I have been to World Cup Finals, European and FA Cup Finals. with 120,000 plus at Hampden Park, 110,00 at Maracana, to Anfield and many more stadiums in over 80 plus countries, but Saturday afternoon at 3.00pm at Bloomfield Road was something very, very special for me.
I took at taxi from Blackpool North station to a packed Blackpool FC ticket office and one of the last tickets available, in the far side East Stand. The last time I was there in the early 1950's it was all standing. I paid my 9 pence and took 3-4 bricks in my back back to stand on.. The retaining wall was 5 ft high (152 cm) and I was only 4'9" tall (122cm). What would happen if you tried to take bricks into a stadium these days??
Since a High Court ruling in November 2017 ordered chairman Owen Oysten to repay minority shareholder Estonian Valerie Belokov £25 million, the sum illegitimitelly stripped by Oysten's businesses from the £100 million the club received hen they won promotion to The Premier League. Last month with the sum unpaid the High Court put the club in the hand of receivers. 85 year old Oysten, his daughter and the Oysten Real Estate sign were removed from the stadium.
In its place in the main, West Stand was a brand new sign BLACKPOOL ARE BACK. 200 volunteers came to clean the place up, including seagull droppings on the thousands of unused tangerine seats, and to man the souvenir shop and ticket office. Two hours before kick-off thousands of bedecked fans assembled on the COMEDY CARPET opposite Blackpool Tower to march the 1 mile to the stadium. I bought a Blackpool FC scarf which within minutes finished in the raging Irish Sea on a wet windy afternoon in Europe's biggest holiday resort.
The stadium was full with 16,000 home fans, the most home support for 40 years. Tangerine, scarves and headgear, flags and flares and tangerine balloons dotted the pitch. Supporters came from far and wide,, from Montevideo, Uruguay, Krakow,Poland and the Scottish Highlands.babies in arms and young boys anfd girls were brought to their very first match by mums, dads and grandparents.
The Football League, headquartered in nearby Preston should be fined big bucks for their neglect by fans not only of Blackpool, but Charlton Athletic, Coventry Ciy, Blackburn Rovers, and more. Oysten had been in prison for rape but the FL deemed than the statute of limitations had passed.
SEASIDERS, SEASIDERS, SEASIDERS was the channt from kick-off. Even though Southend United opened the scoring in the 20th minute Armand Gnanduilett sent the stadium wild with his equalizer. . Another defensive error from a set piece gave the visitors the lead again just after the break. 6 minutes into added time and Moore scored an own goal for a 2-2 tie. Friendly match invasion, hopefully not to repeated this season. The Pool are now only 2 points off the Division One play-off places.
BLACKPOOL ARE BACK INDEED !!