An angry sea, a stormy cup tie and a seething manager – Travels with Town at Blackpool
- Credit: Phill Heywood
Football writer Carl Marston has visited 122 Football League grounds, many of them reporting on Ipswich Town. Here he spotlights Blackpool’s Bloomfield Road, ahead of Town’s visit this weekend
Ian Holloway, never one to mince his words, was even more straight-talking than usual in his post-match interview, following one of my visits to Bloomfield Road, at the start of the previous decade.
Manager of home club Blackpool, famed for their FA Cup win of 1953, Holloway was seething beside the seaside after Roy Keane's Ipswich side knocked his team out of the FA Cup thanks to a 2-1 win on January 2, 2010.
And perhaps he had reason to use some colourful language after watching two of his players be shown the red card, by referee Eddie Ilderton - ironically, Holloway too was to be sent off by Ilderton, following the home manager's over-the-top reaction to the red card flashed at the second of these players, Rob Edwards.
Substitute Edwards joined fellow defender Ian Evatt in the changing room for an early bath, the duo having been dismissed on 55 and 76 minutes respectively.
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From the press box, I had a good view of Holloway's antics as he left the dug-out. I remember him hurling his coat, hat and gloves to the ground, before making his way up to the top rows of the main-stand.
He may have regretted that - not necessarily his loss of temper- but the fact that it was a very, very cold afternoon - I had arrived in Blackpool several hours before kick-off, in order to have the obligatory stroll along the seafront, and I could confirm that the Irish Sea was looking in a particularly menacing mood.
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The cauldron of high waves perhaps foreshadowed Holloway's rant of later in the day.
Actually, I was on the side of the referee on this occasion. Both Evatt and Edwards deserved to be sent off, having committed professional fouls on Jack Colback and Jon Walters, who were both homing in on goal.
Earlier, Colback had broken the deadlock inside three minutes, after which Holloway's early frustrations were not helped by Charlie Adam's 24th minute penalty rattling a post and staying out.
Blackpool did equalise through veteran striker Brett Ormerod, early in the second half, but then came the two red cards (three if you count Holloway's) and a 76th minute winner from young Owen Garvan, who guided a free-kick beyond the defensive wall and low into the corner of the net.
Needless-to-say, Town boss Keane, another manager not afraid to speak his mind, was angry that his team did not kill off the nine men during the later stages. I recall substitute Connor Wickham missing two great chances.
A passage, however stormy, was nevertheless negotiated by Town through to the fourth round of the FA Cup, although my quest to get a few words with Holloway after the match was less successful.
Holloway (currently the manager of Grimsby, his eighth club) was nowhere to be seen for an hour after the final whistle.
And as I wrote in the final paragraph of my match report for Monday's newspaper:
'Perhaps he had stormed off for a toe-curling dip in the Irish Sea to cool down?'
- Club: Blackpool
- Founded: 1887 (133 years ago)
- Ground: Bloomfield Road (since 1901), previously at Raikes Hall Gardens (Pleasure Gardens) and briefly at Athletic Grounds in 1897 (present-day Stanley Park)
- Town's first visit: 1-1 draw on October 28, 1961
- Town's last visit: 2-0 away win on November 1, 2014
- Town's overall record at Bloomfield Road: P14 W5 D4 L5
There are some wonderful facts about the Seasiders. Here's a select few:
- won the FA Cup in 1953, rallying from 3-1 down to beat Bolton Wanderers 4-3 in a final later dubbed the 'Matthews Final'
- runners-up to Manchester United in First Division in 1955-56
- Won promotion to the Premier League in 2009-10, in the process becoming the first club in England to win promotion from every division of the Football League via the play-offs
- The Seasiders have not won automatic promotion since 1984-85, when they finished runners-up to Chesterfield in the fourth tier.
Town's visit/Carl's experience
Saturday, January 2, 2010: Blackpool 1 Ipswich Town 2 (FA Cup)
The press box, which has moved over the years, is now in the East Stand. My predecessors, back in 1906, were apparently pleading with the club to build a press box of any sort, because they had to report on games from the touch-line.
I know, we in the media get it far too easy these days.