Slavisa Jokanovic unable to explain how his Sheffield United side were beaten by Blackpool

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Slavisa Jokanovic admits he was “unable to give an explanation” how his Sheffield United side lost 1-0 to Blackpool.


The Seasiders had to survive large swathes of pressure from the home side, who rattled the Blackpool bar, had a goal ruled out for offside and were denied by a series of fine Dan Grimshaw stops.

But Neil Critchley’s men stayed in the game and got their reward late on when Anderson beat the offside trap before curling home into the top corner – sending Blackpool’s 2,000 visiting supporters into bedlam.

Blackpool’s third straight win and their seventh from their last 10 means the newly-promoted Seasiders now move into the play-off places.

The Blades, meanwhile, languish down in 17th.

“We must be disappointed with this kind of situation after a defeat,” Jokanovic said.

“It’s simple – we created good things for 72 minutes and then one big mistake. Then the reaction after the goal we did not have the mentality to change the game. That’s not acceptable.

Blades boss Slavisa Jokanovic

Blades boss Slavisa Jokanovic

“I don’t remember being in trouble before the goal. We created a lot of things I cannot give you an explanation of how we have lost this game. I believe we were better than Blackpool.

“We are in some kind of the process but this process is some months and we have not found enough so far.

“For 72 minutes we were at a good level and play a good game but unfortunately we didn’t make it a good thing and be more clinical to score the goals.

“I don’t remember being in trouble, of course they get one kick and cause trouble this is normal.

“I try and justify the defeat and talking when people are not satisfied I defend this situation by saying look at the 72 minutes and after we lose the game it’s not enough for the Sheffield United supporters, I can accept.

“But from another side the process cannot stop I must force it and the main responsibility is coming from myself.

“But for another side I expect we can show more reaction and play a complete game not like some part of the game today or like few games this season not be able to start and finish one complete game from first game to last minute.

“A good game is not giving up, concentrating and giving the opposition some small present.”



Neil Critchley speaks of delight after Blackpool claim another win in their ‘toughest’ game of the season against Sheffield United

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Neil Critchley spoke of his delight after his Blackpool side picked up yet another win in their “toughest” game of the season.


The Seasiders moved up to sixth place in the Championship with a hard-earned 1-0 win against Sheffield United this afternoon.

Pool had to survive large swathes of pressure from the home side, who rattled the Blackpool bar, had a goal ruled out for offside and were denied by a series of fine Dan Grimshaw stops.

But Critchley’s men stayed in the game and got their reward late on when Keshi Anderson beat the offside trap before curling home into the top corner – sending Blackpool’s 2,000 visiting supporters into bedlam.

Blackpool’s third straight win and their seventh from their last 10 means the newly-promoted Seasiders now move into the play-off places.

“When you win 1-0, keep a clean sheet and score a goal like we scored, you’d have to say it was a perfect away performance,” Critchley said.

“We knew we were facing a very good team today and a lot of Sheffield United fans will go home unhappy, but I’ve got no doubt this team – if they keep playing the way they’re playing – will be up there this season.

Neil Critchley celebrates with the Blackpool fans at the full-time whistle

Neil Critchley celebrates with the Blackpool fans at the full-time whistle

“In preparation for this game, I was saying to the staff and I obviously speak to the analyst and I honestly thought this was our toughest game this season.

“The way they play, the positions they take up on the pitch and how they control the game gives you real problems.

“We rode our luck a little bit at times, the goalkeeper makes a magnificent save, they hit the crossbar, they miss a big chance in the first-half, so it’s that fine line.

“We’ve scored a magnificent goal to win the game and after that, I have to say we were quite comfortable. They didn’t really threaten the goal or create many chances.

“If anything, I felt we probably looked more likely to get the second goal.”

Blackpool’s winning goal came with 15 minutes to spare, when Dan Grimshaw beat Sheffield United’s high line with a pinpoint ball over the top.

Anderson took it down superbly before cutting inside and unleashing a curling effort into the top corner of the net.

