Neil Critchley reflects on the 'special' celebrations with supporters after Blackpool booked their place in the League One play-offs
Neil Critchley admits it was “really special” to share Blackpool’s play-off qualification with the supporters after Tuesday night’s game - even if he had to be persuaded to join in!
Critchley, Jerry Yates and some of the other players joined in with the celebrations that were taking place outside the main reception after Blackpool’s 2-0 win against Doncaster Rovers.
A group of fans had congregated behind fencing, where they serenaded Pool's head coach who responded with applause and a thumping of his chest.
Yates, this season's top scorer with 22 goals in all competitions, and Keshi Anderson took things one step further by jumping into the crowd.
The fans had earlier set off a smoke bomb outside the North Stand, where they had been chanting and banging the gates throughout the game.
Reflecting on the jubilant scenes, Critchley told The Gazette: “It was really special.
“I was persuaded to go outside, but it was a special moment and I’m glad I did it.
“I’m normally one that likes to stay in the background a little bit, but it’s important you appreciate the terrific support we’ve got.
“They made an incredible effort to be there when they’re not even watching the game and they stayed around and supported after the game.
“I know Jerry went out as well, so it was a special moment and I’m really thankful and grateful that we’ve got people who want to come down, because it shows what the football club means to the people of this area.”
The League One play-offs begin on May 18 and May 19, when limited crowds will be allowed back into the grounds.
Under the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, 10,000 fans will be allowed to attend sporting events from May 17 onwards, or alternatively 25 per cent of your capacity - whichever is lower.
In Blackpool’s case, a quarter of Bloomfield Road’s capacity is 4,334.
On the prospect of playing a play-off semi-final in front of the supporters, Critchley said: “It will be massive.
“Obviously some of our supporters made their way down to the ground on Tuesday night and made themselves heard, which was lovely.
“If we can have 4,000 of our supporters in the ground for the semi-final, that will be incredible and fantastic.
“When the Blackpool supporters get behind their team, it’s very special. It’s a unique fanbase, it’s different.
“For some reason, and it seems strange saying this, even though there’s been no supporters this season and a lot of the supporters haven’t even seen these players play, I don’t know what it is and I might be daft in saying this, but the connection seems really strong.
“They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, so because you’re not together it makes you realise what you’ve been missing and that connection, we’ve missed it but it still seems really strong.
“If we can get those fans back in for the semi-final, that would be a magical night.
“When there was only 1,000 fans in against Swindon earlier in the season, it still felt different. You felt it in the warm-up, before the game, you just felt it all the way through the game, 1-0 up, 2-0 up and then at the end of the game. There was only a 1,000 but it honestly felt like 10,000.
“I’m sure the ground will be full when we get the okay for the supporters to come back in and supporters, players, staff, we’re all looking forward to that moment.”
Thanks for reading. If you value what we do and are able to support us, a digital subscription is just £1 for your first month. Try us today by clicking here