Sunday, October 21, 2012
Blackpool 2 Nottingham Forest 2
Soccer Saturday, the internet and social networking have contributed towards its demise. My father, shortly before his death, became particularly bad-tempered one day, when punching in 199 for the sports headlines, the numbers just kept looping around and around. It took a phone-call to the BBC complaints department to resolve the issue.
It was on the coach journey back from Fleetwood that I noticed that Forest were to travel to the north-west again during the October half-term. Sticky jnr didn’t need asking twice. He’s well and truly hooked on watching Nottingham Forest FC. Blackpool’s Bloomfield Road ground is on my to-do list, as I home-in on completing ‘the 92.’
It’s Tuesday morning, the day of the game. Mrs P has gone swanning off shopping to Meadowhall, in Sheffield. I’m left to rustle up one of my legendary fry-ups for the kids. I crack the eggs into a sizzling pan. The fat is spitting more viciously than Leeds United’s El Hadji Diouf.
Fully fed and watered, I bundle Sticky jnr and ‘Chambo’ into the car and head off to Tollerton to pick up ‘Lil Louis.’ His Dad, JK, is away on business; I’ve promised to look after the wee man. We leave the ‘Rolls Royce’ in the Brian Clough car park and hop onto the No.2 supporters’ coach.
I’m comfortably the oldest person on here. It’s like spending the night at Bulwell Youth Club. Two seats are spare to the rear. A gang of 16 year old lads from Top Valley are bossing it on the back seat. There are reports circulating of lingering fog in the Blackpool area. Bloody hell, that mist is going to be hard to shift, if it rolls in from the Irish Sea.
Sticky jnr is sat with his headphones on. He’s wolfed down a family-sized pack of Rowntree’s wine gums and is now flicking through the pictures in The Sun. There’s a brief toilet stop at Knutsford Services, so all the kids can re-fuel on testosterone.
The coach driver has been fiddling about with his radio again. Blackpool-born singer-guitarist, Robert Smith, of The Cure is belting out his 1983 hit ‘Love Cats.’ We pull into the car park at Bloomfield Road at just before 5pm.
Sticky jnr and’Chambo’ are let loose on this historical seaside resort, which in its heyday was visited by over 17 million holiday-makers each year. Blackpool has a population of 140,000. It is well known for its Tower and Illuminations.
‘Lil Louis’ and Groundhopper head towards Blackpool Tower. This iconic attraction is nearly 120 years old and stands at 518 feet high. Its building was inspired by the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The list of well known celebrity born in Blackpool include: Zoe Ball, Robert Smith (The Cure), Cynthia Lennon (ex-wife of Beatle, John), Syd Little, Chris Lowe (Pet Shop Boys), Dave Ball (Soft Cell) and Ricky Tomlinson.
A few little-known facts about Blackpool include: In 1964, following a riot at a concert at the Empress Ballroom, the Rolling Stones were banned from playing in the town. This ban was not lifted until 44 years later in 2008.
We stroll a mile or so down the seafront, passed the Central Pier, Madame Tussauds, Coral Island, Yates’s Wine Lodge, North Pier, the Bier Keller and the Albert and Lion Wetherspoons pub. The sea is 40 metres out. Seagulls wade in the pools of water left by the tide. Apart from the Tower, it’s a fairly unremarkable and characterless place. Everyone looks so miserable and downcast. Mind you, two wins in the last eight games; I can hardly blame them.
We dive into the Captain’s Table for a fish n chip tea. The cod melts in your mouth. We bump into Sticky jnr opposite the Central Pier. He says he wants to live here, loves the place. I ask him if he’s been having a sniff of the barmaid’s apron. I watch the illuminations spring into action, before heading back up to the ground for the 8pm kick off.
Blackpool were founded in 1887 and are nicknamed The Seasiders or The Tangerines. Recent well-known managers include: Stan Ternent, Simon Grayson, Sam Allardyce, Colin Hendry & Steve McMahon. Largest transfer paid is: £1,250,000 for DJ Campbell from Leicester City. Record transfer fee received is £7 million for Charlie Adam from Liverpool. Most League appearances made is by Jimmy Armfield (569).
Forest fans are pouring through the turnstile as Dave Clark Five’s 1964 hit ‘Glad it’s all Over’ rings around the ground. The teams emerge from the tunnel to Zoe Ball’s husband’s ‘Right Here, Right Now.’
Forest pour forward in an exciting start to the game, Cohen is hauled the ground, with both officials waving away claims for a penalty. The Tricky Trees enjoy a golden spell of possession football, played at a furious pace. Both Cox and the industrious Sharp waste gilt-edged chances.
Sharp gets a second bite of the cherry in the 25th minute, steering a shot into the net following a corner. He peels away to celebrate with the travelling faithful, appearing to take a bite of a supporter’s hot dog.
I was hoping for a game of bingo at the break. The PA man could shout out to the crowd the numbers. We are treated to 10 minutes of keepy-uppies by the Blackpool Centre of Excellence lads. Paul Hart is wheeled out the Hospitality Suite to perform the half-time draw He receives a standing ovation from both sets of supporters.
Forest replace the out-of-sorts Ayala, who has struggled in possession, with the Irishman, Brendan Moloney. Halford slots in to partner the excellent former Vauxhall Motors and Chester City defender, Danny Collins.
Phillips whips a ball in from the right, Camp’s decision-making is appalling, no-one picks up the runner, and Grandin heads the ball into the roof of the net. Minutes later, Gary Taylor-Fletcher, a player lifted from Leyton Orient Reserves by Keith Alexander many moons ago, scuffs a shot into Camp’s bottom right corner, with the unsighted ‘keeper going down in instalments.
The visiting support is stunned into silence. They’re not asking ‘Campy’ “what’s the score?”, anymore. The Blackpool fans are though. O’Driscoll plays his trump card. Prodigal son Jermaine Jenas enters the field of play. His fifteen minutes of footwork, dazzlery and passing are worth the £25 admission.
I feel sick to the stomach that Forest won’t take anything from this. Suddenly former Blackpool loanee, Andy Reid, produces some wizardry out on the left, leaving Dexter Blackstock the chance to equalise seconds from time.
There’s utter pandemonium in the away end. I look up towards the back. Sticky jnr is uncontrollable with his wild celebrations. I just hope he hasn’t lost his ‘I am a T**t’ lighter that he bought earlier in the day.
Man of the Match: Danny Collins