|LFW Awaydays - Blackpool, Bloomfield Road|
Thu 11th Feb 2010 14:48
A full catch up of LFW's three most recent road trips starts with a January visit to the west coast, where Rangers escaped from Blackpool with a creditable draw.
1 – The Match
Not bad fair at all considering the weather conditions and poor playing surface. Blackpool were much the better of the two sides in the first half and deserved their half time lead given to them by Charlie Adam in the ninth minute – Blackpool’s top scorer coming in behind Faurlin at the back post to convert a cross from Bannan after poor full back play from Fitz Hall. It looked like the R’s were just going to do their usual thing of going through the motions and slipping to a quiet defeat. That changed after the break when Harford sent on Ephraim for Buzsaky and Rangers upped their work rate considerably. Taarabt set the tone for the second period with a jinking run and low shot that hit both posts and came back out into play, then the Moroccan cheekily converted a penalty after Baptiste was harshly adjudged to have handled his shot by Trevor Kettle – a referee who doesn’t usually give us very much at all. There only looked like one winner from there but true to form QPR threw away their ascendency with a poor piece of defensive play from hall, who was about to be replaced by Ramage, who allowed a cross to come over and Taylor Fletcher hammered it into the net from distance through a crowd of players. That looked like being that until Connolly played a ball up to the edge of the area and continued his run, picked up a knock down from Antonio German and sent a dipping volley into the net after controlling the ball on his thigh. A splendid goal to finish an entertaining match.
2 – QPR Performance
Lacklustre and under committed in the first half, all action and effort in the second. Despite the lack of confidence in the team and farce behind the scenes just making a bit of effort can make such a difference to us because we do have talented players. In the second half here with Ephraim tormenting Blackpool down the left and Taarabt in fine form the Tangerines had few answers to offer and they’re a team chasing the play offs. It just needs a bit of commitment and effort – Rangers showed that in the second half here and got their rewards.
3 – QPR support
The QPR fans long for an early or late season appointment at Bloomfield Road so we can enjoy the sun and seaside attractions but for the third season running we had to endure a day here in the absolute depths of winter. More to come on the shambolic away end shortly but bearing in mind the distance, expense, poor form of the team and accommodation on offer for visiting fans at Bloomfield Road I thought our support was credible in both number and volume. Points off for those among the 400 or so travelling faithful who chose to shout “fuck off Hall” every time he came across to take a throw in on our side – terrible and over paid he may be but who does that help? Points added for the altogether more upbeat and positive atmosphere in the second half with the fan responding well to some effort being shown by the players on the pitch. And some proper ‘let’s all go mental’ celebrations as Connolly’s shot dipped into the net. We’re really not a demanding bunch of supporters, put the effort in and hear us sing.
4 – Atmosphere
Hats off to the Blackpool fans, they really are terrific. Led by a proper drummer high behind the goal the singing and chanting was relentless throughout the game, spreading right round the two sides of Blackpool support on several occasions. The location and accommodation of the away fans makes it hard to get any reciprocal chanting and banter going but the QPR fans did their best and all in all the atmosphere was very decent indeed. For the noise made and passion shown from such a small number I’d say Blackpool, home and away, have probably been pound for pound the best supporters we’ve faced this season. Friendly, loud and proud.
5 – The Ground
Well I suppose the first thing to say is that Blackpool have finally got round to building a third side to Bloomfield Road, behind the goal at the southern end of the field, since our last visit. The seats are in but it looks a couple of months away from completion at least. Should be done for our visit next season, assuming we haven’t been relegated. I have read somewhere not sure if this is true, that once completed all the Blackpool fans currently behind the goal at the north end are going to be moved to the new stand, with season tickets switching to the equivalent seat at the opposite end. Away fans will then be given half of the covered north stand behind the goal from next season. Like I say I’ve no idea if that’s true – we can only hope, because the facilities for away fans currently are now beyond a joke. The one positive thing I can say is that having been charged an extortionate £26 last season the price has at least come down a little bit since – although the old prices are still painted above the turnstiles as you approach which caused a bit of a panic as we didn’t have enough cash to meet them.
