Seasiders grateful for Noble cause

Peter Noble on his last day as a Blackpool player, flanked by manager Sam Ellis and chairman Ken Chadwick
Peter Noble on his last day as a Blackpool player, flanked by manager Sam Ellis and chairman Ken Chadwick
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Memory match - Bury 0, Blackpool 1, May 1982

As well as being neighbours, Blackpool and Burnley have had other close links down the years.

For instance, Harry Potts and Stan Ternent managed both clubs, while a number have sported the Tangerine and Claret in their time, among them Jimmy Robson, Paul Fletcher, Terry Pashley, David Eyres, Ian Britton, John Deary and Peter Noble.

It was the last-named who got the only goal in this week’s memory match, which brought the curtain down on the 1981-2 season.

It was the tail-end of Noble’s distinguished career, which began in the North East where his performances for the non-league side Consett caught the attention of Newcastle United for whom he signed in 1964.

He had four years at St James’s Park before transferring to Swindon where he enjoyed a hugely successful spell, most notably as an essential part of the team that shocked the football world, belying their lowly status by winning the League Cup, beating Arsenal on a mudheap of a Wembley pitch in the final.

By 1973 Noble had joined Burnley who were then in the top flight.

When Andre Gray scored a hat-trick for Burnley against Sunderland on New Year’s Eve it was the first Clarets’ hat-trick in the top echelon since Noble’s threesome against Norwich in 1975.

The Clarets had gone reason to know of Noble’s ability and versatility for in that successful League Cup campaign, he had scored an extra time winner for Swindon in the semi-final against them.

He became a member of that close-knit Burnley scoring playing in excess of 200 matches for them before his switch to Blackpool in 1980.

Terry Pashley played alongside Noble at both Bloomfield Road and Turf Moor and was a big admirer.

He said: “What struck me about Peter was the commitment, dedication as well as the ability that he had.

“For someone who was not all that big, he was a fantastic header of the ball.”

Pashley, now a scout at Burnley, admits to learning a lot from his old team-mate: “He put everything into training - he was full on every day.

“That was the only way that Jimmy Adamson (the Burnley manager of the time) would have it and that’s how Peter would go about it.

“He was coming to the end of his career when we played together at Blackpool.

“He was having trouble with his knees then and I remember him telling me: ‘It will come to you one day’

“And, you know, he was proved right!”

Noble played under four managers at Blackpool - Stan Ternent, Alan Ball, Allan Brown and Sam Ellis.

By the time Blackpool arrived to play at Gigg Lane, Brown had left the previous month with Bob Smith in temporary charge.

At the time and with the dust settling on the end of the season, The Gazette was reporting that there were a number of candidates in the frame, Smith, Mick Lyons and Alan Gowling, to name but three, but eventually the board plumped for Sam Ellis who took charge for the following season.

For many the 1981-2 season could not come quickly enough.

The Seasiders finished a disappointing 12th in the old Fourth Division, while their form on the road was disappointing, to put it mildly.

Noble’s goal separated the two sides and gave Blackpool their first away win since February 1.

Noble was an old hand in what was otherwise one of the youngest players in their history, among them a 17-year-old David Bardsley, who later moved to Watford and Queens Park Rangers with notable success and picked up two England caps.

There was another 17-year-old in the Blackpool side who went on to a good career and international recognition, Paul Stewart.

Deary at the age of 18 was in the side too as he embarked on an excellent career.

The 18-year-old Alan McAvoy impressed Gazette scribe Tony Quested with his endeavours up front, though he was only to make another five appearances for Blackpool.

Quested picked up the story of that vital goal.

He wrote: “Deary and Pashley blazed shots just off the target and after 12 minutes Stewart’s skill set up a classic goal, Noble’s ninth of the season.

“Three of the youngsters combined down the left (John) Butler finding McAvoy, who did well to find Stewart on the edge of the box - Stewart turned the defender brilliantly and his cross was a gem.

“Noble thundered in behind Deary and crashed his third goal in the last five games.”

Dodgy knees or no, Noble still possessed the unerring eye for a goal.

Though Blackpool were in front, their lead was far from safe.

Craig Madden, something of a club legend at Gigg Lane, hit the woodwork and saw an effort saved by Iain Hesford in the Blackpool goal.

Madden also had a header cleared off the line by Colin Greenall.

Blackpool had chances to augment their advantage.

The lively Stewart found Gordon Simmonite on the right flank and a through-ball put McAvoy in the clear, but as he tried to give Pashley what looked like a straightforward tap-in, his pass only succeeded in striking a defender.

There was an amusing post-script to a rare but welcome win in this Lancashire derby.

As Quested reported: “Passions ran so high after Blackpool’s win that midfielder Gordon Simmonite was stripped down to his jockstrap by ecstatic fans.

“Not satisfied with claiming their hero’s shirt, fans also insisted on his shorts, and physio Alan Smith (later to become part of the England international set-up) stood by with a bucket of water in case passions ran any higher.

“Erika Roe he ain’t, but Simmonite streaked for the bath liberated and elated while fans danced in celebration.”

But the player Blackpool had to thank for the win was Noble.

Quested opined: “The kids were marvellous, but you can’t teach your grandad to suck eggs and it was left to Peter Noble to score the winning goal and show the way with his youthful exuberance.”

Blackpool: Hesford, Simmonite, Butler, Blair, Greenall, Bardsley, Noble, Deary, Stewart, McAvoy, Pashley