This sad be­trayal of Black­pool’s his­tory

The Football League Paper - - STEVE CURRY -

THE sad down­fall of Black­pool with their hotch­potch of loan and youth play­ers and with­out a win in their first eight games is a tragedy for those of their fol­low­ing with any sense of the club’s his­tory. I well re­mem­ber crowd­ing round a new nine-inch tele­vi­sion with the rest of my fam­ily (plus a few neigh­bours who didn’t own a TV) to watch the FA Cup fi­nal in 1953.

The black and white images are as vivid to­day as they were then, those bat­ter­ing ram cen­tre-for­wards Stan Mortensen of Black­pool and Nat Loft­house of Bolton Wan­der­ers, the diminu­tive schemers Ernie Tay­lor and Wil­lie Moir, tall cen­tre-halves Harry John­ston and Mal­colm Bar­rass.

And then, of course, there was Stan­ley Matthews, whose daz­zling per­for­mance helped the Tan­ger­ines de­feat Bolton 4-3, the match for­ever re­mem­bered as the Matthews Fi­nal.

This is the same Fylde club proudly rep­re­sented in 569 games by Jimmy Arm­field, a one-club man, and which gave Eng­land 1966 World Cup win­ner Alan Ball and nur­tured Emyln Hughes be­fore Bill Shankly poached him for Liver­pool.

A mere four sea­sons ago they were proudly pro­moted to the Premier League, al­beit for just one sea­son, and Ian Hol­loway was a hero on the Lan­cashire coast, their hopes as bright as the town’s il­lu­mi­na­tions.

So, as the ho­tel waiter said to George Best as he lay in bed sip­ping cham­pagne with Miss World:“George, where did it all go wrong.” In this case you can start in the board­room.

Karl Oys­ton, the busi­ness­man who owns the club, has much to an­swer for even though he ap­pears to be a master of shift­ing the blame.What owner would send his team to a pre-sea­son match with only eight con­tracted play­ers and the rest named as tri­al­ists?

What man­ager, come to that, would go into his first game of the sea­son with two 17-year-old youth play­ers in his squad. That is what man­ager Jose Riga had to do, com­plain­ing the squad was not strong enough to sus­tain any chal­lenge in the Cham­pi­onship.

And what must man­ager Riga be think­ing about his chair­man, who dur­ing the in­ter­na­tional break, while his man­ager took a hol­i­day in his na­tive Bel­gium, ap­proached Bur­ton’s Gary Rowett to take his job?

Hypocrisy

Wise man Rowett not only turned down Oys­ton but de­cided to make the ap­proach pub­lic, hope­fully to ex­pose the hypocrisy of the poach, while another man was still in the job.

Mean­while, Lat­vian Va­leri Bolokon, who paid £2m for a 20 per cent share of the club (why?) asks what has hap­pened to the para­chute pay­ments made to Black­pool fol­low­ing their rel­e­ga­tion.

He sug­gests the Oys­ton fam­ily has paid it­self £11.5m in salaries and £24m in in­ter­est free loans to their var­i­ous busi­nesses. They did not, it seems, seek per­mis­sion from Mr Bolokon.

The Oys­tons claim they are break­ing no rules since there is no stip­u­la­tion on how para­chute pay­ments should be used. They, in turn, claim they have in­vested mil­lions of their al­leged £105m for­tune in the club.

They claim, too, that Karl Oys­ton re­tains con­trol over all in­vest­ment and rein­vest­ment, which is why, pre­sum­ably, the man­ager’s choice of re­in­force­ments are not play­ing in the fa­mous colours.

The en­tire sham­bolic sit­u­a­tion ac­counts for Black­pool be­ing short of play­ers and points. It is why the sup­port­ers hang their anti-own­ers ban­ners. It is why the lo­cal pa­per says that the club should be the pride of Lan­cashire but is the laugh­ing stock.

Poor Jimmy Arm­field, sewn into the fab­ric of the club, con­tin­ues to keep his coun­sel on the sub­ject of his beloved Black­pool be­cause there is lit­tle he can do to change the sit­u­a­tion.

Inside, it must be eat­ing at his heart and I won­der how Stan, The Wizard Of The Drib­ble would be feel­ing were he still alive. Prob­a­bly as sad and con­fused as those de­fend­ers who tried to stop him as a player in the club’s colours.

HIS­TORY BOYS: The 1953 Cup fi­nal, Karl Oys­ton, Jimmy Arm­field. Right: Ian Hol­loway cel­e­brates pro­mo­tion

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