Blackpool started their final home game against Golborne thinking about how many goals they could score, after having beat them 17-0 in their last encounter back in October. However Golborne have improved since that day, and even recorded their first points with a win over Cheetham Hill the week before. Although Blackpool had the early possession, they couldn’t find the final touch needed for a goal. In a rare Golborne attack, from a long corner, the ball bounced past Latimer’s stick, Rainbow only half cleared to an attacker, who gladly took the open goal. Blackpool were 1-0 down to the bottom side, akin to England’s final World Cup qualifier to San Marino in 1993.
Blackpool didn’t panic, knowing they were the better side and goals would eventually come. However the first was a long time coming. Hayes was spurning chances from open play, several short corners came and went without success, and the Golborne keeper was performing somersaults batting the ball away with his hands and feet. Eventually Blakemore scored from a short corner, but half-time came with the scores level at 1-1.
Captain Rayner inspired his team for a classic second half performance, and within a minute Blakemore had scored a second. Minutes later, after a customary strike from Walker in defence had the length of the pitch, only for Hayes to take possession, dribble round a defender then neatly flick the ball over the rushing keeper to make it 3-1 and effectively game over.
The game was now all about how many Blackpool could score. The pressure continued and Blakemore added two more half-way through the second half. Substitutions were made and defender Bancroft was sent up front to try and score his first goal of the season, Rayner also attacked and with Hocking and Wright coming in from the flanks, the Golborne D was awash with tangerines looking for a goal. Golborne defended in numbers and they had few attacks, which meant that even the Blackpool defenders pressed forward in search of glory. Time after time balls went a-begging or Golborne defended with spirit. In the end the final goal was scored by Blakemore, making it 5 for the day, and a jug offence if only his 18th birthday was a few days earlier. Bancroft later informed his team-mates, whilst in the shower, that he was unable to score due to his purple nuts.
With 6-1 the final score, one less than England against San Marino in 1993, the Blackpool team headed to the bar to anxiously wait to hear their rivals’ results. Anything but a win for Bolton away to league leaders Carlisle would hand Blackpool automatic promotion, without the worry of a tricky away trip to Bury next week. As their game started half an hour later the result wasn’t immediately known, and there was much checking of web pages on tiny mobile phone screens, phoning up of any Carlisle or Bolton mobiles numbers that existed, and finally it appeared.
Bolton and Carlisle had drawn – a dream result and cheers went up. Unlike England being denied a place at USA94 by Holland winning, Blackpool 2’s had the result they wanted and will be playing in Division 9N next year. This is a fantastic achievement in their first year in the leagues, and testament to Dave Rayner’s captaincy, the bonding of the side from experienced players to young upcoming ones, the strength in depth of the squad, and the general growth in Blackpool Men’s Hockey Club.
The team would like to thank their sponsors, Cable & Wireless, and now travel to Bury next week in a relaxed frame of mind. However, they still intend to win the game, not only to avenge their only home defeat earlier in the season, but also because there’s an outside chance of winning the division, as Carlisle travel to Lytham St Annes needing a solitary point, but even that could be tricky if Lytham turn up and play their best side.