Blackpool SLO column: Maidstone United visit reminds us of the FA Cup’s magic

Blackpool booked their place in the FA Cup second round with victory against Morecambe three weeks ago
Blackpool booked their place in the FA Cup second round with victory against Morecambe three weeks ago
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This weekend is all about the magic of the FA Cup.

Blackpool’s was the first number out of the bowl in the second round draw, giving us a home tie against Maidstone United which will be played at Bloomfield Road on Sunday (2pm).

There are currently 72 places between Blackpool and Maidstone – of National League South – but the real intrigue of the cup, especially in these early rounds, is the way it brings teams who don’t ordinarily face each other together on the pitch for 90 minutes.

There is often some unpredictability about such games.

Clubs from higher divisions can come unstuck at the expense of spirited displays from those lower down the football pyramid.

The romance of the cup is as strong as ever and we all enjoy an upset – as long as it happens to someone else’s team!

It’s extremely unlikely nowadays that a League One club can go all the way in the competition but progress to the third or fourth rounds would give us the chance to draw a Championship or Premier League club, to see how we measure up in a knockout tie against heavyweight opposition.

Could this be the start of a lucky year for the Seasiders in the FA Cup? There is a renewed buzz around the place after four home wins in a row this month.

Tradition is a fine thing and to be respected, for it made Blackpool FC what it is, but of equal importance is the future, the making of new heroes and new memories.

With ticket prices at £10 for adults, £5 for seniors and just £1 for under-16s for the cup game, here’s a great incentive to come on down on Sunday.

If anyone missed details of the club’s ‘Flying The Flag’ initiative, Blackpool FC is encouraging supporters to help enhance the matchday experience at Bloomfield Road by having a permanent display of supporters’ flags in the North and South stands.

Where are those Blackpool Fabs, Wessex Tangerines, Marton Seasiders and various FY insignia now?

If you have a flag or banner that you would like to see displayed at Bloomfield Road on matchdays as part of a permanent fixture, the club is going to try and make this happen.

Supporters who wish to display flags are kindly asked to bring them to the main reception during the office hours of 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Please supply your name, contact details and stand preference (North or South) for your flag when dropping it in to the club.

The flags are to be either gifted or loaned to BFC for the season and must not contain any political, defamatory or offensive language, or advertise any websites or commercial entity.

The club recognises there may be an issue with older flags not being fire-retardant or safety-certified. We don’t want to exclude iconic and nostalgic flags and banners on this score, so I suggest you bring them in anyway and the club will treat them with a fire-retardant to make them compliant for display.

We hope to have some of the flags up as soon as possible, adding others in the coming weeks.

The club held its first Q&A session for fans with a panel of players on Tuesday night in the Corner Flag bar.

Club captain Jay Spearing, Ryan Edwards, Ben Heneghan and Matty Virtue put themselves on the line to answer questions from fans young and old, followed by a photo and autograph session.

The questions covered many bases, from the players’ own favourite players, hopes for their own careers, best game they’ve played in, our chances of making the play-offs, to social media and mental health issues, who plays the best music, who they room with on away trips and who they’d most like to draw in the third round of the cup

What came across is what a thoroughly likeable, articulate, funny and professional group of lads they are.

It was a great bonding session for the fans who attended – and there were lots of kids with their mums and dads in the audience; another important step in rebuilding that connection between the club and its fans that had been missing for so long.

It was a huge success and I’m sure it will be repeated with a different panel of players later in the season.

Finally, behind-the-scenes office reorganisations at the stadium mean that myself as Supporters’ Liaison Officer and Chris Beveridge, the Disability Liaison Officer, now have permanent desk space in the Gold Bond office at Bloomfield Road and have an open door to any fan who wishes to come and talk about any aspect of the matchday experience or matters that are concerning you.

I will be available on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10am-4pm while Chris will be on site on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

If you have issues, concerns or suggestions for how to improve the matchday experience at Bloomfield Road, or just want to start a conversation, don’t hesitate to contact me. You can reach me via twitter: @BFCSLO, via email: slo@blackpoolfc.co.uk and on Facebook: Blackpool FC Supporters’ Liaison Officer.