"There’s a famous seaside place called Blackpool, noted for fresh air and fun,
And Mr & Mrs Ramsbottom went there with young Albert, their son.
A fine little lad were young Albert, all dressed in his best, quite a swell,
He’d a stick with an 'orse’s 'ead handle, the finest that Woolworth’s could sell" …
(Marriott Edgar, recorded by Stanley Holloway)
As this season lurches from crisis to crisis, we visit perhaps the only club whose owner is detested (by a country mile) even more than our own “Number 1 fan”. The Oyston family has held on to the reins at Blackpool despite high profile legal shenanigans relating to upwards of £26 million “illegitimately stripped” (High Court) from the club to companies owned by Owen Oyston and his son ex-Chairman Karl. Current Chairperson is Owen Oyston’s daughter. As recently as November 2017 the Oystons were ordered to pay £31 million to the Latvian businessman brought in 11 years earlier, and the club has been up for sale since then.
Blackpool currently sit amongst the leaders in the chasing pack for the play-offs, waiting for slip-ups from the likes of Peterborough United and Charlton Athletic - such a transformation from those balmy September days when the Seasiders came to Bescot and played out a goal-less draw; at that time we were comfortably in the play-off zone, 5 points ahead of Doncaster Rovers in 7th place. The up-to-date statistics reveal that we have actually scored more League One goals than Blackpool (34 against 31) but our defensive frailties are cruelly exposed, showing 47 goals conceded against their 27.
There are no current player connections between us following Andy Taylor’s release at the end of last season, he’s currently at Oldham Athletic. Two managerial connections may induce a shiver or a fond memory depending on your age - Blackpool’s previous managers have included Jimmy Mullen and Major Frank Buckley.… Current league One form:–
29 Dec AFC Wimbledon (A) Drew 0-0
1 Jan Sunderland (H) Lost 0-1
12 Jan Portsmouth (A) Won 0-1
19 Jan Shrewsbury Town (H) Drew 0-0
26 Jan Coventry City (A) Won 0-2
29 Jan Wycombe Wanderers (H) Drew 2-2
There is, of course, no telling what Dean Keates’ selection criteria for this game will be. He has the biggest Walsall squad for years at his disposal but for reasons best known to himself he has been bestowing and with-holding his favours in possibly the wrong direction of late. Liam Kinsella’s absence from the squad, Isaiah Osbourne’s apparent “first on the team sheet” inclusion, Nicky Devlin’s transformation into a right-winger … these are some of the decisions which have raised eyebrows among the fans. Dean has stated that the performances of substitutes in the Rochdale game have given him food for thought, and we can only guess that changes in his starting XI might be imminent.
Prediction? Based on our current form (Gillingham apart) it looks like a certain Saddlers defeat. However, we do seem to reserve our best showings for our games away from home, so a 1-1 draw would at least give us one point as we trudge towards safety. Andy Cook to benefit from better service than of late, and equalise late on after we concede Blackpool’s opener in the first 5 minutes (as seems to be our pattern).