After five years in the wilderness, these cup competitions are the source of much confusion. Tonight the Seasiders were facing Macclesfield Town in the Caramac Cup (or something) which I guessed from the time of year was the League Cup. Now I have committed to going to every match this season so this afternoon I set off on my merry way up the M6 in my little car.
I was prepared for my journey today, ensuring my Driving playlist was on and set to shuffle and Waze was set up to provide directions. I do know where Blackpool is but my route to the M6 is a tad tricky and I haven’t learned it yet. My organisation reaped dividends, as I reached The Gold Coast in record time (two hours), accompanied by a series of belting tunes (Kasabian, Oasis and Ocean Colour Scene make for excellent driving companions) – and not interrupted by a single traffic update. Had I accidentally turned off the traffic updates or were the roads simply clear today? I’m not sure but this made my journey a very happy one. I love singing my head off on the motorway – and I love coming home to Blackpool. Life is pretty good right now.
My first stop in Blackpool was the Bloomfield Brewhouse. This is one of my fanzine stockists and I wanted to make sure that they had the zines on display. They didn’t when I arrived but they were prominently displayed by the time I left.
Of course I stayed to enjoy their magnificent food and beer. The food here is so good. I opted for the ‘Curry of the Day’ (I only have to see the word ‘curry’ and I crave one) which was the Chicken Massaman with rice, prawn crackers and sweet chilli sauce. Gosh it was delicious! I washed it down with a couple of pints of Tiny Rebel Pump Up The Jam, a jam doughnut flavoured beer from an excellent brewery in South Wales (do visit their bars in Newport and Cardiff when you’re down there). At the bar I got chatting with Andy, a subscriber to the fanzine, who was another face I hadn’t seen for a number of years.
Next stop was the BFC ticket office to purchase my tickets for the Gillingham and Rochdale matches. I was accompanied on my walk down Bloomfield Road by Derek, who recognised me from the recent videos I have been appearing in on Lee Charles TV following the Seasiders. It’s lovely to meet new people and chat about Blackpool. God knows we’ve been starved of our club for so long, it’s lovely to be able to talk about all things BFC again – and with a smile on our faces too!
Ticket office business concluded, I headed round to the main entrance to take up my position outside to sell fanzines. This was a trickier spot than my previous position on Bloomfield Road outside the old No.1 Club/casino, with supporters approaching from all directions, but sales went well nonetheless. Again here it was lovely to see so many faces I recognised from years ago as well as meeting new people. Two people promised me articles for the next issue, which is already shaping up to be a corker! I also met two men who were up on their holidays for the week from near Southend. They were going to both of Blackpool’s home games this week as part of their holiday and also bought a fanzine each.
Dear reader I could have stayed outside selling beyond kick off, as there was a late flurry of fans turning up on the night and big queues forming from half past seven (although the club did open more gates to accommodate this). However having missed a big chunk of the first home match, I resolved to watch the whole thing tonight, so at 1940 I gathered my bags together and headed up to the Matthews Suite to find Lee and my seat on the balcony.
We had front row seats on the hallway line tonight and settled back to enjoy the match just in time for kick off. However we were soon moved from our prime spot to accommodate a disabled supporter, which we didn’t mind – not least because the woman sitting behind us was already complaining vociferously every time we stood up to let someone past. We relocated to the North West corner, where we enjoyed a better atmosphere amidst the Muckers and Drummer Hoggy. I confess I quite like touring the ground like this. I haven’t actually sat in my own season ticket seat yet (I’m not even sure exactly where it is – although I am pleased to report that my season ticket has now arrived).
I know some folk are attached to a particular seat but frankly I’ve never really had chance to. I started out at Bloomfield Road in the South Paddock – where of course there weren’t any seats, although I did have a wall that I leaned against (my early BFC shirts are all worn down that side) and later a crash barrier that was erected for me to lean on. Then the South was demolished and I was relocated to the North Stand, before being kicked out of there and sent to the South Stand, where I never really settled. I think I moved back to the North before giving up coming to Bloomfield Road altogether some years ago. I’m trying out the South again this season, although we were in hospitality today because we got a free upgrade (nice touch BFC!).
Blackpool played well again – what a difference Larry has made – but were somewhat impotent in front of goal tonight. They certainly created a lot of chances! Was it down to the good defending of Sol Campbell’s Macclesfield? Or simply one of those nights? Despite dominating play, one or two Seasiders did seem a little less up for it tonight than they had in their previous two league outings. That said they still played very well and ought to have won. Macc’s equaliser was a sloppy mistake from Rocky but their second was a cracking effort.
On going 2-1 down, the home fans defiantly ramped up the volume and sang their hearts out to rouse the Seasiders back into the game. Their efforts were rewarded as Gnanduillet equalised with a last minute penalty. On the final whistle I frantically checked my phone to see if there would be extra time or if we were going straight to penalties (I struggle with hearing in crowds at the best of times and the tannoy system isn’t the best). It was to be the latter.
The shoot out was dramatic as ever. Macc missed the opening pen but Kaikai and Thompson failed to convert for Blackpool, who lost out 4-2 on pens. The travelling Macc faithful must have been delighted with this result.
I’m not too fussed about bowing out of the cup – not least because midweekers are not great for exiled supporters like me. What with at least three cup midweekers to come in the Checkatrade Trophy – oops now known as the leasing.com Trophy – I’m already exhausted just looking at the fixture list.
It was somewhat fitting that it rained all the way home. But again no travel updates and some banging tunes to take me home. Back to League business on Saturday – and a return to winning ways. UTMP.
PS You can see Lee’s video footage of the night’s events here: