“Blackpool go into Saturday’s game knowing a win against Fleetwood is vital in their League One survival hopes.”
That’s a sentence I’ve written this week, but just take a moment to actually let that settle in.
Blackpool needing to beat Fleetwood to stand a chance of staying in League One –it’s actually scandalous.
Before we go any further, I have nothing but admiration for the work of Andy Pilley and co at Fleetwood Town. What they have done is nothing short of brilliant.
But for Blackpool, tomorrow’s game is shameful.
The two clubs have only met once professionally at Highbury before – just four years ago when things could not have been much different.
Fleetwood were the big boys of non-league while Ian Holloway’s Championship Blackpool came to town with a host of big names and cruised to a 5-1 FA Cup win.
We could talk about what has caused all this until we are blue in the face, it’s an argument for another day, so we will concentrate on the football instead.
Even that is pretty bleak for the Seasiders.
While Fleetwood’s position is a tale of woe and missed chances, Blackpool are very much where they deserve to be.
Yesterday’s press interviews from the Blackpool camp were very interesting to say the least – I’ve never heard Neil McDonald so cagey.
His happy, positive sound bites were replaced by snappy one liners, and he point-blank refused to talk about Fleetwood Town.
When asked a pretty routine question about what his side can expect from Steven Pressley’s men, he bit back with: “I haven’t really concentrated on Fleetwood to be honest, I’m concentrating on Blackpool.”
That’s not strictly true, he was in attendance at Fleetwood’s recent win against Perterborough and is only too aware of what they will bring – I can only imagine he simply wants to play things down.
Also up for interview was Tom Aldred who blasted out a response to claims the players are not fit to wear the shirt.
It is the sort of reply Pool fans will want to hear, but actions speak much louder than words and it is key they prove that, not only tomorrow, but in all three remaining games.
If they drag themselves through the final games and avoid the drop, they will be no doubts at all of their commitment.
As for Fleetwood, they are a club and team I’m fond of. You can’t help but be impressed by the people who run it.
With their outstanding training complex now open and big plans for the future within their football structure, they need to stay in the division, and deserve to.
What impressed me most as I was given a guided tour of Poolfoot Farm recently was the attention to detail – something which even Sir Alex Ferguson admitted ‘wowed’ him.
Ideally both of our clubs will stay up this season and maybe next year’s game against the pair can be played in much better circumstances, but right now it looks like the loser tomorrow could be in deep, deep trouble.
You may noticed I’ve stopped short of calling tomorrow’s game a derby, I’m not sure it is in anything but geography.
The Fylde coast is not a big place and youwill find most in red would have been cheering on the Seasiders back in 2010, likewise many in tangerine will have probably attended a Fleetwood game at some point.
Arch rivals for Blackpool come in the shape of Preston, Burnley and for certain generations Bolton, but few clashes against those will have had the importance of tomorrow.
The Fleetwood versus Blackpool game is one I’ve had circled on the calendar all season, mainly looking forward to it.
Like most on the south side of the Fylde coast, it is now a clash I approach with dread.