A quick bus ride down the Promenade on the No 11 bus and I alight at Bloomfield Rd for The Championship clash between Blackpool and Cardiff City. I never made it last season in The Premiership, when 'Pool's home match with Spurs was postponed due to ice and snow. In fact, a pre match torrential downpour almost put this match off until a late match inspection.
This is going to be a sell-out, with both clubs hovering around 6th place. A large contingent of 'Bluebird' fans in the temporary East Stand, half of which is closed while contruction on the South East corner takes place. 16 months ago the two clubs battled to a 3-2 win for the Tangerines at Wembley in the play-off final worth $150 million, and a place in the Premiership, albeit for one season only. www.blackpoolfc.co.uk
I had taken the two hour Northern Rail train from Leeds which was standing room only, filled with Gooner fans who were going half way, as far as Blackburn and Ewood Park, for the early match of the day. It was a disasterous result for Arsene Wenger. Fortunately their angy fans were gone by the time the train stopped in Blackburn on my way home. Blackpool are one of the few clubs worldwide who are famous for playing in tangerine, alongside Holland, Dundee United, Ivory Coast, Houston Dynamo. A club director Albert Hargreaves, was also an international referee and went over to referee Holland v Belgium in Amsterdam in 1924, was impressed by the Oranje, and persuaded the club to later change from blue and white stripes on his return home.
Incidentally, the Netherlands, with a red, white and blue flag, chose the colour after their royal House of Oranje, in the same way as Italy with a red,white and green flag, normally play in blue after the royal House of Savoy.
Many changes this season with captain Charlie Adam moving to Liverpool (the OTHER Pool) and a new captain Barry Ferguson and a new hero in 'old man' Kevin Phillips ex Birmingham scoring goals. I was lucky enough to find myself sitting in the North-West corner stand next to Chris Pope who works in the Events & Media office of www.visitblackpool.com and was a rich source of information on recent goings on at Bloomfield Road. At the south west corner is a new statue of former captain of Blackpool and England, Jimmy Armfield a former school friend of mine and now a distinguished journalist.
One of the recent forgettable England managers scolded a press conference asking how many of them had actually played football. "627 times for Blackpool, 43 times for England-15 as captain" shouted Gentleman Jim.
No scoring in the first half but straight after the break the visitors made it 1-0. Don Cowie scored with a dipping header past Matt Gilks. 'Pool battled back and were rewarded with a rocket shot from Kevin Phillips in the 61st minute in his 38th year. A reminder than Sir Stanley Matthews retired from Stoke City, Blackpool and back to The Potters in the top division when he was 50 years old. From then on it was anyone's game in an entertaining contest with honours even after 90 minutes.
Manager Ollie Holloway felt his team were very fortunate to escape with one point. thet were not as entertaining as he would have liked, and as the country remembers tham from last season, and City were superior in all quarters and should have scored at least three goals.