What a load of rubbish!

Blackpool FC's Stanley Matthews and Harry Johnston carried shoulder-high after the team won the FA Cup in 1953. Inset Lancashire CCC captain Steven Croft and Paralympian medal winner Shelly Woods

Blackpool FC's Stanley Matthews and Harry Johnston carried shoulder-high after the team won the FA Cup in 1953. Inset Lancashire CCC captain Steven Croft and Paralympian medal winner Shelly Woods

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FA Cup winners, a champion boxer, a Paralympic medal winning athlete... the list of achievements in Blackpool’s proud sporting history goes on.

Yet in a recent survey of the UK’s “greatest sporting cities” the resort finished dead last – behind the likes of Luton and Bolton.

Legend Jimmy Armfield

Legend Jimmy Armfield

For a town that regularly hosts the World Darts Championship and features on the World Snooker calendar, it seems a little hard to believe.

Just last week, Blackpool’s Stanley Park staged a county cricket match between Lancashire and Middlesex, in front of a sell-out crowd, as local lad Steven Croft captained the home side.

And although football fans have had little to cheer about in recent years, Seasiders legend Jimmy Armfield said the study, carried out on behalf of broadcaster ESPN, should be taken “with a pinch of salt”.

He said: “When I was growing up we had the best water polo team in the north of England and we had two high divers who were both in the Olympics.

When I was growing up we had the best water polo team in the north of England and we had two high divers who were both in the Olympics

“We had a football team that really helped to take Britain through the war.

“That went on into my early days as a player, when Blackpool was a top team.

“We have created international players – we would have had a team of internationals at one point.”

Despite this, the survey scored Blackpool just one out of 100 in the sporting history category. The research only counted the average historical major trophy haul of professional football, rugby and cricket clubs in a city.

World champ Brian Rose

World champ Brian Rose

Bill Beaumont, former Fylde Rugby Club player and chairman of the Rugby Football Union, said: “I’m disappointed in the result of the survey. I think there’s plenty of sport on the Fylde coast.

“There is a lot to be proud of. All the parks are full of people playing and rugby clubs are doing well.”

He pointed to a list of players flying the flag for Blackpool, including England scrum half Richard Wrigglesworth, title winner Christian Day and his own son Josh Beaumont. All three were born in the resort.

While Blackpool scored highly in the survey on transport links to venues and economic impact – due to the number of people employed in the sports industry – it is likely Pool fans’ frustrations at the teams recent struggles on the football pitch hurt the resort’s final score.

Several categories, including atmosphere, were based on fan satisfaction, following a survey of 5,000 people from across the country.

But the results ignore the successes of champion boxer Brian Rose and Blackpool-born record-breaking Paralympic athlete Shelly Woods.

They also overlook the resort’s importance in the calendars of other sports.

Blackpool has hosted the World Matchplay darts final since 1994 to sell-out crowds at the Winter Gardens.

Phil Taylor, 14-time winner of the world darts championship, said of Blackpool: “The World Matchplay’s a great tournament and a venue I love to play at.

“There’s something a bit special, magical even, about the Winter Gardens.

“It’s been a really successful venue for me and it’s my favourite.

“The atmosphere is superb and the fans are really special. I love the World Matchplay and hopefully this can be another great year for me.”