On the pitch?
I remember a game at Bloomfield Road in the mid 90s when my school decided that they’d take some of the kids to the final Pool game of the season to polish off a week of soccer school. I went to the match with the school and gave my season ticket away for the game to a cousin.
What a mistake it was, as it was the last home game of the season and as we all know at Bloomfield Road the last home game of the season means on the pitch. As I was with the school I wasn’t allowed onto the hallowed turf after the match to try and grab my hero's shirt, that of the legendary Steve Banks.
That game was in the 96/97 season where we finished in 7th place, the game I was on about was the 3-2 victory over Bristol Rovers. Goals from Mark Bonner and a brace from Andy Preece secured the win. I was mightily disappointed sat in the West Stand with not being able to go on the pitch. As a 12-year-old child then I couldn’t think of nothing better to do than run about on the turf were I'd seen my hero ply their trade and have the chance of grabbing a match shirt.
So when our teacher told us to sit tight I wasn't too happy. Who could blame him, 30 young lads running around a pitch with 2,000 other people wouldn't go down to well with the head if something would have happened.
So why at Bloomfield Road do we go on the pitch at the last game of the season? Really going on the pitch is a form of celebration to embrace the players that have managed to thrust the club forward.
The promotion season in 2001 springs to mind with Paul Simpson and Brett Ormerod being carried off the pitch in last encounter of the season. A fitting tribute to be carried aloft to their adoring fans after both had put in a great effort over the season to get the team into the play-offs.
So how come that a season of mid-table mediocrity will still end with an on the pitch celebration? In my opinion it's just one of those things that happen at Bloomfield Road. In the way that there’s that fella at Portsmouth who rings the bell, the screaming woman at Arsenal, at Bloomfield Road no matter what position in the league the team ends up on the fans go on the pitch.
I'm not condoning going on the pitch, as we all know that it is an offence to go on the playing surface. It was hope that the move into the new stands in 2002 would stop this trend. But in the last home game of the season, the 5-1 thrashing of Bristol City, it was all on to the pitch once again
Will this trend stop? For the next few seasons I can't see it stopping unless the authorities at Bloomfield Road really try to put a stop to what now has become some sort of tradition at Bloomfield Road.