“It looks like a big boot down the pitch, which it was, but it’s something we had highlighted before the game,” Critchley added.

“They push up very quickly and they play a high line, so if we got the timing of the run right and we get the right delivery, then we knew we could get in behind.

“Keshi shows great presence of mind and great intelligence because he times the run perfectly and then he takes the ball out of the sky, cuts back inside and unleashes a fantastic strike off his left foot into the top corner.

“It was a goal fitting to win this game.”

While the home side were unable to get the goal their play arguably deserved, they did cause the Seasiders plenty of problems with their fluid movement and one and two-touch interplay.

While Slavisa Jokanovic’s side currently languish in 17th place, Critchley has no doubt they will rise back up the table sooner rather than later.

“They’re excellent and I’m not saying that because we’ve won. They’ve got Premier League players. Look at their squad, look at their bench,” Critchley said.

“They caused us a lot of problems today and we won the game, great, but as ever we’ve not done everything right.

“We’ve got a good feeling now but that doesn’t mean we got everything right and Sheffield United could easily have won this game and I’d be standing here feeling different and speaking different.

“The games are decided on moments and the moments didn’t go for them today and they did go for us.”



Lancashire Police officer investigated over “racist and homophobic” slurs

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A serving Lancashire Police officer is being investigated over claims she used racist and homophobic slurs in text messages.

The officer is accused of using a number of obscene and offensive terms in text messages, which have been reported to both Lancashire Police and the Independent Office for Police Conduct

The officer is accused of using a number of obscene and offensive terms in text messages, which have been reported to both Lancashire Police and the Independent Office for Police Conduct

The officer is accused of using a number of offensive terms in text messages, which have been reported to both Lancashire Police and the Independent Office for Police Conduct.

The force said it is investigating allegations made anonymously against an officer, who has been removed from front-line policing and placed on “alternative duties” until its enquiries are completed.

Messages allegedly sent by the officer included offensive terms for people of Asian backgrounds and gay men.

The IOPC – which oversees the police complaints system in England and Wales – said it is aware of a complaint against the officer and has asked Lancashire Police to investigate.

A police spokesman said: “We have received an anonymous report alleging that inappropriate text messages had been sent by an officer.

“We are looking into those matters and the officer is currently on alternative duties.

“Due to the nature of the allegation the matter was referred to the IOPC who determined that a local investigation should be carried out.”

Preston police officer racially abused by 12-year-old

Lancashire Police has not said which division the officer was working for when the allegations were made.



Work on A585 at Skippool Road north of Blackpool has finished two days early

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The people behind the bypass work on the A585 north of Blackpool have been praised for getting a key road open again ahead of schedule.


County councillors have praised the way National Highways has delivered a key phase of work in the £150m Windy Harbour to Skippool project.

The organisation, formerly Highways England, is bypassing Little Singleton village with a new dual carriageway, linked to new junction arrangements along the existing A585 at Windy Harbour and Skippool. This project, due to be completed in 2023, aims to ease congestion, support the economy and improve safety around Poulton-le-Fylde.

Work is taking place to remodel Skippool junction, where the western end of the new bypass will tie into the existing road, by replacing the roundabout there with a signalised crossroads.

Keir construction manager, Dave Cooper with enivronmental advisor Daphning Pierre at the Skippool Road junction on the A585

Keir construction manager, Dave Cooper with enivronmental advisor Daphning Pierre at the Skippool Road junction on the A585

As part of that work it needed to close Skippool Road, a local road north of the roundabout, for six weeks and that road reopened two days ahead of schedule on Friday, October 22.

National Highways and lead constructor Kier have now been praised by local Lancashire County Council members for the way the closure was handled.

Councillor John Shedwick, county councillor for Thornton and Hambleton, said: “Firstly, the works were scheduled for 12 weeks and I am grateful that National Highways listened to myself and Councillor Clempson and reduced it to six weeks.

“Another key to this has been the way the closure has been communicated with the public and the signage has been informative over the whole area. I understand this work was not foreseen in the original planning and I do hope there will not be any more surprises which will further inconvenience local residents and the traveling public.”

