“Franjo?” inquires a young journalist. She’s wet behind the ears like me and visibly shaking with nerves, so I smile kindly back and invite her to continue. “How on Earth have you convinced Billy Clarke to come back?” She continues with a smirk. My smile fades. The other journalists lean in with anticipation, but when I open my mouth to respond, no words come. I glance to my right to see that Billy’s looking at me sympathetically. He leans forward towards his microphone:
“They say that you’ve got to hit rock bottom before you can start to climb back up to the top” he begins. My heart sinks. For fucks sake Billy. “I remember the feeling when me and the lads got this club promoted to the Prem. Then that bastard Ian Holloway got cocky and decided he didn’t need me. The rest is history isn’t it.” Don’t think I didn’t see that half-a-second-smile Billy. He’s taking the piss. I can feel myself sinking lower and lower into my chair. This is bloody tragic.
I signed Billy on Deadline Day from League One side Bradford where he was transfer listed, but I still had to shell out £300k, my record spend so far. He’s a versatile and talented attacker and I’m hoping that he’ll pay us back by giving us a creativity boost in the final third. And yes, he was here once before when Blackpool went up to the Premier League, but was dumped shortly after. He seems at peace with it. Who doesn’t like Ian Holloway?
We’re sat in 8th after a mixed start to the season, just 3 points outside the automatic promotion spots with 11 points from 6 games. We have a game in hand over most of the league too so I’m not too worried. Anyway my focus is on the next match: a trip to lovely Yeovil.
There’s something nice and non-threatening about Yeovil. They’re sitting at 21st after a shoddy start to the season, so we should be able to gain a bit of momentum here. Having said that, 2 of my best performers so far in Michael Cain and Danny Philliskirk have gone and got themselves injured and won’t be back for the best part of a month. Potts comes in to cover for Cain and Young Jack Redshaw starts up top for us. He’s been described as “The Maradona of Lancashire”, but not very often.
We’re behind within 14 minutes when a decent Yeovil move sees Dawson release Whitfield with a cheeky through ball on the right, and his low cross gives Tahvon Campbell one of the easier chances he’ll get this season. Just after half an hour though a not too dissimilar move sees Brad Potts’ brilliant pass latched onto by Owain Jones, who crosses in low for Billy bloody Clarke to get his first goal back in Frangerine!
Half time, and a switch to counter attacking football to combat Yeovil’s irresponsibly high back line. Kyle Vassell replaces Mark Cullen in a tactical shuffle that inspires Dwight Tiendalli to give away a penalty within 5 minutes of the restart. Dixon makes no mistake and we’re 2-1 down. 5 minutes later Owain Jones levels again after a great pass from Redshaw, and 10 minutes after that Jones fizzes a cross in for Vassell who tucks it away!
We shut up shop after that, bringing on the calming yet minimal influence of Danny “You hurt my feelings by stripping me of the captaincy” Pugh, and soon after Billy Clarke fizzes in another cross for Vassell to tuck home. 4th goal of the season for him and the game is won.
Buoyed by our superb Vassell-fueled fightback, and full of candyfloss from my solo celebratory trip to the pleasure beach, I phone Charlie Adam’s agent to see if he’d been watching. He hadn’t. I inquire about the possibility of Charlie coming back to Blackpool, or I start to but he seems to accidentally hang up before I finish my sentence. I try him a few more times but then come to the conclusion that his phone died and go queue back up for the Pepsi Max.
Saturday rolls around and it’s time to host Plymouth. I politely inform Mark Cullen that he’s dropped due to poor form, making sure to bring Brede Hangeland with me in case things get hairy, but Mark understands. He’s a good egg but he’s just not that good at football. The versatile Mr Potts takes his place on the left and Jim McAllister comes into the centre. A steadying influence I’ve called upon mainly to protect leads so far, McAllister is a player that I trust to do his job, nothing more and nothing less.
The game gets off to a less than spectacular start but a few minutes from half time Josh Tymon finds space on the left and swings in a peach of a cross, straight onto the head of Jack Redshaw who makes it 1-0.
At half time Kyle Vassell attempts to play the role of super sub again, coming on for Jack Payne, who is looking precarious on a yellow card, and straight from kick off we win a free kick just outside the Plymouth penalty area.
Gasps erupt from all corners of Bloomfield Road as the Blackpool FC goalkeeper, Bobdrick, starts to sprint from his goal and sets himself to take it. He’s already taken a couple this season and hit the bar with a particularly good effort during our draw with Morecambe. Could this be his moment? He counts the steps for his run-up, takes a deep breath, and… attempts a pitiful cross that is immediately cleared. “A CROSS?!” I scream, thrashing around as Brede very easily holds me back. “SHOOT, YOU DICK!”
As Bobdrick stops on the half way line to catch his breath after a whole 25 yards of sprinting back (Goalkeepers.) McKee picks the ball up for Plymouth on the left, prompting Bobdrick to set off once again towards his open goal. McKee fires one off from 45 yards, but it’s well wide. Close one though. Come on Bobdrick.
The final whistle calls an end to a poor match, but that’s 4 wins and a draw in our last 5 games now, and we sit in second, only a point behind Stevenage. We can still feel very good about our promotion chances. Probably less good about seeing Chadam back in a Blackpool kit any time soon though, he and his agent still haven’t got back to me.
Original video version of this episode here: