Simon Grayson on Blackpool v Preston derbies past and present: 'It's a massive, massive game'

Fleetwood Town boss Simon Grayson has spent time on both sides of the Blackpool-Preston divide and so understands better than most what is at stake in Saturday's mouthwatering derby.

Thursday, 21st October 2021, 5:03 pm
Updated Thursday, 21st October 2021, 5:06 pm

Grayson had two stints as Blackpool manager, either side of a spell in the Deepdale hotseat, and also ended his playing career with the Seasiders.

Two derby clashes stand out in Grayson's memory, the more recent Preston's 1-0 victory over their arch-rivals in the first round of the League Cup in August 2013.

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Blackpool's (from left) Ben Burgess, Mike Flynn and matchwinner Wes Hoolahan at Deepdale in December 2007

Grayson was in his first full season as North End boss and the matchwinner that night was Tom Clarke, now reunited with Grayson at Highbury.

Grayson recalled: “Blackpool were in the Championship at the time and we were League One. It put Tom Clarke into Preston folklore within two games of being in a white shirt. It was a great experience and it means so much to everybody.

“I celebrated that night because it was the team I was working for. When I was the Blackpool manager I celebrated because that was the team I was working for then.”

Grayson was very much on the Blackpool side of the fence in December 2007, when another memorable goal settled the derby.

Wes Hoolahan sealed three Championship points for Pool at Deepdale with an audacious chip from the penaty spot, to the delight of manager Grayson.

He recalled: “We've got Youl Mawene with us now (on the Fleetwood coaching staff). I reminded him last week that he made a clumsy challenge on Ben Burgess that led to the penalty.

“I didn't watch the penalties then and I said to someone afterwards, 'What did Wes do?'

“I was thinking he'd smashed it to the left or the right but he'd chipped Andy Lonergan.

“That was one way to win a football match and to do it in front of the Blackpool end was obviously special for the Blackpool supporters at the time.”

That derby passion is rekindled this weekend and Grayson fully appreciates the magnitude of the match.

"It's one of those games that people from outside of the area will say isn't a big game. But as anyone in the area knows, it's a massive, massive game.

"As a rivalry it is intense, it's like Blackburn and Burnley. From outside the area, people don't realise the intensity that game brings.

"It means exactly the same, if not more, than Liverpool and Everton, Liverpool and Manchester United, Celtic and Rangers.

"All these big derby matches, this has got the intensity to it, the rivalry to it and the real edge to it.

" It's just a shame those games haven't been played too often recently because of the teams being in different divisions but it's going to be one hell of an atmosphere at Bloomfield Road."

Grayson's thoughts turned to one Preston supporter who won't be able to enjoy this special occasion.

"It's just a shame that Mr Hemmings will not be around to go and watch the game," he added.

"His death was tragic news and my thoughts go out to his family and his close friends.

"This game is about the bragging rights. Blackpool and Preston fans, and the players as well, want the bragging rights.

"There are also three points at stake in the Championship, that's what people are forgetting about. There are actually three points in this game to get further up the division. It's a great game to be involved in.

"Unfortunately we have a game that day, otherwise I would have liked to have gone and watched it.”

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