It seems the clubs who value the FA Cup most these days are the ones with little chance of winning it.
While Premiership and Championship teams fail to fill their grounds for Cup fixtures, in the early rounds at least, it seems only the likes of Blackpool truly treasure days such as Saturday. Bloomfield Road is only half a stadium these days, with little sign of the other half being rebuilt, but somehow that added to the occasion on a day the home fans had clearly been looking forward to for some time. Indeed, those Norwich fans housed in a temporary stand must have wondered if they had drawn another trip to a non-League ground, following their visit to Tamworth in the third round.
With two sides of the ground open to the elements, a sticky pitch that cut up as the game went on, and a noisy capacity crowd, the setting was ripe for an upset. To be fair to Blackpool, they offered rather more than is traditionally expected from underdogs. Reluctant to rely on the long ball, at least until the closing stages when that approach offered their best chance of a winner, Wes Hoolahan, their young Irish midfielder, orchestrated a more considered approach.
They were unfortunate to go behind in first-half injury time when Darren Huckerby took advantage of a slip from Ian Evatt and a less than convincing dive from Rhys Evans. Many teams would have given up, but Blackpool came back, equalising through Evatt's header.
Once Chris Brown had been dismissed for two yellow cards, the League One side pushed for the winner. Ben Burgess and Kaspars Gorkss went close but a replay at Carrow Road on Tuesday 13 February was an honourable outcome.
Norwich will be the favourites to proceed, but Blackpool and their fans can tune into today's fifth-round draw and dream of a repeat of their team's heroics in the "Matthews final" of 1953. In their minds at least, the glory of the FA Cup lives on.
Goals: Huckerby (45) 0-1; Evatt (52) 1-1.
Blackpool (4-4-2): Evans; Barker, Jackson, Evatt, Gorkss; Forbes (Burgess, 67), Southern, Fox (Jorgensen, 90), Hoolahan; Vernon (Parker, 67), Morrell. Substitutes not used: Bean, Tierney.
Norwich City ( 4-5-1): Marshall; Colin, Doherty, Dublin (McVeigh, 58), Drury; Croft (Thorne, 87), Robinson, Safri, Etuhu, Huckerby; Brown. Substitutes not used: Gallacher (gk), Eagle, Martin.
Referee: C Foy (Merseyside).
Booked: Blackpool Hoolahan, Southern, Jackson; Norwich Brown, Colin, Huckerby. Sent off: Brown (82).
Man of the match: Huckerby.
Attendance: 9,491.Reuse content