The rise and fall of Blackpool FC

Sunday's relegation saw Blackpool return to the bottom flight of English football for the first time in 15 years.

Tuesday, 10th May 2016, 12:01 pm
Updated Tuesday, 10th May 2016, 1:05 pm
The rise and fall of Blackpool FC
The rise and fall of Blackpool FC

It’s been an incredible period for Seasiders fans, one which saw them rise from League Two to the Premier League in nine years, before tumbling back down in just five.

Here, WILLIAM WATT looks at the highs and lows of Blackpool, the rise and the fall.


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The managers

Steve McMahon could do little to prevent the Seasiders’ relegation in 2000, but they bounced back at the first attempt.

Things couldn’t have got off to a worse start though, with a 7-0 defeat against Barnet piling the pressure on the boss back in November.

But a deadly strike force of Brett Ormerod and John Murphy was enough to see them sneak into seventh place in the table before beating Leyton Orient.

Ian Hughes, Brian Reid, Paul Simpson and the prolific Ormerod were on target in the 4-2 win at the Millenium Stadium.

The managers


After three years of mid-table finishes in League One, and a brush with relegation under Colin Hendry in 2005, Blackpool finally got themselves a team to be proud of in 2006-07.

Former player Simon Grayson had taken over by this point, and introduced the likes of Ian Evatt, Shaun Barker, Keigan Parker and the outstanding Wes Hoolahan.

The latter arrived on a season-long loan from Scottish side Livingston after turning up for a trial unexpectedly in the summer, and stole the show with some outstanding displays.

It took an incredible run of 10 wins on the bounce, dubbed the ‘Perfect Ten’ to see Pool gain promotion to the second tier for the first time in 29 years.

Grayson’s side relied on a strike partnership of Andy Morrell and Parker to fire them to promotion, with a then-unknown keeper called Joe Hart playing a big part on loan from Manchester City.

After finishing third in the table, goals from Parker and Robbie Williams earned them a 2-0 play-off final win at Wembley.


Two largely unforgettable years back in the second tier followed before the arrival of Ian Holloway in the summer of 2009 changed the club forever.

Holloway pipped former Bury boss Alan Knill to the job, a decision which will go down as the best ever made by chairman Karl Oyston.

After being aided by funding from Latvian businessman Valeri Belokon, Blackpool secured midfielder Charlie Adam on a permanent deal from Rangers, who proved to play a huge part in the historic season.

Adam fired 19 goals from midfield as Blackpool achieved the impossible dream, earning promotion to the Premier League.

It took a 12-game unbeaten run from Holloway’s men, inspired by the likes of David Vaughan, DJ Campbell and Everton loan man Seamus Coleman, to lead them to the most unlikely of promotions.

In the end it took a 3-2 win against Cardiff in front of 90,000 at Wembley, with Adam, Gary Taylor-Fletcher and Brett Ormerod firing in the now-legendary goals.


Ian Holloway promised to attack the Premier League and that’s exactly what Blackpool did.

Hailed by the whole country, Pool gained 39 points in the top flight, one of the highest ever totals to be relegated with, with doubles against Liverpool and Newcastle along the way.

The Seasiders went into the final day needing a win against Manchester United at Old Trafford to survive, only to lose 4-2 despite goals from Charlie Adam and Gary Taylor-Fletcher. Pool’s season in the spotlight wasn’t just good for reputation, it also earned around £100m in revenue for the club.


Following the departure of key men Charlie Adam, David Vaughan and DJ Campbell, Holloway had the huge task of rebuilding the squad.

He did that with the signings of Barry Ferguson, Kevin Phillips and Tom Ince, and once again made light work of the Championship.

Blackpool’s free-flowing style again caught the imagination of the world of football, again leading the Seasiders to a play-off final following a two-legged victory over Birmingham.

In the end they’d end up heartbroken after Ricardo Vaz Te’s late goal earned West Ham a 2-1 Wembley win.

It was to prove the beginning of the end for Holloway and Blackpool’s flirtation with the Premier League.


The following three years proved to be a total disaster for Blackpool, with a host of managers coming and going following Ian Holloway’s loss of faith in the club.

Michael Appleton, Paul Ince and Barry Ferguson all took charge and battled with relegation, as fan unrest began to become as big a story as on-the-field matters.

In 2014, with Ferguson as caretaker boss, the end of the season was blighted by fan protests, including seeing an April clash against Burnley held-up when around 200 tennis balls were thrown onto the pitch in protest of chairman Karl Oyston.

The following summer proved to be a total disaster, as Jose Riga was named manager with just six players registered to the club.

Riga and Oyston clashed from the off, with the team pinned to the bottom of the Championship in the process.

By the time Lee Clark arrived in November, the damage had been done and Blackpool had very little chance of survival.

In the end they earned a record low number of points, finishing rock-bottom of the Championship.

Chairman Oyston was also banned from the stadium for six weeks following a text row with a fan, during which he used the shameful phrase ‘retard’.

Protests went from bad to worse in the process, with the final game of the season being abandoned thanks to a 48th minute pitch invasion, as supporters battled the owners following dreadful on-the-field issues against a backdrop of legal battles with fans.

In was the worst season in Blackpool FC’s proud history.


Neil McDonald picked up the pieces of a broken club in the summer of 2014, with decade-low attendances, and just seven professional players in place as they started pre-season training.

The former West Ham assistant manager managed to hash together a squad for the start of the season, with captain David Ferguson declaring the aim was to ‘win the league.’

In reality they couldn’t be further from title challengers and struggled just about from the off.

As fans continued to protest McDonald admitted attracting players to the club was ‘difficult’, with the backdrop of battles with fans and the media a constant issues.

Off the field, fans continued to be sued for a variety of reasons, and Valeri Belokon and the Oyston family took to the High Court in a battle over money.

It was another messy season, and the performances on the field made things worse as McDonald’s team showed very little fight, failing to even score a goal in four of their last five games.

Blackpool are back to where they started, 15 years later.