A Night To Remember - Revisted

Last updated : 07 December 2007 By The Seasider
THE AGONY and the ecstasy . . . that is the only, description for the emotional experience at Deepdale last night.

Fred Pickering celebrates his hat-trick
Fred Pickering celebrates his hat-trick
Blackpool demoralised Preston supporters by gaining promotion to the First Division with a shattering 3-0 win over North End and must be congratulated on a clinically efficient performance which sent their own fans delirious with delight' at the end.

But there was so much sadness mixed with the jubilation that it is bard to start to report the occasion as if it was just a game of football.

It was far from that. True, Blackpool manager Les Shannon their chairman Bill Cartmell and their players deserve all the honours we can offer for this wonderful climax to a memorable season in which they, have gambled on success so bravely.

But even they had a bittersweet feeling as they crushed their nearest rivals to the point of despair.

All Preston eyes are now on The Valley where Charlton need only to beat Bristol City tonight, to condemn North End to the Third Division - and this is the situation which everyone at Bloomfield Road regrets.

Blackburn Bovers, who beat Charlton 3-0 at Ewood Park last week to help Preston, feel just as badly about the way things have turned out, but North End have only themselves to blame.

It was almost too ironic to see a magnificent crowd of 35.400 witnessing the execution last night. When the pitch was invaded the end of the match, the scenes were the best we had watched at Deepdale since the hey-day of Tom Finney.

But alas they were not for Preston and the chant of the crowd was like a knife being turned into a deep North End wound.

"Blackpool, Blackpool," they shouted, "Shannon Shannon." How we longed for it to be "Preston. Preston Seith, Seith."

The 'North End manager merged into the background afterwards. He has had a team full of weaknesses, but they were more apparent than ever against Blackpool.

Harry Thomson the Pool keeper has a swinging time to celebrate Pickerings hat-trick
Harry Thomson the Pool keeper has a swinging time to celebrate Pickerings hat-trick
The Preston fans would dearly love to acclaim any kind of improvement and they have been tolerant of the regime at Deepdale for a long time. But they had their fill last night. Certainly they would have wished to chant for Seith, but it is just as well that he did not appear.

Briefly, one can say that a Fred Pickering hat-trick won the game for Blackpool. But Pickering can seldom have scored three easier goals and the Blackpool defence can seldom have been given go easy a time. North End never created a decent chance, never looked like extending there so much sharper and more incisive rivals - and never looked like regaining the lost goodwill of the crowd.

There have been so many mistakes at Deepdale in the past few years that it is almost impossible to list them, but, significantly, it was local-born Mick Burns who drove the first nail into the coffin of the club he would have given so much to play for.

Burns was an unwanted at Deepdale and dismissed as an amateur did what we have been praying Preston wingers would do for months.

He beat off a challenge, sped to the by-line and sent over a backward centre which is the joy of all forwards and the terror of defenders. Pickering went up out-jumped Bill Cranston and the ball was in the net. The rest was merely an underlining of the difference between a side deservedly at the top of the division and a teem put in its proper place in the relegation zone.

Indeed, as Pickering scored his other two goals, North End slid to the bottom of the table. There can be no excuses and. one can only wonder what has happened to the side since they held Blackpool to a draw early on in the season.

This time, Pickering was able to head his second goal from a Bill Bentley cross when in an un-marked position and was then free to push a Tommy Hutchison shot over the line after Cranston had presented the Blackpool left winger with a peach of a pass.

A score of 3-0 was adequate enough, but it did not represent the difference between the teams - and the clubs.

Maybe if the Bloomfield Road side had won 8-0, the guilty men at Deepdale would wake up.


BLACKPOOL intend to be a little club with big ambitions.

Now they have climbed back into the First Division. Their sights will be set on the European Cup and the Fairs Cup, promised Mr William Cartmell, the Bloomfield-road chairman today.

"People must not get the idea we shall sit back" content to be one of the 10 bottom clubs 'In the First Division - we plan to go places," Mr Cartmell went on. Blackpool's go - ahead chairman was up bright' and early in spite' of having joined the players and their wives at a celebration which lasted, into the early hours of this morning following the, Seasiders promotion triumph at Deepdale. From having helped the Bloomfield Road club "out of the red" Mr Cartmell says:

"We shall now be able to pay our way. Instead of continually losing money In the, Second Division, our share from away gates in the First Division will largely cover our wages bill."

