GAZETTE OPINION: Take heed of wise words of a legend

Blackpool Gazette Lost Archives'Jimmy Armfield at Bloomfield Road 4/12/64
Blackpool Gazette Lost Archives'Jimmy Armfield at Bloomfield Road 4/12/64
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Jimmy Armfield must be sick to the back teeth of people asking him what has happened to his beloved Blackpool Football Club.

He admits he has been forced to put on a brave face, saddened by the club’s astonishing decline in recent years under the farcical mismanagement of chairman Karl Oyston.

Frustrated fans have called for Jimmy to tell us his thoughts, desperate to glean some sort of comfort from the words of the club’s living legend.

But he has kept his thoughts to himself, publicly at least, while crisis after crisis engulfed Bloomfield Road.

But now he has chosen to speak out about his own views of what went wrong and the long-lasting repercussions.

While some fans may be disappointed by his lack of outright criticism of Oyston’s ever-worsening regime, he exudes a calming dignity that has been lacking from the club in the last 12 months and longer.

He speaks of his sadness at the club’s current position, relegation certs with an expected exodus of disillusioned players on the horizon once this sorry season comes to a close.

The winter of discontent he refers to has continued into a spring of unpleasant solitude, marooned at the bottom of the league with attendances slumping to alarming levels, despite the comical ‘official crowd’ figures put out every other game.

But there is hope amid all the gloom in his silence-breaking words.

He cites the demise of Yeovil, who are bottom of League One and facing a second consecutive relegation, as a timely warning that Pool’s own decline needs to be arrested now before it can spiral beyond the nightmares of even the most battle weary supporter.

He urges fans and players to ensure this season doesn’t just fizzle out, highlighting the fact players and management have still lots to prove, which is an understatement.

And he asks all to show some pride in the shirt too. Fans will accept players making mistakes - what they won’t tolerate is them throwing in the towel and not fighting for the shirt, like against Wigan recently. Jimmy is the embodiment of the pride thousands of supporters have in Blackpool FC. That has been lost with the shameful shenanigans of this season. This season is gone, but his rallying cry may well start the fight back from next season. It’s a glimmer of hope, at least.

Andy Sykes