Out There: Head over heels for beautiful game

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The great outdoors is usually the subject of this column and most of the time that involves exploring the countryside.

However, at the weekend I sampled an outdoor pursuit that is completely alien to me – football.

On Saturday I spent the day at Morecambe Football Club and, to my amazement, thoroughly enjoyed myself.

My husband Mark (aka Sparky) was working so I decided to go to the match alone.

Football is always being discussed in the Visitor office but most of the banter goes over my head. I tend to roll my eyes and switch off.

And as someone who was brought up on rugby (my dad was a coach for several teams in Edinburgh), the joys of football have rarely penetrated my consciousness. I will say this though – the team’s manager, Jim Bentley, is a bit of a dish and most of the women in the Visitor office have a soft spot for him!

But back to the football. I arrived at the Globe Arena on Westgate, not knowing quite what to expect. The Visitor has a sponsorship deal with Morecambe FC so I was lucky enough to get a parking space and a seat in one of the boxes.

The friendly staff on the reception desk pointed me upstairs to the box. On the ground floor the bar was packed and on the first floor the Wright and Lord Suite was filling up with punters. In box three a table was laid out and a wide screen TV was hanging on the wall.

The other guests – Russell Walsh from Potts Pies, personal trainer Ryan Donohue, truck driver Paul Armstrong, John Prempeh from local company DST and two of my colleagues from the advertising department, Leon Devaney and Sam Abdollahian, soon arrived.

When faced with a room full of men I did wonder if they’d feel that they couldn’t indulge in blokish banter. However, after a few minutes I think they realised nothing they said could shock me and we had a great laugh. Interestingly, we chatted about all sorts of things including job problems, male fitness, shopping, holidays, beauty routines (no, really), friends, family, relationships and, of course, football.

It was great fun and I couldn’t have asked to be dining with a better group of blokes. We were in a box that can be hired out and it was a real treat. There was table service and we all enjoyed a few drinks (not all of them alcoholic). The food was superb and the charming Jim Bentley even paid us a visit to thank us for supporting the team.

We bought tickets for a draw and cheeky Russell decided to have a flutter. He placed a bet that Morecambe would win 3-1. Amazingly, he won his bet and came away from the game with a fatter wallet.

As we finished our meal the match started. The atmosphere in the ground was highly charged. Within a few minutes of moving outside, Kevin Ellison scored for the Shrimps and the crowd went wild. By the end of the game he’d secured a hat-trick and valuable points for the club.

I was delighted to see the Visitor’s former editor Glen Cooper reporting live for The Bay and former Visitor sport editor Derek Quinn commentating live for Radio Lancashire.

Likewise, I got a thrill to see our young trainee reporter, Adam Lord, reporting live on Facebook, Twitter and preparing a story for the Visitor website.

When I try to watch football matches on TV I quickly lose interest but the live game held my attention throughout.

There was so much to see, a lively atmosphere, plenty of chanting, a spot of manic drumming and lots of entertaining moments.

In the far distance I could see the Lakeland Hills in all their majesty, but on that day I can honestly say I was glad to be at the match.

So am I a convert? Definitely, but I’m not sure I’ll be giving up my country walks just yet. Morecambe FC is a welcoming club with superb facilities. Heck, I even got a hug from Mr Jim Bentley at the end of the match!