Will Watt: Defeat to Fleetwood would be ultimate humiliation

Andy Pilley deserves real credit for Fleetwood's rise
Andy Pilley deserves real credit for Fleetwood's rise
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Let’s not mess around here – should Blackpool lose to Fleetwood tomorrow, it will be the most embarrassing result in the club’s history.

That’s not a dig at Fleetwood or Andy Pilley, who deserve nothing but praise for their rise to League One. But for Blackpool defeat is unthinkable. It would compound the misery of everyone associated with the club - especially embarrassing for those who smugly claimed it would never happen.

I’m reminded of an interview Karl Oyston gave in the run-up to the only previous competitive meeting between these clubs – in the FA Cup in January 2012.

The Seasiders had been relegated from the Premier League the previous season and were on their way to another Championship play-off final under Ian Holloway. Micky Mellon’s Fleetwood were on the rise in the Conference.

When asked about the game, Oyston said: “I don’t think it is a big fixture at all.

“If we had drawn Manchester United that would have been exciting, but a Conference club isn’t wonderful.

“I’ve got tickets for Saturday but I’m passing them on to other members of the family. I’m going to stay away.

“I’ll be monitoring the progress from afar, but I think it’s more important that people go who really want to go and are excited by it.”

Those condescending words may well have been forgotten by most, but knowing Town chairman Pilley, they are probably burnt into his memory – they do say that he who laughs last, laughs loudest.

Since that game, Fleetwood have continued to redevelop their stadium, have built an £8m training ground and have enjoyed two promotions.

I don’t need to tell you what’s happened to Blackpool.

The rise of Fleetwood deserves the utmost credit, with Pilley and his right-hand man Steve Curwood turning Town from part-timers into a respected League One club.

It’s a club I’m happy to say I’m a huge fan of. Its people and supporters are a real credit to the town and rightly they are gaining all the plaudits in the run-up to tomorrow’s game.

What is most sad, though, is that it won’t be the celebration of Fylde football that it should be. Bloomfield Road will be a deserted, quiet and lifeless place, as it has been all season so far, apart from the obvious huge travelling support from Fleetwood.

While I suppose he has to say it, Neil McDonald’s pre-match comments about a blood and thunder atmosphere and his appeal to Pool fans to make it intimidating are a little wide of the mark.

Anyone expecting a cauldron of noise from Blackpool fans tomorrow will be hugely disappointed.

A poll I conducted on social media over the last couple of days suggested that 82 per cent of Blackpool fans have no intention of attending the game. Almost 800 voted.

All that said, it’s a game I wouldn’t like to put money on. It could go either way.

Having met Steven Pressley a couple of weeks ago, I was quick to tell people how impressed I was with him and his ideas. Recent results have proved he’s already made a big difference at Highbury.

Blackpool, on the other hand, are struggling, though the performance at Port Vale on Tuesday suggested they are probably a decent finisher from being a competitive League One side.

Personally, I’m really looking forward to seeing Blackpool face Fleetwood, It’s a game which should celebrate the outstanding rise of the Cod Army.

The game fills most Pool fans with dread.

A loss would be the lowest of a desperately low period for the club. For some it would be the final nail in the coffin.