Another interesting week in football. The Seasiders made me eat my words for questioning whether their season would peter out into mid-table wilderness.
They became only the second team to win at Carlisle United’s Brunton Park this season and they won comfortably.
Three of the Blackpool scorers in the 4-1 victory were new signings from the transfer window.
Jordan Flores in particular has settled in well and looks a real class act.
Probably the most important thing for the Seasiders was having Tom Aldred as captain.
I found it strange that Aldred wasn’t made captain in the summer.
From the outside looking in, he’s the one standout leader on the pitch.
He’s vociferous on the pitch, organising and motivating his team-mates.
He rarely misses a game and leads by example in his performances.
I’m also a big advocate of having a central defender as captain. He certainly played his part against Carlisle.
Sadly, the Portsmouth away game on Tuesday wasn’t quite the performance the Seasiders needed.
A lot has been made recently about drugs in football.
This comes after the Saido Berahino drug failure ‘leak’.
The FA appear to allow the failed tests for non-performance related drugs to slide under the radar of publicity.
I can understand this stance, as away from the public eye the players can hopefully get the help and rehab they need to avoid taking drugs again.
While obviously, as role models, their behaviour is unacceptable we have to remember that these guys are not seeking an advantage and often the drugs they have taken actually inhibit their performances.
The act of drug taking can actually be a cry for help so any chance of helping the players rehabilitate without being publicly vilified, can only be a good thing.
Football often reflects society as a whole and sadly drugs are prevalent everywhere you turn.
I’ve spoken about raising awareness of mental health issues in football before and often, when players are at their lowest, is when they will be tempted and the unsavoury characters that pepper society will prey on them.
Obviously, I’m aware that some players will take drugs because they want to and there are no outside influences but only through educating people will you truly eradicate the problems.
Drug tests have been around football for a long time but only in the last five or so years of my career did they become more frequent.
In fact, I wasn’t drug tested at all until I was about 27.
The sight of the drug testing people is akin to the sight of a traffic warden. It fills you with dread.
Not because of anything to hide but because of the laborious nature of the actual tests.
They will show up at the training ground or at the stadium on match day and pick, at random, two players.
As soon as training has finished they introduce themselves to you and stick closer than Franco Baresi.
How close? Well they stand next to you whilst you shower!
The method for testing was through a urine sample.
Doesn’t sound too difficult you might think but it is after training or playing because inevitably you’re dehydrated to some degree.
Then there’s the issue that if you do try and you don’t fill up to the line, it will be thrown away.
I was drug tested after we beat Yeovil in the League One play-off final.
Thankfully, it didn’t take me too long as I was only sub so I wasn’t too dehydrated, but I did miss some of the celebrations out on the pitch.
Another memorable test was on a Friday afternoon for Notts County.
I managed to ‘fill the cup’ but was then informed that I was too hydrated and would have to ‘go’ again.
Four hours later, I was still sat there and my manager, Martin Allen, was slowly getting angrier.
He rang the FA and complained enough that I was allowed to just go home and rest up for the game.
Thankfully, I believe the tests are moving to blood samples instead. Much easier.