Matt Williams column - Everything may just turn out fine

Blackpool fans at Wigan on Saturday
Blackpool fans at Wigan on Saturday
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In his weekly Gazette column, the Seasiders secretary Matt Williams gives you the inside track on life inside Bloomfield Road


The usual Monday morning duties are completed.

I finalise the menus with the team hotel for Easter Sunday, luckily the general manager of the hotel is Ex Blackpool Hilton manager Howard Lewis and he assures me that the team will be well looked after.

Following a conversation with Oldham, I am able to confirm date of LFA Youth Cup final with the Lancashire FA, the game will take place at Bloomfield Road a week on Wednesday.

Sky confirm that their outside broadcast trucks will be arriving on Thursday afternoon and that the wiring and set up will be begin late afternoon on Thursday, they also inform me that they won’t require the Sky Suite based in the South Stand.

The last task of the day is to confirm the officials for Good Friday – Premier League referee Michael Oliver is the man in the middle.


Today is one of the toughest days of the season in the football industry.

It is the day you tell the scholars who is to be offered a professional contract and who is being released; given that the scholars have won the League this season it was always going to be a tough decision to make. The decision on each player has been made following discussions between Richie Kyle, Ciaran Donnelly, John Murphy and Barry Ferguson; two of the second year scholars, defender Harrison McGahey and goalkeeper Connor Hunt are offered professional contracts whilst first year scholar Mark Waddington is offered a professional contract a year early which is a fantastic achievement.

If the club operated an under 21 development squad, one or two more may have been offered contracts, but as we don’t, the coaches decided on just these three.

Tamworth make contact requesting for Jake Caprice to be given permission to play for them in their Birmingham FA Senior Cup tie that evening, Tamworth win the game and they extend Jake’s loan to play in the next round.


My first meeting of the day is with a delegation from the Rugby Football League as they are looking for a venue to stage a Championship version of the Super League’s “Magic Weekend”.

The weekend will see six games of Rugby League played over two days in May 2015.

Having played Rugby League to a high standard many years ago until suffering a knee injury it is something I am personally keen for the club to host.

I am also interested in repairing the relationship between the club and the RFL as I believe there is still sufficient interest on the Fylde and surrounding areas in Rugby League.

I discuss with them whether the RFL or Super League would have any objections to someone like London Broncos using Bloomfield Road to host a Wigan or St Helens side and they think it is a great idea and give the contact details for the Broncos.

Barry Ferguson meets the press to look ahead to the Good Friday clash with Lancashire rivals Burnley and the Easter Monday game at Brighton.

Late afternoon I submit our fixture questionnaire to the Football League, I confirm our request to be away on the opening day of the season – to give the pitch as much time as possible to recover from the Rod Stewart concert – and make a request for our midweek games to revert back to 7.45pm. I have discussed the kick off time with BSA a number of times and the majority vote is for a 7.45pm kick off.


The usual pre-match duties are done, interest in the game is high and once again people are coming out of the woodwork for favours with tickets.

The squad is announced and all those players who are not involved in the game with Burnley are asked to report to the training ground at 10am.


Good Friday certainly isn’t a “good” day for anyone connected to Blackpool Football Club.

On the field, Pool slip to a narrow defeat against Burnley who look set for a return to the Premier League, but it is the off the field events that dominate the headlines.

Despite our safety team’s best attempts to stop people bringing tennis balls into the stadium, play is interrupted on 53 minutes when supporters from all sides of the ground throw tennis balls and tangerines onto the field of play, followed moments later with a pitch invasion from a three or four lads seeking their minute of fame, one of whom throws a tennis ball that hits referee Michael Oliver.

Bob Malcolm is then sent from the dug out for misconduct following an incident with Stephen Dobbie.

I support Barry Ferguson’s post match comments in which he states that we all understand the supporters’ frustrations and concerns, and whilst they have the right to protest and chant what they want we would always prefer it to be done before or after games rather than during.


It’s definitely a case of “morning after the night before” when I arrive at Bloomfield Road to find cleaners getting to grips with the aftermath of the various protests and disruptions from Friday evening, one of them resolutely attempting to clean up raw eggs from the main entrance.

James Caton calls to talk to me about his current loan at Chester, he tells me that he has been left out of the squad for their big game against Wrexham but named to travel to Cambridge on Monday morning, having scored the week before he isn’t happy about it. He asks if he can return to Blackpool. I speak to Chester and we agree for him to return.

The players are also at Bloomfield Road for a warm down and to prepare for Brighton.

One player who failed to show for training on Good Friday and again today is Apostolos Vellios – having explained the situation to both Everton and the players agent we try and make contact with the player again, and are subsequently told by his agent that he has returned to Everton, however, Everton aren’t aware!


