Memory Match: Blackpool 6-0 Saudi Arabia XI

Steve Harrison leads the teams out dressed as an Arab sheikh
Steve Harrison leads the teams out dressed as an Arab sheikh

Blackpool FC writer Matt Scrafton trawls through the archives to take a look back at Blackpool's unusual 6-0 friendly win against a Saudi Arabian XI on August 10, 1977.

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An appreciative Blackpool crowd were treated to a 6-0 friendly win against a visiting Saudi Arabian national side.

Blackpool cantered to a win thanks to goals from Mickey Walsh, Paul Hart, Bob Hatton, Billy Ronson, Dave Hockaday and Trevor Finnigan.

But it was the pure skill of the Saudis, managed by former England international Bill McGarry, and their technical innocence which made the slightly unusual occasion so enjoyable.

Pool fans took the Saudis to their hearts as they enjoyed a game played in the right spirit, with both sides playing skillful and relaxed football.

There was special applause for goalkeeper Salam Marawan who became something of a hero with many fine saves and good handling.

Blackpool did better with reserves on in the second half. They scored five goals, and Saudi boss McGarry must have been pleased that it took Blackpool 38 minutes to get the lead, especially after Blackpool had won 4-0 at Burnley the night before.

Saudi attempts to fix up the hastily-arranged friendly with Burnley were abandoned through lack of time.

Blackpool just managed to beat the score by which a United Dairies side defeated the Saudis earlier on in their tour.

But the Dairies were without their star man Humphrey who was nowhere to be seen.

There was some talk of protest by United Dairies who claimed that a Blackpool official flashed the milkmen’s score against the Arabs to the Blackpool players who then stepped up the pace to pass their tally.

Jimmy Hill, the Arab supremo, remained tight-lipped.

Leeds manager and former Blackpool hero Jimmy Armfield was in attendance, fuelling speculation that he was plunging into the transfer market for Saudi star Rashid Fabashi as a replacement for Paul Reaney.

The injured Steve Harrison set the tone for the evening when he led the teams out dressed like an Arab sheikh, inadvertently starting rumours that it was a freelance photographer attempting to sneak in.

Blackpool’s best effort before Walsh flicked home a 38th-minute goal came from Hatton.

But the Seasiders only got among the goals when Iain Hesford, Paul Cruickshank, Brian Wilson and a trialist from Bury, Brian Sinclair, came on.

Sinclair looked a particularly good prospect and Alan Ainscow did particularly well when he came on later for his first run out after injury.

Hart scored the second after 51 minutes after a smart one-two with Walsh, Hatton’s sharp header from Walsh’s cross made it three after 60 minutes.

Sinclair’s peach of a pass gave Ronson the fourth four minutes later, Hockaday scored a good fifth after 71 minutes and Finnigan scored a cracker to round it off with 13 minutes remaining.

The Saudis, understandably lacking punch but full of lovely skills, went close a couple of times but it was their friendly spirit which won the fans’ hearts.

Blackpool: Wood, Gardner, Milligan, Ronson, Suddaby, McEwan, Tong, Hart, Walsh, Hatton, Finnigan

Subs: Hesford, Wilson, Hockaday, Ainscow, Chandler, Cruickshank, Sinclair

Attendance: 3,670