“Come on down to the sea, see the Blackpool FC, come on down to the shore, don’t wanna go home, don’t wanna go home, don’t wanna go hooooome, this is the best trip I’ve ever been on!”
It wasn’t so long ago the Blackpool fans were selling out their allotment of away tickets at Premier League grounds and celebrating every second of their arrival in England’s first division.
The 2009-10 season saw the Lancashire side promoted to the Premiership after the Seasiders stunned the footballing experts by beating Cardiff City in the Championship play-off final, 3-2. Blackpool came from behind twice in that match and earned promotion to the English top flight for the first time in almost 40 years.
The following year the club was relegated on the final day of the Premier League season. But along the way they created new fans all over the world by playing an entertaining, attacking style of football not seen by many newly promoted sides.
Although there were some catastrophic losses during the 2010-11 Premier League season (6-0 to Arsenal, 4-0 to Chelsea, 4-0 to Wolverhampton), Blackpool also had some landmark victories (beating Liverpool twice and downing Tottenham at Bloomfield Road).
Prior to their promotion, Blackpool had been one of England’s more downtrodden towns. But plans for regeneration really kicked into gear with the club’s promotion to the Premier League and life was breathed back into the seaside resort.
Although the club was now returning to the Championship, it benefitted from parachute payments from the Premier League.
But Charlie Adam was sold to Liverpool, while David Vaughn and DJ Campbell soon followed out the door. Instead of investing the money earned from transfers and parachute payments, the cash was not put back into the playing staff. Blackpool executives elected to fill roster spaces with free transfers and loanees.
Manager Ian Holloway nearly led Blackpool to another stunning Championship play-off run that season. But the Seasiders were stopped short of another storybook ending by West Ham United in the play-off final at Wembley.
During the 2012-13 season, Holloway bolted Blackpool for Crystal Palace and was replaced by Michael Appleton.
Holloway eventually steered Palace to Premier League promotion (with Wilfried Zaha doing the heavy lifting during their play-off run), but Appleton only lasted two months at Blackpool before he decided to move on to Blackburn.
Paul Ince was hired but was only able to direct the club to a 15th place finish in the Championship.