Matchday memories: Spurs visit Bloomfield Rd

Blackpool 0 Tottenham Hotspur 1, FA Cup Third Round, January 5, 1991.

BLACKPOOL'S near miss against Gascoigne and co epitomised a season that ended in tears.

If Gazza found plenty to weep about during and after an unfulfilled playing career, it was nothing compared with the crying shame at Bloomfield Road.

Being denied a giantkilling over 90 minutes made old and young alike fill up, but seeing an entire season's work go to waste reduced even the toughest men to blubbing wrecks.

Realistically the FA Cup was bound to be no more than a pleasant interlude amid the objective of getting out of the Fourth Division.

Midway through the campaign when Spurs came to town Pool were firmly on track after putting Billly Ayre in charge a month earlier. Four months later, heartbreak.

Just one more point would have lifted them into Division Three at the expense of Peterborough but instead they were consigned to the play-offs, and Torquay outscored them in a penalty shoot-out at Wembley.

Up with Torquay and Posh went champions Darlington, Stockport and Hartlepool while Ayre bravely got on with plotting better times ahead.

Ayre's patience paid.

Agony was replaced by ecstasy 12 months later as Billy's boys again finished in the play-off places, but this time made it count by beating Scunthorpe on penalties.

As they went up, down came Torquay and Darlington...

Rewind to January of 16 years ago, and it was touch and go whether the sellout 9,400 fans would actually get to see a glamour game at Bloomfield Road.

Safety officers from Lancashire County Council sanctioned the ground as fit just 24 hours beforehand after a dozen welders and maintenance men worked throughout the night.

Pool had to lay out 20,000 to get 17 emergency exit gates from the terraces to the perimeter track in place.

Had the work not been completed satisfactorily, the tie could have been postponed or played in front of fewer than 3,000 seated fans.

Access gates were ordered at all 92 League grounds following the Taylor report into the Hillsborough Tragedy. Pool began the work three days before Christmas.

Dave Bamber, who was to be tormented by a crucial penalty miss at Wembley, completed a surprise permanent move back to Bloomfield Road over the weekend in a deal worth overall 90,000.

Pool paid Hull City 25,000 for him but chairman Owen Oyston agreed to take over the remaining 18 months of his contract.

The much-travelled striker had been on loan at Pool for six weeks and was only cleared for the tie an hour before kick-off.

Bamber, whose Hull boss Stan Ternent was sacked three days before the tie, arrived at the ground expecting just to watch.

Describing the match as a "lottery" in the howling wind, Spurs boss Terry Venables said there was a case for calling matches off in such conditions.

"It's a shame for the public. They pay good money and are denied the chance to see players do themselves justice," he said.

Scorer Paul Stewart, who like Bamber lives in the resort, described the conditions as the worst he had ever encountered. And this wasn't the only time he came back to haunt the club that discovered him.


After moving to Manchester City for 200,000 in March 1987, he was in the City side which drew 1-1 at Bloomfield Road in the fourth round the following season – and then scored in City's 2-1 win in the Maine Road replay.

Weather conditions were so bad in the week of Gascoigne and co's visit that the Fylde coast was put on flood alert.

Operation Neptune, the region's flood warning system, was on amber for two successive days as winds hit storm force six and brought the waves crashing over sea walls.