Sports

Bluffer’s guide to Premiership away days

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

THE Danske Bank Premiership returns this Saturday (August 4) with Newry City making a historic trip to the Brandywell and Warrenpoint heading to last season's runners up, Coleraine.
In this Bluffer's Guide to the league the Newry Democrat has pulled together some things to look out for on away trips - and some of the worst for good measure.
BEST AWAY TRIP: Congratulations to both Newry and Warrenpoint for being handed two of the best away days possible on the opening day. The Bluffer Beer Guide (patent pending) says that Coleraine is a good eight beer journey (drink responsibly!).
At least if your team loses it can be easily forgotten about. City's game at the Brandywell will be the first Irish League game to be played at Derry City's stadium since 1971 so it gets bonus points for historical significance.
WORST AWAY TRIP: Windsor Park. Also known as the National Stadium if you want to wind up a Linfield fan. It's soulless, cold (particularly in Winter, so Warrenpoint fans would be well advised to wrap up warm for their visits in November and January), and they are an arrogant bunch - mind you they have won more trophies than everyone else so they can back that up. The food is awful too, but more on that later...
BEST GROUND: Mourneview Park. You get a great view from the away end, the pitch is usually in good nick provided they haven't tried to melt snow off it using cars and it's the only ground in the Irish League where you can do a pub crawl (again, drink responsibly) with no fewer than FIVE bars. A warm welcome awaits in any of Glenavon's fine establishments - tell 'em the Bluffer sent you!
WORST GROUND: The Oval. How this place is still standing is beyond the Bluffer. It is crumbling to pieces. There are issues before you even get into the place due to a lack of parking facilities and the angry Mersey Street residents demanding that you move your car from in front of their house.
Female? In the away end? Need to use the loo? Forget about it unless you fancy a trek round to the home end.
Honourable mentions here go to the National Stadium (ha!) as outlined previously and also Seaview, where the Bluffer advises you avoid standing behind the goal unless you want your face rearranged.
BEST BURGER: Ah, a topic much debated by the Bluffer. I've tried them all with the obvious exception of the Brandywell, so when I say this I do so with some authority. The chip van at the Ballymena Showgrounds is well worth a visit. Reasonably priced, just the right amount of grease, fried onions are always served and the fella who runs it seems like good craic.
Another honourable mention here goes to Dungannon Swifts, who lose points as on the Bluffer's last outing to Stangmore Park they did not have tomato relish. If they correct this it could be Rodney McAree's most important signing of the season.
WORST BURGER: I'm giving this jointly to Linfield and Ards. Linfield don't do them (shock horror!) - instead you can get something that passes for a hot dog.
The Bluffer's mate once got a cheesy chip which consisted of no more that 14 chips covered in a slice of a Dairylea substitute. It's just wrong!.
Meanwhile, up the Gold Coast at the Bangor Fuels Arena, you will need to take out a second mortgage if you want to try their not-very-nice burgers and a mineral to wash it down.
BEST SOCIAL CLUB: Coleraine's viewing lounge is beaten into second place as sometimes they don't let away fans in (the Bluffer has never been turned away, he is welcomed with open arms everywhere) and also it can be quite busy.
But our winners in this category are the three supporters clubs under the main stand at Mourneview Park. Three words: TWO. POUND. DRINKS.
BEST PITCH: Notwithstanding the Showgrounds, Stangmore Park has to be the best surface in the league. It looks like it's been lovingly maintained over the years. It does get a bit heavy in winter but then what grass pitch doesn't?
WORST PITCH: The Bluffer is going to lay his cards on the table here. I hate 4G pitches. 4G is something you should get on your phone... and I can't even get that where I live, but that's another story. There are a number of these not fantastic plastic pitches throughout the league but the one at Seaview is the worst. It seems to be very lumpy, like a carpet which hasn't been laid correctly. Mind you, it must work to Crusaders' advantage.
BEST REFEREE: It was an impossible task to pick a winner for this category because they have all tested the patience of the Bluffer.
Serious improvements are needed by the men in the middle who last year were very poor on the whole. But I suppose Raymond Crangle probably wins this award for being the best of a bad bunch.

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