Gary Bowyer has called on Blackpool supporters to put the club’s politics aside for one game and pack out Bloomfield Road tomorrow to pay tribute to the great Jimmy Armfield.
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The Seasiders face Charlton Athletic in their first game since the passing of Armfield on Monday.
When the club announced that all proceeds from home ticket sales would be donated to Trinity Hospice, where Armfield was president and spent his last days, hopes were raised that fans who are boycotting the ground would put aside their ‘Not A Penny More’ stance for just one day.
However, some insist they feel unable to go inside the stadium with the Oystons still in charge and will instead pay their respects tomorrow outside at Armfield’s statue.
Pool manager Bowyer said: “I’m fully aware of everything that goes on at this football club but for one day only I think it’s right everybody puts everything to the side. That’s not me siding with anybody, it’s me as a human being saying Jimmy Armfield was a fantastic bloke and needs a proper send-off.
“If people don’t want to come in, that’s their decision and I respect that. I understand it and I have done ever since I’ve been at the football club. But we’re talking about an unbelievable man here.
“You just have to look up and down the corridor here at Bloomfield Road – he was Mr Blackpool.
“For this one game, people should come and pay their respects to Jimmy Armfield.
“You’ll never get another opportunity to do it. This is the one opportunity to show our respects for a great, great man.”
Armfield’s statue outside the stadium is draped with scarves and surrounded by flowers and messages.
“It’s been a tough week,” Bowyer admitted. “We’re talking about a legend of the game and you only have to see the comments from people all around the world, not just from people in this country, who speak so highly of Jimmy as a man and as a person.
“It’s been a fitting tribute to him so far. When you drive past the statue you see the tributes and you see them increase day after day.
“The world of football is coming together, isn’t it? You see all the different club scarves on the statue, as well as the people paying tribute to him on social media, in interviews and in the newspapers. It’s been a fantastic response.
“But that’s all down to the measure of the man himself. He’s going to be sorely missed but we hope we can give him a fitting send-off this weekend.”
The players will emerge from the tunnel five minutes earlier than usual for a special tribute to Armfield.
A delegation, including Bowyer and his Charlton counterpart Karl Robinson, will lay wreaths in front of the Armfield Stand.
A minute’s applause will also take place prior to kick-off.