2022 has largely been very good to Blackpool supporters so far and could become even better. Let’s take stock for a moment.
Though Covid has by no means left us, relaxation of Government restrictions has for now at least seen the end of ground entry point checks. Great credit goes to the Club and supporters for bearing with this procedure while it was in place, everyone playing their part to ensure things have gone well.
On the pitch we can proudly claim to be unbeaten this year – provided, that is, we skip past our early demise in the FA Cup. A word on this before proceeding to better stuff. This wonderful competition divides opinion a little these days, but it’s fair to say that we’re way overdue a decent cup run. Indeed, our younger supporters will never have seen one! We’re lucky to have a whole new young fan base showing their passion for the club and driving on what must be amongst the best current atmospheres anywhere in in football. Surely, we owe them that cup run sometime! We are also sure that everyone from Simon down would have loved to negotiate the tricky tie at Hartlepool and then take on one of the giants in the fourth round. We consider ourselves every bit as good a team as Middlesbrough, who at least scored one for the EFL by knocking over the dysfunctional behemoth that is Manchester United, earning excellent money for the club coffers into the bargain.
However, for Blackpool, injuries aside February is good news month. We’ve negotiated a largely successful transfer window. No “broken fax machines” here anymore unless the plug was strategically pulled to avoid losing our flying winger Josh Bowler! Several players moving out (particular thanks go to Demi and the Viking who played pivotal roles in last season’s promotion charge) and some exciting looking new signings including Jake Beasley, Charlie Kirk, six-foot four defender Doug Tharme who will see out the season at Southport before joining us this Summer, and permanently clinching the promising Owen Dale. We warmly welcome back two quality players in Jordan Thorniley and Ethan Robson and we also welcome aboard new Assistant Head Coach Iain Brunskill.
Through January and February, we have also strung together a tremendous set of results, leaving us unbeaten as this article goes to press with 11 points from five matches. We already look completely at home in this league.
Special mention must surely however go a game we drew rather than won. An “awayday for the days” at Fulham saw 2000 happy Seasiders making the trip to the capital, some using novel modes of transport to get there. Thanks to great organisational work from Ashley Knowles and MSG, a hefty percentage even took to the Thames beforehand on two specially chartered boats. As we passed Westminster, did Boris hear the Seasiders faithful chanting their observations on his job prospects we ask ourselves! As for the match itself, on a day when for once all focus was not on the EPL we showed a watching world that Blackpool are a force to be reckoned with, very nearly stealing a result. The condolences of BST and we’re sure, all Seasiders goes out to the family and friends of Fulham supporter Paul Parish, who died after being taking ill at the game. The respect from players and supporters from both teams on the day and the tributes from Fulham players and supporters at their recent match with Millwall show our game at its very best. All this at a time when once again, due to actions of some on and off the pitch it is also under the spotlight for some of the wrong reasons.
On this theme we return to the issue of football governance, one we know is less than gripping for some readers but is nonetheless crucial. Stick with us here for a moment! We’re aware that some clubs we have pitched ourselves against forever, from Bury to Oldham, Reading to Derby and beyond are struggling. All these clubs, their supporters and communities would have benefited from a stronger and fairer regulatory environment. We escaped by the skin of our teeth from over four decades of decay, spite and owners’ greed into the hands of a “good owner”, a true custodian in Simon Sadler and his team. How fortunate we are.
However, help is on the horizon for badly run clubs and the impending changes are also incredibly timely for Blackpool FC, its fans and local community. Big changes are in the air for football in the form of the Fan Led Review chaired by Tracey Crouch. BST, who are closely involved within the Football Supporters’ Association, were one of few supporter organisations invited to provide oral and written panel evidence, our input based on learnings from the brutal experience of the Oyston years. This review is expected to result in legislation that will amongst other excellent moves:
Create an independent regulator (think of an “OFCOM or HSE for football”) to police the new laws
Improve how TV money flows to smaller clubs in the “football pyramid” – currently the EPL swallows a huge proportion
Address the nonsense of parachute payments
Ensure that ordinary fans have a fair voice, and
Protect the all-important heritage of clubs (think no more “Hull Tigers”!).
Join us please by viewing at our summary of the recommendations of the Fan Led Review
This time next year all of this will be heading into law. With cross-party political support already, this is going to happen, and we must plan and prepare for success. Here’s even better news. We can assure you that when this happens, Blackpool FC as a responsibly owned, well-run, community focused club is perfectly placed to benefit.
Now a plea. We all love the word “Progress” in our motto. If you left BST recently thinking we were just a “protest group” and the “job is now done”, please re-join! Everything we do is with progress in mind. We pledge to work tirelessly alongside Blackpool FC, the Blackpool FC Community Trust, MSG and other supporters’ groups to benefit our club, supporters and community. If you are an existing member, a lapsed member, or indeed have never been a BST member, we’d love to welcome you in.
At this point we thank Pauline O’Rourke, who finally steps down from her formal role after years of service to BST. We’re delighted though to hear that Pauline has committed to help informally, and this is so important. Without help from people like Pauline we’d be a poorer Trust and a poorer community. Thanks for everything!