Lancashire`s 'Middle Earth`. The Eternal Triangle: Blackpool, Preston and Burnley; footballing arch rivals for over a hundred years.
Lords of the Rings and who holds the precious. The golden Ring, which one rules the other two?
As the season pulls us, towards conflicts, long awaited for, with scores to settle, old wounds to jab at, pain that delays your appearance at work on a Monday.
Blood has already been spilt, a lightening flash of the Morrell blade and Burnley blood trickled around Turf Moor. To Blackpool supporters it felt like a win, two Burnley points lost.
So how do Blackpool FC fair in the volcanic ash of time with our historical rivals, Preston and Burnley?
Think about it, have Blackpool been good enough to ensure that we can stand toe to toe in the bars, offices and streets with rival fans, when recalling the past. We've hardly been in the same division since the 70`s, passing each other like lifts in the monolithic structure of the football leagues headquarters. What does history tell us about Blackpool, Preston and Burnley and why is it important. Looking at it from a Seasiders point of view, the next derby game will be perpetually on our minds, a dream, full of anticipation, but non the less it's the future it's not happened. The passion for your club is built on it's past its traditions, the memories, the nostalgia. So having tipped toed carefully into the archives,- mustn`t awake any sleeping giants yet, but I sense one may be about to stir - I have come up with several statistics and facts that you probably wont find in any Preston or Burnley programme club notes.
Take Preston N.E. - The Lilywhites - a nickname that's a touch too feminine for my liking. They were thrown out of the FA cup in 1884 for fielding a full team of professional players, when professionalism was illegal. The players involved happened to be the full Scottish International side. The cry was 'Cheating Preston'.
What about Burnley - the Clarets - formed in 1882. In their early days they had so many different coloured kits, they should have been nicknamed the Jockey Club; it wasn't until 1910 -the year Aston Villa became league champions- that Burnley decided to copy Villa's claret and blue kit hoping that it would bring them equal success; unfortunately counterfeits are never as good.
Did you know - some of you will - Preston`s biggest league defeat at home or away ever' was in 1948 at Deepdale: Preston 0 v 7 Blackpool.
In their time all three clubs have won the FA cup, but let's get real on this one. We really do need somebody who is still alive to remember the occasion.
Burnley FA cup winners 1914. Does that ring any bells with any living person?
Preston FA cup winners 1938, getting nearer, but anybody still around would certainly have no! Recall of this cup final against Huddersfield Town. The headlines of the day said 'Much Ado About Nothing'! Preston won in extra time with a disputed penalty; it was also reported in one 'memorable' line about the game, 'Almost two hours of forgettable football'.
In comparison arguably the 'Greatest FA Cup Final' ever was Blackpool 4 v 3 Bolton W, remembered by many or even the whole world and still talked about and watched on DVD to this very day.
OK! We can't go one trawling on too far back; we need to draw an historical line through our football histories. So I'll hold my hands up. Preston did the double - league and cup in 1888 - in a league that would now be equated to the Fylde Coast and District Football league. What Preston fan could get all weepy eyed and nostalgic about that event, it was that far back the good people of Blackpool were kicking Viking arse-holes on the beaches.
Statistical life, it has been decided shall start from the 1946-47 season to the present. League honors have been very sparse. Blackpool unfortunately, have never won the championship, the best position they have ever achieved was in the 1955-56 season when we finished in second place to Manchester Utd. Preston has finished in second place twice in the 50's, before they departed forever to the lower leagues in 1960-61.
Now Burnley! They actually did win the league Championship in the 1959-60 season. Now there's two interesting facts about Burnley that season, in that they never went to the top of the table at any time in the season, until the final whistle blew in their final game of that season, which they won to secure the championship and the other being that their heaviest home defeat of the season was against Blackpool by 4 goals to one.
In the 69-70 season, albeit it in division 2, Blackpool supporters were rewarded with a duel celebration; the season ended with Blackpool being promoted back to division one and Preston being relegated to division 3. It was actually Blackpool that finally sealed Prestons demise with a 'Fred Pickering Hat Trick' at Deepdale in a 3 - 0 win and thus humanly switching-off the last of the oxygen supplies to end their pitiful and struggling life in division 2.
From the 1946-7 season to the present Blackpool have played 22 seasons in the top division. Burnley has played 27 seasons and Preston 13 seasons. All three clubs have been up and down like yo-yo's. Burnley have been relegated 6 times and promoted 7 times. Preston have hit the floor 7 times and got back up 6 times.
Blackpool have been relegated 6 times and promoted 5 times. Blackpool and Preston have had to be re-elected to the football league. The Pool finishing 21st in div 4 in 1983 and Preston finishing in 23rd position in 1986.
The Claret's finished in 22nd position in 87, but instead of Burnley being re-elected, the format for league survival was changed to, The team finishing bottom of the 4th division would loose their league status. It was all on the last game of the season against Leyton Orient at Turf Moor, Burnley had to win to survive, which they did, just! Winning 2-1.
Let us now summarise the past from 46-47 to the Present - who's had the most?
Blackpool Preston Burnley
League Champions - Burnley
F A cup Winners - Blackpool
No Seasons in Top League - Blackpool
Number of Times Promoted - Preston, Burnley
No times Relegated - Preston
Wembley appearances and Won - Blackpool (Not inc FA cup)
Millenium appearances and Won - Blackpool
Lowest ever league position - Preston
Anglo-Italian Cup Winners - Blackpool
So who rules over the other two? Who is Lord of the Rings? Is it…?
Burnley - The Clarets, The ditherers, couldn't decide on what kit or colours they wanted so they copied Aston Villa's.
League Champions 1960, got hammered at home that season by Blackpool 4 - 1.
Presently manically depressed at dropping 2 home league points to Blackpool.
Preston - The Championships original 'Bleeding Hearts'
FA Cup Cheats
Never won a major trophy since 1938
Biggest ever league defeat home or away to their biggest rivals Blackpool 7-0
Presently in a diving-bell, below Blackpool in the Championship.
Blackpool- Won the greatest ever FA cup final
3 Wembley wins inc the F A cup final
3 Millenium wins
Played at the new Wembley Stadium, in its opening season.
Presently playing in the Championship in the top half with only one defeat in seven games and playing magnificently.
It may be pondered upon why I have not mentioned the records of the many league encounters between the 'Eternal Threesom' thrilling as some of them may have been, but I only wanted to look into the games that really mattered, major historical moments, games where our fortunes met, the likes of which
Most of the promotions that have been won by Preston and Burnley have been automatic, a wonderful achievement, but one lap of Deepdale or Turf Moor with a round of applause, hardly scores on the 'wow' factor buzzometer in comparison to playing and winning a play-off final.
My judgment finally brings in an ingredient that greatly effects our souls and spirit - HAPPINESS.
I'm a Blackpool supporter and I'm very happy with the past, the present and the future.
SO! ARE YOU HAPPY? If you're Tangerine you've got to be!!