'We're in need of some staff:' Ex-Blackpool boss recalls the first challenge he faced after taking over at Bloomfield Road

Gary Bowyer (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)Gary Bowyer (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)
Gary Bowyer (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)
Former Blackpool manager Gary Bowyer admits he quickly understood the challenge that was on his hands soon after taking over at Bloomfield Road.

The 52-year-old was with the Seasiders between 2016 and 2018, and helped the club to promotion via the League Two play-offs during his first season in charge. His other employers include the likes of Blackburn Rovers, Bradford City and Dundee, while in the last few days he’s become one of the bookies’ favourites to take over the vacant role at Forest Green Rovers- following the sacking of Troy Deeney after just six games in charge.

Bowyer arrived at Blackpool during a difficult period, and was greeted by a number of surprises during his first full day in charge.

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“The opportunity came about by chance if I’m being brutally honest,” he said.

"Richie Kyle, the assistant coach at the time, was ringing me about a player or a potential manager going in at Blackpool, and he just said ‘you don’t fancy sticking your hat in the ring, do you?’

"The next day I drove up to meet Karl (Oyston) and Alex Cowdy, who was the secretary at the time. There were one or two others there as well, and we went for a walk around this lovely house.

"This was the year fans had staged protests and were planning to boycott the games, so I was asked if I could handle that. I gave examples from my time at Blackburn and concentrating on the things we could control.

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"I was then offered the job, and while they were sending the contract by email we were playing crochet on the lawn.

"We went down to the ground the next day and met Richie. I asked ‘where’s the kit man,’ and he said ‘we haven’t got one.’ I then asked ‘where’s the goalie coach,’ and he replied ‘we haven’t got one.’ Then, ‘where’s the fitness coach,’ and he said ‘they’ve left.’

"On my first day I realised it was just me, Richie Kyle, the analyst Adam Whiteside, and the physio Phil Horner- that was the staff. I worked my way around to Karl and said ‘we’re in need of some staff.’”

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Bowyer had a number of hurdles to overcome during his time at Bloomfield Road, and sometimes that simply came down to the weather.

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“There were a couple of instances in the first year where we had nowhere to train because it was frozen everywhere,” he added.

"We went for a walk to the arcades, and told the lads to bring money. They were playing the basketball and the air hockey, while Pottsy (Brad Potts) was trying to win a teddy from the claw thing- it was competitive. We just tried to make the most of the facilities around us in Blackpool.

“The staff would regularly go for a walk into town for a cup of coffee. We loved being a part of it. When I go back for commentary now, I still enjoy going on the M55 now and looking out for the first sight of the tower.”