Ben Burgess column: Protest was the main talking point

The crowd at Sundays FA Cup tie between Blackpool and Kidderminster Harriers
The crowd at Sundays FA Cup tie between Blackpool and Kidderminster Harriers
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The magic of the FA Cup didn’t appear to rub off on the many minnows that took part in the first round last week.

Even Blackpool avoided the potential banana skin of National League North side Kidderminster Harriers.

I can’t talk about the game without first mentioning the protests that the Blackpool fans staged outside the ground prior to kick-off.

The protest was well supported and another example of long-suffering fans trying to make themselves heard.

Their absence in the stadium was certainly felt. I’ve never seen such a low crowd at Bloomfield Road and it was extremely strange to see just one side of the ground open.

As far as protests go this was certainly one that catches the attention and would be hard for the owners to ignore.

There were actually more Kidderminster fans at the game and it must have felt like a home match for their players.

It looked a bit like it as well in the first 20 minutes, as the team from the lower league dominated possession and looked calm and composed playing out from defence.

I was impressed with the way Gary Bowyer’s men dealt with the away team’s threat and as the game wore on it was Blackpool who were looking stronger.

The opener came from Jamille Matt, who would have been delighted to score his first Seasiders goal but devastated to come off injured.

The big man took his goal well from Kyle Vassell’s excellent cross but there seem to be underlying issues with his fitness.

It isn’t just Matt and Bowyer who are having problems with injuries and fitness.

Jose Mourinho, who has recently adopted the tactic of slaughtering his own players, bemoaned certain players’ desire to put their bodies on the line for Manchester United. It just so happened that he’d dropped Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw that game so all fingers pointed to that pair.

Mourinho does have a valid point when he says that all players have to play through some degree of pain.

I’ve played with players who refuse to play or ask to come off for just the slightest twinge, then at the other end of the spectrum you have Kasper Schmeichel playing 40 minutes with a broken hand for Leicester in the Champions League.

I can’t recall ever starting a game where I felt 100 per cent fit, and that’s probably why footballers consume so many painkillers.

I would have to take them before the game, at half-time and then post-match.

Having played the majority of my career in considerable pain I can attest to Mourinho’s thoughts, but what kind of impact his comments will have on his teams morale are a completely different thing.

He even went as far as to commend Phil Jones for playing 90 minutes, although he’s been unavailable all season up until this point!

On the theme of being unavailable, Blackpool will be lining up against my old side Notts County tomorrow for whom I was mostly unavailable in my two years there – although that was through managerial choices and not injury!

Notts have had a decent start to the season and find themselves in the play-off spots but Blackpool should definitely be looking to build on their cup win.

Vassell and Brad Potts are playing so well at the moment that it’s inevitable the Seasiders will get on the scoresheet.

Now they just need the defence to be as brave and play as well as they did last week and there should be a victory for the home side.

On the topic of bravery, I must give my best wishes to ‘Sir’ Jimmy Armfield who unfortunately faces another battle with cancer.

Jimmy is such a great guy and a true legend that has time for everyone.

It was always great to see him at Squires Gate and the lads would love chatting to him and hearing his stories.