John Murphy admits it was a “dream come true” to coach Blackpool’s youth team at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium.
The former Blackpool striker watched on from the touchline on Monday as the young Seasiders were knocked out of the FA Youth Cup at the semi-final stage, losing 5-0 on the night and 7-2 on aggregate.
Despite the defeat, the academy coach says the whole experience was a great learning curve for both him and his players.
“I played at a couple of nice grounds as a player but as a coach, it’s dreams come true stuff,” he said.
“I’ve gone from standing on the side and getting soaked at Myerscough College to the Emirates, where I’m sat in one of the most comfortable chairs I’ve ever seen.
“I didn’t want to get up. It moves forward, it moves back, it reclines and it heats as well. And yet on Saturday I was stood in a puddle.
“It’s all about the highs and lows of football. I’d love to be here every week, I’d probably love to be Arsene Wenger - even though I’d be getting stick from all the Arsenal fans.
“But it’s all a learning curve, everyone is learning. It’s over now and the season is drawing to an end.
“We have decisions to make over players, which is obviously going to be tough. But this experience is only going to stand them in good stead.”
While Blackpool headed to the capital on the back of a 2-2 first leg draw, the gulf in quality soon became clear on Monday when they found themselves 3-0 down after just half an hour.
There was little the Seasiders could do to stop an Arsenal side that was packed full of young internationals.
Murphy added: “It will be interesting to fast-forward a few years and see how many of these players are playing at Arsenal at league level.
“Or will they have to drop down to the lower leagues? I don’t know, but they’re good players.
“This shows the younger lads that this is possible. It’s possible to play for the Blackpool youth team and play at the Emirates.
“I wouldn’t say you’re guaranteed to play here, you’re not. But just look at what is achievable when you have a go and you do the right things.
“It’s a cup competition and dreams are made in cup competitions.
“You play in the Youth Alliance on a Saturday and you play at Accrington away or Rochdale away and you’re playing on the astro-turf because the grass is too wet.
“And then you come here and you’re playing on this ridiculous surface. So it’s motivation for anyone.”