of the day)

Ground: The New York Stadium
Competition: 2014/15 Sky Bet Championship
Result: Rotherham Utd 3 – 3 Fulham
Pie: Steak and Kidney
Price: £3.00

It’s the evening after the remnants of Hurricane Gonzalez hit Britain – so near perfect football conditions for early winter football. Suprisingly apart from going on a half mile walk to actually find a point at which you can cross the River Don to get to this very impressive but totally inaptly named The New York Stadium – this is actually a very decent new ground that holds 12,000.

Tonight’s pie is standard issue – from Pukka Pies – a steak and kidney offering. I’m impressed that one of the new stadium stands is named The Eric Twigg Pukka Pie West Stand. Thinking I might be at the Holy Grail home of Pukka Pies and that maybe Eric Twigg is the creator of Pukka pies and a Rotherham home lad, I am disappointed to discover Eric Twigg is a mere wholesaler and supplier of Pukka Pies and that they actually come from Leicester. So no trivial for storing for that pub quiz from tonight’s game.

The pie – well you know what you are getting with a Pukka pie. They don’t come wrapped in plastic, they look like pies and they taste like a real pie. But there is always that lingering question why do all their pies always look pale an anaemic – a white pasty look – or with at best a light tan. There’s still flaky – just they don’t look as inviting to the eye. Contents same reliable and slightly spicy/tangy twist. Pastry chewy at the end. Ok but not really memorable and now becoming a bit predicable. Fortunately the Fulham performance with “Prima Donna” Bryan Ruiz rested put in a strong and gutsy performance and despite being behind come away with a hard earned 3-3 thanks to a 90 minute equalizer.

Rating 6.5/10

Middlesbrough, 4th October 2014

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Weather – turning autumnal
Ground – The Riverside, Middlesbrough
Competition: 2014/15 Sky Bet Championship
Result: Middlesbrough 2 – 0 Fulham
Pie: Chicken Balti
Price: £2.80

Due to our roving reporter now being based now north of Watford this is a local match and only a mere 2 hour drive. Easy to find as if you don’t stop at the stadium next big stop is somewhere out in the North Sea. Fulham come into the game on something of a major run (that’s not saying must after the last 2 years of woeful performances and non existent form) – a three match winning streak and Middlesbrough also being in fine form, this could be a decent match. The ritual pie purchase bodes well – it’s a chicken balti pie for £2.80, though it’s a deal for something more with a pint of lager thrown in. No plastic rapper on these pies and nice white paper bag that could almost make you think it was a fine linen napkin. The pie is decent with the right balance of flavour and spice to make it to truly resemble a chicken balti pie. Pastry and cooked nearly to perfection – crisp outside, succulent inside – but tinged with a hint of dryness (though not Sahara Desert dryness like a Hull City pie from several seasons back). I’m soon ready to join the other 16,000 fans occupying the wonderful half empty stadium.

As to the football – awful. These two sides look more suited to League One. Passing the ball freely in your own half isn’t anyone’s idea of attractive attacking football. The match looks more like a training session. Fortunately and predictably Fulham’s defence opens up twice in the second half like Moses passing through the Red Season and it game set and match to Middlesbrough. Maybe a trip to Rotherham in late October will be more embracing.

Okay but nothing spectacular.

 Rating 6/10 –  (Nick Smith)

Derby- 23rd August, 2014

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Ground: iPro Stadium
Competition:  2014/15 Sky Bet Championship
Result: Derby 5-1 Fulham
Pie: Chicken Balti
Price:£3
Comments: The season hasn’t started ideally for me or my beloved, for the time being anyway, Fulham. Whilst Carry On Fulham has run into its second season with Penfold directing a new band of merry mishaps, I’ve been left underwhelmed by a constant stream of tedious Holland’s pies. My joyous dream that pies in the Championship would be uniquely gorgeous to each club has been shattered already, it’s looking increasingly like whether it’s Derby, Ipswich, Rotherham or Brentford I’ll be ill fated to plant my face square down into the mucky bottom of yet another Holland/Pukka Pie. Of course, the light at the end of the tunnel is the away trip to pie Mecca Wigan with their nightclub-esq bar under the away end in the DW.

