One of my–and Shaun’s–favorite things since starting this publication is meeting a wide variety of fans that comment on the site.
Many time, I learn more from our community than I do if I was listening or reading some of the most venerable columnists online or elsewhere.
Due to some folks across the pond that liked and linked one of our pieces on the lack of merit to a potential Blackpool transfer for Michael “Junior” Bradley, I got to–virtually–meet Ade Whitaker on Monday who took the time to respond to our “Wading Through US Transfer Rumors” piece with an “Ode to Michael Bradley Transfer” comment.
Ade is –well, I’ll let him tell you about his fanaticism for the Tangerine….
I first went to watch matches, with my late father, Brian, in the mid 1960′s, when Blackpool were a top flight, First Division club, with attendances treble what we’re getting now.
A certain Alan Ball, later to become a World Cup winner with England had just started his career with us at that time. We also had England defender and ex captain, Jimmy Armfield, who although in the World Cup winning squad of ’66, was injured and missed out on the finals. (He WAS recently presented with a belated World Cup winning medal) meaning,Blackpool are now credited with having TWO World Cup winning players. Chelsea FC, can’t match that.
Combining with meeting estimable and opinionated people, another thing I relish about soccer and commentary on it, is the first few weeks of the Premiership season when I am introduced to one of the new squads that has been promoted for the campaign.
In a sport and league where the focus on player aloofness are crescendoing with their rising salaries, I always welcome the newly promoted for what typically is a swashbuckling verve they bring to their matches accompanied with a wet-behind-the-ears conviction that “they belong.”
For this season and from my brief site and email dialogue with Mr. Whitaker, I’m more than excited to watch the Tangerine take the pitch for the first time in the upcoming campaign.
Our next entry in our “The Fan In You” Series: A conversation with a Blackpool faithful on the dizzying array of transfer rumors around Blackpool and what promotion means to the citizens of Blackpool.
Matthew, TSG: Being a fan for 46 years, what does it mean for Blackpool, in its 100th year in business so to speak to be back at the highest level of football in England for the first time in nearly 40 years and to be in the Premiership for the first time ever?
Whitaker, Blackpool: It means everything to the club AND the town, that we’re now back in the top flight, of English football.
Blackpool, having been the UK’s premier seaside, holiday resort, (and still is) has suffered greatly in recent years, from the onset of the boom in continental holidays.
This resulted in an annual downturn in returning holidaymakers and it became clear for all to see, that the town suffered massively as a result of this lost revenue.
The club, like the town, has also been struggling to survive over the years and at one point, came very close to being relegated out of the Football League, altogether. We escaped by the skin of our teeth – literally!
Promotion to the Premier League this year, has in some ways, put us back on the map - a map, that we once dominated, back in the late 40′s and early 50′s. So, in summing up – It’s absolutely fantastic to be back, where spiritually, we belong and although I no longer live there, I hear, the whole town is buzzing with anticipation.
Matthew, TSG: Okay, the Seasiders is an easy enough and understandable moniker, but how the heck did Blackpool select tangerine–not orange kits?
Whitaker, Blackpool: That’s a question that crops up frequently.
You may or may not know, that back in the 1920′s, an international referee, named Albert Hargreaves, had been suitably impressed, by the ‘orange’ strip worn by the Netherlands (Holland) in a match that he officiated in, against Belgium.
On returning to England, he suggested to the Blackpool board, that they adopt this bright colour, as their home shirt. How it actually became tangerine and NOT orange, is anyone’s guess – but it’s been that way, for ages – and WILL remain so.
Matthew, TSG: Who are the club’s current best players? Who should we watch out for this season?
Whitaker, Blackpool: In my opinion, our current ‘best’ regular players, are Charlie Adam (midfield), David Vaughan (midfield) and Alex Baptiste (defence – defense, to you guys). But in saying that, the whole team were absolutely superb last season and every one of them is a hero, in my book. Obviously I’m going to pick out Charlie Adam, as the man to watch out for, this coming season. He’s our midfield dynamo, has the sweetest of left foots and is particularly audacious with it. Don’t be surprised at all, if he attempts to chip Pepe Reina, from the half way line – he is that sort of player – and massively well-loved.
Matthew, TSG: There is a lot of chatter about everyone from Michael Bradley to Alan Shearer (kidding) signing with Blackpool before their Premiership campaign. What players does the club desperately need to compete? Are there any specific players you will feel will transfer in?
Whitaker, Blackpool: It’s difficult to say, who we will manage to buy pre-season, as we need to strengthen in ALL areas. It seems that we are being linked with every other available footballer, including a few, that hail from the States. We, as a relatively ‘small’ Premier League club, have to be very careful how we spend our newly acquired money. Our manager, Ian Holloway and in particular, chairman, Karl Oyston, will not be taken for a ride, when it comes to parting with cash. We have to acquire the right player, with the right temperament AND at the right price. We can’t afford to ruin the camaraderie and work ethic, that our current crop of players have built up.
Matthew, TSG: You and I spoke about some Americans from Jay DeMerit to Bradley to Beasley (maybe even Jozy Altidore), which American player would you take first on Blackpool?
Whitaker, Blackpool: The USA’s Michael Bradley and DaMarcus Beasley, have been two of the names touted of late but it appears, as in the majority of cases, that it is pure tabloid speculation.
However, having said that, I personally would love for us to acquire the services of Mr Bradley. And as I have already gone on record as saying – he would then be able to tell his grandchildren, that he played for the same famous old club, as the legendary, Sir Stanley Mathews. You really can’t put a price on that.
Matthew, TSG: To a fanbase of many Americans here who are now able to watch live EPL matches all the time, what type of style should we expect out of Blackpool and will the club avoid relegation in 2010-11?
Whitaker, Blackpool: Ian (Ollie) Holloway, (The Messiah) has gone on record, as saying, he wants us to play like Spain (NOT England) – so fully expect us, to play a passing/attacking game, at every opportunity. 4-3-3 was the order of the day last season – and I don’t see this changing much. We’re here to have fun and enjoy ourselves but most of all, we’re not here to sit back and invite a thumping – we are going all out, to have a real good go, at some of these big clubs. Yes! we expect to get mauled, a fair few times along the way but what you WILL see, week in and week out, is 11 honest-to-goodness footballers, busting a gut, to give it their all. As a fan – you can’t ask for much more than that.