FORMER Blackpool striker Ben Burgess talks about blips, twits and football banter.
Blip? What Blip?
After a fantastic start to the season, Blackpool’s recent run of form has been disappointing to say the least, but for people to be criticising Ian Holloway is madness. Sometimes a reality check is needed. Where were Blackpool when Ollie took over? I’ll tell you, we had a threadbare squad, our player of the year Shaun Barker was just about to leave and we were favourites for relegation. The journey the club has been on over the last three seasons has been unbelievable.
It’s galvanised the whole town. Bloomfield Road is nearly full every game. You now see children walking around in tangerine shirts instead of Liverpool and Man United. This has all been accomplished through Holloway’s passion, vision and management skills. I’m aware that with success comes added pressure and expectation (which I mentioned a few weeks ago), and there is nothing wrong with being frustrated with your team losing, but the players and manager will be feeling equally upset.
To put this relatively minor blip into perspective, I’ll tell you about our 10 game losing streak at Notts County.
This run incorporated an astonishing three managers, and 30 crisis meetings. It started under Paul Ince’s stewardship.
After his sacking came a guy called Carl Heggs, who at the time was the scout.
Surprisingly that one didn’t work out and after defeats to Rochdale and Dagenham & Redbridge he was swiftly moved aside.
In the end it took the unorthodox motivational skills of Martin Allen to raise us from our slump. The crazy thing through this run was that the managers kept virtually the same starting 11 for every game.
So before you get too down about the Seasiders form remember, it could always be worse!
Bitter on Twitter
Twitter is certainly making journalists’ lives a lot easier. Gone are the days of chasing a player, to then only get a boring mundane interview. Now all of us can sit at home and follow the ‘stars’ on Twitter, to get an insight into the oh-so-complex workings of their minds.
There have been many examples of players getting in trouble with the FA or their clubs with spur-of-the moment tweets.
Ashley Cole has been the most recent to engage fingers before brain. Tweeting his feelings on the ridiculously tedious John Terry saga. I
’m not sure what he was hoping to gain from the tweet, because he certainly hasn’t put himself on the side of good by supporting everyone’s favourite panto villain.
Maybe Cole felt he needed to get his point across after Rio Ferdinand’s re-tweet about a certain ice-cream treat, that in-turn landed the Man United star in hot water with the FA.
I made a conscious decision not to join Twitter until I’d finished playing. This was for two reasons.
The first being, I get very frustrated after games if it’s not gone well, and I’d say something stupid to get myself in trouble. The second is that I didn’t fancy abuse from the terraces and while sitting on my sofa!
“I miss the banter the most.”
That’s the common reply from ex-footballers on life after the beautiful game. So what is this ‘banter’ everyone talks about? It’s hard to pin it down. It’s a sort of life without political correctness. It’s everything you would get put in front of a tribunal for in an office job.
I’ve seen many practical jokes in my much-travelled career and it’s usually at clubs where the team spirit is really good. At Blackpool, every time you entered the changing room there would be a different ‘look-a-likey’ stuck above a peg, for example Postman Pat for Scott Vernon, or Reggy Kray for Shaun Barker.
On one of my first days at Cheltenham I had some brand new white Nike boots sent to the training ground. I didn’t want to spoil them on the training pitch so I left them in their box while I went out to train. After training I picked up the box with my boots in, and thought I’ll try these on when I get home and have a good look at them. So I’m on the sofa telling my daughter about my flash new boots, I open the box and someone (Marlon Pack) had swapped them for a crusty old pair of Adidas World Cups.
Personally I’ve always enjoyed a laugh and a joke. The majority of managers took it well but I did have one nameless manager who tried to sell me because “he was fed up with my sarcastic remarks”.
Martin Allen at Notts County tolerated me a little better, until I think I wore him down with one comment too many. We were training, when Sam Sodje tried to pass the ball one way and completely sliced it in the other direction. I shouted “Good disguise Sodje”, I was then promptly ordered off the training ground, much to the other players amusement. My Blackpool managers seemed to enjoy my banter for the most part, although I do remember Mr Grayson sending me on a few laps around the pitch.
As I write all this down, it sounds really childish but these antics can foster a togetherness and team spirit. I just need to remember to tone it down now I’m in the real world.