I had my first pukka pie at a West Ham game. We were away to West Bromwich Albion on a cold December night in 2014. I needed something to warm my hands more than anything so decided to go for a beef pukka pie and a coffee…behold the pie here:
It was good. In fact, it was really good. It may have been the cold, or the fact that West Ham won but I knew that I would be eating more pies at football games in the future.
Not West Ham games though. The cost of travel and gates at premiership clubs became untenable and so my second club, which I was just starting to get into, gradually became my first love and an AFC Telford United season ticket holder was born…
I’m not quite sure when the #AwayDayPieGirl hashtag started (a quick search on Twitter would probably tell me) but I remember my first proper away day pies were at Lowestoft Town on the opening day of the 2015/16 season. A five hour journey on a very sunny August day and they had both meat and potato and, unusual for a football ground, apple filled pies too. The pies were the highlight of that day as we lost 3-0 to the Trawler Boys and had a very long and sunburnt journey back to the ‘shire.
There have been a lot of pies since then and I have dutifully photographed and crudely rated each one under the #AwayDayPieGirl tag over on Twitter (search it if you are so inclined) and there has been some pretty excellent football grub on offer. Although pies have been my focus, I’ve also enjoyed a most excellent hotdog courtesy of Fat Annie’s ( http://www.fatannies.co.uk ) over at FCUM at the first away game of the 2016/17 campaign. Photo courtesy of Tim Roberts (@wembley89):
I also have to make special mention of the outstanding cheese and onion potato bakes at Kidderminster Harriers, and as we drew them in the cup last season I actually got to have two…but it’s not a pie is it?
You see, dear reader, I’m a pie purist and I don’t accept anything not fully encased in pastry as a pie. The ‘pies’ at Aggborough are casseroles with a pastry lid, or potato topped mince bakes, or potato bakes. It feels wrong to call them a pie even if they do come out at the very top of my ‘football food’ scoreboard (if I had such a thing, which I don’t, not formally yet anyway).
So what do I know about pies, and food and why am I doing this? I’m a big fan of food, although I’m not as ‘big’ as I once was. Alongside this foray into the National League North catering offerings, I have also been steadily losing weight and going from #Fatgirl to #Fitgirl. In fact the latter is a hashtag you will see probably at least once a day if you follow my personal Twitter account. I lift weights and spin and walk (sometimes with celebrities – more on that another day) and I’m just starting to get out on two wheels too. The pies became (and will continue to be) my fortnightly #CheatMeal and a bad pie felt like wasted calories and I decided to provide my feedback via a rating system.
Now, I’m not as formal with a rating system like the guys over at http://www.pierate.co.uk as I don’t really use a scoring mechanism, I just kind of judge the overall standard. However, it was via Rob of the Pierateers that I ended up with what could possibly be my greatest ‘pie-based’ achievement to date – I was a judge at the British Pie Awards at Melton Mowbray back in March this year. I had a thoroughly amazing time and learned a lot about pies and Melton Mowbray thanks to the brilliant chap I was paired with for the day (Eric, if you’re reading this, you made my day and I’ll see you in 2018!). I was thrilled that along with Eric we ended up sampling and awarding the ‘Best in Class’ pie on our table to Nice Pie ( http://www.nice-pie.co.uk ) for a spectacular chicken and black garlic pie. Luckily for me, a slight detour on the way to Boston United (acceptable chicken and mushroom) towards the end of last season meant I could pick some Nice Pies up and relive the deliciousness.
So that’s a little about me, and yes, it’s a bit waffly but that’s kind of my style. I’m going to do my best to sample the catering at all of the away games I get to this season, starting with our first pre-season friendly tomorrow against Haughmond FC at Wellington Amateurs ground. It’s incredibly local for an away game so it looks like we’ll be walking, weather permitting, although I’ve heard that the catering is very much befitting a West Midlands Regional League Premier Division ground so I’m not holding out much hope of a pie!
Join me, dear reader, and vicariously experience all the fun of of the fare…