Millennium Memories - 26 May 2001

Last updated : 13 March 2011 By INOIT

Blackpool 4 Leyton Orient 2 - Millenium Stadium - 26 May 2001 - Att: 23,600 - Ref D. Pugh (Wirral)

Blackpool: Barnes, Parkinson, Hughes, Reid (Capt), Hills, Coid, Wellens (M Milligan 89), Clarkson, Simpson (J Milligan 89), Murphy, Ormerod (Thompson 92) Subs not Used: Kennedy, Jaszczun, Bushell
Goalscorers: Hughes 35, Reid 45, Simpson 77, Ormerod 88
Yellow Card:Hills 38, Milligan 90

Leyton Orient: Bayes , Downer , Harris , Joseph , McGhee , Smith , Houghton (Martin 82) , Lockwood , Walschaerts (Castle 66) , Tate (Brkovic 66) , Ibehre Subs not used Barrett , Beall
Goalscorers:Tate 1, Houghton 37

Blackpool v Leyton Orient
Pre-Match Press Conference (Wednesday 23rd May 2001)

Steve McMahon

"I can't wait for the final on Saturday, however preparation has been going on as normal this week, we've been in training all week and everyone's looking good and looking forward to it. We're travelling down tomorrow and will train on Friday morning before going down to the Millennium Stadium on Friday afternoon to give the lads a feel of the place, it's important that the lads are able to go out there and enjoy themselves on Saturday.

The turnaround in the 2nd half of the season has been brilliant and there's a real buzz about the town at the moment, there is still a long way to go though but I have kept faith with my principles, working hard and encouraging confidence in the players, I've always had belief in my team, now they are starting to believe in themselves, I am sure it will be an even contest as Orient are a good team but we have a great chance, I just hope that it will be a good football game.

The players have shown that they are capable of getting results now, our last 5 games have all been must win games and that's what they've gone out and done.

I'll be as proud as any of my players to walk out at Cardiff on Saturday and I hope we can keep the good run of form going for one more game."

Danny Coid

"I'm really excited about Saturday and getting more nervous as it gets nearer, anything's possible on the day and it's a really big game for us, I've no idea of what it will be like because it is by far the biggest game of my career so far.

I've developed a lot over the past season but would like to thank Alan Crawford and Ginge for the last couple of years, they have really helped in getting me this far. I'd also like to thank the gaffer for giving me the opportunity to turn pro at Blackpool and for playing me so much.

I've played in a number of positions this season but really hope that I'll be picked to play on the right wing on Saturday, I've enjoyed playing there in the last couple of games and it has been good to have Parky playing behind me, he is always encouraging me and I'm learning a lot from him as he is one of the more experienced players at the club, I think that the way we have been working together has helped improve the balance, we have had a good left side all season with Tommy, Simmo and Hillsy but now the right side looks good as well.

I just hope we do well on Saturday, the fans have been brilliant all season and I'd like to thank them for the support that I've received along with the whole team and hope we can reward them on Saturday."

Brian Reid

"Like the rest of the players I'm looking forward to it tremendously, I've had some big games with Rangers, such as playing in the Champions League but this is a massive game also. I believe that we're certainly good enough to compete in the 2nd division and hope we can get there.

I'm not really feeling any nerves at the moment but am really up for it, I've found that the nerves normally only really start the day before the game, but that can be a good thing as it gives you the adrenaline required to lift yourself for these big games.

I'm hoping to be fit for selection on Saturday, we've had a good run of form lately, confidence is high and I hope we can carry it on for 1 more game and can put in a good performance on Saturday"

Blackpool v Leyton Orient

Eve of Final (Friday 25th May 2001)

Steve Fisher Seasiders mailing list member sums up our hopes.

A few final thoughts before tomorrow...

1. Thanks to all at the club for their fantastic hard work this week ! - you could not have done more and it's great to see the effort and dedication of everyone concerned !

