The last time Blackpool was in the top 2 divisions was 29 years ago, but The Seasiders ran rings round Yeovil at Wembley Stadium on Sunday and their 2-0 win secured a place in The Championship for next season. It was a great team performance for Simon Grayson's team and Robbie Williams scored the first goal and the vivacious Scotsman Keigan Parker the second, with Morrell, Hoolahan, Southern and Jorgensen showing that attacking football can be both entertaining and successful, with Michael Jackson staring in defence.
Wembley was colourful on the day with the Tangerine and White fans of Blackpool and the Green and White of Yeovil making a day out in the capital. Yeovil were not even in the Football League four years ago, and Blackool's Glory Days were in the 50's, over half a century ago, with 3 Cup Final appearances in 5 years, culminating in The Matthews Final of 1953, a 4-3 victory over Bolton Wanderers with a hat trick from Stan Mortenson and a winner from Bill Perry. Blackpool just set a club record of 10 successive wins after a disasterous start to this season with only 1 win in the first 12 matches.
The day before Bristol Rovers brought 40,000 fans to the capital as they beat Shrewsbury Town 3-1 for a place in Division 1, and the match billed as the richest in the world, worth $120 million to the winner, saw Derby County 'The Rams', and their up and coming coach Billy Davies beat West Bromwich Albion 'The Baggies', 1-0 to get the riches of the Premiership. With one team and its fans in navy blue and white and Derby in black and white it was less of a colourful fashion show than the Blackpool vs Yeovil play-off final. Former Blackpool and England captain, 71 year old Jimmy Armfield a one club man with over 600 appearances for the Bloomfield Road club, and a great radio commentator and pundit was battling cancer back home in Blackpool, and the team wore T shirts lifting his spirits before the kick-off.
Over 195,000 fans braved the rain, the expensive food and the pitch that cut up too much, and the Football League must have been embarrased at all the empty seats in the Club Section,'The Ring of Indifference' after they lost a 'Chicken and Pissing Contest' with Wembley Stadium and didn't get to sell those prime seats to fans, so that over 7,000 were unsold for the otherwise sell-out Derby vs WBA match. Did you know that The Championship is the second most watched League in The World, more than The Bundesliga, The Serie A or the Spanish top Division, yet it isn't marketed properly overseas? Leeds United for example have about 1,000 fans in Norway alone, and European and even US and Canadian visitors could be encouraged to watch a couple of matches on a weekend, with Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday sometimes available. With cheap flights on Ryan Air, EasyJet, Sky Europe, Wizz Air, Thomson Fly, AND new transatlantic 'cheapies' on www.flyzoom.com and www.flyglobespan.com, much more could be made of The Football League-The Championship, Division 1 and Division 2 as a destination and weekend out.
With small clubs finding themselves overwhelmed and difficult to sell tickets for the play-offs on the web (Bristol Rovers THE GAS)- for example had 10 times their normal fans go to Wembley, The Football league should be selling tickets as easily as the excellant Football Association web site is capable of. Heads should roll but I don't think they will. My dearly departed old friend Alan Hardacre who ran the League for many years from the office in Lytham St. Annes would be angry. The office has moved to Preston and one to London, and his office and home next door have been knocked down and made into The Hardacre Apartments.