Bolton Wanderers Opponent Bio: Blackpool

Alex Livesey

Bolton Wanderers welcome Blackpool to The Reebok Stadium this weekend in the FA Cup Third Round. Both have a rich history in the competition and some key moments in both clubs' respective histories involve ties between the two near neighbours. We will look at a brief history of our fellow Lancastrians.

Blackpool were founded in 1877 as Football was really taking off in the Lancashire region. Although not Founder Members of the Football League, the club were one of the first to compete in the competition and their first league campaign began in 1896.

Despite some issues regarding re-election to the competition which was largely performance based, the club did manage to secure its status as a league club and its development began.

The Seasiders’ pre-war historical league finishes were largely mid-table second division places. Still looking to make their mark on the League Competition, Blackpool hired Joe Smith as manager in 1935. Smith managed to take The Seasiders to the Top Flight within two seasons but their progress was paused with the outbreak of World War II.

Once World War II had concluded, the Lancastrian club picked up where they left off with legendary players such as Stan Mortensen, Allan Brown and the iconic Sir Stanley Matthews.

The club would reach the FA Cup final three times and win the competition against our own Bolton Wanderers 4-3. That match is known more commonly as The Matthews Final due to the legendary winger’s match-winning performance.

All good things must come to an end and after 23 years as manager, Joe Smith left the club and Blackpool spent the majority of remaining years of the 20th Century moving frequently among the divisions with brief periods of success, such as an Anglo-Italian Cup win under the management of Bob Stokoe in 1971.

In 1994 the club found itself in the third tier of English Football and appointed Sam Allardyce in an effort to turn the club's fortunes around. In his second season at the club, Big Sam guided The Seasiders to the play-offs but was beaten on aggregate by Bradford City. Allardyce was sacked as manager and replaced by football knowledge mogul Gary Megson. I know, incredible.

The modern day Blackpool FC is a club with a period spent in the Premier League. Under the ‘management’ of Ian Holloway and inspired by the distribution ability of Scotsman Charlie Adam, the club played a brand of football that received plaudits from many but ultimately led to relegation after a cruel 4-2 away defeat against Champions Manchester United.

After narrowingly missing out on promotion back to the top flight via a defeat to Sam Allardyce’s West Ham United side, Holloway left soon after to replace our own Dougie Freedman when he took the step up from Crystal Palace.

Holloway was replaced by Michael Appleton who, after putting in a trademark hard month’s graft, was replaced by protective father Paul Ince. Ince brings his side to the Reebok hoping his overachieving, resource-stretched side can put a financially rewarding cup run together.

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