The work on the road was part of the bypass project designed to improve traffic flow on the A585

The work on the road was part of the bypass project designed to improve traffic flow on the A585

Councillor Alf Clempson, county councillor for Poulton-le-Fylde, said: “I can only echo councillor Shedwick’s comments. These works were unavoidable and were to upgrade and divert the essential local water supply. I will continue to work with Coun Shedwick and National Highways and Kier Highways to minimise future disruption for our local residents and all road users during the remainder of the project.”

Councillor Shedwick singled out David Whitelow, Kier stakeholder manager, for particular praise. David has become one of the project’s ‘familiar faces’ in the area since the project started last year.

Councillor Shedwick said: “I would particularly like to thank David because I know he’s been running around our roads as well, dealing with any problems we might have had. His commitment to communicating the closure of Skippool Road has been key.”

National Highways project manager Tristram Bardrick said: “We’d like to thank everyone affected by the closure of Skippool Road for their patience and support over the last six weeks.

The overall project is due to end in 2023

The overall project is due to end in 2023

“We are grateful and heartened by the comments from councillors Clempson and Shedwick. We’ve been committed to an ongoing conversation with local people right from the start of the project and it’s encouraging to see our approach paying off.”

The main construction work got under way in February and progress so far includes:

Completing the removal of the roundabout island at Skippool junction ahead of its replacement with a signalised crossroads at the end of the new bypass

Starting to widen the bridge and carriageway at Skippool Bridge and Skippool Bridge junction with a fortnight’s piling work which was completed in September.

The work is by National Highways with Keir as main conctractor

The work is by National Highways with Keir as main conctractor

Starting excavations and other preparations to construct the new bypass itself. This includes the section crossing the A586 local road where a new Poulton junction will be provided with the new bypass and at Lodge Lane where a bridge will be constructed to carry the local road over the new bypass.

Work to begin on removing roundabout as first major construction on A585 bypass …
Skippool Road opened two days early

Skippool Road opened two days early

Work at the nearby roundabout

Work at the nearby roundabout

Blackpool boss backs Sheffield United striker to come good

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Rhian Brewster’s struggles at Sheffield United are proof that not all talented youngsters can elevate themselves right to the top.


The 21-year-old has scored just once in 38 appearances since signing for the Blades for a £23m fee last year.

The striker, who hasn’t featured in Sheffield United’s last six games, was coached by Blackpool boss Neil Critchley during his time coming through the youth ranks at Liverpool.

While it’s unlikely Brewster will start against the Seasiders at Bramall Lane tomorrow, Critchley admits he’s looking forward to reuniting with his former player.

Sheffield United striker Rhian Brewster

Sheffield United striker Rhian Brewster

Tight table means every single point counts for Blackpool as they prepare to tak…

“I coached him for quite a few years in Liverpool so I know him well,” Pool’s head coach told The Gazette.

“He’s a great boy to work with and I’ll be looking forward to seeing him and speaking to him.

“His best quality is scoring goals, he’s a natural goalscorer. Hopefully he doesn’t hit the back of the net against us.

“I just think he’s going through a period of his career many young players go through, where not everyone takes the elevator to the top easily. Sometimes you have to take the stairs.

“It might be a little bit up and down and there’s very, very few players, like a Trent Alexander-Arnold, where they break into the team and stay there.

“A lot of young players now have to find a different pathway, they have to go out on loan and it might take them a little bit longer.

“There’s no doubting Rhian’s qualities, both as a player and a person. I fully expect him at some point to show the quality he’s got, I just hope it’s not on Saturday.”

Brewster, a star of England’s Under-17s’ World Cup win four years ago, has recently been linked with a loan move to Championship rivals Nottingham Forest.

There he would be reunited with Steve Cooper, under whom he played during a fruitful spell at Swansea City.

During the 2019/20 season, he found the back of the net on 11 occasions in 22 appearances to help fire the Swans to the play-off final.



