Saturday, 9 March 2019

It's Not Orange...

...it's Tangerine.*  That has been the predominant colour in the jewel of the north on this glorious 9th March, dubbed 'Homecoming Saturday' for thousands of Blackpool fans who have been boycotting games for over four years in protest against the Oyston family's poor custodianship and 'illegitimate stripping' of our football club. The day on which the fans finally reclaimed their club and the club got its fans back will go down as another famous date in the annals of Blackpool FC.

If anyone ever doubted that the Oyston dynasty would eventually be toppled, last Sunday's Observer  put it quite succinctly: "And now, after perhaps the most brilliantly orchestrated and devoted fan protest there has been in English football, his time is up."

Finally, the odious ones are gone, removed from the board of the club earlier this month by a court-appointed receiver, and what a celebration we have enjoyed this afternoon, another magical day in the sun for 16,000 emotional Blackpool fans decked in tangerine who congregated opposite the tower and then marched in exuberant, carnival-style procession, banners, flags and scarves waving, all the way along the promenade and back into Bloomfield Road.

After a long campaign, waged on several fronts, this was a joyous return, one which many fans thought they might never see. As I wrote in yesterday's Blackpool Supporters' Trust column in the local Gazette: "... to the many thousands who over four seasons took a principled stand against seemingly unprincipled owners, thank you for your unwavering support in helping to bring this change about - and welcome home!"


If the parade was exhilarating, with jelly and ice-cream on sale outside the ground as fans arrived, the atmosphere inside a packed stadium was simply electrifying, spine-tingling; the game itself almost secondary to the spectacle unfolding in the stands and the wall of noise that was Bloomfield Road rocking in cathartic release. To be honest, the players were probably a bit fazed - they've been used to performing in a three-quarters empty ground - but they gave it their all and came away with a 2-2 draw against a workmanlike Southend team.

Some of you know I moved up to Blackpool in mid-2013 on taking early retirement, to save the 450-mile commute to Bloomfield Road every other Saturday (and some week nights too). It's ironic then that having bought a house within walking distance of the stadium, I've been boycotting it for the best part of five years. Today has felt like a double home-coming and a new beginning.

When Blackpool got promoted to the Premier League back in 2010, there was a huge opportunity for the owners of the football club to do something quite remarkable for the club and the town with all the multi-millions that came pouring in over two or three seasons. A well-run and buzzing community club could have been the springboard to rejuvenating one of the most deprived areas in the country - but it didn't happen. We saw that legacy squandered, as the owners chose to milk their cash cow and live off the cream, siphoning off football club money, suing fans who dared to accuse them of improper practices, triggering a massive downturn in the local economy as the team plummeted down the divisions due to under-investment and the fans stayed away in their thousands (home and visiting supporters alike).

I hope that as from today that has all changed. BST's Blackpool Are Back scarves that people have been wearing over the last few days have the sub-text 'The tangerine dream is back on track.' Now that we've surely got rid of the Oystons, and once new owners are in place, we will have a chance to go again at making the football club the beating heart of the community and an energising force for good in the town. It's what a football club should be and the associated feel good factor is something that Blackpool could well do with. The future is tangerine.


Here's something that I've been working on intermittently over four years. As with a few poems I've posted recently, it's still a work-in-progress (there is just too much else going on), but this week-end feels like the appropriate time to try and pull it together (warts and all) and put it out there...

Jewel Of The North
This is the town, up on the gold coast
renowned through the land for fun in the sun.
More brassy than classy and bracingly breezy,
it boasts six miles of sand, a tower like Paris,
three piers to the sea, wears its heart on its sleeve
and will welcome you in to its mad happy family
wherever you come from, whoever you be.

But get in behind the rusty old cliché
of hen and stag parties who come pouring in
from January to December in search of a week-end
they'll never remember... and you'll find a richer truth.

Its easy streets are never so easy,
though its mean streets are not really mean
and it wears its proud claim
to be the happiest of places
much like the painted face of a clown.

For all of the dancers, prancers,
one night chancers,
boardwalk quickies and holiday romancers,
bawdy comics with earthy gags,
rock stalls, chippies, bingo shacks
and shops selling laughter and unicorn poo
there are solid northern souls
inhabiting the barrios, those red-brick terraces
behind the hotels and the B&B façade,
salt-of-the-earth types and flame-haired mermaids
taxed by the reality of years of austerity,
doing two jobs if needs must
just to keep their kids clothed and fed,
aspiring to give them a decent start.

They live for the team that plays in tangerine.
It's the zest in their days and their dreaming at night,
of Matthews and Mortensen, Armfield and Suddick
or Adam and Ormerod, the talk of the town,
heroes all but still ordinary men
whose skill with a ball on that pitch on a Saturday
lifts other ordinary folks when they're down.

Supporting the team is tradition and tie,
forging friendships from childhood on,
binding pals, workmates, families,
whole generations with love for the Seaside -
and to see those fans flow like a tide once again
up to Bloomfield Road decked in beanies and scarves,
holding forth on the luck of the draw
and the finer points of this game of two halves
thrills me and fills me with immense pride
both for their mighty tangerine passion
and plucky Blackpool, our jewel of the north.


Here's an aural bonus for those who couldn't be there today and those who were but want to relive the magic. Just click on the song title: Woke up this morning feeling fine...

*For anyone who was mystified by the blog's title, I should explain that Blackpool fans are very particular about the shade of our club's colours. When non-Seasiders make reference to our 'orange' kit, we have to advise them that it's not orange, it's tangerine. (Don't forget.)

Thanks for reading, S ;-)
Reactions:

36 comments:

Matt West said...

Still buzzing buddy. Thank you so much to you and BST for all that you've done. This is brilliant.