2. Best of luck to Macca and the lads for tomorrow - I still remember the bragging words of that Orient player last week before the Hull game - about being disappointed to be playing Hull, as he was sure that Orient could see off either of the other teams with ease - let's stuff his words firmly back down his throat !

3. Safe journey to all the Pool fanss for tomorrow - let's make some noise and roar the lads to victory !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

- It's going to be one hell of a proud moment when the lads run out in that magnificent stadium in front of 13 or 14,000 tangerine fans - let's bring the house down !!


Blackpool v Leyton Orient

Tangerine Fans outside the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff (26th May 2001)

One hour before kick-off.
Photo by Joe Orban


Blackpool 4 Leyton Orient 2 - Nationwide League Division 3 Play-off Final.
Match Report (26th May 2001)
Going Up by John Secker

Three weeks ago Blackpool managed their first come-from-behind win of the season. Today they went one better, coming from behind twice to a final triumph. "Give them a goal start, that will make it interesting" might have been Steve McMahon's instruction to Blackpool before today's game, because when kickoff came they reached for the self-destruct button in record time. In fact the big test for Blackpool came when Orient went ahead for a second time; they could easily have collapsed at that point, but they did not, they fought back again and eventually came to a deserved victory. It was never easy, and Orient had chances to go ahead again, even though Blackpool were by far the better side in the second half. The final score was probably a fair reflection of the game, but it was certainly a nerve-wracking way of getting there. The travelling Blackpool fans arrived in Cardiff this afternoon to see if their team's amazing rally at the end of the season could manage the final hurdle. There had been many forecasts of travel chaos, but most people seemed to find the signposts and parking very well organised, and the locals friendly and helpful. The stadium itself is very impressive, far better than Wembley. The pitch, however, is another matter. Laid only two weeks before the FA Cup Final, it seemed to consist of a couple of inches of soggy turf over an underlayer of hard soil. Players struggled all afternoon to keep their feet, with Phil Barnes only the first of many victims. Entering the stadium it was clear that Blackpool had outsold Orient by something like two to one, with the tangerine fans occupying a far greater area, and making far more noise.


There was a carnival atmosphere with entertainers on the pitch, but all thoughts were on the main event. There was no miracle signing of big Danny, so Hughes and Reid were at the centre of defence, with Reid retaining the captaincy. The rest of the team was pretty much Blackpool's first choice - Hills and Simpson on the left, Parkinson and Coid on the right, Clarkson and Wellens in the centre, and Ormerod and Murphy up front. Blackpool kicked off, defending the end where their fans were sitting, and after winning a throw, Orient played an innocuous ball up the middle. Reid rolled it back to Barnes, who tried to control it but let it bounce a couple of yards too far. As he attempted to get to the ball his legs slid from under him and he fell, allowing a forward to collect the ball, run past him and roll it into the empty net. I noticed the forward also slipped and fell as he turned to celebrate. It was such an unexpected blow, so sudden and so early, that in an odd way its effect on Blackpool was less than you might have expected. The fans kept shouting, and the team rallied well. Within a few minutes Simpson had fired in a shot from outside the box which brought a fine save, but it would have been disallowed because of someone in an offside position. The dodgy pitch, and the sheer space, was giving Blackpool problems in playing their usual passing game, and there was more play up the middle than normal. Coid went on a run and had a shot which again brought a good save from the Orient keeper. At the other end the defence was, not surprisingly, looking shaky. and a forward was allowed a diving header which Barnes turned over well. Another Orient attack resulted in a free header, which was tamely lobbed into Barnes's hands. Just after the half hour a high ball was played up the middle, and Murphy muscled his defender off it and surged unmarked into the box. He flicked the ball past the keeper, who got his hand down and managed to turn it around the post. We wondered if we were fated never to break through, but in fact it was only moments away. From the corner Simpson flighted over a lovely ball, and Hughes, about ten yards out, planted his header low into the net.

