Seasiders coast to victory on golden day for Holloway's heroes

Staggering display on return to the big time as Blackpool rock – then manager heads home to see apricot poodle!

The Wakes Weeks of August when the Lancashire mills stopped and their exhausted operators were allowed a brief respite by the coast was always a boom time for Blackpool but it has seldom been quite like this. Not since the 1950s when 17 million a year flocked to the Golden Mile while the two Stanleys – Matthews and Mortensen – brought the FA Cup to the Fylde coast has football been at the heart of the town but even then there were very few afternoons quite as golden as this.

The faintly soulless DW Stadium will become part of the fabric of the club's folklore now but when the fixtures for Blackpool's first season in the Premier League were released there was a certain disappointment that they should have opened at home against Wigan and even more when the game had to be switched because the reconstruction of Bloomfield Road would not be complete.

On the morning of their great adventure they queued at the ground to buy the new club shirt, which typically for this frantic, last-minute summer had only been released a few hours before. Aside from the headquarters of easyJet, there is probably no place in Britain as orange as the Blackpool club shop. They may have run out of Premier League badges to sew on to the shirts but the faithful were so keen to put them on that some barcodes were scanned with them on their customers' backs.

Their signings – Marlon Harewood, Craig Cathcart, Ludovic Sylvestre, Elliot Grandin and Chris Basham – were another rush job; bought in one go, in cut-price deals as if preparing for the Premier League were like a trolley dash round Aldi.

Ian Holloway, who sometimes seemed less likely to begin the season than Martin O'Neill, had proclaimed it a worse side than the one that beat Cardiff in the play-off final. Midway through the second half you could glance up and imagine that the tangerine shirts belonged to Holland, who were playing rather better than they had in the World Cup final.

Too often this season Holloway will be portrayed as the jester at the bloated court of the Premier League, although he knows that too many medieval funnymen had their throats cut when the monarch tired of their quips. He tried to be serious, saying it had been a "hideous summer", adding: "We are miles behind everyone else. You are either good enough or not and we will find that out in 37 games' time. We go to Arsenal next Saturday and I only hope we don't get absolutely embarrassed because that could easily happen." But then Holloway couldn't quite help himself; saying he would now be driving back to Bath to be reunited with his wife and their newly-acquired apricot poodle called Teddy.

In a perfect world Blackpool would have begun where they left off in their last game of top-flight football in 1971, taking on Manchester United at home. Jimmy Armfield, who played the last of his 627 games for Blackpool on that May afternoon, provided a form of continuity as a BBC radio summariser. Had he been impartial? "Never" smiled the one-time England captain before pointing out that Holloway's great secret was the way he keeps changing formation. "He is nobody's fool," Armfield said, and the Premier League would do well to remember.

As Harewood's second goal made its way under Chris Kirkland's body, the Blackpool chairman, Karl Oyston, sat shaking his head. He had come to lead the club after seeing his father jailed and his mother driven from Bloomfield Road by a supporters' revolt. His father, Owen, hidden beneath dark glasses and a fedora, sat beside him, a relic of the past. The Oyston family have ruled Blackpool for 21 years; long enough to see a club that survived in the Championship and below on minuscule gates stumble into the Premier League, like someone who has come along for a game of bingo and found themselves winning the lottery.

There have been some unlikely teams to have made English football's top table – Northampton, Carlisle, Luton and Barnsley – but none, surely, has made a more improbable entrance than Blackpool, who in the space of nine seasons have advanced from the bottom to the top tier of the domestic game in a ground – stadium is too grand a word – that sometimes had two sides and sometimes three.

Blackpool ended their first afternoon in the Premier League by topping it, although Holloway acknowledged these things do not last. Carlisle won their first three matches in the old First Division, ending Bill Nicholson's long reign at Spurs as they did so, but were still consigned to the trash by April. Burnley's 1-0 win over Manchester United last August was merely a memory when relegation came calling. Nevertheless, Sam Allardyce took Bolton into the Premier League with a 5-0 thrashing of Leicester and ensured they stayed there. From this sunlit triumph, their season could go either way and since Blackpool has more fortune tellers than anywhere else in Britain, they ought to have some idea of what the future holds.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
News
news
News
Sir James Dyson: 'Students must be inspired to take up the challenge of engineering'
i100
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) in Happy Valley ((C) Red Productions/Ben Blackall)
TV
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?