Eamonn O'Keefe: Homecoming clash is a victory for the Blackpool fans
Former Seasider Eamonn O’Keefe believes this weekend’s big Bloomfield Road return is a huge victory for the club’s supporters that have campaigned tirelessly for change.
The 65-year-old has been one of the most vocal of the club’s former players to air his views about the Oyston regime, regularly lending his support to Blackpool Supporters’ Trust (BST).
O’Keefe, who scored 23 goals for Pool between 1985 and 1986, told The Gazette: “It’s incredible really, it’s a huge story on its own.
“I’m so chuffed. When I was first asked to join in with this movement, I was very annoyed at others not trying to help and force change. But you quickly realise it’s going to be a long-term thing because people are clutching on.
“But for BST and the Tangerine Knights, for them to have stuck to it is a momentous thing in itself, because there must have been times where they were thinking ‘we don’t know what we’re doing this for’.
“There must have been dark times and it’s almost as if this day was never going to come, but it is.
“When I was first approached by BST I did wonder if they were just a bunch of supporters, but when I realised how well-established and well-equipped they were it was quite quickly I realised if anyone was going to do it, it would be these. I knew they would do it the right way.
“With all due respect, shouting stuff at people and throwing stuff at cars wasn’t going to get you there - they did it the correct way and they stuck with it.
“They’ve always been professional and they’ve now got their reward, which is fantastic.”
As a former player O’Keefe knows better than most what a packed Bloomfield Road is like, and the former midfielder is hoping that atmosphere can spur on the players.
“When we were getting promotion and when I had my testimonial the fans packed out the stadium,” he said.
“I think if we can get the crowds as they can be and the momentum we can get because of the backing should lift the team. It would certainly lift me if I was playing.
“If we can get a goal early on against Southend it could be four or five. I wouldn’t fancy being in their team.
“The adrenaline will be everywhere, it will be in the changing room, it will be in the tunnel going out. So I think Southend will have a pretty good excuse if they lose!
“But it’s almost not about the match. I can’t wait to see the ground full.”
O’Keefe has confirmed he will join the fans on their victory march to the ground ahead of today’s clash against Southend United.
“Try and stop me!,” he added. “We’ve come this far, there’s no way I’m ducking out now.
“I’m just looking forward to seeing everybody have a real good time and hopefully we get a win.
“It’s not the end of the world if we don’t, I don’t think it’s about the match. It’s not really about what happens on the pitch, it’s about getting back into the rhythm of saying ‘I’m a Blackpool supporter’ and having a real good party.”