After struggling back into it, Blackpool should not have allowed themselves to relax, but they did. Only moments later, Murphy, in defence, conceded a corner. When it came over there was a scramble, resulting in another corner, and this one was only half cleared. It fell to an Orient midfielder, outside the box, and he lined up his shot and fired it in, along the ground and wide of Barnes's despairing right hand. Now was the time for Blackpool to show their mettle, knocked back a second time after coming level. They might have settled for going in one behind, and hoped to catch up in the second half, but they were more ambitious than that. They began to show hints of their best, with Hills starting to press up the left wing, and from one of these attacks a corner came. Parkinson took it short to Simpson, who played a long cross over the area to the far post. There it fell to Reid, who volleyed it past the keeper into the corner. This must have been a real blow to Orient, and although they did not give up, Blackpool came out in the second half looking by far the better team. Ormerod was now drifting out to the right wing regularly, and Hills was getting up the left; the only problem was that the goal would not come. A nice move saw Simpson run into the box and pass to Coid - he should have shot first time, but he passed it back to Simpson, who was offside. Several long range shots came in, from Simpson, Wellens and Coid, but all were too high, and a Clarkson header also went wide of the mark. The problem was that Orient were by no means silenced, and another goal from them could have spelt disaster. The worst moment came when a forward threaded his way into the left side of the Blackpool box and hit a shot across Barnes, which bounced against the far post and away. Another attack on the right led to a good save from Barnes at the near post, and a ball bounced all the way across the Blackpool goalmouth, with no-one able to get a touch.



Then, at last, with about 13 minutes left, it came. An Orient attack broke down and Blackpool charged upfield. The ball was taken up the middle, and then at the right moment the pass was played into the box and a Blackpool player ran onto it. If your life depended on a Blackpool forward, one on one with the keeper, who would you choose? Not Ormerod or Murphy, for my money - the man on the ball was the coolest head on the pitch, Paul Simpson, and he slotted it beyond the keeper's left hand and into the net. Blackpool were now attacking the end where their fans were, and the celebrations were immense. Orient were gutted by this goal, and they did not really have a dangerous attack after this, although they kept trying, and the 

Blackpool hearts were still in their mouths at times. Orient made three substitutions, but to no avail, a shot inside the box which went well over was their best chance. With five minutes left Blackpool were on the attack again; Simpson fed Hills up the left, dashing into the area, and he hit a lovely curling cross first time, along the ground. Ormerod did what he does so well, racing in ahead of the defender and steering the ball wide of the keeper for the goal which made the result certain. Again the tangerine mass erupted in celebration - Division Two was on its way. McMahon made three substitutions, all he was allowed, to give as many players as possible a moment on the pitch, before the final whistle blew. The amazing recovery, which started back in September with Blackpool next to bottom of the Football League, was complete.


A thought for Orient, who must have thought it was their year at last - they never gave up, but they were playing the best side in the division on form, no doubt about that. Congratulations to everyone at the club, players, coaching staff, office staff, Karl Oyston and Steve McMahon, who has finally got Blackpool to rise to the big challenges, rather than wilting in the heat.

Congratulations also to the Blackpool fans, who never stopped shouting the team on, never turned against them in the bad moments, and who have earned their cheerful journeys home.

Team (4-4-2) Barnes, Parkinson, Hughes, Reid (Capt), Hills, Coid, Wellens (M Milligan 89), Clarkson, Simpson (J Milligan 89), Murphy, Ormerod (Thompson 92)
Subs not used: Kennedy, Jaszczun, Bushell
John Secker

The celebrations went on a long time, and I imagine there are some still continuing now. Danny Shittu was there, delighted as the rest of the team, and he was pulled up onto the rostrum for the presentations. The loudspeakers sounded out "Glad All Over" - well done whoever arranged that - along with other appropriate anthems - "We Are The Champions" (not strictly true) and "I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again", which was spot on. This game was very like the whole of Blackpool's season, a dismal start, largely self inflicted, then a steady comeback to a final climactic finish.

