Last Sunday saw the long awaited Brett Ormerod testimonial game take place at Mill Farm, the new home of AFC Fylde, which was loaned to Blackpool fans for the day in honour of one of the finest servants of Blackpool FC. Brett Ormerod is not only a gifted player but also a thoroughly decent individual and those who were there can certainly be happy that we gave him a very fitting “send off.” Over 3600 people filled the stands and terraces - a marked contrast to the diminishing crowds at Bloomfield Rd this season – and the atmosphere was electric. The politics at Bloomfield Rd make a sad backdrop to the career of a special player and so we are immensely grateful to David Haythornthwaite and his team at AFC Fylde for making it possible to give Brett the day he deserved.
The sight of so many ex-Blackpool players back together again in Tangerine was a bitter-sweet occasion, stirring up wonderful memories amongst the many faithful Blackpool fans but at the same time highlighting the terrible situation that currently exists at our club. Many fans have commented how, for a few short hours, they felt that deep rooted connection again to OUR club, a feeling sadly missing in recent seasons. Many children, who were too young to remember much about our time in the Premier league or the seasons before it, were suddenly aware of what their mums and dads had been telling them about. The heart and soul of Blackpool FC was on display and it made us all proud.
This was also a day for fundraising in aid of the Gary Parkinson Trust, a cause close to the hearts of most Blackpool fans. Gary signed for Blackpool in 2001 and was still employed in a coaching role when, in 2010, he suffered a devastating stroke which left him with locked in syndrome. Gary’s former clubs – Bolton, Preston, Burnley, Middlesbrough- have all been very supportive of Gary and his family; BST are aware that Blackpool fans are also keen to contribute and so all the proceeds from our fundraising efforts – the sale of the BST alternative shirt, raffle and auction of match worn shirts signed by the players- will go to the GP Trust. Brett has already agreed to donate a percentage of his monies from the game. Donations are still coming in and we will provide an update of the total raised as soon as possible.
We were also pleased that Cheung Chi Doy, a former Blackpool player and the first ever Chinese footballer to play in the English top flight in 1960, was able to join us. He cancelled his arrangement to attend the Manchester City game on Sunday so that he could be at the Brett Testimonial and was absolutely thrilled to be taken into the players changing room after the game to meet the squad. He had the opportunity to chat with many Blackpool fans and was pleased to see that the spirit of Blackpool FC is alive and kicking
Blackpool fans are a special bunch; for years, we have supported our team through thick and thin (mostly thin!!) and during those many seasons we have been lucky to have some fantastic players in our tangerine shirts. The squad of 2009/10 were an especially close knit group and we all know how that worked out! The relationship between fans and players is vitally important and Brett’s game showed just how strong that bond still is. As Steve Thompson said the day after the game “Yesterday was what dreams are made of; no one can take those memories. Proper fans!”
Thommo –it really couldn’t be expressed any better.