Ground: Bloomfield Road
Date: 4th January 2011
Match: Blackpool - Birmingham 1-2 (Premier League)
Attendance: 14 550
"You don't know what it means to be Premiership supporters". Those were the words of the train conductor to some young Blackpool fans as I travelled back from Scunthorpe-Blackpool on Good Friday last season. Blackpool won by 4-2 that day and were closing in on a play-off spot. Against all odds Blackpool then not only made it to the play-offs but all the way to the Premiership, after an impressive finishing to the 2009/10 season.
With Bloomfield Road being one of only two Premiership grounds I had left to visit this was the main "target" on this trip. Staying in Manchester I arrived in Blackpool around 2pm. After picking up my ticket at the ticket office I spent the afternoon walking along the beach before ending up at an Italian restaurant. Blackpool is England's premier holiday destination. January is of course hardly peak season but I could still get an idea what it must be like in July & August. It was certainly interesting to see all the amusement spots more or less screaming out "Come and spend your money here". After spending 2,5 hours at the Italian restaurant, had to finish my book, I once again made my way to Bloomfield Road later in the evening. When the 2009/10 season started Bloomfield Road had a capacity of 9 300. Two proper stands and the infamous golf-style stand on the east side of the ground. The South Stand was completed by December last season raising the capacity to 12 000. When Blackpool were promoted they removed the golf stand and erected a temporary 6 000 all-seated (roofed!) stand on the east side of Bloomfield Road, bringing the capacity to 16 000. Half of this stand is given to away supporters, the other half is where it is possible to get a ticket for neutrals like myself. I was in row 3, not the best seat but at least my view wasn't restricted by the supporting pillars at the front of the stand.
When the match started Birmingham went ahead in the 24th minute and looked the better side. The second half was really exciting with end to end action. Birmingham twice hit the post but Blackpool showed why they are in the Premiership and managed to equalise. Both teams then had some chances but it wasn't until the 89th minute the goal eventually was scored. It was close to off-side, the home fans certainly thought so, but I was perfectly seated and my initial reaction was that the Birmingham player was on-side. 2-1 and an important away win for Sebastian Larsson's team. There were only around 1 000 or so away supporters at the game but those who came had every reason to celebrate.
Bloomfield Road might not feel like a Premier League ground (something positive!), they could do with a new permanent East Stand, but the players have over and over again this season showed they are good enough to play in England's top division. At least away from home.....
Statue of Stan Mortensen
Rear of the East Stand
View of Bloomfield Road
View of play