The stand is temporary, like the ones you get at golf tournaments, and bounces up and down as the fans perched on it do the same. It is uncovered and faces the sea, so the spray and wind whipping off the Irish Sea flies over the main stand opposite and hits you straight in the face - Young North has experienced this twice and decided not to join us, but did send his road-kill hat for protection so a big thankyou to him for that. It is built on a grey clay like substance that turns to mush in wet weather, sticks to your shoes and has to be chipped off later with a screwdriver. The toilets are located in a portacabin that has three inches of piss on the floor at all times. It is a truly evil place to watch football from.
6 – The Journey
Well the first thing to note is Owain made the train on time. Admittedly I did arrange to meet him at the station a good half hour before it was due to leave and he only arrived with five minutes to spare but credit where it’s due we made the train we wanted to make. Now from Sheffield it’s two changes, at Manchester and Preston, before you get to Blackpool. Two things to note really – first Northern Rail appear to be doing heir bit for unemployment rates in this country by employing half a million ticket collectors to work between Sheffield and Blackpool North. Get on the train get your ticket checked, get off the train at Manchester ticket checked at the door, walk 100 yards up the platform to change trains ticket checked again, get on train to Preston ticket checked, leave Chorley same guard who checked tickets before asks if he’s checked tickets and can he see them again to make sure. Now I quietly went along with this overzealous, jobsworth approach to customer services until we got to Preston where we arrived a minute or two early and could have made an earlier Blackpool train that was standing there waiting on the opposite platform – sadly though we were stopped yet again on the bridge by a couple of ticket Nazis and by the time we’d fished the tickets out the train had gone. We then turned back the other way to sit in the station bar for half an hour only for one of the knobs to follow us demanding to see the tickets anyway. Now I don’t abuse railway staff often as a general rule but let’s just say if he’d persisted in making the 700th check of our tickets that day before we were allowed a beer and after making us miss the train he would have had to remove it from his own fat arse first. Anyway half an hour later another Blackpool train, another ticket check before we got on and another ticket check before we set off. When we got off at Blackpool we were confronted with an electronic ticket gate, I wanted to keep mine and told the attendant this at which point he waved me through. The barrier duly ate my ticket anyway and when I turned to him to ask what the fuck he was playing at he said he’d told me it would all along. Anyway second thing worthy of mention – we sat at a table on the train from Preston that had a single dog biscuit placed in the middle of it, Pedigree Chum if I’m not very much mistaken. How it got there, why it was there nobody knows. Anyway I popped it in my hat and carried it around for the rest of the day as you do. On the way back, less ticket checks thankfully, but we did have the loudest, thickest most irritating bloke on the Preston leg of the journey spouting his own pointless and worthless opinions at such volume it made the windows rattle. Back in Sheffield for half eightish.
7 – Pre Match
Blackpool is not the most inviting of places in January so we played safe and went for the Walkabout on the sea front as we knew we’d get some stodgy food and a look at Stoke v Liverpool. Sadly that didn’t open until noon and we were a few minutes early so we went to see if we could go on the beach – the sea promised only death should we attempt it – got the usual picture on the sea front and then went and rattled the doors until they let us in. It’ a new low point I think, rattling the doors of a Walkabout pleading for mercy. As the only customers the place had all afternoon they took pity on us and gave us drinks discounts which was good of them. Owain had an Australian breakfast, which looked very much like an English breakfast but was served by an Australian barman, and I had a burger of some sort. The walk to the pub, and then to the ground, was brightened by a couple of signs we passed on the way – the pictures speak for themselves I think. Later in the evening Lindsey met us for drinks in The Old Monk and then Muse in Sheffield, we even caught the last bit of Bilbao beating Real Madrid which was amusing.
8 – Police and Stewards
I saw neither all day, perhaps they’ve all been redeployed as train ticket inspectors.
Total - 52/80
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