Drivers urged to stop driving through work site as Peel Road remains closed due to major gas leak

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Gas engineering firm Cadent has apologised to residents for the delay in repairs to a major gas leak underneath Peel Road, one of the main routes between Lytham and Blackpool.


Engineers had initially hoped that work to bypass the leak by creating an extra section of gas main would have finished last week, but bad weather and further complications mean the road

will remain closed for several more weeks as the team now has to replace around 100 metres of pipe.

Cadent is asking drivers not to drive through the work area following instances of motorists ignoring the road closure, which the firm says is “extremely dangerous”.

Engineers fixing a gas leak on Peel Road gave an update  (Credit: Cadent)

Engineers fixing a gas leak on Peel Road gave an update (Credit: Cadent)

A Cadent spokesman said: “Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, added complications coupled with bad weather have meant we’ve not been able to carry out the repair in the way we’d

hoped to.

“We are extremely sorry for the inconvenience and disruption this is causing to both residents and commuters.

Engineers fixing gas leak on Peel Road between Blackpool and Lytham give update …

“This is a hugely challenging project, particularly as we are next to an electricity substation and underneath a pylon, which present major hazards.

“Our efforts – out of sight – so far have managed to keep gas flowing safely to 30,000 homes this pipe feeds.

“The only option open to us now is to replace around 100 metres of pipe. This will take some time – several weeks – and we must keep the road closed during that.”

Cadent says access for residents and businesses along Peel Road, near Ballam, can be maintained – but it cannot be used as a through road due to the huge excavation over half of the


The spokesman added: “We can maintain access only, as we have to date, for residents and businesses along that road.

“We cannot though let vehicles pass the work area safely, so it cannot be opened as a through road.

“We are taking steps to install fixed barriers as we have had instances of cars ignoring the road closure and driving through.

“This is extremely dangerous as there is a huge excavation covering half of the road and vehicles passing alongside this could cause the excavation to collapse or otherwise endanger the

safety of our workers, who are not expecting any traffic.

“We’re continuing to keep gas flowing too.

“We are doing everything we can to resolve this as fast as we can and would ask that you bear with us. The safety of the public and our teams is our number one priority.”

Mark Menzies, Fylde MP, said he has asked Cadent to keep Fylde residents updated on the work.

He said: “I appreciate the frustration of people in Fylde at the extended closure of Peel Road and know the works are not only an inconvenience for residents and

commuters but put pressure on alternative routes.

“The major gas leak at Peel Road means these works are unavoidable and the location, next to high voltage power lines, makes the task all the more challenging for those on site.

“I have asked Cadent to keep Fylde residents updated and to ensure the repairs are completed as soon as possible.

“In the meantime I would echo the request made by Cadent that people do not try to drive through the work site.

“Doing so is dangerous and only delays the reopening of the road to all users.”



‘Tinkerman’ Neil Critchley drops a surprise with his team selection for Blackpool’s game against Sheffield United

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Neil Critchley has surprised us all by naming an unchanged side for today’s game against Sheffield United.


It is just the fifth time in the 66 league games Critchley has taken charge of that he’s kept faith with the same side.

It means Kenny Dougall is fit to continue in midfield despite taking a knock to his ankle during last week’s derby win against Preston.

Gary Madine, meanwhile, will lead the line for the second game running having scored his first goal in nine months in his last outing.

It will be a reunion with the Blades for the striker, who enjoyed a brief loan spell at Bramall Lane having previously made over 100 appearances for their rivals Sheffield Wednesday.

Elsewhere, Chris Maxwell (torn quad), Matty Virtue (ACL), Kevin Stewart (ankle), Grant Ward (achilles) and Shayne Lavery (hamstring) all remain sidelined.

Daniel Gretarsson (concussion), Reece James (foot) and CJ Hamilton (also foot) are all back available but haven’t travelled.

Gary Madine lines up against his former club

Gary Madine lines up against his former club

Sheffield United, who begin the day three points adrift of the Seasiders, made one change from their 3-2 win against Barnsley last Sunday, as Morgan Gibbs-White came in for Oli McBurnie.

