Wigan Athletic take on Blackpool at Bloomfield Road in the Carling Cup 2nd Round on Wednesday and though I am not the greatest travelling supporter the seaside is a trip that I like to make for reasons other than the obvious.
The first competitive meeting between Blackpool and the Latics took place at Bloomfield Road in 1979, it was the FA cup, it was our 2nd season as a league club and we were in Round One without having to qualify which made a change to trawling through preliminary rounds we drew 1-1 and I was gutted
Gutted, yes because I couldn`t make the game, now I have already said that I am not the greatest traveller but a trip to the seaside and a game against what was at the time a much more illustrious club from a higher division was what being a football fan was all about.
My reason was that at the time I was starting out on my own footballing career, yeah right I hear you say, yeah right is what I say; check the photo below of a young worbo ready for a training session:
Wigan Rovers FC 1975 – 81, played in numerous positions all over the pitch, people will tell you it was because I was awful, wrong I wasn`t even that good!
Anyway gutted at the result 1-1, friends told me that the Latics had played really well and fully deserved to get the replay that Colin Methven`s goal had earned and it set up an exciting return to Springfield Park for the following Tuesday?..TUESDAY!!!!
Anyone who plays non-league football will tell you that Tuesday is training night, I missed the replay which Latics won 2-1 with goals from Tommy Gore and Frank Corrigan in front of over 18,000 fans packed into the famous old ground.
Latics went on to have a fantastic cup run, beating Chelsea at Stamford Bridge before going out at Everton in the 4th round, I didn`t get to see any of the games.
The first time I made it to Blackpool for a game was the 1992/93 season, we lost 2-1 but at least I had sampled sea air, Fish ‘n Chips off the Prom and a leisurely stroll on the beach before the game, quite chilled considering we were about to be relegated for the one and only time in our history. It was the lull before the storm.
Bryan Hamilton had started the season off in charge but he jumped ship and left the genial Dave Philpotts to carry the can and he still remains the only manager to relegate the Latics but it could be argued it wasn`t down to him but his predecessor.
Anyway the game itself at Blackpool was quite entertaining if memory serves me well, I seem to recall little about us as an attacking force though Bryan Griffiths did have a good game, what a player he was, local lad from St. Helens and he ended up signing for Blackpool at the end of that season. Bryan Griffiths always reminded me of a caricature, his head was far too big for his body and his feature`s were definitely exaggerated, but good player he was.
We also took a few fans for the 40 mile trip, our average home attendance in 1992/93 was 2,593 but I bet there was almost has many who also followed the Latics on the road that season and there was a good showing at Blackpool, pity the team that year didn`t show the same conviction as they finished 23rd out of 24th sides, only Chester below us, the future looked bleak. In stepped Kenny Swain the following season and matters got a lot worse!
Still that is all in the past and now we face our Lancashire neighbours as the `BIG` club and we travel to the seaside as favourites for the tie because of our place amongst the country`s elite but we will need to be up for a battle as Ian Holloway will undoubtedly have Blackpool raring to go against their more illustrious neighbours, lets hope that we forget about fish and chips and kiss me quick hats for 90 minutes and that the only donkeys will be found on Blackpool beach and no Spanish donkeys on the Bloomfield Road pitch.
A good cup run would certainly provide a welcomed early season distraction and get some confidence in the team, 1979 saw the defeat of Blackpool in one cup competition produce an exciting tournament for the Latics, lets hope 30 years later this can be re-produced.
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