So onwards and upwards, to Huddersfield, Stoke, QPR and Walsall. Blackpool can easily compete in the Second Division, as long as they play with this much self-belief. They need Shittu or some equivalent, a true striker, and someone to fill Paul Simpson's shoes as age catches up with him. He has been the most important factor in Blackpool's revival, and we must hope his legs last a little bit longer.

Crucial late strikes in the play-off final

Blackpool have won promotion to the Second Division after a 4-2 win over Leyton Orient, thanks to crucial late strikes in the play-off final.

The Seasiders conceded the first goal of the match inside the opening minute, when Chris Tate took advantage of an error from Blackpool keeper Phil Barnes. Ian Hughes headed the first equaliser around ten minutes before half-time, but Scott Houghton soon put The O's into a 2-1 lead, with a fine long-range shot. Blackpool sneaked another vital equaliser on the stroke of the interval, when David McGhee's standing leg looked to have touched the ball home, ahead of Brian Reid. But two late strikes sealed the win for Blackpool, with first Paul Simpson and Brett Ormerod claiming excellent finishes to secure promotion.

The match came alive in the most amazing fashion, with an horrendous slip from Barnes allowing Tate to open the scoring for Orient, inside 28 seconds. Barnes was merely attempting to control the ball on the edge of the box, after a pass back from Brian Reid, but firstly miscontrolled it and then slipped on the surface.

Os' forward Chris Tate was on hand to take full advantage, despite only playing in attack with Jabo Ibehre because Steve Watts and Carl Griffiths were suspended. Tate calmly took on Barnes, rounded him and carefully walked the ball home, while slipping himself at the last. ~

Neither Blackpool nor Orient could believe their eyes and the incredibly early goal represented an astonishing start to the match, with a place in the Second Division the prize at stake. The Seasiders were stunned into a fightback and went within inches of pulling level through Danny Coid, after John Murphy sent a header across goal towards the right-hand post. Os' defender Simon Downer amazingly left the ball for his keeper Ashley Bayes to claim and Bayes only just managed to push out Coid's opportunist lunge. Orient began to re-exert themselves midway through the half, with only a fine save from Barnes preventing David McGhee from putting The O's 2-0 up. Semi-final hero Matt Lockwood crossed from the left, Tate headed the ball towards the six-yard box and McGhee's lunging header was tipped over to safety.

But the Blackpool pressure had been looking increasingly likely to break through at some point and so it proved from a corner, ten minutes before the interval, after a John Murphy chance was pushed wide. Paul Simpson whipped the ball into the six-yard box and the largely unmarked Ian Hughes headed home, to make it 1-1 from close-range. That goal looked to have put the ball firmly in Blackpool's court but The O's struck in fantastic fashion within a minute, to regain the lead at 2-1. Matt Lockwood played the ball into the path of Scott Houghton a good twenty-five yards out and he glided a right-foot shot through the area and into the far right-hand corner.

An already compelling match then had another twist to come on the brink of half-time, when Blackpool equalised for the second time, as the ball snuck in at the far post off McGhee's standing foot, after a cross from deep on the left. Four minutes into the second half, Ibehre went on a run which ended with a shot against the left upright, while Brett Ormerod shot over at the other end. Midway through the half, Orient brought on Steve Castle and Ahmet Brkovic, for Wim Walschaerts and Tate, as the contest drew tighter and tighter. With 16 minutes left, Andy Harris sent in a teasing right-wing cross, but Brkovic could not reach it at the far post.

That lost chance came back to haunt The O's within moments, as Houghton was dispossessed and Richie Wellens drove forward. Wellens fed in Simpson on the far side of the box and he drew a left-foot shot across goal, for 3-2 to Blackpool, with Houghton soon replaced by John Martin. But that could not stop the Blackpool momentum and, with seconds of normal time left, The Seasiders grabbed a killer fourth goal. Hills played a one-two with Simpson on the left and then passed across the penalty area for Ormerod to side-foot home the crucial goal to send Blackpool into the Second Division.









