PIES and football go together like, erm, pies and mash, with tens of thousands being munched up and down the Football League every single weekend.
No other half-time snack warms your hands quite so effectively, nor divides opinion quite so severely amongst fans, who are often fiercely protective of their club’s pastry-covered treats.
Years ago, I prepared to embark on a new chapter of my career covering Macclesfield Town in the depths of League Two and was warned in no uncertain terms by the outgoing sports editor of the local paper that I can criticise the team all I liked, just don’t have a go at the pies.
Why would I? They had won awards.
A few weeks later I burned my tongue on a chicken balti offering and made mention of it in an article I wrote for the matchday programme.
I’m not sure if anything I had written before or anything since has attracted such feedback.
I mention said savoury snack because we have just finished National Pie Week – which saw readers of The Bolton News treated to a free Holland’s snack if they bought Thursday’s paper.
Unsurprisingly, people stepped forward in their droves to claim their reward.
A few boxes were left over at the end, and claimed in savage gladiatorial fashion by various members of the newsroom.
I escaped with three chicken and ham, but having witnessed such carnage, feel a little piece of myself was lost in the fight that Friday afternoon.
Some football clubs pride themselves on their pies.
Rotherham United boast that they sell more pies per fan than any other team in the Football League, while Morecambe used to sell their efforts at Harrods.
I actually met the club chef at the Globe Arena when Wanderers went to play a friendly a few years ago, and he stood watching me much through one of his finest products before the game. Very nice.
His close proximity meant I didn’t have the bottle to tell him that I’d had better a few years earlier in another friendly at Hearts.
The Scotch pies they had a Tynecastle were so good, I’m not ashamed to admit I went back for seconds, thirds and fourths.
For anyone who really wants to know their match-day snacks, get your hands on a funny book by a Wanderers fan called Tom Dickinson called “92 Pies.”
He voted the Morecambe one top of his list, so who am I to argue?
I have become more accustomed to the pies at Wanderers this last six years, with my cheese and onion treat becoming staple of every other Saturday afternoon.
The club have recently branched out into some “posh” food – which has been lovely, no complaints here – although I’m not sure you will ever convince Jack Dearden that pineapple relish will catch on in the press room.
Meanwhile, they continue to make a mean pie down the road at Wigan, and should they ever choose to switch the menu in the press room down there, Dave Whelan could have a full scale riot on his hands.