An estimated 20,000 Blackpool and Fylde supporters travelled to Preston last night. Some little consolation for North End must have been that massive invasion contributed towards gate receipts said to be about £8,000.

There were joyous scenes in pubs and clubs throughout Blackpool when news reached the resort of the Seasiders' victory.

Ecstasy in the Blackpool dressing room at Deepdale was tinged with sadness, however, that North End should have been the victims of the Seasiders' promotion success. Manager Les Shannon said:

"I feel sorry for North End. They are not as bad a team as their position in the League table suggests. But when you are down, things never go right however hard you strive."

Blackpool's manager also explained why he failed to respond with a speech to hundreds - of young Bloomfield-road, fans who gathered on the pitch shouting "We want Shannon" as the final whistle blew:

Shannon said "I waited for the last man coming off Jimmy Armfield - then walked with him into the dressing room and beard nothing of the cheering. If somebody had come to fetch me, I would readily have gone out to express my thanks to our supporters for their ovation."

Skipper Jimmy Armfield received congratulations
Skipper Jimmy Armfield received congratulations
Armfield surprisingly quiet and calm under the circumstances, said: ' I only hope Preston do not suffer relegation, despite us beating them. I have felt for some weeks since we beat Portsmouth away, early in February that we would get promotion this time. It is magnificent to think that Blackpool are now back In the First Division after three seasons out of it."

Stories were circulating today that the Blackpool players will draw wage packets of about £1,000 each as their last pay out of the season. This could include their wages and bonuses of around £100 they have been receiving recently - and a big bonus for gaining promotion, still to be finalised by the directors.


THE HARSH realities of modern day soccer finally caught up with, and indeed overtook, Preston North End last night.

As one who has avidly followed the fortunes of this once proud club for many years, I am afraid that like many others, I found those 90 humiliating minutes almost too much to bear.

Blackpool, I know, won promotion. convincingly, deservedly. The jubilation of their supporters and players was understandable; the ecstatic scenes at the final whistle were impressive, emotional. Somehow though, they seemed so far removed from all that is currently Deepdale. Utterly alien.

For Preston followers Deepdale was no place for rejoicing; it has not been a place for rejoicing for several years.

I am sure too that Blackpool, if they had been given the choice, would have selected any other ground in the land on which to achieve this final triumph.
But the fates do not discriminate; the sickening reality of last night should stay embedded forever in the minds of all connected with Deepdale.

No Champagne...but lemonade for John Craven and Tommy Hutchison
No Champagne...but lemonade for John Craven and Tommy Hutchison
We saw just what sort of gates can be attracted to Deepdale; we witnessed success the like of which North End must seek to secure for themselves; we witnessed a clinical execution cruel and complete and, perhaps worst of all, those of us with Preston close to our hearts, felt the icy touch of soccer's cold shoulder.

As Blackpool passed into the promised land North End were left in the wilderness.

And that on the night was how it was, Blackpool's superiority was undisputed; North End's inferiority despite their endeavour, was only too evident.

One by one North End's hopes of Second Division survival have been eaten away. Now only one morsel remains . . . a scrap of hope It's almost embarrassing to possess.

The club have been running the relegation gauntlet for far too long. Last night's defeat may spell the end of an era at Deepdale and I suppose it will be fitting that a massive crowd of 34,000 should have witnessed this final act of tragedy. How long will it be, I wonder, until similar numbers turn up again?

For whether North End are relegated or not, so much has been lost already. Blackpool, oh so worthy of their Division One status, were, even through their joy, almost apologetic In their role of executioners. They need not have been, for we saw so clearly last night just why the two sides are where they are.

North End, tried and sentenced, have their head on the block. All Charlton have to do tonight is bring down the axe. Optimist to the end, I am still hoping but I confess it is a forlorn hope.

I just feel for the thousands who hold North End dear . . . those who will try to forget last night.

But I fear no one ever will, and if the future is to hold brighter things for North End, no one ever should.!