History making Pool’s ‘best ever’ team spirit

Blackpool's Neil Bishop celebrates scoring his side's second goal
Blackpool's Neil Bishop celebrates scoring his side's second goal
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Paul Ince’s history-makers fired themselves into the record books as Neal Bishop’s winner at Bournemouth ensured the club’s best ever start to a league season.

In their entire 126-year history, no Pool team has ever won five of their opening six games of the season.

It’s a stunning achievement for Ince and his team, who have defied the odds to stand proudly at the top of the Championship.

And Bishop, whose goal sealed the 2-1 win in Dorset, says this is the best group of lads he’s ever been involved in.

“It just seems to be the recurring theme week after week – the character and desire of the lads is different class,” he said.

“The togetherness in the dressing room and the team spirit is probably the best I’ve ever experienced. It’s a pleasure to be part of it.

“Obviously we were massively short of players pre-season, and when I came in we had only 11 or 12 out there.

“The gaffer didn’t panic. He said time after time that he was after not just good players on the pitch but good characters off it.

“It’s a team full of winners. Around the training ground there are fall-outs because of a couple of errant passes. Everybody keeps each other on their toes. We manage each other from inside the group and we get a kick up the backside from Al (Alex Rae) and Paul when we’re not on it.

“Barry Ferguson, Kirk Broadfoot and Gary MacKenzie don’t settle for second-best on the pitch or on the training ground.”

Goals by Ricardo Fuller and Bishop – both players’ first for the club – secured the points, although Pool had to survive the last half-hour with 10 men after Jack Robinson was sent off.

They face another long trip to London today ahead of tomorrow’s clash with bottom club Millwall. And a head count will be needed today after they defended for their lives in the closing stages on the south coast.

Bishop added: “I think it was a great game for the neutral. It had a bit of everything – a sending off, disallowed goals, chances both ends and obviously the Alamo in the last 15 minutes, when we were holding on.

“The sending off was a difficult one. Robbo (Jack Robinson) held his hand up in the dressing room because the first one was a yellow card.

“But for the second one the lad’s come across him. I was over there and Robbo’s trying to get out of his way.

“There was no intention there, I think it’s a foul and that should be the end of it.

“It’s disappointing but I don’t think you can appeal two yellows, which is a shame because we’ll miss Robbo on Tuesday.”

Bishop instantly dismissed any talk that his goal may have gone in off a defender. I don’t get that many, so I’m claiming that one,” he said. “It’s 100 per cent my goal. No- one’s taking it off me.

“Kirk Broadfoot told me to get across the near post – I think it was more of a diversion because he wanted me out of the way!

“But the ball has come to my head and I’ve got a little touch. It’s got a nick after that but it’s definitely mine.”