Ben Burgess: All the best to Keith... Pool’s driving force

Keith Southern in action against Wigan in 2011
Keith Southern in action against Wigan in 2011
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A weekend that promised to test Blackpool’s new found resolve on the pitch, ended as a damp squib with Oldham’s Boundary Park proving unplayable in the torrential rain.

Off the pitch, I just hope Karl Oyston and Blackpool’s relatively low-key ‘minimum publicity’ announcement, about their invitation to the supporters groups to enter dialogue in a meeting on March 10, doesn’t go the same way.

With an optimistic and rose tinted outlook, I hope this can be the start of a serious way forward for the club and it’s long suffering fans.

It’s just a shame that the cynic in me (and a few others) believes this might just be another publicity stunt that leaves us more frustrated than ever.

On the subject of frustration, I can relate to how another of Blackpool’s great servants, Keith Southern, has felt in the last few years.

Keith has been forced to announce his retirement from football and I know how disappointed he would feel about the way things worked out for him at Fleetwood.

I’m not sure it was as bad as my time at Notts County, but like myself, it would have killed Keith to have missed so many games.

I’ve known Keith since we were 15 and played together in Everton’s Academy. He was a good player back then and always loved a tackle!

What has impressed me most about him tough is how hard he has worked from being that 15 year-old kid at Everton, to the midfield driving force that dragged the Seasider’s through every division and into the Premier League.

With every step up in league, there was a subsequent step up in quality.

Keith just took it in his stride and had the intelligence and desire to prove he belonged at that level, which he did all the way to the Premier League.

What you see from him on the pitch is exactly what you get from him everyday in training.

He kicks people, he wins tackles, he motivates those around him, he passes, he shoots and he scores goals. Every team needs a Keith Southern in midfield.

Flair players can flit in and out of games, forwards can be hit and miss, but Keith was always there, leading by example, driving the team on. He scored countless important goals, not least in the play off semi final against Nottingham Forest at Bloomfield Road in 2010 and then showed all his tenacity and quality in earning the man of the match award at Wembley in the biggest arena of all.

Off the pitch, Keith is nothing like the aggressive (sometimes moany) guy you see charging around.

He was a big part of the fantastic team spirit that was fostered under Simon Grayson and peaked with Ian Holloway.

His departure from Blackpool, along with Ian Evatt, Gary Taylor-Fletcher etc was the start of the decline that has consumed the football club.

Keith Southern is and should always be remembered alongside the likes of Brett Ormerod as a true Blackpool great.

True greats are also being shaped in the unlikeliest of destinations. That place is Leicester, where Claudio Ranieri has somehow transformed a relegation fodder of a team into world-beaters.

It’s a dream story for the

‘little guy’.

This team is taking on the big spenders in their own backyard and doing it comfortably.

Sometimes football can be such a simple game, that managers and players tend to over complicate. Leicester clearly has a fantastic team spirit, borne out of a strong core of players and not a colossal catwalk of ‘stars’.

They play to their strengths, and more importantly, they’re aware of their own limitations. You don’t see Robert Huth and Wes Morgan playing keep ball in their own penalty box! They soak up pressure, and defend deep so teams can’t get behind them, but this only works because they have devastating pace and ability on the counter attack. Wherever they finish this season, it’s been a success for them and for the Premier League as a spectacle.

Let’s just hope that Blackpool produce a spectacle in their two extremely winnable games this week.