Saturday, May 19, 2012

Let's Rock Blackpool

I've only cried once over a football match, it was on New Years Day 1971, I was ten years old - soon to be eleven - and Blackpool beat West Ham 4-0 in an F.A Cup Third Round tie. I don't think it was the fact that we lost to Blackpool that was the tipping point, or the fact that we lost to an 'unfancied' club, after all in those years surrounding the end of the 1960's and the beginning of the 1970's the names Huddersfield Town, Mansfield Town and Hereford United feature among the teams who put West Ham out of one competition or another, no it was the manner of our defeat. We were poor. I can remember the feeling of complete shame as my idols: Moore, Bonds, Brooking, Hurst and Clyde Best among them got given the run around on a frozen pitch by a team that would end the season being relegated from the old First Division.

Not only was that the one and only time I have shed tears over a West Ham result, well physically at least, it was also the only time in the last ten meetings between the two clubs, stretching back to 1966, that Blackpool have won. In fact a quick trip down memory lane, or at least down anorak avenue, reveals that back in December 1966 the clubs played at Bloomfield Road on Boxing Day (West Ham won 4-1) and a day later played out a nil-nil draw at the Boleyn. Who says today's players are over worked!

It's been a mixed season thus far, automatic promotion looked a good bet for most of it, in fact had Reading not put on an unbelievable performance to beat us 4-2 at home then it would have been a done deal. There have been some strange tactics, some peculiar formations and an air of 'let's get out of here, give Allardyce the sack and get relegated again next season playing 'proper football'. 'Big Sam' is a firm believer in playing to your strengths and sees nothing strange about lumping the ball up to the Bus Stop rather than using the speed of Sam Baldock and Nicky Maynard to get behind the opposition defence. That doesn't been it hasn't been entertaining, it's just that at times it's been like watching Wimbledon (the tennis not the football team) with the ball constantly getting altitude sickness.

The final table for the season shows that fourth was our natural finishing spot, having the fourth best attack, fourth best defence, fourth best goal difference, but the second highest number of wins and the second lowest number of defeats and yet in the end twenty minutes at home to Reading denied us that automatic promotion spot.

Allardyce is a year into a two year contract and I would hope that he is given time to get us into a position of consolidation in the Premier League, whether it's via a win today or next season. I would rather we did a Fulham, Swansea or Norwich than play yo-yo like Wolves, Blackburn and Birmingham have done over recent years. 

Just a word about the ticket allocation, I appreciate there are security reasons for not letting the returned tickets from Blackpool going on sale again in London but isn't there something daft when two clubs whose average attendance last season were first and twentieth respectively in the Championship are given the same allocation. West Ham averaged 32,000 and were given 38,000 tickets, Blackpool average 12,000 and were given the same number, strikes me as wishful thinking on somebody's part.


A Northern Bloke said...

Good point about the ticket allocation, Paul. Doesn't seem to make sense, does it?

As for the result.... I think West Ham will win...just.

Paul said...

It doesn't when there is such a vast gulf in average attendances. I think we will win by the odd goal in five.

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