Blackpool legend and current Barrow boss Ian Evatt to officially retire after surprise pre-season cameo
Blackpool legend Ian Evatt insists his surprise cameo against the Seasiders this weekend will be his last playing action before he officially hangs up his boots.
The 37-year-old, now manager of National League side Barrow, never formally announced his retirement from the playing side of the game.
However, the ex-Pool defender says that will change after Saturday’s pre-season friendly between the two sides at Holker Street.
Evatt will take to the field for the final five minutes of the encounter after a social media campaign gave him little choice.
When the friendly was first confirmed, Barrow announced that, should their tweet receive 1,000 retweets, then Evatt will play the final five minutes of the clash.
That target was reached the following morning, causing Evatt to tweet: "How have I been dragged into this?"
“We arranged a friendly with Blackpool which we thought would be a good event and a good game for both teams,” Evatt explained to The Gazette.
“Obviously my love for that football club I don’t really need to speak about. What that club did for my life and my family is amazing.
“It’s a pleasure to play against them and it’s nice to see Simon Grayson back, who was the manager when I signed for the club.
“Our social media guy put something out which started as a joke that if we got 1,000 retweets then I’d play the last five minutes. It just grew legs from there.
“I haven’t officially retired but having said that after Saturday I will be officially hanging up my boots.
“To get myself into some sort of shape again for this game has hurt and hurt my joints more than ever.
“But I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to seeing some friendly faces again but I’m also looking forward to my last five minutes of football.”
Before his arrival on the pitch, Evatt - who made 251 appearances for the Seasiders between 2006 and 2013 - will remain in the dugout where he will watch the game opposite his former boss Grayson.
“It will be odd,” Evatt admits. “But I have a new career now and a new opportunity.
“I enjoy what I do and we have a good young team to work with and improve.
“I think Blackpool fans will see the identity we have is very similar to the one we had at Blackpool for so many years - attacking, expansive football which is good to watch.
“Fingers crossed it should be a good game for both teams and it’s a good occasion for the fans to come and watch.
“It’s great to see things are finally looking positive for Blackpool and that’s the main thing.
“The fans can return in their numbers and show these lads just how amazing the football club can be.
“It’s going to be great the club can move forward with no hangover and a positive outlook ahead of the season.
“Simon Grayson knows the club inside out and he will have the backing of a lot of Tangerines coming back which can only bode well for the players who have dealt so well with what has been a tough situation these last few years.”
Evatt led Barrow to a 11th-placed finish in the National League last season in what was his first year in management.
Blackpool also take on Altrincham on Saturday, with Grayson set to split his squad for the two friendlies.