BST column: Blackpool fans have found light at the end of a dark tunnel this year

All football clubs have glory years, the ones that fans look back upon and talk about long after they have gone.

Friday, 20th December 2019, 11:45 am
Simon Sadler’s arrival as Blackpool owner has helped to revitalise the club on and off the pitch

For Blackpool, the mere mention of 1953 has resonance throughout English football – but 1970 and 2010 also mean a great deal to us too.

2019 will probably go down as such a year, albeit mainly for what has happened off the field rather than on it.

Events at the High Court in February started the process of regime change that BST and others had worked toward for well over four, very long, years.

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The impact for the Trust was – and is – immediate and significant.

Having spent all those years being held at arm’s length from the club – and literally in the car park outside – we suddenly found ourselves mobilising volunteers to help combat years of neglect and also playing a full part in all areas of managing the club’s estate, including the boardroom.

It has been an amazing change, a sweet reward for the campaign to win the club back and a complete reversal of the relationship with the club that we have endured over these long years in exile.

Nothing is the same, it seems.

After four years of shining a spotlight on the failings in the way the game is governed, and feeling largely alone in doing so, we have seen much of the rest of football catch up with our concerns this year.

It is a tragedy that clubs like Bolton Wanderers, Macclesfield Town and especially Bury have had to pay the price they have to get the levels of awareness – and anger – to where they are now.

But at last the movement for change in the way the game is run seems to have real momentum.

We have played a full part in 2019; we know there is still an awful lot to do.

Other clubs like Northampton Town and Birmingham City, even big names like Derby County and Sheffield Wednesday, continue to have problems that stem from questionable behaviour by owners and an unwillingness or inability on the part of the EFL to do anything about them.

Not everything has been so dramatic.

We marked the sad passing of Jimmy Armfield in January as we will do again next month and in every year thereafter.

We mobilised a small army of people to literally scrub the stench of mismanagement and decay from the club.

We continue, with our colleagues from across football and in the BFC Community Trust, to co-ordinate fundraising and foodbanks for the most needy in our midst and we continue to go through the process of representing fans’ interests in the newly-formed Football Supporters Association, where we are strongly represented at the national level, and enthusiastic participants in the North West region.

The need for protests at home are now gone.

We find ourselves instead actively supporting an owner and board who want the same things that we do.

This presents the Trust with new challenges, but in the autumn, we elected a new committee with renewed vigour and purpose to pursue all our goals.

The mandate that they have from the club’s supporters remains very precious to us.

It not only makes the Trust unique locally, but it also provides the foundation that it needs to be the campaigning organisation that many of you are familiar with.

Without members and their continued support, none of this can happen.

We leave 2019, for the first time in an age, with a great deal to look forward to.

Just having our club back would have been reward enough but to see the club riding high in the table and contemplating the possibility of a promotion push that we all feel we can actually go to watch is a wonderful feeling.

Instead of the cynicism and despair of even one year ago, we find ourselves now talking about investment, team strengthening and dreaming of what might be in May and beyond.

All fans of every club crave these feelings, but to have them after a period when it looked as though they might never come back, is the stuff of dreams for many of us and goes a long way to explaining the positive aura that surrounds the club these days.

Christmas is a busy time for football and we look forward eagerly to two home games over the festive period when, hopefully, bumper crowds can roar the team on to victory.

Whatever the result, it has been a seminal year for our wonderful club, one that we have all shared together.

We hope there is much more to come in 2020, but for now, the BST committee would like to wish our members, wider fanbase and the club a Merry Christmas and an exciting and prosperous New Year