Writer: Eamonn Moore
Date:Monday July 19 2010
'It was a footballing miracle Blackpool reaching the Premier League. It will take another one to keep them there.'
That's Jimmy Armfield's take on recent events at Bloomfield Road, and who could argue with him?
Armfield has seen it all, as he was quick to point out to the Daily Express in an interview that harked back to the past, but also looked to the future.
Speaking about what happened after relegation following his last game before retirement in the 1970s, Armfield said:
'You would see coaches leaving the Blackpool area with locals off to support teams like Manchester United.
'But then again it was no real surprise because Blackpool had been struggling in the lower divisions for so long. In the Eighties they even had to apply for re-election to the Fourth Division. Gates were down to between 2,000 and 3,000.'
Shifting focus to the season just gone, Armfield commented:
'At the start of last season most people were predicting that Blackpool would be relegated along with Peterborough and Scunthorpe.
'After opening the [Jimmy Armfield] stand we went 2-0 down against Crystal Palace but came back to draw 2-2. There was a fervour and resilience about the side but still no one was talking about the Premier League
'I think that comeback against Palace created a momentum which lasted all the way to that incredible day at Wembley against Cardiff.
'Apart from those in South Wales everyone in the country seemed to want Blackpool to win. It was similar to 1953 when Blackpool were at Wembley in the FA Cup Final against Bolton. Everyone then was behind Blackpool because they wanted Stanley Matthews to get a Cup winner's medal.'
However, despite thoroughly loving being back in the top flight, Armfield warns that the honeymoon is now over for the Seasiders:
'It's been incredible. Even during the height of the World Cup the tangerine flags were flying and people have been walking around wearing Their Blackpool shirts.
'Now, as the start of the new season approaches, the honeymoon is over.
'As a football man I don't enjoy getting beaten and you do have to worry about a side that has cost so little. Charlie Adam, who they signed from Rangers at the start of last season, is by far the biggest buy at £500,000.
'Success this season will be to finish fourth from bottom. But it's a club that has got the whole town behind it and it's one of the few which doesn't have debts. It has been run cautiously and sensibly and knows how to spend its money.'
Armfield also praised current manager Ian Holloway and previous incumbent Simon Grayson (who has recently signed a new deal with Leeds) for their work at the club:
'He'd [Grayson] been a player at the club and knew what it was all about. I could see a change in the whole attitude when he arrived as manager.
'Ian has come in and continued that good work and added his own unique qualities.
'He`s connected with the fans and given them the enthusiasm which showed itself at Wembley. That had to be one of the best atmospheres Wembley has known.'
Armfield ended the interview with his thoughts on the Seasiders having to open the season with two away games following their opening day fixture being moved from Bloomfield Road to the DW Stadium due to the stand renovations currently going on at Bloomfield Road:
'Having two away games, including Arsenal, at the start of the season isn`t ideal but at least they will be hitting the ground running.
'And as we`ve discovered, tangerine miracles do happen.'
Date:Monday July 19 2010
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