Look At It This Way with Jacqueline Morley - March 24, 2011

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Talk about pin the “tale” on the donkey... one unguarded Facebook moment and Councillor Simon Blackburn’s “donkey botherers” comment regarding Blackpool FC’s goals became common knowledge. Donkeygate has had us all checking our privacy settings.

It might have helped if a Coun Blackpool on Blackburn Council had held forth in similar vein to level the playing field, but no such character exists, alas(s).

So it’s foot(ball) in mouth time. But did anyone seriously expect a lifelong Blackburn Rovers fan to support the Seasiders on the pitch – Labour leader or not?

I’ve no idea what Coun Blackburn’s office at the Town Hall looked like in Tory opposition days, but I’ll bet it didn’t have posters of Al Pacino and Marxist revolutionary Che Guavara – and the only Blues will have been Margaret Thatcher and cohorts.

Coun Blackburn has been quick to apologise. For my money, if he supports Blackpool in the broader community, his ass shouldn’t be on the line. It was only Caligula who wanted his horse elected to the Senate and he was being satirical.

An own goal shouldn’t be political suicide unless we’re really petty. Let the electorate, who include Seasiders fans, decide in May. I suspect football players have a thicker hide. The donkeys aren’t bothered – they like Blackpool Council. Back in 1942 it got them out of a spot of bovver with chubby kids, hard drinkers, and long hours, by coming up with the Donkey Charter. We could always add a politically correct clause.

Football allegiance, like political allegiance, doesn’t shift as you change job or location. My beloved Liverpool have been thrashed twice by Blackpool this season and I thought it wouldn’t matter, because I follow Blackpool too, but, boy, did it hurt. It smarted even more when I had to root for Everton to beat Birmingham to give Blackpool a leg up from the relegation zone. But the banter never stopped.

In public relations terms, the FB faux pas has been a golden carrot, picked up by national press as a welcome relief from the usual woes of the world. Including by one national tabloid (which few Scousers buy after its appalling Hillsborough coverage) which went so far as to spell out, via block capitals, in case readers MISSED the point: “Confusingly, despite LIVING in Blackpool; he COMES from Blackburn and SUPPORTS Rovers.”

What’s CONFUSING about it?

Still, it should boost the banter between Ian Holloway and Harry Redknapp on May 7, when the Seasiders play Tottenham Hotspur away having trounced them 3-1 at home in February. The last time a donkey made silly season headlines nationally was when Spurs boss Redknapp allegedly offered to rehome a donkey called Anapka after it was filmed fearfully parasailing for 30 minutes at 150ft until crash landing on a beach in the Russian resort of Golubitzkaya. Headline? Eeyore Not Winging Any More.

Let us bray...