Having arrived in Brighton shortly after lunch, other than a few emails and phone calls I very much enjoy a day off which culminates a tour of Brightons pubs and cocktail bars.

Monday APRIL 22

Having decided against a hotel breakfast Hannah and I head towards the sea front and treat ourselves to breakfast in a seafront Creperie which is an unusual but enjoyable start to the day!

The Amex Stadium is geared up for the Premier League, the stewards, staff and whole experience is arguably the best in the Championship and football aside I always enjoy our visits.

Today is no different, having parked up, we are escorted to the media entrance by two stewards who explain to us that any official attending the game from Blackpool is being given two stewards rather than the usual one due to the unsavoury scenes on Good Friday.

The game sees Pool earn a fully deserved point with a fantastic goal from Stephen Dobbie, but frustratingly results elsewhere haven’t gone our way.

Having stopped at Warwick Services I check my phone and see a number of missed calls, text messages and emails between the chairman, BSA’s Glenn Bowley and our ticket office manager Sarah regarding an idea to give free tickets for Saturday’s game at Wigan.

I speak to Jonathan Jackson the CEO at Wigan and ask him for details of the capacity in the away end and whether additional tickets could be made available.

Tuesday April 23

Having completed the usual post match administrative duties, I discuss with Sarah and our media team Stewart, Mark and Dave, the strategy for the 3,000 Wigan tickets the chairman has agreed to give season ticket holders for free. We agree to run a campaign to “Turn Wigan Tangerine” and confirm that tickets will be available from 1pm.

Late afternoon I receive a call from Tarik Shamel at the FA. Tarik heads up the FA’s on field football regulation department.

Up until this season, he is someone I have only ever spoken to briefly when he has presented at club secretary meetings, unfortunately this season, I have spoken to him far too often. He tells me that Bob Malcolm is being charged with misconduct following the incident during the Burnley game. I am able to tell Tarik that the incident is being dealt with under the club’s internal disciplinary procedure and he asks for copies of the outcome as well as Bob’s response to the charge.

Wednesday April 23

As expected I receive a letter from the FA in respect of the events on Good Friday.

The letter contains reports from the four match officials and the match assessor and we are asked for our observations.

Between the safety office and myself we are able to offer a detailed response including how the pitch invaders have been arrested and charged.

The evening is spent watching the Youth Team play their Lancashire FA Youth Cup final with Oldham

John Hills, David Eyres and Charlie Adam are among the 700 in attendance and they are treated to an entertaining game which Oldham finally nick on penalties.

Thursday 24th April

The day begins with an early morning meeting with the chairman and the police to discuss the complaint Karl has made about some of the threats his children have received on social networking sites.

It is disappointing that the whole situation has become so vitriolic that some deem it fit to threaten and abuse children. The police assure Karl that they will deal with those responsible.

The afternoon sees us confirm the end of season dinner, owing to the uncertainty surrounding the League position we confirm two dates, the first being the day after the Charlton game hopefully where we will celebrate our Championship status and one the following Saturday should we see in the worst case scenario.

Friday 25th April

The various directors box requests are finalised for the game as are the scout requests.

We have been able now to recruit scouts in the North East, North West, Midlands, South West and South East who scout regularly for us and during the close season we aim to get them all to Blackpool to meet the manager for them to understand what he requires from both team assessments and player reports.

Liam Tomsett and Chris Kettings call into the office to extend their loan with Hyde for a further three days to enable them to play in the Manchester FA Cup final on Monday night against Trafford.

Another player heading out of Bloomfield Road is second year scholar Dion Charles who has gone on trial with Wolves for a week.

My last call of the day is to one of the directors at Oldham Athletic asking whether they would be willing to take youth team skipper Sam Staunton Turner on trial, my contact agrees that Sam impressed in the game on Wednesday night and promises me a call back after he has spoken to his manager.

Saturday 26th April

What a day!

I head down the M6 and despite having a tempting invite from Wigan CEO to join him for lunch in the Boardroom, I opt to sit in the press box which prompts memories of our last visit to the DW stadium on the opening day of the Premier League season.

The first half sees Andy D’Urso take centre stage awarding the hosts a penalty but skipper Matt Gilks produces the champagne moment of the season with an outstanding save to deny Martyn Waghorn.

The half time conversation in the press room is predominantly about how we fear Wigan will come back out with a vengeance and run out comfortable winners.

However, just before the start of the second half, the PA system blasts out Bob Marley singing Every Little Thing Gonna Be Alright…

How appropriate did that prove to be?

The atmosphere is fantastic, the support from the Pool fans is absolutely superb and the players certainly feel the backing from the 12th man to lead them to two great goals from Keogh and Dobbie.