BST column: It’s time for all of Blackpool to join together

A thriving team could benefit the whole of Blackpool
A thriving team could benefit the whole of Blackpool
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Football fans are a philosophical bunch. They know that defeat and disappointment is a large part of what they do.

All they ask is that their club competes honestly and that the people at the helm show the same sort of ambition they feel.

The departure of Gary Bowyer this week is therefore a fresh kick in the teeth. Coming one game into the season, it exposes the continuing refusal by Owen Oyston to invest in the club and its personnel, and leaves us once more on the back foot in a ferociously difficult league.

It is no wonder that people have flooded onto social media to express frustration and outright anger.

That Bowyer should be a casualty seems deeply unfair, given his track record on the field and his professionalism off it.

Even in the dying days of his tenure he was paying for the players to have decent training facilities from his own pocket. For that, he deserves our gratitude and respect.

They say the darkest hours come before dawn, and in amongst what we feel are unprecedented levels of anger, there may be an opportunity to come together as a community – not just the fan base but the town at large – and show the ruling regime the revulsion there is for them and the way they behave.

There is no doubt in which direction all that anger should be directed. One man is responsible for the wholesale removal of assets from the club and the continued neglect of its physical estate. That man is Owen Oyston and if we are to focus our condemnation, it should all be aimed at him.

Make no mistake, a thriving football team is good for Blackpool as a whole.

It stimulates the local economy, brings people together in a common endeavour and can be a source of immense civic pride.

But a football team that is subject to deliberate neglect of the kind we are seeing at Blackpool (and neglect is a kind way of expressing it) betrays us all – fans, townspeople, business leaders and local politicians alike. All these groups have a vested interest which is under threat here.

On Saturday, when the team play Portsmouth, we have an immediate chance to make our feelings known to the world at large.

We know Pompey fans, who have been through trials of their own, will support us in our plight but we need local people (Blackpool fans or not) to come out and support our fan base in demonstrating to everyone looking on that something has to change.

The national media will be watching. It will be immensely powerful if we can congregate in large numbers before the game to make our feelings known.

It will also offer a stark contrast to the pitiful numbers still going in the ground. We are delighted that Councillor Williams has agreed to join us and we hope that Councillor Blackburn and other colleagues will be able to join us too.

We also urge all supporters, whether members of BST or not, to come together on the day. It does not really matter which supporters’ group you are affiliated to, if you are a member of one at all.

It does not even matter how long you have followed the club or how many games you have attended.

What we need to do is to show that the desire to see the back of this fetid regime is shared by the entire cross-section of our support, as well as our friends elsewhere who know that our history and status in the game should count for something and be maintained at all costs.

It is important that we continue to make our feelings known with dignity. Given the antics of the Oyston clan, it has not been especially hard for us to take the moral high ground in recent times. But having occupied it, it is important that we remain there.

We as supporters will be around long after the Oystons have gone, and it will fall to ALL of us to reconcile and heal the grievous wounds the club has suffered. That process can and should start on Saturday.

There are other, longer-term battles to be fought and won. The continuing silence and inertia of the English Football League is astonishing, and should be a source of embarrassment and shame to them and to anyone who thinks our national sport should be run properly.

We will return to these matters again, but for this weekend come and join us outside the ground, make your voice heard and make your feelings count.