Blackpool's February - SuddickTheKing
February is a short month and despite there being an extra 24 hours for the ladies to propose this year, there were still only 29 days in the month - but what an eventful 29 they turned out to be if you are a Blackpool fan!
On the pitch, the first opponents were Leicester City at Bloomfield Road. A big club with plenty of potential for the Premiership, they are also in turmoil off the pitch with managers coming and going with the regularity of someone with diarroeah going to the loo! The latest incumbent at the helm for the Foxes is the enigmatic Ian Holloway. Never far from controversy himself, he was attempting to build a side capable of lifting itself away from the drop zone and with the resources at his disposal this seemed quite ominous for 'Pool. However, we fear no-one, and we had beaten them on their own patch on that gloriously sunny day last August. We had a trick up our sleeve too in the diminutive shape of a certain Paul Dickov. The game itself was hard fought - as are all the games in this tremendous division - and despite the Seasiders having the slight edge it looked to be heading for a draw. Cometh the hour, cometh the man and the iconic Dickov nipped in between hesitating defenders to win it right at the death. What a valuable 3 points that could turn out to be.
Our first trip of the month was to the KC Stadium in Hull who were in decent form and pushing for a play off place. In front of a full house the Wizards roared into a 2 goal lead but eventually the Tigers found their teeth and a deserved 2-2 draw. We`d have taken a point there before kick off.
Under pressure Mick McCarthy brought his expensive, underperforming outfit to Bloomers on the following Tuesday night and in a very entertaining game we saw why he must be frustrated - in spells they looked a very good side and a draw was a very good result by the final whistle.
Next up Ipswich away. We made the very long trip to Suffolk more in hope than expectation and alas those hopes were dashed pretty quickly. We knew prior to kick off that the superb Stephen Crainey was out injured, but to lose both centre halves before half an hour was up was a mortal blow and so it proved, with Ipswich exploiting our makeshift defence, scoring twice early in the second half. That said, they should have been 3 up before we were weakened and their one touch pass-and-move seemed to cut through us at will. Credit to the lads in tangerine then that they did not fold and even managed to pull one back.
Charlton were our next illustrious opponents on a windswept afternoon at Bloomfield Road. This team had battered us at the Valley and had plenty of players with Premiership experience. In a rip-roaring 90 minutes we showed that football is about more than just price tags and roared into a two goal lead. Charlton responded admirably and got back on terms with two goals in as many minutes. Would we fold? Not on your life! I have said previously that this team of ours never knows when it is beaten and the second half proved it yet again with goals from GTF(2) and Dickov adding to McPhee's opener and Kaspars' amazing second. However this is Blackpool and a combination of bad defending and strange substitutions led to an uneasy last 20 mins despite a 5-3 scoreline.
8 points out of 15 was a creditable haul and lifted us to 14th in the table. That said, there is a false sense of security looking at it that way - this is the best division from a purist point of view as any one of the top ten can go up and the same applies to the bottom half. I'm loving every minute of it, despite heart palpitations every week!
Of course there is always a down side too. Off the pitch the disgruntled feelings of the fans with regard to the South Stand issue is picking up momentum. I have to say that I have mixed feelings about the whole situation - I worry that what I see as a worthy cause could be hi-jacked by those who just have a grudge against the Oystons and this is in danger of distracting attention from the positive things that are there for all to see on the pitch. I feel that Karl Oyston - for all his faults - has stuck to a financial policy that is like medicine, you know it is doing you good but it is horrible to take. That said, he has to realise that what was good medicine in the lower divisions will not cure the problems in the Championship. I have said before that with his position is a responsibility to oversee the PROGRESS of this club and the time has come, in my view, to use his business acumen, contacts and financial cohorts to build the South Stand. Colchester are building a new ground with a bigger capacity than they need; Preston are pressing ahead with their fourth stand despite the fact that this will increase their capacity to more than double their gates. Why are they doing this? Because to attract interest, investment and more supporters you have to say 'there, look at that, this is what we have to offer' - Championship football in a Championship. stadium with Championship business opportunities. It works with attracting players too. We have to look like we mean business, not closing down. There is also a moral argument relating to our disgraceful treatment of away supporters plus we are missing out on thousands of pounds worth of revenue from bigger away numbers.
Spring has sprung early this year, I just hope that March sees the Seasiders in full bloom!