Thousands of Seasiders fans pulled on masks to turn the terraces into a sea of their missing manager’s face – and raise money for two vital charities.
Blackpool’s Paul Ince may have been banned from Bloomfield Road for Saturday’s game against Wigan, but thousands of passionate fans made sure his presence was still felt.
The Gazette joined forces with Radio Wave to produce 10,000 masks of the Guv’nor to raise money for our Hospice Heroes appeal and Variety: A Children’s Charity ahead of the game.
They were snapped up by supporters in exchange for a donation before Blackpool’s 1-0 derby victory, raising lots of money for the two causes.
Dad Terry Underdown, 73, and his son, Rob Underdown, 47, of Green Lane, Garstang, said the masks would lift the team. Rob said: “They are a laugh and it will get the fans behind the team.”
His dad added: “The forthcoming ban has affected the team over the last few weeks so we need something to pull them team together.”
Simon Beardall, 40, from Castlegate, South Shore, watched the game with his family.
He said: “It’s good fun and a shame Paul Ince couldn’t be here, but we will definitely be supporting him.
“He gets heated but I don’t agree with how he’s been banned from stadiums.”
Laura Bentley, 33, of Westmoreland Avenue, South Shore, said the masks would help the players.
She added: “Paul Ince is here in spirit and if the players see his face in the crowd and the fans getting behind him, it will really help.”
Donations, which were still being counted today, will be split between Trinity Hospice and Brian House – the beneficiaries of the appeal – and Radio Wave’s chosen charity Variety: A Children’s Charity.
Gazette Editor Jon Rhodes said: “It was great to see so many fans giving generously to our appeal.
“I am really glad we were able to work with Radio Wave and deliver what so many supporters had asked for which was not a protest at Paul Ince’s FA ban but an original way to lift the spirits of both fans and players.
“The sight of so many masks in the ground was brilliant and fans of both Blackpool and Wigan, who also gave so generously, should be immensely proud of what they have done for two worthy causes.
“And it goes without saying a derby win and three points for the Seasiders was the icing on the cake!”