The referee for the game is Tony Harrington, who officiated Blackpool’s play-off final win at Wembley back in May.


Sheffield United: Olsen, Baldock, Stevens, Davies, Egan, Ndiaye, Osborn, Fleck, Norwood, Gibbs-White, Mousset

Subs not used: Foderingham, Basham, Hourihane, Norrington-Davies, McBurnie, Sharp, McGoldrick

Blackpool: Grimshaw, Gabriel, Ekpiteta, Keogh, Husband, Dougall, Wintle, Bowler, Anderson, Yates, Madine

Subs not used: Moore, Sterling, Garbutt, Connolly, Carey, Dale, Mitchell

Referee: Tony Harrington



Fleetwood residents frustrated by level of crime in the town

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Residents in Fleetwood have spoke out in frustration at a public meeting about crime in the town.


Some of them said they felt police were not dealing properly with reports of serious crimes such as assault, burglary and even one allegation of sexual assault on a teenager.

The session, organised by Fleetwood resident Julie Young Egbine, was attended by Andy Pratt, the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Lancashire, and Chief Insp Cara Leadbetter, the temporary Chief Inspector for Lancaster, Morecambe and Wyre Neighbourhood Police.

Drivers urged to stop driving through work site as Peel Road remains closed due …
Coun Colette Fairbanks, Julie Young Egbine and Andy Pratt (Deputy Lancashire PCC), with Chief Insp Cara Leadbetter (standing left) and a member of Fletwood's PCSO team

Coun Colette Fairbanks, Julie Young Egbine and Andy Pratt (Deputy Lancashire PCC), with Chief Insp Cara Leadbetter (standing left) and a member of Fletwood’s PCSO team

Julie, 58, said at the meeting: “The attitude of the police in some of these incidents comes across as though they don’t want to know.

“When the mum of a teenage girl reported she had been sexually assaulted, one office said on the phone said that she was lucky she was not in Preston rape centre.

“The girl’s mum was appalled and says the police still haven’t been round to see her.”

Residents also raised concerns about open drug dealing, violent crime and the use of weapons, as well as on-going anti-social behaviour.

Since the meeting, there have been two more serious offences in the town – a 23 year old man has been arrested on suspicion of a robbery at the One Stop convenience store on Lord Street at 9.45pm on Saturday night.

And a man aged 31 has been arrested on suspicion of rape outside the Betfred shop, also on Lord Street, at around 3.30am on Sunday morning.

Chief Insp Leadbetter said at Saturday night’s meeting: “Things aren’t going right and I can see that this is not a bad turn-out for a Saturday evening.

“We have opened the lines of communications. There are dedicated officers in your area and you need to know your local teams and report to them.

“We are new kids on the block, you need to trust our local teams, I promise to maker this better.”

Mr Pratt referred to the recent survey on crime organised by PCC Andrew Snowden and said: “Fleetwood is as important as anywhere else and the bigger picture is that we are putting together a plan for Lancashire, looking at tackling antisocial behaviour, drugs and serious organised crime and dangerous drivers.

“One of the jobs we need to do is to find more police officers and PCOs for Cara.”

Adam Diver, of the Wyre Alliance group, said: “Crime figures in Fleetwood are going up, we’ve had knife crime, guns and county lines drug dealing, this town is not safe.”

It was agreed at the session that further public meetings should be held regularly, each concentrating on particular kinds of concerns, so that they could be discussed more effectively.

Coun Colette Fairbanks, of Wyre Alliance, said: “It was a good meeting but things need to change or we will make our voices heard.”



Resort man fined £1,500 for ‘joining anti-vax protest’ which started near Blackpool Tower and the Comedy Carpet and moved towards Metropole Hotel

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The decision to join an anti-vaccination protest at the peak of the Covid outbreak has cost a man more than £1,500.


Stephen McAlroy, 51, was found guilty after a trial of breaching emergency regulations.

In the first prosecution of its type in the county, McAlroy of Taylor Terrace, Blackpool, was charged with participating in a gathering of more than six people in a public outdoor place.

