The battle of Sincil Bank: When Blackpool thought they had blown promotion for the second consecutive season with final-day defeat to Lincoln

Lincoln claimed a final-day victory thanks to two Matt Carmichael penalties. Screengrab taken from YouTube
Lincoln claimed a final-day victory thanks to two Matt Carmichael penalties. Screengrab taken from YouTube
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The 1991/92 campaign ultimately proved to be a memorable one for the Seasiders, Billy Ayre’s charges clinching promotion at Wembley.

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Dixon was brought to Bloomfield Road by Gary Megson in 1996

Dixon was brought to Bloomfield Road by Gary Megson in 1996

The season ended in the most dramatic of circumstances, Pool edging past Scunthorpe United on penalties in the Division Three play-off final.

But, just 21 days prior to that unforgettable day in the capital, Blackpool’s promotion chances were almost left in tatters.

Ayre’s men took on Lincoln City in their final fixture of the season knowing a win would clinch automatic promotion.

Sincil Bank was a sea of tangerine, packed to the rafters with expectant Pool fans who heavily outnumbered the home faithful.

Blackpool fans crammed inside Sincil Bank hoping for a tangerine party. Screengrab taken from YouTube.

Blackpool fans crammed inside Sincil Bank hoping for a tangerine party. Screengrab taken from YouTube.

But the Imps had no intention of hosting a promotion party for Blackpool on their own turf, claiming a 2-0 win thanks to two Matt Carmichael penalties.

It meant the Seasiders missed out on automatic promotion by a single point for the second consecutive season – having lost to Walsall on the final day of the previous campaign before losing on penalties to Torquay United at Wembley in the play-off final.

Ben Dixon, who later went on to play for Blackpool between 1996 and 1998, was part of the Lincoln side during that tasty encounter.

“I remember the game quite well,” he told The Gazette. “I was only 17 so I had just broken into the first-team a few weeks before.

Ben Dixon in action for Blackpool against Carlisle United in 1997

Ben Dixon in action for Blackpool against Carlisle United in 1997

“We knew Blackpool could get automatic promotion but the game turned in our favour and we won it thanks to two penalties.

“I can’t say we were motivated to stop them winning promotion. But because it was the last day of the season we obviously weren’t playing for anything.

“I remember it being quite a warm, dusty day and their fans coming down and filling the place.

“Back then Lincoln weren’t getting the support they get now so it made for quite a carnival atmosphere because the Blackpool fans were desperate to get that automatic promotion.”

Dixon, Brett Ormerod and Derek Spence help present awards to local footballers

Dixon, Brett Ormerod and Derek Spence help present awards to local footballers

The game was marred by crowd trouble just before the final whistle, with Blackpool fans invading the pitch in the last minute of the game.

Dixon was unfortunately involved, finding himself on the wrong end of a punch thrown from a Pool supporter.

“I remember the Blackpool fans took the whole of the Sincil Bank side, which is now the Co-Op Stand, which was terracing at the time,” Dixon recalled.

“They filled all that because they brought a lot down hoping to have a tangerine party come the final whistle.

“When we went 2-0 up after the second penalty their fans came onto the pitch and we were taken off into the changing rooms.

“I remember it quite vividly as I got smacked by one of the Blackpool fans as I was coming off because I was playing right in front of them down the left side.

Dixon in action against Chelsea's Dennis Wise during Coca-Cola Cup clash in 1996

Dixon in action against Chelsea's Dennis Wise during Coca-Cola Cup clash in 1996

“It wasn’t a bad punch, it was just a clip round the head as someone was running past but that made the press the next day rather than the fact they came on and caused a bit of trouble.

“We went off and the police got them back onto the terraces and luckily we managed to finish the game.

“There was no segregation I think, they just came on to upset things I think because they were gutted they were going to lose the game.

“Fortunately they went on to win promotion at Wembley which must have been a decent way for them to go up in the end.”

Dixon, a defender, began his career with his hometown club in 1992, making 43 league appearances during his four years at Sincil Bank.

In 1996, he made the move to Blackpool after being spotted by then manager Gary Megson.

He remained on the Fylde coast for two years, making 13 appearances, before moving to Singapore to play for Woodlands Wellington.

He soon returned to England and joined non-league side Whitby Town, where he spent six seasons and made a total of 237 appearances.

Spells at Gainsborough Trinity, Ossett Town, Lincoln United, Grantham Town and Boston Town followed.

Recalling his time on the Fylde coast, Dixon said: “I enjoyed my time up there.

“It probably didn’t work out as well as I would have liked it to but that’s just one of those things.

“It was a nice club and the stadium was really old fashioned, but it’s obviously altered a bit now.

“I loved the area and I loved the Lancashire people. They’re salt of the earth and made me feel very welcome.

“That’s the overriding memory really as the football didn’t work out quite how I had hoped, but I made some good friends.

“We played Chelsea away in a Coca-Cola Cup or whatever it was back then, which is now the League Cup.

“We got beat at home in the first leg but went down to Stamford Bridge and beat them when they had a side that was full of European stars.

“That was the highlight really of my time there despite going out on aggregate.

“Apart from that, I was in and out of the team.”

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