The world’s gone mad! Everything is upside down! First Wales show immeasurable team spirit and passion to leave themselves on the brink of their first ever major Championships.
Next we see Northern Ireland edge themselves ever closer to qualifying.
A scan down the other qualifying groups for next year’s European Championships shows another underdog success as Iceland top a group that leaves a dishevelled Holland chasing third spot.
With all these tales of the unexpected in the air, Blackpool headed to Glanford Park to take on a Scunthorpe side who’ve invested in some decent players recently.
Surely after being stuffed by a rampant Walsall side at Bloomfield Road last week, the Seasiders couldn’t recover and claim a first away victory for well over a year? Well, they did.
Neil McDonald has clearly worked hard on the training ground leading up to the game and more importantly kept the confidence as high as possible (under the circumstances).
Having been on such a miserable run away from home, this win should be applauded from the rooftops. It’s never easy to break a cycle of negativity and poor results.
There was clearly an element of luck, though (as every team needs), as Colin Doyle performed heroics in goal on his return to the team. Scunthorpe had a colossal 33 shots compared to Blackpool’s seven.
But we’ve all been involved in ‘backs to the wall’ victories and sometimes they give you the best feeling as all the players fight together.
On the subject of Colin Doyle, Neil McDonald may have pulled a masterstroke in his signing.
This is a player who has spent the majority of his career in the Championship and was briefly in the Premier League. He may not have played as many games as he would have liked at Birmingham but he’s worked with a pretty impressive array of goalkeepers, including Ben Foster, Boaz Myhill, Maik Taylor and even Joe Hart.
Doyle performed well in the opening day draw with Colchester before getting injured. In fact he’s unbeaten in a Blackpool shirt, which not many players can say. I’ve played in many Blackpool teams that have had to rely on some outstanding goalkeeping performances to keep us in games.
Without Joe Hart’s loan with us in League One, we may never have made the play-offs. Matt Gilks was unbeatable at times as we gained promotion in the Championship.
In fact, had he been fit for the entire season in the Premier League, then I’m sure the Tangerine shirts would have had a longer stay among the country’s elite.
Another bonus for Neil McDonald was the fact he had the recently signed David Norris to call upon as the game became stretched and Blackpool were under the cosh. I have harped on about the need for more experience and in Norris they have a good player who understands what is needed to grind out results.
He’s someone the younger players can listen to and learn from. It’s been a pleasure to write a more positive article this week. Long may it continue – ignoring the fact that Saturday’s opponents are top of the league!
*I couldn’t write this week’s column without mentioning Wayne Rooney’s magnificent feat of surpassing the great Bobby Charlton’s goal record for England, aged only 29.
The sheer pressure that Rooney plays under every week is something that I’m sure Charlton could never have conceived.
He has literally been the great English hope ever since we realised Michael Owen wasn’t going to last forever. If Rooney goes more than two or three games without scoring, he’s written off by everyone.
Still people will say that he has only scored one goal in a World Cup, but if anyone analyses those games they will see he wasn’t on the receiving end of much quality service and he truly deserves all the accolades he will receive.
Anyone at a loose end on Sunday then please pop down to Thornton Cleveleys FC at 2pm to see a BFC Legends v Fleetwood Town.
Myself and Danny Coid will definitely be playing, so there’s a good chance we will need a physio present! The game is a memorial match to honour ex-players Billy Ronson and Iain Hesford.
There is also family entertainment going on if you get bored of watching me trying to run!