Fleetwood residents frustrated by level of crime in the town

Blackpool Magistrates' Court

Blackpool Magistrates’ Court

The gathering, staged by anti-vaccination protesters, took place on November 1 last year at a time Blackpool was under tier three restrictions.

The protest started on the Comedy Carpet near the Tower and then moved north to the Middle Walk area near the Metropole Hotel, Blackpool Magistrates’ Court was told yesterday.

Police witnesses, who gave evidence, said they had seen McAlroy, who wore a high visibility jacket, milling amongst 100 to 150 protesters, some of whom were involved in a protest about the police handling of the inquiry into missing schoolgirl Charlene Downes.

PC Jonathan Graham told the hearing that only a few protesters wore masks and others failed to social distance.

During the incident some protesters were “quite hostile”, the court was told.

At one stage, McAlroy moved away from the main group but returned later. He was asked to leave again but refused and was then warned he could be prosecuted.

Magistrates were shown police bodycam footage of the incident and McAlroy produced footage of what he said had gone on.

He told the court he had followed the protest out of interest in what was going on and claimed he had not mixed with more than 100 people.

“I was on my own,” he said. “It was a case of me being at the wrong place at the wrong time and because I had the high viz jacket on.

“I was not part of any group there that day.”



Matt Scrafton column: Blackpool’s promising start to life back in the Championship

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Once the final whistle is blown at Bramall Lane on Saturday, we’ll roughly be one-third of the way through the Championship season.


By whatever metric you use, you’ve got to say it’s gone extremely well for Blackpool.

Six wins, three draws and five defeats is a very encouraging start for a side who came up through the League One play-offs.

Whenever you ask Neil Critchley about how he rates his side’s progress, he often umms and ahhs, and has a good think about it for a few seconds, before deciding it’s been ‘okay, could be better’.

Neil Critchley has overseen an encouraging start to the season
Neil Critchley has overseen an encouraging start to the season

Perhaps that’s how he is. You often get the feeling that if Blackpool won nine games out of 10, he’d be peeved by the fixture they didn’t win. He’s a perfectionist like that.

Even Critchley will be delighted with Blackpool’s current run, which has seen them win six of their last nine. Only leaders Bournemouth have collected more points during that time.

We’re getting to that dangerous territory, as we did in February and March of last season, where the regular victories go beyond a purple patch. It’s more than that.

If the Seasiders have a good November, for example, then we’d be looking at a prolonged, three-month spell of consistency, rather than a decent short-term upturn.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves because Critchley and co will know full well football has the ability to bite you in the backside just as you’re beginning to get carried away, especially in the Championship.

However, let’s double down into some of the facts and figures. Are Blackpool where they deserve to be?

Let’s start by analysing their points return, which is 21 from their opening 14 games.

So far that gives them a points-per-game average of 1.5. Repeat that over 46 games, you’re looking at a tally of around 69 points.

Last season, that would have been enough to finish eighth in the table, just outside the play-offs.

Again, this could all mean diddly squat and we’re still very early into the season, so I’d take these numbers with a pinch of salt – but they give us a general idea of how well Blackpool are performing.

In terms of Expected Goals (xG), one analytical site has Blackpool down in 14th, while a couple of others have them in 16th.

That suggests the Seasiders, who are 11th, level on points with the six sides ahead of them, are over-performing a little, but only slightly.

The numbers remain fairly similar to what they’ve actually produced and all metrics have them comfortably clear of the bottom three, as they are in ‘real life’, so to speak, boasting a 12-point gap.

What will also really encourage Critchley is that his players are getting better all the time.

They’re improving game by game and adapting to the level. I expect them to get stronger as the season goes on, not weaker.

Blackpool’s xG for their away games alone puts them 13th, while they’re 16th at home.

Again, they’re fairly similar figures and, as we’ve seen throughout Critchley’s tenure, the Seasiders tend to perform consistently irrespective of whether they’re home or away.

