“Lookman anytime goal” – Jonny Blair and Lock In Lee Adams (20/02/2022).
I was recently back backpacking in England and I added a brand new quintet to my settlement count. A hattrick of them will be included here in one post. The fourth would fall on Solihull, the fifth and final piece of that jigsaw will be William Shakespeare Town Stratford Upon Avon, which was my fifth new settlement to backpack on this short jaunt to England. I will get round to covering my magical Shakespeare Town visit one day, his very words inspired the third book in my “Backpacking Centurion” trilogy, “Taints and Honours“.
First of all, there was a hiccup on route. I was delayed on route from Liverpool Lime Street to Birmingham New Street, via Crewe, (without Alexandra). Northern Ireland once played Qatar in Crewe. My longest stint here was a twenty five minute train delay. Caused ironically as someone was hit by a train. I was also hit by a train back in June 2020 and this happened bang in the middle of my train journey between seeing my brother Daniel, nephew George and the famous Lock in Lee Adams. It was the first time I’d seen the hattrick of them this decade, or indeed after COVID all began. As with stories of yesteryear (Nicky Barmby, Jonny Evans and Grodig Bet), Lee and I put a bet on and watched Wolverhampton Wanderers v. Leicester City that day. Weirdly, my train passed through Wolverhampton on route. As with days gone by, we WON the bet!! We bet on “Lookman anytime goal” and there is a freaky reason why we banked on that. It will be in a book someday.
My previous meetings with Lock In Lee Adams were usually in Birmingham (where Lee is from), Nottingham (a brace of visits to the City Ground to watch the famous Nottingham Forest FC), London (crazy days) or Bournemouth (where we first met and both lived). Here in February 2022, Lee had now relocated to Halesowen in England and so this is where I slept. With Lee, his girlfriend and the two cats Chester and Forest in their flat. There will be more crazy stories in the Lock In Lee cannon but they’re spared for my books to come. Now onto the hattrick of places we backpacked.
First up we arrived by train into Halesowen, well specifically Rowley Regis station. The top sights here were Chester and Forest, the cats, followed by £1 shots in the local pub, itself a freak as it is called The Clock Inn. Almost “The Lock In”.😂🔐
There was a Belfast boy in The Clock Inn and we drank shots for £1 in here! This was reminiscent of Manic Mondays at Inferno in Bournemouth with the Yellow Card some 19 (count them) years ago. I got my photo taken with the real Elvis Presley and we drank away.
The next morning, we head for a greasy spoon in Shelly C, Shell Corner which is next to Halesowen. It’s only a few streets away from where Lee lives.
Here there is a curious war memorial and a shell from a bullet. The history goes that the area got its name after a World War I Memorial that stood here between 1924 and 1937, before the Second World War. Sadly, two days after my visit, Russia invaded Ukraine.
The main street in Shell Corner had a few random sights, an Indian restaurant called Balti Towers. The weekend before my visit, duo Ant and Dec were in here (PJ and Duncan).
Plus an ironing shop with a textbook pun. Decrease.
The local greasy spoon cafe was called Frankie’s Cafe and I had an egg and bacon sarnie in here with HP Sauce and a cup of tea.
From Shell Corner we walked to train station and caught a train to The Hawthorns. The Hawthorns is the name of both the train station and the West Bromwich Albion football stadium. This completed the hat-trick.
Our first stop was the football stadium. As an AFC Bournemouth fan, we have played West Bromwich Albion a lot recently but I had never been to their stadium before. In 2014 I did attend a 2-1 home win over West Bromwich Albion at Dean Court.
The stadium has a statue of club legend Tony “Bomber” Brown. This man played a staggering 720 matches for WBA, registering 279 goals and winning both the FA Cup and the League Cup.
At the stadium, we could smell hot cross buns, we noticed that there is a huge bakery here. It’s a sweet bread smell round the Albion!
Next we walked back to The Hawthorns station, this time to get a tram into the city centre – only a few stops from The Hawthorns.
West Bromwich Albion city centre has a few curiosities. There is a Phil Lynott statue, the guy from Thin Lizzy! This was my second city to get my photo taken beside a Phil Lynott statue. I previously saw one in Dublin, Republic of Ireland. The below photo was taken by Lock In Lee on his phone, as my phone broke at this point, though in the pub a while later, we got it fixed!
There is a random elephant statue in West Bromwich and a cool looking Wetherspoons Bar in an old Billiard Hall, near the tram stop.
Backpacking in West Bromwich, there was a Polish shop and restaurant plus a shop window mural which included comedian Frank Skinner – a local celebrity and a West Bromwich Albion fan.
There was a funky sixth form college in the pedestrian precinct in the town centre. There is also the famous The Celebration Statue – Brendon Batson, Laurie Cunningham and Cyrille Regis – famous footballers for WBA in West Bromwich, England. These players were non-white in an era when not many teams in England fielded non-white players.
We headed to the local pub for a pint as the plan was to have Indian food for dinner nearby. On route, there was also a church, a mosque, a central market and a Madeleine Carroll tribute. Not to mention the afforementioned Polish shop, Polish restaurant and a street called Ireland Green Street where the street sign was actually GREEN!! Backpacking in West Bromwich certainly could make a top 10+ sights.
The Pub was called The Interceptor and I had a traditional English Bitter – an Old Speckled Hen.
As it was getting dark we walked past a bookies and decided to pop in to do a spontaneous £2 accumulator football bet. As Lock In Lee Adams and I always do, we betted based on our own lives…
We banked on Glentoran reserves to win.
We banked on Nottingham Forest under 23s to win.
We banked on a team called The Albion to win.
We banked on a team called St Andrew’s to win.
And a few others…
Later on, as we waited remarkably we got all the results spot on except for ONE – the St. Andrew’s one! And we were in West Bromwich. As darkness fell, we headed to the Yew Tree Pub in West Bromwich which is a great bar and used to be Lee and Billie’s local. In here we watched a random Danish league match, drank Caffrey’s and ate top notch Indian Food! Billie joined us after work and it was a super night!
To top it all off, we ordered an Uber taxi to get home and the driver was Polish!! This was another truly crazy Lock In Lee and Jonny Blair adventure.