Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Back in the day, Blackpool away...

Bloomfield Road hosted the first leg of the Sky Blues’ Coca Cola Cup tie with Blackpool in season ‘97/98. On a sodden evening up on the Fylde Coast, messrs Huckerby and Dublin sat out the game through injury, their replacements were Martin Johansen and Kyle Lightbourne. Danish import Johansen had signed in the summer from FC Copenhagen and would not start a league game for the club, while Lightbourne arrived from Walsall with a reputation for goals. He would feature just once in the league and, like Johansen, his tenure was brief. The name 'Kyle' has yet to succeed in sky blue.
Sky Blues’ supporters were sheltered under a hut-style terrace on the side of the ground. Adjacent to them were hundreds of fellow Sky Blues in the cheaper open terrace, unable to escape the constant deluge. Blackpool’s stewards employed common sense and attempted to prevent every single Sky Blues’ fan from moving to the sheltered area which went down well with the travelling hordes. One steward tripped up a terrace ‘escapee’ as he made for cover, not the most intelligent of moves as the group reaction proved.
Winds near to 50mph turned the game into a non-event before Lightbourne ran through on goal to make national headlines the following morning. A home supporter shone a laser pen into his eyes as he shaped to shoot and the opportunity was squandered. The next day Blackpool Police Inspector Tony Pinder commented that ‘it is hard to pin down who is pointing them’.  Lightbourne soon moved on to Stoke City having failed to open his Sky Blues' account.
David Linighan headed in a cross from Coventry-born James Quinn to take the Third Division side into the second leg with the advantage.  Quinn, another to slip through the club’s scouting policy, started his successful career at St.Andrews before his move to Blackpool.  At the time of the game there were rumours of interest from Real Madrid amongst others. A year later he moved to West Bromwich Albion and from there to Dutch side Willem II. After spells at a number of lower level clubs he retired in 2007 having accumulated 50 caps for Northern Ireland.  Injury ruled him out of the second leg which City won 3-1 to move into the next round.
Today’s game pitches City against Ian Holloway, the man who oversaw Leicester City’s relegation to the third tier in 2008. Chris Coleman’s words upon arrival ‘it could get worse before it gets better’ so nearly came back to haunt him on that day at Charlton.Three consecutive home league wins has given us hope, any points accumulated on the road could make the vital difference as we approach the home straight. With City’s last win at Blackpool back in 1923 a combination of Alex Nimely’s pace and Gary McSheffrey’s guile could see that elusive away victory recorded tonight.

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