Pie wise it was a Balti as usual, and it was fine. The Pastry on top was fairly grim but the innards were spicy chunks that tasted far better than the cat sick that it so convincingly resembled. As tends to be the case these days, the pie proved was, despite its unwavering mediocrity,  the highlight of the game as Fulham imploded to their worst performance since a festive drubbing at Hull last season.

After the game, to add salt, vodka and hydrochloric acid into the gushing 5-1 shaped wound, Fulham owner Shahid Kahn openly backed Felix Magath to lead the club to glory this season, this hope surely based on the fact our manager refuses to play anyone in position and will literally sign anyone who has much as looked at football, not even a good one, just one of those erratic, crap petrol station bargain bucket ones.

Before the bright lights of Wigan are the two impending positives for my Fulham supporting, firstly a trip to Reading with the promise of some fancy pancy hospitality, and secondly the deadline day arrival of Matt Smith. Not only does Smith have a bloody good name, but he also went to Manchester University like myself, and he’s big ol’ bastard, what’s not to like!?

Rating: 6/10

Exeter- 9th August, 2014

Exeter- 9 August 2014 (2)

 

Exeter- 9 August 2014 (3)

 

Ground: St James Park, Exeter
Competition: League Two 2014/15
Result: Exeter 1-1 Portsmouth
Pie: Steak and Ale & Steak Pasty
Price: £2.50
Comments: Horray! The season has begun! It’s that joyous time of the year when all are hopeful little infantile dreamers living in the impossible belief that this will be our season. For Fulham it really couldn’t get any worse than last year’s 38 game horror show, in fact it’s already been an massive improvement as John Arne Riise, along with his massive arse, wonky left leg and dead crow on his head, have been turfed out of the hallowed pitch at Craven Cottage.

Yet rather than venturing to Ipswich to see Fulham embark on their promotion push I found myself going to see football league giants Exeter City as part of my lads holiday. This is what happens when you fail to book a real holiday, take note kids.

Nevertheless, this was an excellent opportunity to sample a new pie from a new ground I’m unlikely to ever visit again, unless Fulham go completely tits up and do a Portsmouth. With Baltis off the menu as some fat bastard had gobbled five up for himself, it was back to good ol’ steak and ale. Adopting the usually less enjoyable rectangular shape the pressure mounted early on the pie’s crunchy topping, luckily once inside the pie provided a moist, juicy filling probably, but by no means certainly, beef. On the downside the pie had probably been a bit frazzled in the oven heater, meaning the pastry itself erred on the dry side, when will clubs learn?

While by no means a vintage pie it was a considerable improvement on the brick disguised as a pasty that my poor friend Sam suffered. Drier than Thomas Gravesen’s cranium, this pasty, from near the Cornish mecca, was one to be avoided at all costs.

So a new pie to start the season, solid without ever threatening to dazzle. At least that’s better than Fulham- different league, different team, same shit result. Derby next on the pie agenda.

Rating: 7/10 (Steak & Ale)
2/10 (Pasty)

Stoke- 3rd May, 2014

Stoke-3rd May 2014
Ground: The Britannia Stadium, Stoke
Competition: Barclay’s Premiership 2013/14
Result: Stoke 4-1 Fulham
Pie: Chicken Balti
Price:£3 (ish)
Comments: It’s taken nearly four months for me to summon the will power to put this symbolic pie of relegation on the site, the memories have just been to devastating and depressing to fear awakening them again. Fulham’s top flight demise after 13 eventful seasons at Stoke was a truly diabolical day for everyone associated with the club, the players’, and manager’s, performance was nothing short of embarrassing with Stoke ripping us apart with consummate ease. Worst of all, we didn’t even have  Senderos about to blame for all our problems.

