THERE is one man who can't fail to be pleased come Saturday tea-time.
Mark Bonner played for both Blackpool and Cardiff and will be at Wembley this weekend, as intrigued as anyone about who will emerge victorious and make it to the Premier League.
But unlike everyone else in the stadium, Bonner won't be too upset about the outcome, for he can't really lose.
"It's a win-win final for me – Blackpool and Cardiff City are the two clubs who mean most to me," said Bonner.
"Perhaps, in terms of their new stadium and everything surrounding the club, the Bluebirds have the better chance of going up to the Premier League and staying there.
"But Blackpool have done a wonderful job and thoroughly deserve their place in the final.
"When you look at Cardiff's team they have top quality players who are more than capable of stepping up and making the grade.
"Jay Bothroyd, Chris Burke, Stephen McPhail, Peter Whittingham, Michael Chopra and more have outstanding ability.
"Blackpool, too, have players who have done amazingly well and Charlie Adam has had a terrific season, but maybe Cardiff City have more of those players.
"Personally, I think it's the perfect play-off final.
"Blackpool go to Wembley with no fear. They have had a sensational run and I've enjoyed following their progress."
Ormskirk-born Bonner was 15 when he was spotted playing in a schoolboy cup match on the Fylde coast by then Seasiders youth coach Neil Bailey, the former Wigan player.
Bonnar signed trainee forms and made his first team debut just two years later.
Jimmy Mullen and Graham Carr were the managers at Blackpool as Bonner came through the youth ranks, and he went onto play under four first team managers – Billy Ayre, Sam Allardyce, Gary Megson and Nigel Worthington.
He spent seven seasons at the Bloomfield Road club, making more than 200 appearances, before turning down the offer of a new contract in 1998 and moving to Cardiff, where he played under Ayre again.
"I just felt it was time for a change," said Bonner.
"Blackpool had been my only club. I joined them when I was 15 and loved my time there.
"But it crossed my mind I was maybe going a bit stale and needed a change."
He enjoyed success at Cardiff, winning two promotions, before injuries forced him to retire from playing in 2006 when he was at Oldham.
Bonner doesn't have too far to go when the urge to see a Blackpool game proves too strong.
He lives in Chorley with his wife Anna and their two children, where he runs his own furniture business.
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