Leader’s own goal with donkey jibe

Simon Blackburn takes part in a webchat with Gazette readers following his 'donkey botherers' comments about Blackpool FC.
Simon Blackburn takes part in a webchat with Gazette readers following his 'donkey botherers' comments about Blackpool FC.
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BLACKPOOL’S Labour leader was put on the spot by Gazette readers after he branded the town’s football team “donkey botherers”.

Coun Simon Blackburn, who is bidding to become council leader in May, took part in a live web chat with thousands of readers last night.

The embattled Brunswick ward councillor was called on to resign by fans and leading Tories after leaving the message: “Oh my actual God... the donkey-botherers are 2-0 up thanks to two of the worst refereeing decisions ever!” on Facebook during Blackpool FC’s 2–2 draw with Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.

Coun Blackburn – a life long Rovers’ fan -– talked candidly during the web chat, saying he was “extremely sorry”.

And he hoped the comment, which he described as “football banter” between rival fans, would not cost him dearly come the council elections in May.

He told The Gazette: “I really hope this hasn’t affected my chances. It’s been an extremely difficult day and I hope these two words will be forgotten in the many millions of words which will be said in the election run-up.

“I was able to explain what I really think about Blackpool FC and its fans, and put it into context.

“The club has been a tremendous boost to this town and I didn’t mean for the comment to be taken like that.”

Coun Blackburn made his “Donkey Botherers” jibe seconds after Charlie Adam put Pool 2-0 up on Saturday.

The web chat saw more than 400 questions posted for the councillor within half an hour and he did his best to answer as many as he could.

Answering why he made the comment, Coun Blackburn expressed deep regret and “wished he had not said it now”.

While some echoed the calls for him to quit, others said they took the Facebook status update purely as “football banter”.

Ending the chat, Coun Blackburn said: “I stopped talking to the national media earlier on, but I wanted the chance to address you, the locals, directly, and I’m grateful for your comments, and the supportive emails and phone calls I’ve had today.

“Apologies again to anyone I’ve upset, but I was only kidding, I didn’t mean any offence. I hope BFC continues to go from strength to strength, and I’m sure I’ll have plenty more Premier League derbies to go to – I’ll just have to remember not to score another Blackburn own goal.”

FOR REACTION FROM COUNCILLORS SEE TUESDAY’S GAZETTE AND TO REPLAY THE WEBCHAT CLICK ON THE ‘ONLINE FEATURES’ TAB UNDER THE ‘NEWS’ SECTION ABOVE.