Following Simon Grayson’s return to Bloomfield Road, we take a look back at the first game he took charge of the Seasiders in 2005.
Blackpool 5-2 Scunthorpe United, November 13, 2005
Simon Grayson is the new fans’ favourite after the stand-in boss led the Seasiders to a terrific Sunday thrashing of Scunthorpe – Pool’s best league result for three years and three months.
But spare a thought for Colin Hendry, who watched the game 10 miles away at his home in Lytham and no doubt suffered mixed emotions.
Don’t forget that the Scot was the man responsible for signing two of the game’s matchwinners – Ian Morris and Tommy Wright – and also the man who gave Simon Wiles, getting better by the hour, his chance.
Unfortunately for Hendry, who will lose his job at some point this week, football moves on quickly.
A new man is at the helm, already doing things his own way – and, to be fair, doing them pretty well.
‘Larry’ Grayson, who doesn’t know how long his stint in charge might last, certainly made a decent first impression.
Not only did he get the team to deliver the performance and result every home fan has been waiting for, he also gave an excellent display himself on the touchline even wearing a pair of management style shorts despite near sub-zero temperatures in the second half.
On-going arguments or strongly-worded discussions with the fourth official, while bouncing vigorously around technical area and even the classic, looking intelligent and forward-thinking pose of holding small piece of paper in hand while every so often making notes. Who says those management courses are a waste of time?
Grayson is wise enough to know that it won’t be a five-star performance like this every week but, hey, let’s enjoy the moment while we can.
This was a scintillating game, watched by a wide audience too thanks to the presence of the Sky cameras.
The first 45 minutes produced five goals, a sending off, a penalty and a young Blackpool supporter who ran up to former Seasider Gary Parkinson in the press box and said: “Peter Beagrie. Can I have your autograph please?” (Parky, never one to duck out of a challenge, said no problem and forged the signature).
The start, actually, couldn’t have been any worse for Grayson’s side.
The manager had made three changes of personnel, Tommy Wright, Ian Morris and Chris Armstrong back after being ruled out of the FA Cup at Doncaster. But it was a positional change that was Grayson’s most effective decision, moving Rob Edwards to his best position at centre back and playing Armstrong at left back.
With Simon Wiles and Morris providing pace and crosses from the flanks, Keith Southern a huge presence in the middle and the front pair of Tommy Wright and John Murphy looking a potentially excellent combination, Grayson stumbled upon an encouraging formula.
Not initially though. Scunthorpe were ahead after just three minutes when Billy Sharp made it 13 goals in 14 games, blasting in a left footer from the edge of the area. Les Pogliacomi will be disappointed – the ball seemed to go through his hands.
The visitors, with Sharp and his strike partner Andy Keogh very impressive, continued to have the best of it until Pool suddenly struck back.
The goal came on 17 minutes courtesy of a wonderful pass by right back Danny Warrender to free John Murphy. The big striker looked to have made a hash of it but, after narrowly avoiding tripping over his own feet, produced a superb finish to chip the ball over advancing keeper Paul Musselwhite.
Then, 33 seconds after the restart, Scunthorpe were reduced to 10 men. As Tommy Wright strove to latch on to Simon Wiles’ delightful through ball, he was half clipped, half held back by defender Andy Crosby and hurled himself slightly theatrically to the ground.
It gave referee Mike Jones no choice. Scunthorpe were reduced in numbers with barely a sixth of the game gone.
In truth the Seasiders were in control from then on, but despite that they still managed to go behind again, and in slightly harsh circumstances.
Pogliacomi, not having a good day so far, was penalised for pushing a visiting player in the back at a corner. TV replays suggested there was contact – but if referees gave a penalty for every time such an incident happened in the area there would be nine penalties per match.
Sharp didn’t care. He whacked the penalty into the corner with the confidence of aman scoring for the 14th time this season.
With the bad run of recent home form firmly in their minds, Pool could have buckled. Credit to the players that they didn’t and they hit back not once but twice before the break.
Warrender deserved to score with a peach of a shot from 25 yards which Musselwhite risked fracturing his fingers in superbly tipping the ball round the post.
But the equaliser did come on 40 minutes when, after a splendid move, Wiles’ deep, accurate cross from the right was headed in at the back post by Morris.
It got even better on the stroke of half time when Wright, yet again making a nuisance of himself in the penalty area (something he does so well), found the back of the net with a low angled drive after beating a defender.
The home side, making the most of the extra man, continued to control proceedings after the break and had a few decent chances but it wasn’t until the 84th minute that they added to their tally.
Rory Prendergast, with his first touch after coming on, threaded the ball into the six-yard box and Murphy finished from close range.
Not to be outdone, Morris got his second of the match too in the final minute.
It was a pearler, the 18-year-old outmuscling a defender, cutting inside and curling an inch-perfect left footer into the top corner.
To make the afternoon complete, there was even a record-breaking debut for 16-year-old Matty Kay before the referee (who, by the way, was a fussy so and so) blew his whistle for the umpteenth and final time to bring the curtain down on a very good day at the office – very good for Blackpool but, in particular, for Simon Grayson.
Blackpool: Pogliacomi, Warrender, Clarke, Edwards, Armstrong, Wiles (Prendergast), Southern, Doolan (Kay), Morris, Wright (Vernon), Murphy