Despite Blackpool’s impressive return to the second tier, I still get the feeling opposition clubs – ones who are more established at this level – still see Blackpool as that side who were in League One last season.

“We should be beating teams like Blackpool,” is a phrase I hear and see regularly on my travels. More fool them.

Not to blow my own trumpet, but within the subsequent hours and days that followed Blackpool’s play-off triumph in May, I said Critchley’s men would be absolutely fine in the Championship.

I also predicted Blackpool would finish higher than their fellow promoted sides Hull City and Peterborough United, too. So far, so good in that respect.

Of course, all of this means Blackpool’s head coach is finally beginning to get noticed outside the Fylde coast.

It was inevitable really, I’m just surprised it’s taken this long.

We live in strange times when the Blackpool boss is infinitely more qualified, and by some distance, too, than the man in charge of Manchester United.

Liverpool supporters are now beginning to take more notice of him too, picking up on the likeness of his post-match fist pumps to what Jurgen Klopp regularly does at Anfield and beyond.

Is it just a case of enjoying him while we can or is Critchley here to stay for the long haul?

Personally, I suspect it’ll be the latter but, either way, it’s a good problem to have.

If your best players and your head coach aren’t wanted and sought after by clubs above you, you’re doing something wrong.

It goes without saying Simon Sadler and Ben Mansford will be desperate to tie Critchley down to a longer-term deal, with his current contract due to expire at the end of the 2022/23 season.

Put the pen to paper, Critch…



Golden wedding couple celebrate with a little help from Blackpool FC and their win over rivals PNE

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Blackpool FC’s superb win over arch rivals Preston at Bloomfield Road topped off a weekend of celebration for one resort couple.


Russell and Pat Jones celebrated their golden wedding at a family gathering with a card of congratulations from their favourite team, complete with signatures from the players.

Russell, 73, who worked as an accountant for John Potter and Harrison in Blackpool and Pat, 71, who was a civil servant, were delighted to get the card as they have followed the team for four decades.

Russell and Pat Jones with their golden wedding card signed by Blackpool FC's players

Russell and Pat Jones with their golden wedding card signed by Blackpool FC’s players

The pair, who live in Poulton, celebrated with family and friends at Singleton Lodge.

Son Daniel and daughter Rebecca arranged with Blackpool FC’s head of media Stewart Hudson to get the players to sign the card.

Daniel said: “They were absolutely delighted. They have been following Blackpool through the ups and downs for the best part of forty years. I contacted Stewart at the club and he was brilliant.

“They went on Saturday for the game against Preston and that topped off their weekend actually.

Russell and Pat Jones' golden wedding card signed by Blackpool FC's players

Russell and Pat Jones’ golden wedding card signed by Blackpool FC’s players

“It was quite a small gathering, close friends and family, with a meal and speeches.

“We put a video presentation together with photographs and music that they like.

“It was just lovely for everyone to get together, especially after the past two years because of the pandemic which have been quite hard.”

Pat hails originally from Fleetwood and Russell from Bispham. They met at a 21st birthday party at the Marine Hall in Fleetwood.

Russell and Pat Jones celebrating their golden wedding

Russell and Pat Jones celebrating their golden wedding

They were married at St Edmund’s in Fleetwood on October 9, 1971.

Daniel added: “If you have shared interests, something in common it helps keep you together.

“So the video presentation was split into sections for example, the football club, they loved going up to the Lake District, so there were lots of pictures of mountains, travel too.

“We’ve worked out they have been to over 30 countries together, Bermuda, Norway, South Africa, New Zealand and Canada. Its easier to mention the ones they haven’t been to!

“But the main thing with them is their family. Two children and five grandchildren, and they always put them first and that’s why they have stayed together so well.”



Preston North End and Blackpool fined following derby clash brawl

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Preston North End and Blackpool have both been fined £5,000 by the FA following last week’s derby at Bloomfield Road.


The clubs admitted a breach of FA rule E20.1 in that they failed to ensure their players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion in the 95th minutes of the Championship game.

