Jane Stuart – Writer

Writing about real life Up North: football, ale, food and mental health – with a good dash of humour.

Blackpool v Bristol Rovers: Play-offs Here We Come!

This was a back-to-front weekend, with a blank Saturday and football on the Sunday. I suppose we’ll have to get used to this sort of thing as we climb back up the leagues…

I have been dying for a 7-0 win all season. Could today be the day? We’ve already secured our play-off place, our opponents are already relegated, we have the Indian sign over Joey Barton and we have some key players returning from injury. The stars are aligning, surely?

The starting line-up was a bit of a shock, with first starts for keeper Stuart Moore and academy striker Brad Holmes. Big Marv, Kevin Stewart and Keshi Anderson also started for the first time in months. That said, it was still a strong team.

We didn’t know much about the keeper, so we did a bit of research on him. Fun facts: he played against us in the play-offs for Luton Town; his brother plays in goal for Sheffield United; and he’s from the Isle of Wight.

The Rovers keeper was interesting, too. He was making his first team debut at the age of 17 – and his name is Jed Ward.

We wondered if he was actually named after the Irish duo Jedward but research reveals they weren’t famous until their appearance on X Factor in 2009, so the maths doesn’t add up there. The only other Jed I could think of was Jed Clampett from The Beverly Hillbillies and he surely can’t have been named after him?

Apparently it’s short for Jedediah. After a bit more digging, I realise I have also heard of Jed Mercurio, the writer, who is apparently a Gerald.

We started our livestream early because – in my excitement in qualifying for the play-offs on Tuesday – I thought it was a good idea to prolong the party. It turned out to be a lot of fun, with the stream going on for four hours. We came up with new songs for Moore and Holmes, blasted out the usual classics (‘The Embo Song’, ‘Ooh Kenny Dougall’, etc.) and the more recent additions of ‘Ekpiteta Ekpiteta’ and ‘Ollie Ollie Ollie (Oi Oi Oi)’.

We even had roving reporters joining the stream live from Bloomfield Road, where a good number of fans gathered outside the main entrance to cheer the boys on to victory. It was great to hear them in fine voice after the goal and after the match. Tune in and check out the scenes of jubilation:

The match was an enjoyable watch, with Embo and Keshi particularly outstanding. We were noticeably much improved in the skill of crossing the ball in front of the strikers – an area that we have struggled in all season. Could that be the crucial final piece in the jigsaw slotting into place at just the right time? Moore pulled off an incredible save on his debut. On the day that first choice keeper Chris Maxwell was awarded the League One Golden Glove, Moore made a magnificent save with his feet, which you can see at the link below:

So we finished third and now face Oxford in the play offs – away a week on Tuesday and at Bloomfield Road the following Friday. We took four points off them in the league and have won four on the bounce now – but our opponents are the form team going into the play-offs.

By way of recap, you can read all about my virtual trip to Oxford in March – when we were unplayable – via this link and the home game is revisited via this link. It is interesting rereading these, as Oxford don’t appear to have offered much of a threat in either fixture. Of course the play-offs will be a different kettle of fish – and I honestly have no idea what to expect, just as I haven’t all season.

We’re hoping to be back in the ground for the home leg (how exciting would that be?!) so fingers crossed for an actual (not virtual) matchday blog to write about for the first time since Tranmere at home in March 2020. I’ll have to reread that one so I can remember what to do…

UTMP.

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