Saturday Service – Service Station Special

Service Station Special

Service Station Special

Life on Isolation Row…..

More important stuff than football going on at present, but it’s looking like being a long one? Mass gatherings are off the menu for a long time, (hopefully as long as it takes, plus a bit more).

Staying In = The New Going Out

As aforementioned, it’s needs must, but getting quite used to it now – I could handle a compromise of 6 days of this and a pass out Saturday to get pissed and watch the match. Thankfully a man in a van made a delivery yesterday….

Krombacher SAFC Blog favourite
Easter early this year, but …..‘it’s what Jesus, (one in the story book rather than the one who plays for Man City), would have wanted?

The Negatives……

  • We’re all missing football
  • We’re al missing mates
  • Lots of uncertainty about
“Is it available in green pal?”…..”er, no, not til May 2021 at the earliest I’d say!”
  • I don’t know anyone who is sleeping well? But then sleep is rest, not much rest is required to rest? 
“Rest – Rest – Rest”….. ‘not quite got the same ring to it?’
  • It’ll be a long recovery
Service station special
Retail is down 44% – Beer sales up 31%. ‘It’s good to know I’m not the only one sat in a trackie skulling plenty?’

The Positives…….

  • Staying Home is Saving Lives. It doesn’t get more positive than that?

  • In a strange way, the worry, nerves, hope, expectation etc surrounding football have been lifted?
“ on a roll …… haven’t lost for 6 weeks⚽️“

And Now For Something Completely Different

As aforementioned, these are damaging economic times…. yes Netflix may have gained 18 million new subscribers and couriers are flying….. but there’s many more feeling the hit….Matchday bloggers, service stations etc.

THE ROAD AHEAD……there’s many different ways of travelling to watch Sunderland. Aside from London games, the odd good day out, (Hull old town) and Peterborough, SAFCBlog travels by road.

Being based further south than most Sunderland fans, I get a head start to away games, just last season we had, 20 miles to Bradford, 36 miles to Doncaster, 48 miles to Rochdale & Accrington, 65 miles to Scunthorpe, 77 miles to Fleetwood, 65 miles to Morecambe, 46 miles to Barnsley to name but a few. Obviously those travelling from the North East face a more arduous journey. Whilst this affords a lie in every other Saturday – obviously this is offset by a home game, being a 175 mile round trip?

THE MILES…ignoring a train to Charlton, Wembley and Peterborough and a taxi to Bradford, last years road mileage was…. Home 5075  + Away 5570 = 10’645. Now this is my choice and in many ways I’m lucky to be able to do this; there’s a stronger argument for it being lunacy rather than an achievement? But, what it does necessitate is the excitement of MOTORWAY SERVICE STATIONS!!!

(** mileage doesn’t include the extra 105 miles on the way to Portsmouth, when we headed South and got distracted – the ‘M25 route’ to Portsmouth is not one I’d recommend)

SERVICE STATIONS….driving in a straight line, (at no more than 70mph), can be boring. As a child the services was a piss stop and nothing else allowed – as an adult it’s a Mecca…. bright lights, chinese food in a box at 10am, El Mexicana, a shower, opportunity to buy phone accessories from an Indian chap – after hours on the motorway, they are borderline a Theme Park?

TAKING THE PISS…. SAFCBlog operates a sensible policy of, ‘Take it in turns to drive, passengers have the responsibility to get hammered, with drink to be taken upon departure. Passengers not drinking is not permitted, as they may as well have driven / it’s a waste? Sleeping is frowned upon’, (I’m fully aware this is not big or clever, it’s just how we choose to operate )

Roughly translates to …….”6 minutes to piss”
Service Station Special
‘Oxford Away during Storm Dennis…… SatNav ✅ Man who’s been drinking since 8.15am to point ✅’…. “what can possibly go wrong?”

Aren’t all services pretty much the same?

A ridiculous statement of the highest order. Hence the need for the coveted, SAFCBlog Service Station of the Season. Last year saw Peterborough North take the crown, I’ll announce the results from this season next weekend, (what a time to be alive eh?). On the off chance anyones life is so bad that they feel the need to contribute, the Media Team, (well me), would love to hear any comments or nominations – as always all correspondence to

Before revisiting last years award, remember big is not always better, tradition can triumph over modern, pricing varies, (famously the Whoppers in charge of Burger King who consider it ok to hike their prices – no such folly from Ron McDon?)

Something for Everyone….

The disparity in quality and facilities is huge. Whether it’s…..

Donnington……. new, spent a fortune, not for traditionalists – but dining at the top table, think AFC Bournemouth 

Leeming Bar……. steeped in tradition, good honest, no frills facility, right up there despite others seeming better equipped……

Service station sppecial Leeming Bar services
Leeming Bar…..
Leeming Bar Services
……. think Burnley FC

It’s an almost exhaustive list, whether it be the New Money of Clitheroe, (Aston Villa), the history and longevity of Peterborough North, (Man Utd) and those living on past glories like Leicester Forest, (Leeds Utd)……

Leicester Forest = Leeds United

What a time to be alive eh? Any feedback greatly appreciated, what else is there to do? On the off chance anyone is still reading…… this is the outcome of this fascinating category in last seasons awards.

SAFCBlog – Unsocial Isolation Social Media Spanning Two Decades

Best Service Station 2018/19 – SAFC Blog Awards

Welcome to the 3rd of 10, (yes 10), awards. Regular readers will have enjoyed the player of the season and the best away performance awards. Having lured a few more readers in with stats, facts and cutting edge journalism… it’s now time to look at service station of the season. either travels away by;


Positives ~ toilet, train tracks generally avoid getting lost, good for London obviously

Negatives ~ doesn’t depart/return to my drive, doesn’t wake you up to tell you it’s time to get out.


Positives ~ the bar is always open, fine to take your, (wet), clothes off, the magic of …… the motorway services!!!

Negatives ~ appreciate its ‘driver error’, but given our man at the wheel is an idiot… we spend a lot of time getting lost. No toilet on board.

SAFCBlog tends to prefer the roads to the rails; completely irrelevant, but the seating plan is as follows.

Driver ~ idiot A / passenger ~ idiot B / offside rear ~ me, (coolbox manager) / nearside real alternates between ‘Branch Filth Officer’ and idiot C (only room for 2 idiots in the front).

Service station enthusiasts will know only too well the disparity in the quality of Services. As most readers will be aware, there is a ‘Big 5’…..


Gloucester Services

Gloucester services

A favourite with families, even has its own blog! 

Glouscesterservices ~ newcomer to the Big 5, but regulars at the excellent motorwayservicesonline will be aware of its ever increasing presence as a ‘mega station’


Peterborough North Services

Peterborough North ~ top 5 stalwart PN shows no signs of falling from grace.

Peterborough North SAFC Blog Best Service Station Awards

The much coveted “Triangular Door to Paradise”

Best Service Station of the year finalist Pererborough North

Upon entering …. top quality Chinese food, (in a box) is right in front of you….

Peterborough North Service Station Awards

Turn 90 degrees to the right, (or 270 degrees to the left); and there it is….. the best takeaway in the world bar none!

Peterborough North is also the first of the Big 5 to give 3 hours free parking. MOTO, Welcome Break etc still only offer 2 hours free parking.

Tebay Services

Tebay has always had a loyal following due to aesthetics of the facility…

Tebay Service Station

It’s a great looking service station to be fair?

For the purists, appearance is not overly important … but there’s a real wind of change towards aesthetically pleasing buildings?

Reading Service Station

Reading ~ I’ve never been a big MOTO fan, purely on their ridiculous price point ~ but to be fair Reading is decent

Reading Services Best Service Station Awards

Reading ~ comfort and style

Whilst Reading has made positive strides, the MOTO brand continues to struggle.

Best Service Station

MOTO ~ the North East football of the service station world

As if being on the M25 isn’t bad enough, Thurrock is consistently bottom of the pile. Regular readers of the motorwayservicesonline forum will be familiar with the criticism. Not planning on finding out ~ but showers rated at 1.3/5 has to be a worry?

Chorley Services

Corley ~ Flagship venue of Welcome Break is a relative newcomer to the Big 5, they are the Manchester City of the service station world ~ after new showers in 2018, they relined the whole of their car park in March 2019.

Corley ~ these boys aren’t fucking about?

For those still reading, a couple of special mentions…

Wetherby Services

Wetherby ~ in many peoples top 3. Ashamed to say I’ve never been, it’s 5 minutes north of the junction where we join the A1; so don’t tend to need a piss by this stage? Rarely hear a bad word about Wetherby though. Might take the kids in the summer holidays.

Thirwell Services

Thirwell ~ class act, ashamed to say May 2019 was my first time at Thirwell. Late arrangement of Thursday night 7.45pm kick off away at Portsmouth ~ meant I drove, (normally a train destination). Fantastic facility though. We only stopped briefly on the way home ~ but definitely on my ‘motorway services bucket list’ for a sit down meal. The franchise run by a friendly chap called Mo looked as good an offering of sensibly priced phone cases that I’ve seen at a service station? Maybe next year Thirwell?

Without further ado……


The mighty Peterborough North, congratulations….

Peterborough North Services

The best of the best

Tomorrow, more cutting edge journalism, Away pub of the season 2018/19


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