Blackpool SLO column: Seasiders’ Oxford United trip brings back happy memories

It’s Oxford United away for the Seasiders this weekend.

Friday, 31st January 2020, 5:00 pm
Blackpool’s trip to Oxford United comes 50 years since the club’s SLO first watched the Seasiders

It will be another challenging encounter against a well-organised squad on the fringe of the play-off places – but it will also be another opportunity for Simon Grayson’s team to grow and show us some of the potential we know they have.

What are the chances of us coming away with our first league double of the season?

Coincidentally, Oxford away was the very first Blackpool match I went to – 50 years ago now!

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That was the final game of the 1969/70 campaign. Pool had secured promotion back to Division One just days earlier with that famous Fred Pickering hat-trick at Deepdale.

I was a schoolboy living in East Anglia at the time and was so excited to finally watch the team I’d supported from afar since I was a lad.

Of course, it was the Manor Ground in those days. We lost 2-0. It didn’t matter. The urban myth is that the players were still hungover from their promotion celebrations.

Next Saturday, February 8, will be our first league game at Bloomfield Road this year.

That seems incredible. What with the disappearance of Bury from the fixture list and the demands of the FA Cup, the home match against Southend United will almost be another homecoming – an echo of our famous homecoming match against the Shrimpers last March.

When you get inside the stadium, I hope you’ll notice that phase one of our big flags and banners project is complete, with an impressive array of fans’ colours across the top of the Kop.

Some of those flags have travelled the football grounds of England and the world, while others have been especially commissioned for this permanent display.

I hope it starts to bring a bit more atmosphere and pride in our return to ‘fortress Bloomfield’.

Phase two will fill the top of the Armfield Stand in a similar fashion – so if you have a large flag that you’d like on permanent display or you’d like to get one made, get in touch with me at [email protected] to discuss details.

I know there are more colours out there. Let’s get a bit more tangerine up around the place!

Where for instance are those Bedford Seasiders, Marton Mens’ and Wessex Tangerines banners now?

It has been a busy transfer window for the club with players departing and joining in unprecedented numbers.

That is proof, if it were needed, of the commitment our new owner and his management and scouting team have to developing and improving the quality of the squad at Bloomfield Road.

Simon Sadler is on record as saying he wants a Blackpool team capable of playing attractive, attacking football and one that can build momentum for eventual promotion to the Championship.

Recent additions to the squad are positive steps in that direction.

We recognise it’s a work in progress and overnight success is not guaranteed.

As supporters, let’s welcome the new arrivals and give the evolving team the full benefit of our passionate support.

They surely need and deserve our encouragement, for we are the 12th man.

I spent the first half of the season seated near the top of block T in the Armfield Stand, but as supporters’ liaison officer, I think it appropriate that I move around the stadium to better understand the issues and opportunities of the matchday experience in all areas of the ground.

Therefore for the second half of the season I’m seated near the top of block D in the Kop. It’s a different perspective.

If you have issues concerning you, or observations and suggestions for how to improve the quality of that matchday experience at Bloomfield Road or at our away games, don’t hesitate to contact me; it’s what I’m here for.

I’m at the club most Mondays and Wednesdays as well as matchdays.

You can also reach me at any time via Twitter: @BFCSLO, via email: [email protected] and on Facebook: Blackpool FC Supporters’ Liaison Officer.

Together, we will make this the club of our dreams. Keep the faith. Come on you Pool!