March 9th at Bloomfield Road marks a new era in the long history of Blackpool's famous Football Club - still at its long familiar home in the centre of the resort. Media and public focus will today be on Blackpool's match versus Southend in the English League First Division. Why ? Because Bloomfield Road ground will be filled more or less to capacity for the first time in several years following on removal of BFC Owners from their role under court order implemented at the end of February.
This followed on drawn out legal proceedings and judgements which ruled against the Owners and in favour of a litigant, as well as in favour of sustained community grievances on the manner in which the affairs of BFC have been managed particularly since the remarkable year in which Blackpool found itself in the company of Premier League teams. This was a quite extraordinary achievement both by Players and their Manager gaining promotion from the Championship League.
After a single but famous year in the Premiership Blackpool FC were relegated with a consequent multimillion pound influx benefitting the Club. All of this became the cause celebre resulting finally in Court Appointment of a Receiver to superintend the affairs and assets of BFC and related properties (including Bloomfield Road ground) - and to secure new owning management for the Club.
Now in Receivership, Blackpool FC for the first time in over three decades will play their first Home Game untrammelled by overhanging discord between thousands of Supporters and the previous owning family. Remarkably, despite the off pitch dramas Blackpool FC are in the top ten of Division One of the EFL with opportunity (still) to achieve a playoff slot to the Championship - playing today amid a capacity crowd at Bloomfield Road for the first time in four (or is it five?) years. The very effective boycott of the Club's games hitherto sustained by the overwhelming majority of fans of all ages is over - as today's match against Southend FC will attest.
Southend - another English resort town, has a glancing affinity with Blackpool on the tramway front. When Accrington (of Stanley fame) closed its tram system in the mid 1930s its four most modern (for those times) double deck bogie cars were put up for sale. Lytham St Annes, tested out their value by purchasing one example subsequently named 'Big Bertha' by its crews but opted not to acquire the remaining trio of cars. They in turn were purchased by Southend On Sea Corporation Tramways and ran up to the war years at which point the tram system was converted to trolleybus operation.
Lytham St Annes ran its solitary bogie car into Blackpool as far as the Gynn (the limit of their operating license) thus the common link between Southend on Sea (and Accrington) with Blackpool - purely in historical tram parlance.
Readers of this Blog will recall that the FHLT acquired Centenary Car 641 on its sale in 2010 - and displayed it on the promenade in tangerine and white colours celebrating the history of the town's football club. 641 remains in the same location this year and we hope to return it again to BFC colours for 2019 as a tribute both to the Club and the thousands of fans who today are recapturing the spirit of this famous English Football Club with long familiar cries of 'Up the Pool' around Bloomfield Road ground.
Below : Preparing 641 for its display on the Promenade in 2015