Former Blackpool favourite Richie Wellens has revealed he nearly re-signed for the club in the summer before joining tomorrow’s opponents Doncaster.
The veteran midfielder, now 33, left Bloomfield Road in 2005 after five years at the club. And he told The Gazette he would happily have returned for a second spell – had he been offered a contract by then-manager Paul Ince.
Wellens was offered a trial by Ince – something which the player turned down – and he has gone on to become one of Rovers’ key players this season.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Blackpool and nearly went back in the summer,” he explained.
“The manager wanted me to go and train there, which I wasn’t really prepared to do – I either wanted a contract or not.
“But in the end I signed for Doncaster and it’s turned out to be a great move for me.”
Wellens spoke passionately about his spell at the Seasiders, particularly his relationship with the fans, suggesting that the opportunity to play in front of them again may have been too tempting to turn down.
“The fans were great to me when I was starting out in my career. I can’t speak highly enough of them and my time at the club.
“Bloomfield Road probably has one of the best atmospheres in the Championship on its day, with the noise they can generate and how passionate they are.
“There’s no doubt I still have a good affection for the club and always look out for their results.”
While there’s no question that the admiration between Wellens and the fans was mutual during his time at Blackpool, the manner of his departure – coupled with his involvement in an incident which saw Charlie Adam sent off for Blackpool in 2009 – means he has often been greeted with a mixed reception on visits to Bloomfield Road as an opposing player.
But Wellens said he hoped that any issues the supporters have with him can be forgiven and forgotten over time.
“When I went back to Blackpool the first few times, it was really difficult because people were throwing abuse at me,” he said.
“I was genuinely really disappointed with the way it ended at Blackpool and I know they are too, but I did stay there for five years.
“Every game I played for them I gave my all and won player of the year a couple of times, so I’d like to think I did all right for
He laughed off the Adam incident though, saying: “I was lying on the floor and he stamped on me, so how I can get blamed for that one is beyond me.”
Despite the fact that Wellens is hoping for a good reception from the crowd when his Doncaster side visit Bloomfield Road tomorrow, he warned that they shouldn’t be expecting any favours from him during the game.
“We wanted to go to Blackpool on Saturday with Paul Ince in charge and the team struggling a little bit – we wanted to capitalise on that.”
“But confidence is high at the club at the moment after our 3-0 win over Wigan and we’re looking to get something out of the game.”
Barry Ferguson will be in charge and Wellens had nothing but praise for the Scot, tipping him to become a success.
“He’s been a top player. I’ve played against him a few times and he’s a good character,” Wellens said.
“He strikes me as someone who’s mentally very strong, so he’s got all the attributes to become a good manager.”