The pie itself was forgettable, although anything to distract me from the reality that John Arne Riise was in charge of defending a whole section of the pitch was appreciated. This mediocre, probably Pukka, pie will be the last memory of the premiership pastry reserve for at least, most probably longer, one season and actually I’m quite happy about that.

It seems that most top flight clubs abuse economies of scale and bulk buy repetitious amounts of pies from Hollands and Pukka- cheap and cheerful but tedious for a connoisseur like myself. I want homemade pies, local delicacies, innovative fillings and mind pending packaging not the same shit, different ground, hopefully the eclectic and smaller clubs that litter the Championships will offer an exciting selection of pies that won’t force me to writing drivel prose to fill the review or slate are team of footballing imposters.

Sod the top clubs winning everything and buying all the best players, sod the same Pukka Balti every week and sod the Premiership, the Championship is the new hope for success on and off the pie reviews.

Rating: RELEGATION /10

 

Woking- 21st April, 2014

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Ground: Woking, Kingfield Stadium
Competition: Conference 2013/14
Result: Woking 1-2 Aldershot
Pie: Chicken and Gammon
Price: £2.30
Comments: Fulham’s season has been atrocious, Aldershot’s not much better. Despite only cobbling a make-shift side together for the opening day and facing a 10 point deduction from the off, Aldershot have done remarkably well to leave Conference survival in their own hands- a win at local rivals Woking in the penultimate game of the season and they live to fight another year.

The only way to calm the nerves on such a massive day of action was to seek out the nearest pie and smear it all over my tense face. Breaking with the usual steak/balti choice I opted for a chicken and gammon special- more meat= more manliness. While it looked like a salmon had accidentally been stowed in its core, the pinky ham was chunky and enjoyable even if it did comprise of 120% salt. Not the most flavoursome pie it took me back to my glorious school dinner days, where the pies were mass produced wholesome goodness for all, tossed on your plate with little regard for your requests for more crust.

Nothing too exciting, but a vast improvement on the piss pie from shite hart lane two days before. Gazing upon the low quality, low league, football amongst the 1,500 Aldershot fans in Woking’s traditional ground I wondered whether English football could be typified any better? Clearly not as Aldershot scraped a win to guarantee survival, a glorious day of old school football that makes you question if the premiership really is all that

Rating: 7/10

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Tottenham- 21st April, 2014

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Ground: Tottenham, White Hart Lane
Competition: Barclay’s Premiership 2013/14
Result: Spurs 3-1 Fulham
Pie: Chicken Balti
Price:£3.50 (ish)
Comments: “To be (relegated), or not to be (relegated)?” That is the question Prince Hamlet was pondering in the rotten state of Denmark all those fictional years ago. While he was probably an Aalborg fan, he could have easily been a poor, miserable sufferer of Fulham’s 2013/14 season wondering if relegation is that bad after all. Just as the appeal of losing at Arsenal or Chelsea every season wanes so the thought of having to visit culture hotspots of Wolves and Millwall, yet after a pie at Spurs it seems like being beaten to death with a programme at The Den doesn’t seem to depressing.

The dreamy illusion that a separate pie counter and a puff pastry topping would make for a relegation busting balti pie was quickly shattered when I discovered a large pile of sawdust at the bottom of the barrel. Like a turd wrapped in joyous Christmas paper, this balti hid a horrific nightmare in its base. So burnt I thought Steve McQueen and Paul Newman were going to come a rescue me from its molten horror at one point. Dry, tasteless and cancerous I couldn’t face finishing it, seeing as it probably would have finished me off first.

While it tasted abysmal, one of the worst yet, it probably could have defended Hamlet compatriot Christian Eriksen’s deliveries better than Fulham’s hapless heap. Bring on Millwall and relegation if just so I don’t have to see this abomination of pie again.

Rating: 2/10

 

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