Player Of The Season...
The common thing to do would be to do this in reverse order leading up to a drum roll for the winner wouldn't it. Well, we here at Blackpool Vital are all in favour of being common...so here goes...
In THIRD place; Central defensive rock, Ian Evatt with 23%.
In SECOND place; Irish whiz-kid, Wesley Hoolahan with 30%.
And the winner...
Seasiders Number......twenty five....Shaun Barker with 33% of your votes.
Barker has been ever-present for the Seasiders this season - minus the single game that he missed thanks to suspension - and that is surely one of the main reasons for you, the fans, voting him your player of the season. 43 games - not including the cup run - of consistent performances which, for the £30,000 we paid for him after the pre-season fiasco between 'Pool and Rotherham over the player, is another reason for his victory.
Lets not take anything away from the other players though. Runner-up Wes Hoolahan - second by only 3% which shows it was a tightly-run thing - is still on loan from Scottish Division One side Livingston and has reportedly attracted the attention of sides such as newly-promoted Sunderland amongst a few other mid-table Championship sides. As yet, Wes has yet to sign a contract with the Seasiders despite his fantastic season as a first-team regular and the fan's appreciation every time his name is read out over the PA System before a game. Many are hoping that 'Pool win promotion, not just for the club, but so they retain the services of Hoolahan who has certainly been an integral part of the club's success this season with his skills and of course penalty success-rate. Definitely the find of the season from manager Simon Grayson.
Ian Evatt who finished third in your voting was also a revelation this season. Starting the season on the bench after joining on loan - to replace former linchpin Peter Clarke who departed 3 days before the start of the season - he soon made his impact on the team at a time when the Seasiders' luck was at an all time low - 2nd bottom after 10 games and would have been bottom had it not been for Rotherham's 10 point deduction for going into administration over the summer. He stepped up to the plate and certainly did not fail to deliver. Ever-present since his inclusion - again, missing just the one game due to suspension, resulting in the introduction of Latvian Kaspars Gorkss - he has been a part of the best Blackpool defence in sometime along with the likes of Shaun Barker and Michael Jackson (it would be unfair to single out one of the loanees, Danny Coid, Kaspars Gorkss or Paul Tierney for the troublesome left back slot!!) ensuring a fantastic run of results from September-February and mid-March-May. A leader on the pitch and a fan-favourite who was bound to be up there with the front-runners for this trophy. A massive coup to sign him from QPR after falling out of favour with John Gregory - who reportedly didn't even speak to Evatt when he was on the books at QPR!
Keith Southern has also been a fantastic player for the club this season and has done so well to come back from a career-threatening knee-injury to become a regular for the team - and certainly a leader on the pitch, effectively becoming a fourth captain along with Jackson, Barker and Evatt! The start of the season was not the best for Keith, hounded by fans looking for an excuse as to why the club was under-performing, he proved his doubters wrong with a solid campaign no matter who he has played alongside - David Fox, Claus Jorgensen or even Simon Gillett. Pitching in with some crucial winning goals against Leyton Orient and Cheltenham along the way have also aided the Seasiders in their march for promotion.
Finally, Blackpool's top scorer Andy Morrell. The former Wrexham and Coventry front-man has shown the fans exactly why Simon Grayson put his faith in one of the elder-statesman of the side after signing him from Coventry in August on a free transfer. Many hoped he would be the 20+ goal a season striker 'Pool have been looking for since the days when Scott Taylor was at the club. He didn't disappoint as he netted no less than 4 goals in the final game of the season against Swansea City to ensure he ended the official league season one goal shy of the 20 goal target set by Simon Grayson back in March. With Morrell on 19, Parker on 13 and Vernon on 14 for the season - along with contributions from Wes Hoolahan, loanee Robbie Williams and Jorgensen, Southern, Gillett and of course Chris Brandon's hat-trick against Northampton, goals have been pleantiful for Blackpool this season, resulting in just the three goalless draws this season.
We would like to thank everyone who voted for the player of the season and would also like to congratulate Simon Grayson and all his team for a fantastic season and of course wish them the best of luck for the playoffs and a hopeful trip to Wembley with the Tangerine faithful out in force.
UP THE 'POOL!