Ben Burgess column: Kyle puts the smiles back

Ben Burgess column

Ben Burgess column

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What a difference a week and a player makes. After I pointed out last week that Kyle Vassell’s absence against Mansfield resulted in Blackpool’s loss, he promptly returned to the side and played a major role in an impressive 4-1 win over Newport County.

The kind of thrashing that Gary Bowyer’s men produced on Saturday was the sort of performance that had been threatened so many times earlier in the season.

It could though, have been a different story had Sam Slocombe not saved an extremely weak penalty in the second half.

The Seasiders now sit in that last play-off place and appear to be a side going in the right direction on the field.

It has been interesting to see that even though the results and performances have improved vastly, the supporters are still boycotting in their thousands.

I think many people believed that if results changed and Blackpool started to climb the table then the fans would return in their droves.

That sort of thinking doesn’t give anywhere near enough credit to the feeling of despair and desperation of the Blackpool fans.

They are not protesting about a couple of bad results or even a bad season. They are doing it for a far greater reason and purpose than that.

Unfortunately, football appears to be lurching from one horror story to the next over the last couple of years.

We’ve had the scandal of FIFA and their allegations of bribery.

We’ve had the England national team manager (Sam Allardyce) sacked for trying to gain money for advice on third party ownership of players.

We’ve had the FA making a song and dance about Wayne Rooney staying in the team hotel and having some beers after a game.

In recent days we’ve had the awful news of the Brazilian team having a fatal aeroplane crash in Columbia.

Now the final straw and the most saddening and damaging to English football is the stories of Andy Woodward, Paul Stewart and David White – and potentially hundreds more.

Watching and listening to these brave men recount the years of abuse they suffered at such a young age is horrifying.

All they ever wanted was to achieve their dream of becoming a professional footballer but instead they were used and manipulated by people they trusted.

I’ve no doubt there will be more players who are brave enough to come forward and many that won’t, but either way there needs to be action from the authorities.

This abuse should have been stopped decades ago but it was allowed to carry on and as a result more lives have been ruined.

Having been a young player around the time of these cases I’ve had a chance to reflect and look back.

There were an alarming amount of opportunities for these attacks to happen.

Many teams went on tours both abroad and in the UK and often with coaches who could only be taken on face value. This was a system just waiting to be exploited and sadly it was.

Working as a teacher, I’m well aware of how important the safeguarding of children is and people like Barry Bennell have no place working with children.

Thankfully procedures and systems are now in place to protect the children. Everybody working with young people must have a DBS check which should give the young people and their parents a feeling of reassurance.

On a more positive note, tomorrow sees the chance for Blackpool to progress into the third round of the FA Cup and a chance to play against the Premier League big boys.

Standing in their way will be another National League North side in Brackley Town.

They are in fact a number of places below Kidderminster Harriers, who the Seasiders beat in the previous round, and although they beat Gillingham in the first round I still fully expect Bowyer’s men to be far too strong for them.