John Murphy described Blackpool’s inspirational run to the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup as a “fairytale”.
The Seasiders U18s sealed their place in the last four with a dramatic 3-2 win at Blackburn Rovers last night.
And Murphy, former striker turned academy coach, couldn’t hide his delight at the final whistle.
“This is a bit of a fairytale really,” he said. “We’ve won six games now in this competition and beaten three Category One sides, so I can’t be prouder of the lads and all the staff involved.
“With the difficulty at the club, it provides some positive news. We don’t know the situation; we just go in and get on with our jobs.
“We’re a Category Three side, so I told the lads that by rights, we shouldn’t even be here. But it’s two legs against Arsenal now. Please, please let it be at the Emirates. It’s got to be surely as it’s a semi-final. Our lads deserve it.
“We know there are Category One sides and then there’s Arsenal, who are Category 0.5 if you like. They’re going to be tough but we’ll give anyone a game. We’ve proved that.”
Blackpool looked to be cruising when Blackburn were reduced to 10 men after Finlay Sinclair-Smith had given the Seasiders the lead.
But the home side lifted their game and scored twice to turn the game on its head.
But two goals in the final five minutes sparked passionate celebrations from the men in tangerine.
“The game was an interesting one,” Murphy added. “I thought first half we were excellent and deserved to be in the lead, but we couldn’t find that goal.
“Second half we get a goal, and they get a man sent off and the game changed. It was crazy.
“They changed their system a little bit, and all of a sudden they were the better team and you’re asking yourself how they were 2-1 up.
“Against 10 men we lacked composure, we lacked game management and we went long. Why would you do that against 10 men?
“But when we got our equaliser I think they went. You could see them visibly go and they were playing for extra-time.
“It was vital we tried to win it in normal time and we managed it. Rowan had nerves of steel to put the penalty away.”