Blackpool FC Memory Match

Burns (left) scored one of the Blackpool goals
Burns (left) scored one of the Blackpool goals
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Blackpool 2 Preston 0 April 14, 1973

The Gazette had it both ways when they reported this televised Derby encounter as Blackpool beat a North End team who were deprived of the services for goalkeeper Alan Kelly for a long period of the match.

‘Pool Show No Mercy’ was the headline in the ‘Green’ Saturday football final.

By Monday, the tone was more than somewhat different and the sports desk had second thoughts - hence the headline on that day’s back page ‘Blackpool fail to rub it in.’

Either way, it was a dramatic match and main focus of attention was the injury to Kelly - with only one substitute in those days, it was left to striker Hugh McIlmoyle to fill in as Preston’s emergency ‘keeper.

As it turned out, the Seasiders had most of the possession, but could not turn their superiority into goals.

In the end, McIlmoyle did a quite commendable job.

He only let in one goal and kept a clean sheet in the second half, surviving at least one scare when Micky Burns hit the woodwork.

The Blackpool team that day was captained by former Welsh international Glyn James, who led his team against a Preston side battling to stay out of the relegation run and who were on a poor run of form.

There was no live football in those days.

The BBC had Match Of The Day on a Saturday night, which reflected a national interest, while ITV’s highlights came on a Sunday afternoon.

The ITV cameras covered more matches, but their coverage was split into regions.

Viewers in what was then fondly known as Granada-land saw matches from the North West and it was something of an occasion when the cameras came - advance publicity in the press was not allowed, though news that the cameras had arrived usually got around through word-and-mouth, the tell-tale indicator being when scaffolding suddenly appeared around one of the main stands.

It was Gerald Sinstadt who was the man behind the microphone - and he soon had some drama to report.

The match was only four minutes old when Blackpool took the lead and it proved to be a double blow for the visitors.

Not only did Billy Rafferty score a goal, but the incident also saw Kelly K’Od for the remainder of the match.

In trying to stop Rafferty from scoring, the Blackpool striker’s knee caught Kelly flush in the face.

There were worrying scenes as Kelly, his face bloodied, was very unsteady on his feet as he received treatment for concussion.

He clearly was not going to play another further part in a match played in the former division two, what would now be known as the Championship.

Indeed, such was the concern for him that he had to be ferried to Blackpool Victoria Hospital for a thorough checkover and happily he was later discharged.

It was McIlmoyle who took over the goalkeeper’s jersey, Sinstadt telling the viewers that this was not the first time he had to perform the role.

The Gazette’s man-on-the-spot Phil McEntee wrote: “Without detracting from McIlmoyle’s very fine job as a stand-in ‘keeper, I think it’s a fair point that Blackpool should have taken more advantage of his inexperience in the job.

“He was let off the hook to some extent by erratic finishing by the Blackpool forwards.”

With Preston hardly ever, if at all, getting a foothold in the game, McIlmoyle was beaten once, on 33 minutes.

Terry Alcock set the wheels in motion by dispossessing North End’s John Bird in midfield.

He pushed the ball out to Keith Dyson, who shielded it well before laying it off to the unmarked Burns on the right.

Burns then dashed into the box to beat the replacement ‘keeper with a low, angled drive from about 12 yards.

McIlmoyle was at the tail-end of his career by the time he joined Preston.

He was famed as one of the best headers of a ball in English football.

The Scot had played for Leicester City in the defeat at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur in the 1961 FA Cup Final.

He is best remembered for his scoring exploits at Carlisle United.

He had three spells at Brunton Park, and his goals to games ratio was exemplary, better than one goal every two games in his first spell.

Such was the gratitude of the club to the Carlisle cause that there is a statue in his honour at Brunton Park.

It was a frustrating second half for Blackpool fans as they waited in vain to extract maximum punishment on their old foes.

Blackpool did get the ball in the back of the net early in the second half.

Suddick took a corner from the left, with Preston defender Graham Hawkins trying desperately to clear the ball.

He only succeeded in directing the ball towards his own goal, and James was on hand to force it over the line.

However, the referee had spotted an offence in the box and the effort was ruled out, so the Preston defence breathed easily for a while.

Not much had been set from North End as an attacking force, but Alan Lamb, one of Preston’s better players, at last tested George Wood, but the home goalkeeper was not found wanting.

Wood was suddenly getting buy and he had to be on his guard to palm a tricky cross from substitute George Ross from the head of the on-rushing Holden, who some way later down the line was to join Blackpool.

At the other end McIlmoyle scooped a centre away from the head of Rafferty.

Suddick hit the post and after the ball cannoned off the woodwork, McIlmoyle dived bravely to flick the ball to safety.

Rafferty had a vehement claim for a penalty as he came down in the box, but the arbiter waved away the appeal.

McIlmoyle then stopped a 20-yard drive from Burns as Blackpool battled for a third.

It was to no avail and as manager Harry Potts remarked: “We aimed to test McIlmoyle with high crosses, but too many went wide.”