'A lot of people hadn't forgiven me:' Ex-Blackpool boss admits stint with rivals Preston North End had impact on second spell at Bloomfield Road

Simon Grayson (Photographer Kevin Barnes/CameraSport)Simon Grayson (Photographer Kevin Barnes/CameraSport)
Simon Grayson (Photographer Kevin Barnes/CameraSport)
Former Blackpool boss Simon Grayson admits his time with Preston North End did have an impact on his second spell on Fylde Coast.

The 52-year-old was initially at the helm at Bloomfield Road between 2005 and 2008- helping the club to the Championship via the play-offs, before later returning at the start of Simon Sadler’s tenure as owner.

Grayson originally made the move to Blackpool as a player, and admits he was thrown in at the deep end when he was first handed the role of manager.

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“When I joined the club I wanted to play as long as I could, but in the meantime I started my coaching journey by doing my badges and taking the reserves, so I was looking at the longer-term view,” he explained.

“I got thrown into the mix of having the caretaker’s job at the end of one season, and then I got offered another job as an assistant manager somewhere. The manager at the time Colin Hendry said I was fine to take it, but I needed to speak to Karl Oyston.

“I went to Karl and he said ‘no, I’m sacking Colin and you’re taking over as caretaker,’ so I fell into the job, and the rest is history with the success we had at that time.

“I thought my career would be assistant manager, then first team coach, then a manager if I wanted to be one. Instead I had to learn to sink or swim very quickly.

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“I’d had the process of dealing with some players who I sat in the dressing room with the reserves, but it was slightly different on a first-team matchday. I was leaving people out who I was good mates with, but I had to make it.”

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Grayson’s first stint as Seasiders boss came to an end in 2008 after he accepted an offer to become Leeds United manager.

“I was pleased with how things went with Blackpool- we got to the Championship and we stayed up,” he added.

“When the job offer came from Leeds it was too good of an opportunity; I’m a Leeds fan so the decision to manage them was a no-brainer, I couldn’t turn it down. I didn’t leave Blackpool in the best of manners because they didn’t want me to go, there were court cases that were meant to happen it didn’t get that far in the end.

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“We laid the foundations for when Ian (Holloway) came in to take them to the Premier League; I recruited and developed a lot of those players and he got the best out of them to get to where they did.”

Between his two stints with Blackpool, Grayson worked for a number of other clubs, including rivals Preston North End, as well as Sunderland and Bradford City.

He returned to Bloomfield Road in 2019, but only lasted a number of months, with the Seasiders’ form dipping throughout the campaign.

“When you look at that period before I went back there was a toxic environment, and a lot of anger towards the Oyston family,” he stated.

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“I returned in the summer Simon Sadler took over with a new enthusiasm. I felt it was a good opportunity to see a new Blackpool but to build on the things I’d done in the past. Certain things hadn’t changed, so there were a lot of things that needed doing.

“One thing I didn’t realise, there were still a lot of people that hadn’t forgiven me for walking out in the first place to join Leeds, as well as managing their bitter rivals Preston. That’s part and parcel of football.

“It didn’t affect me too much in the first half of the season when we were in the top six for quite a bit, but when you lose a few more matches things start to change. I’m big enough and wise enough to not let it impact me, but sometimes it affects other people.

“I felt we laid the foundations for the club to go forward. You always want longer in a job; the success I’ve had has been through long-term projects, but in modern day football you don’t get that.”

The interview was conducted with the Blackpool Gazette via Bitcoin Casinos.