 Killer strike from Blackpool's Brett Ormerod

A killer strike from Blackpool's Brett Ormerod just three minutes from time elevated them into Division Two at the expense of heartbroken Leyton Orient.
Blackpool showed the kind of grit, determination and battling display, which their manager Steve McMahon is well known for, to see off a spirited challenge from the Londoners. But while the Blackpool fans celebrated, Orient were left licking their wounds after a second defeat in the Third Division play-off final in three seasons.

Two years ago they were beaten at the same stage by Scunthorpe, and now face another season in Division Three. Orient got off to a dream start. With just 30 seconds on the clock, the Londoners found themselves a goal up.

Blackpool goalkeeper Phil Barnes slipped on the greasy surface and failed to collect a back pass from captain Brian Reid and Orient's Chris Tate capitalised on the blunder and cooly picked up the loose ball and slotted into the goal. With the prize of a place in the Second Division at stake both sides were not going to give up the chance of playing their football in a higher league without a fight.

Blackpool were without loan player Dan Shittu, whose spell with the Tangerines has come to an end, and he was replaced by Ian Hughes. Paul Simpson was named in the starting line-up after doubts over his fitness during the week.

Orient manager Tommy Taylor was forced to change the team who beat Hull in the play-offs following Steve Watts' suspension so Chris Tate and Jabo Ibehre led the strike force.

After going a goal behind so early on, McMahon's men battled back to pull themselves back into the match.

Danny Coid started creating problems for the Orient defence but could not find a way past the outstanding Ashley Bayes. But the Seasiders battled well and were rewarded with a goal on 34 minutes when a corner from Simpson found the head of Ian Hughes who levelled the scores.

But the Tangerines' lead was short lived when three minutes later Scott Houghton put Orient back in front with a shot from 25 yards out which went inches past the fingers of a diving Barnes into the bottom corner of the net. But there was still more to come before referee David Pugh signalled the end of the half.

With a minute of the half left, Gary Parkinson's cross found Reid, who was able to put the ball home to make it 2-2. The second half started in the same furious manner as the first had ended. Three minutes into the half, Ibehre missed the chance of putting Orient ahead when his shot agonisingly hit the post and was scrambled clear by desperate Blackpool defenders.

Blackpool hitman Brett Ormerod, who broke the hearts of Hartlepool fans with his five goals in the semi-finals, was unusually quiet as Simon Downer followed him like his shadow. Both sides were creating chances and were guilty of wasting opportunities of putting themselves ahead. Ormerod had probably his first real chance of a shot on goal on 65 minutes but Downer was not prepared to let him through and magnificently blocked the effort. Taylor added two fresh pairs of legs and replaced Tate with Ahmed Brkovic and Wim Walschaerts with Steve Castle.

Andy Harris was becoming an increasing threat for Orient and his brilliant low centre on 74 minutes went across the face of the Blackpool goal.

Blackpool put themselves in front for the first time in the game when Ormerod robbed Houghton of the ball and his perfectly timed pass found Richard Wellens who flicked on. Simpson who had no hesitation in scoring. In a desperate bid to salvage something from the game, and with time running out, Taylor swapped Houghton for John Martin.

With five minutes of the game remaining, Blackpool were looking the stronger side with Orient looking tired. Blackpool put the final nail in Orient's coffin with just three minutes of the game left when John Hill's cross fell into the path of Ormerod who slotted home number four. With football in Division Two almost guaranteed, McMahon brought off Simpson and Wellens and let Jamie Milligan and Mike Milligan sample some of the big match atmosphere. Orient had no response and as the final whistle sounded, the Blackpool party was in full swing.

Press Association