Blackpool v Derby County
Blackpool FC will be playing Championship football next season. Just pause for a second because that really is all we have wanted to know for months. Since promotion in 2007 it is clearly the case that supporters expectation levels have risen, no longer is there hope but expectation. After such a bright start to the season, just. Few weeks after another trip to Wembley, the nightmares started. firstly Ian Holloway, the talisman started to wobble. Players hardly training as he was linked and interviewed for every job in the Universe before finally departing for the heady heights of, erm, Crystal Palace. The Seasiders then had the brief, dull as dish water Appleton era - a few moaning interviews before he departed for the heady heights of erm, Blackburn. Then, what seemed an eternity and a farcical recruitment process before finally turning to Paul Ince. In reality for Ince Snr, what a nightmare.no chance of adding to the squad, a bewildered set of players, a training ground that Southport would laugh at and a pitch that resembled Old MacDonalds farm. The Premier League legacy as described by Ian Holloway as 'a few sprinklers for the pitch.'
The progress has therefore had to be incremental; steadying the ship, training on defending corners and ensuring Championship status. It's hard to see how with that criteria and legacy we would get the flowing, silky football we had become used to. But, albeit the penultimate game of the season, we did it.
After last weeks unmitigated disaster at Brighton, and with many playing for tithe last time in Tangerine, Blackpool knew a win would do it. That's what we got. As the first goal was put in by GTF (just how many important goals has he scored?) Blackpool were looking good. Then a penalty, not given by the ref, but the lino was determined (looked a soft one to be honest) and The Rams were apoplectic. Step forward Tom Ince who, well he missed it. For too casual an approach and it hit the post. Was that going to be the turning point? Possibly, the inevitable equaliser followed and that foreboding feeling of 'here we go'.
After again sitting deep (a worrying trait), Blackpool rallied and in injury time, a now ubiquitous Ludo volley thundered in. 3 points. Blackpool nerves were tested further as 4 minutes added became 7. Matt Gilks invited the crowd to keep the ball and eventually got booked. But it was enough.
Paul Ince achieved what in hindsight may be seen as a pivotal objective - staying up. And now the task of player retention, recruitment and development. It is hoped the Chairman stick to his word, in completing the coaching team after the Scotland U19 tournament and brining in Paul Ince's targets. It is hoped we don't get the usual debacle of contracts not been in place before pre-season, last minute cycling to the ground to sign up and all that. Let us have purpose and get the business done quickly.
So well done to Paul Ince. Now the Ince era can really get going. Oh yes, and we can go to Bolton on the last day without a panic!