Ben Burgess column - The shock of the new boys

Kaspars Gorkss inrigued the Blackpool players when he arrived at Bloomfield Road... because of his American accent.
Kaspars Gorkss inrigued the Blackpool players when he arrived at Bloomfield Road... because of his American accent.
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As Blackpool clinched three new signings last week, it will be interesting to see how they settle.

I’ve had quite a few clubs myself (10 I think), so I’ve played the role of ‘new guy’ a lot. Different clubs have different initiations.

As an apprentice at Blackburn Rovers, I had to dance around a changing room, in front of the senior players, pretending to be in a nightclub, and then chat up a hairdryer.

At Notts County, we had to sing a song. I chose Candy Shop, from the film Hangover. In my head it sounded great, but in reality I wouldn’t have even made it on to the X Factor outtake list.

It’s always nice to see new players’ personalities, and how they fit in at training. Some players are cautiously quiet. On the other hand, you have Graham Stack, who on his first day at Blackpool was bantering us all off in shooting practice.

He’d shout, “Kick it with your good foot!”, and then he would face the other way when he dived, so he would save the ball with his back or his head.

All very funny to witness on someone’s first day.

When Kaspars Gorkss joined from Latvia he intriguingly had an American accent. I think he learned English from watching Friends on TV. We nicknamed him Chad (I think that’s a typical US name).

In training we would shout things to him like, “Good hustle!” and “Great defence”.

He took the banter well, luckily for us.

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It’s the toughest job in the game

Referees eh! Would you fancy the job?

I certainly would not. While poor decisions, like Leicester’s ‘penalty’ last week, are becoming more common, I have to try and defend the officials.

The game is so quick now, and with players not always being honest, it makes it really hard to make the correct decision.

It doesn’t help when the game is televised, and it makes it obvious when the replays are slowed down.

I’ve had a few encounters with referees over the years, and most are… nearly human.

Playing for Hull City reserves I was berating the ref because: a) he was having a nightmare, and b) I was frustrated at playing in the reserves.

He just turned to me and said, “Shock you’re playing in the reserves Burgess, you’re rubbish.”

I had to chuckle.

More recently, playing for Cheltenham against Bradford City, we found ourselves 3-1 up, and we were defending a corner in the 90th minute.

I headed the ball clear, and then started my slow run up the pitch to chase play.

Suddenly, like a speeding bullet, the ref flies past me, and shouts, “Come on Burgess, fancy a race.”

He was too far ahead by the time I could respond, (they’re fit these officials).

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A breath of fresh air

I got my first glimpse of the Seasiders this season at the Leicester game.

While it wasn’t a vintage performance, I saw enough to suggest that Blackpool will be fighting for promotion come the end of the season. Both teams had chances, but in the end I felt Ollie’s men deserved a point.

After watching managers, especially England bosses, seemingly sleepwalk through games, and not see the opportunity to change the system or personnel, I think Ian Holloway is a breath of fresh air.

Often when his team go behind, Ollie will react and bring on three attacking players.

I know it didn’t work on Saturday, but at least he did something positive, and, more often than not, that positive action will reap the rewards of more goals, and more precious points.