Ben Burgess column: Blackpool’s long trips miles better with three points

Ben Burgess
Ben Burgess

What a week for the Seasiders! Finally, they’ve put two great results and even better performances together.

First came the local derby against in-form Morecambe and a chance to win a home game for the first time since November.

Morecambe were dispatched efficiently thanks to good finishes from Brad Potts and Mark Cullen.

The real test was a midweek trip all the way to Plymouth. I must say that the fixtures haven’t been kind to Blackpool recently, with a mammoth Tuesday night trip to Exeter last month and then this trip to Plymouth.

There was one period in my time at Blackpool when we actually flew everywhere for a season.

I’m not exactly sure why we did that but it certainly made those trips to Southampton, Norwich and Plymouth a lot more bearable.

For the majority of my time with the Seasiders we were coach-bound.

Over the course of my career, coach trips have changed dramatically.

As a 17-year-old at Blackburn Rovers, my first coach trip saw me treated like a maid.

I was taking orders and making coffee and tea for all the senior players and staff. The coaches and manager sat at the front, then there was always a group playing cards at the back.

That was the first lesson I was taught – it’s never a good idea to learn how to play cards on a coach with millionaire senior players! Generally, all the players were sat chatting and laughing.

I used to love sitting near the senior players and listening to all their stories about their career and players they’ve come up against. They were probably sick of me asking them questions.

Towards the end of my career, coach trips were the exact opposite.

Gone were the card ‘schools’ on the back seats and unfortunately gone was the interaction between the players. Practically every player would have headphones on, watching their iPad, or they would be on their phone. You can even see as players walk off the coach that they will have headphones on and be wrapped up in their own world.

Whether this is good for team morale is debatable but it’s a sign of society in general. To while away the hours at Blackpool we would play Mario Kart on the Nintendo DS.

I know this doesn’t sound particularly sociable but 12 of us would be playing all at once and the banter used to be flying around. Anyone who has ever played Mario Kart will know the frustration of being hit by a blue shell near the finish line (usually thrown by Ian Evatt).

Anyway, back to the game against Plymouth, and once again rad Potts and Mark Cullen were the men to do the damage.

Blackpool dominated from start to finish and limited Plymouth, who are in second place, to just one shot on target.

It’s great to see Cullen back scoring regularly, especially as Kyle Vassell has struggled with form and fitness recently. Cullen has always impressed me with his work rate and hold-up play and he will hopefully have a major role from now until the end of the season.

After these two victories, Gary Bowyer’s men have crept towards the play-off spots again.

Four points to make up in 11 games is certainly doable.

The Seasiders will be hopping back on the team bus today to travel all the way down to Wycombe, who are level on points with them. The performance of the central defenders will be key tomorrow as they will encounter the man mountain that is Adebayo Akinfenwa. Against Barnet at home, their big striker Jon Akinde bullied his way through the game and it’s important Blackpool don’t allow that to happen against Wycombe. Let’s just hope that the players will be having a happy coach trip back on Saturday night.