Football just seems to have a habit of producing stories like this. Simon Grayson, back in charge of the club where he cut his teeth as a manager over a decade ago is making waves in charge of Blackpool. The tangerine dream is alive and well and the Seasiders currently sit at the summit of the league one table after four games played.
Of course, it is still early days, but the feel-good factor around the club is overwhelming and the fans are riding a crest of a wave ever since the unpopular Oyston family exited the club. Now they sit top of the tree in League One having won three and drawn one of their opening four games and the fans and the feel-good factor is back at Bloomfield Road.
Editor of Blackpool fanzine ‘Now That’s What I Call Progress’ Jane Stuart cannot believe the improvements around the club this season:
"[It has improved] Immeasurably! New owner Simon Sadler has had such an impact already. Bringing back Simon Grayson as manager was a masterstroke and he is getting the best out of the players. The pitch has had a lot of love and now looks like a snooker table. The dressing rooms have been revamped and look incredible. It’s like a different club. There’s so much positivity that being top of the league simply feels right.”
There’s so much positivity that being top of the league simply feels right.
Tuesday’s midweek point at Gillingham kept their unbeaten run going, but more importantly for the fans, they have got their club back. Attendances rarely got over the 4,000 mark last term at Bloomfield Road year this season they have already had over 11,000 packed in for the opening game.
Jane continued: “We’ve been boycotting for years because of the previous owners. It feels amazing to be back. A massive part of our lives has been missing for so long. We’re all so happy and can’t keep the smiles off our faces. It’s simply joyous to be able to go to matches and enthuse about the club again. There is a lot of love around Blackpool FC right now. We’re seeing friends we haven’t seen for years and making new friends because we all just want to talk about Blackpool with anyone who will listen. It’s quite wonderful.”
Football is the only thing on the minds of the Blackpool fans who are loving every minute of this season. They are living the tangerine dream and the love affair between themselves and Grayson is flourishing in different circumstances.
“I was so excited to hear Larry had come back. We did ever so well under him last time. He transformed that team from almost certs for relegation into winning promotion with ten wins on the bounce. He’s got such great form at this level. He motivates players and changes where and how they play and simply gets the best out of them. He gets them playing good football. It’s like watching a different team to the back end of last season.
“We sold Marc Bola to Middlesbrough for a good sum, which has helped with the playing budget. It’s not as if Simon Sadler has been recklessly spending on players. We’ve brought in two key players who are already making a big impact: Sullay Kaikai is such an exciting forward and Jak Alnwick (on loan from Rangers) is performing heroics in goal. But basically, it’s the same players as last year.
“Financially, it’s more that the club are being shrewd in bringing in good sponsorship deals. Local businesses didn’t want to be associated with the previous regime but now the club is striking deals with the likes of Visit Blackpool and Merlin, which is really something. I’d say the main investment Simon Sadler has made is in terms of the infrastructure of the club: the pitch, ground improvements, dressing rooms, training ground, etc.”
It is still incredibly early days in the third tier of English football but Jane is convinced that this feel-good factor around the seaside club can carry them all the way to the Championship:
“Of course! We know from past experience what this special club is capable of achieving when we believe in them. The belief has never been stronger than it is now. With Simon Sadler, Simon Grayson and the Tangerine Army behind them, there’s nothing this team can’t achieve.”
Finally, after all those years in the darkness, Blackpool are back.