Blackpool Supporters' Trust column: Remembering those who passed away during 2020

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Happy New Year to Seasiders everywhere and welcome to the first BST article of 2021.

We have given this month’s column over to two BST members with reasons for appreciating the commemoration of Blackpool fans who passed away last year.

From Peter Seddon, who lost a lifelong friend and fellow Seasider in 2020: “In these unprecedented times of lockdowns, restrictions and fear, it is tempting to think that life will never be the same again, that the things we used to enjoy doing, indeed our whole way of living, will become a great unknown quantity.

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“Regular events form the basis of your existence – going to work, going to the gym, the weekly shop, taking the children to school etc – and one of the most important, football.

Blackpool and West Bromwich Albion players paid tribute to those who passed away last year before last weekend's matchBlackpool and West Bromwich Albion players paid tribute to those who passed away last year before last weekend's match
Blackpool and West Bromwich Albion players paid tribute to those who passed away last year before last weekend's match

“Going to Bloomfield Road is that part of your life that you rely upon to be there to give you your ‘fix’ each week, to moan and groan when it goes badly, to vent your anger at the so-and-so referee, and to feel the sheer elation that only your team winning can give.

“This is why we ‘pass the baton’ on to the next generation, and they to theirs.

Football is tribal, yes, but it is also a family thing and this brings me to my point – supporters attending our first game of the year have previously joined the teams and club officials to pay their respects to those fans and former players who have passed away in the previous 12 months.

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“Since the need for a scoreboard following promotion to the Premier League in 2010, we’ve had the opportunity to recall and celebrate hundreds of names over the past decade that have appeared on that screen and the occasion has always been lifted by rousing applause in the stadium.

“Wonderfully poignant and touching, it is so very important because although it highlights loss and recognises a lifetime of support, it also reminds us of that link through the generations that football brings.

“A good friend of mine is on that list this year, and having his name on it not only brings back the memories of matches shared for me, but it gave his widow – who isn’t a fan – a sense of comfort and nostalgia. Blackpool FC was a part of their life and the tribute was something tangible to link her to that past.

“Sadly, we did not have the opportunity to reunite with our fellow Seasiders to remember all those who left us last year, to stand alongside them in a final tribute to the recently departed including former players that have graced the Bloomfield Road pitch.

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“The club have ensured, to their credit, that players and officials last Saturday were able to do that for us, their names appearing also in the matchday programme and on social media.”

A lovely testimony to the importance of this tribute comes from Peter Gillatt who writes: “My late father’s favourite memory before he passed last year was when he was on shore leave from the Royal Navy in 1953.

“In the short time he had, he was able to reach Villa Park for the FA Cup semi-final. The effort wasn’t wasted and he watched Blackpool defeat Tottenham Hotspur 3-1.

“Unfortunately he missed the final at Wembley as he had to return to sea. After taking me to my first game against Liverpool in August 1970, I stood with him on the old Spion Kop until August 24, 1974.

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“The tragedy that unfolded that infamous day was, for him, too high a price to pay to watch football.

“Not until the play-off final in May 2010 did he manage to see Blackpool actually play.

“Thereafter he returned to watch the Seasiders from the Kop once again.

“Our final visit to the ground together was the day that BST arranged the farewell tribute to Jimmy Armfield on January 27, 2018.

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“Last Saturday the team delivered a deserved win in the FA Cup over West Brom. Given the chance I would have taken his hat and scarf along.

“I probably would have been lucky to still be wearing both after such an exciting finish to the game. I think he would have enjoyed that.”

Seventy years of recollections, a family tradition and precious shared memories. Sometimes, football really is more than a game.

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