Anonymous said...

That's a great blog Steve.

Anonymous said...

Sea...Sea...Seasiders! Blackpool are back and it's brilliant. UTMP.

The Existentialist said...

I guess that's karma!

Unknown said...

Brilliant, Steve👍

Rochelle said...

Steve, I'm not a football fan and I don't live in Blackpool but I found this extraordinarily moving.

Anonymous said...

I had goosebumps on Saturday and cried a few tears, I don't mind admitting. I've just done the same now reading your blog. Your poem is a lovely thing and very fitting. Blackpool are back!!!

Annie Walton said...

Hi Steve,
How truly wonderful what you have done for Blackpool and how utterly moving your poem and introduction is.

I am not a football fan but have to admit I have felt some uncanny feelings towards the Supporters ( yes, they must have a capital S !) and the Team.
I watched with a sense of pride for them at the breaking news coverage
The joy was awesome !
Amazing job done on all fronts!
Love Annie xx

Anonymous said...

Quality. COYP.

Tangerinehead said...

Now THAT'S what I'd call a special day out, Karl Oyston (you waste of space).

Anonymous said...

That's a triple whammy Steve - impassioned blog, great new poem and fantastic video of Saturday's bouncing comeback. Love it all pal.

Boz said...

Good to see Oyston is finally out - brilliant for the fans.

CI66Y said...

I was surprised when you moved up to Blackpool. I hadn't realised how passionately you felt about your football club. All credit to you though. Your collective stand against those Oystons is quite a story and makes us Gooners realise what an easy time we have of it. I hope your faith in a tangerine future and a better era for Blackpool is justified - one would like to think so. Keep sending me the blogs, they are terrific.

Don K said...

Superb Steve ...and thanks for your ( and all at BST ) unfailing commitment to the cause.

I'm sure there must have been bad days - but you all never waivered - never faltered

Looks like a busted flush is now the most valuable hand in poker !!

Don K

Pam Wilkins (Pompey) said...

I can't tell you how pleased for you I was to see you all back inside Bloomfield Road on Saturday. It has been a long hard fight for you and a boycott is probably the most difficult of protests to organise and keep going. But you did it and you have your club back. Many congratulations. You are a credit and shining example to all football supporters as to just how strong we are if we all stick together.

Anonymous said...

Effing brilliant that!

Anonymous said...

Love the blog & what a great poem. Come on the Pool :-)

Jim Fox said...

Seattle Seasiders salute you. This was the next best thing to being there. Thank u & respect.

Deke Hughes said...

I'm pleased that you fans have got your club back after so long. As for the new poem, it's clearly heart-felt. I think it works well and I like the fact that different verses have different structures and rhythms.

Anonymous said...

What a great reward for your solidarity as a fanbase. Just reading this and watching the passion in that videoclip was uplifting (and I'm a Villa fan). It's a while since I visited Blackpool and then I thought it was looking a bit run down. I truly hope there's a renaissance on the way for the 'jewel of the north'.

Jenks said...

Saturday was a brilliant occasion but reality bites now I fear. Still, it's good we can go back to games and your poem captured the essence of supporting the team in tangerine. We just need a few more like Suddick and Adam in the squad of 2019!

Harald Cools said...

Great Stuff, Steve! The Tangerine Dream is well alive and kicking! So happy for you and your fellow Seasiders!

The poem was entertaining, but does indeed need some work, so good luck with that. As I'm not a poet, I cannot really give you some hints and tips, but maybe good old Mozzer could 😉

Wishing you a great Sunday and hopefully you will come and visit us someday.
The invitation still stands!

Cheers, Harald, now known as El Polaco 😊

Jools said...

Shops selling unicorn poo? Really?

Anonymous said...

Bloody good.

Anonymous said...

We're the Tangerine Army! Happy days...

Steve Rowland said...

I'm pleased this is going down well. The fans going back Oyston-free is a monumental thing - but the hard work starts now.

I'll figure the changes I want to make to the poem over time. Some of it didn't quite click yet as a tangerine paean; lacks a dimension and a degree of 'authenticity' (for want of a better label).

As for Morrisey, I've not spoken with him in over 20 years.

KB said...

You are truly a gifted wordsmith. The Trust has been very lucky to have such a prodigious talent at its disposal.

Anonymous said...

Well I like the poem Steve!

Anonymous said...

I read that Oyston has had an application to appeal turned down, so it really is endgame now for the old rascal.

As one of those 'fans who will flow like a tide' to Bloomfield Road again after years of NAPM, I can only say thank you to BST for becoming the conscience of our football club.

2-2-Tango said...

This is just immense. Read it twice through & watched the video. Buzzing.

Jim Davies said...

Homecoming Saturday was an incredible experience and what an achievement for all Blackpool fans who took a stand. I'm proud to be counted in that esteemed company.

Anonymous said...

You're right. It will go down in BFC history. Please write the book!!!

Andy Millard said...

My first game back today - so excited. What a great poem by the way *****

Anonymous said...

Blackpool as a challenged seaside town needs its football club to be a vibrant force as a good advertisement for the Fylde coast and for the spirits of those who live and work here - something the Oystons had it in their power to foster, especially after 2010. However, rapacious by nature it seems, they only ever thought of what they could get out of it.

Now thank goodness we've got a chance to re-set and start over. Thank goodness for the clear-sighted and principled people setting the agenda in our supporters trust. You all do a magnificent job. Thank you and excuse the rant.

Dave (Tango) Holt said...

Just fantastic. An emotional blog for an emotional event. I'm going to check out more of what you've written. Thanks for this. UTMP!

Anonymous said...

Awesome blog. Love the Mighty!