Blackpool FC v Leyton Orient - a sad day for both teams
Both Blackpool and Leyton Orient supporters joined together in a protest march along the promenade from the Pleasure Beach tram terminus to Bloomfield Road ahead of the final match of the 2016/17 FA Season. Both clubs are galvanised by grievances against their Owners and shared their respective concerns outside Bloomfield Road before the final kick-off of the season.
The last Match ended in a 3 - 1 Home Win for Blackpool FC ensuring their place in the Play-Offs for promotion to Division One, whilst Leyton Orient already faced relegation from the Football Association after many years of responsible membership as a team and Club of note. However the groundswell of opposition to the Owners of both clubs could be heard inside Bloomfield Road even as the final match kicked off.
A lengthy procession wended its way from South Pier to a point on the promenade where traffic (and trams) were halted to allow it to cross into Trafalgar Road and thence over Lytham Road to the Bloomfield Road stadium car park. Flares, fire works and two ceremonial coffins were set on fire amid an array of chants and banners held by all ages and supporters of both teams. Loud speakers on accompanying trucks ensured the protests could be heard well over the stadium stands.
Mounted police and a detachment of the Metropolitan Police joined with Lancashire Constabulary to contain the sometimes angry gathering in front of the main entrance to Bloomfield Road - fortunately without serious incident from a close observation. A generally light touch was the order of the day on the part of the police helped by stewards of the Blackpool Supporters Trust. Quite a number of handmade banners reprimanded the Football Association for its lack of action in a changed world of the game's ownership and big money. Others lamented the absence of Valerie Belekon from an active directorship role at Bloomfield Road and his perceived competence and engagement in the glory years of the Blackpool FC run up to Wembley appearances and a great singular year in the Premier League. The Latvian flag being a prominent feature in the protest march.
Above a ritual burning of two coffins: whilst mounted police and a cordon hold back angry fans from the main entrance to Blackpool FC (below)
Below : the signs say it all - the sorry state of the English FA football - mired in greed, indifference and indefensible management oversight. Time for sweeping change from top to bottom so scenes like these are replaced with credible supporter participation.
What a way to end the football season for two great English clubs. Not something this town can be proud of in any sense, and certainly not for the loyal supporters of Leyton Orient - an equally famous footballing name over many years.