That followed an incident when a number of players from both sides got involved in a melee after a foul on PNE substitute Sean Maguire by Blackpool’ s Callum Connollly.

Four players were shown yellow cards after it calmed down, with North End skipper Alan Browne sent-off as it was his second booking of the game.

Both clubs accepted the FA charge and the standard penalty. They’d had until today (Friday) to respond.

It was the first meeting of the clubs since August 2013 and the first in the league since 2010.

Blackpool won 2-0 with goals from Keshi Anderson and Gary Madine.

Preston North End and Blackpool players have an exchanged of views in the derby clash at Bloomfield Road

Preston North End and Blackpool players have an exchanged of views in the derby clash at Bloomfield Road

Blackpool and Preston pair break world record for furthest 24 hour vehicle pull

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Blackpool was the scene of a world record breaking challenge as two vans were pulled around a resort running track.


James Barker, 35, of Grange Park, and brother-in-law John Darwen, 30, from Avenham in Preston broke the world record of the furthest vehicle pull in 24 hours.

The pair were each pulling a Citroen Berlingo van and finally ended up doing 88 laps at the running track of Stanley Park Sports Arena at the weekend.

It wasn’t all smooth running after the men had to discount their first hour of pulling the vans.

John pulling his van

John pulling his van

James said: “We had a few problems at the beginning but we managed to resolve them fortunately.

“The GPS failed on the first hour and we had to discount it as part of the record but we called that our warm-up anyway.”

The vans each had a driver and weighed 1.6 tonnes. The record to beat was 21.1 miles and the men achieved 22 miles after setting off at 11.02am on Saturday.

The pair were also completing the challenge to fundraise for Redeeming Our Communities and, in particular, a project aimed at transforming needy residents’ gardens.

James Baxter and John Darwen

James Baxter and John Darwen

James and John want to do it again to try and break their own record.

James said: “We are aiming for April for our next attempt and it would be good to do 26 miles, so we will have done a marathon.

“We have learnt from this experience and reckon we can go even further but hopefully we can get the backing of a local business or sports firm to help us do that.”

James and John are hoping to hear back from Guinness World Records soon for confirmation that it will be official.

James Baker pulling the Citroen van at the weekend

James Baker pulling the Citroen van at the weekend

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The pair plan to break the record again next year

The pair plan to break the record again next year

Sheffield United v Blackpool: Team news, predicted line-up and pre-match quotes from Neil Critchley

Home | Blackpool Gazette

The Seasiders will be hoping it’s not a case of ‘after the Lord Mayor’s show’ this weekend when they make the trip to Bramall Lane.


Neil Critchley’s side return to action a week on from claiming the bragging rights with their 2-0 derby win against Preston North End.

Blackpool are in a rich vein of form at the moment, having won six of their last nine games in the Championship.

It leaves Critchley’s newly-promoted side in 11th place in the table, but level on points with Luton Town in fifth.

This weekend they take on a Sheffield United side that were relegated from the Premier League last season.

Under new boss Slavisa Jokanovic, the Blades endured a difficult start to the campaign, not winning until their sixth game in.

But since then, the Blades have recovered and now sit 14th and just three points adrift of the Seasiders.

The Seasiders take on Slavisa Jokanovi's side at Bramall Lane tomorrow

The Seasiders take on Slavisa Jokanovi’s side at Bramall Lane tomorrow

The game will be refereed by Tony Harrington, who officiated Blackpool’s play-off final win at Wembley back in March.

Team news

Blackpool could have a potential selection problem in central midfield, with Kevin Stewart and Kenny Dougall both carrying knocks to their ankle.

Stewart’s setback came during the recent defeat against Nottingham Forest earlier this month, while Dougall picked up his injury late on against Preston North End last week.

Speaking on Thursday morning, Neil Critchley told The Gazette that he was “hopeful” the midfield pair would be able to train on Thursday and Friday.

If the duo were ruled out of Saturday’s trip to Bramall Lane, it would leave Ryan Wintle as Blackpool’s only recognised midfielder, although Callum Connolly is capable of filling in there if required.

Elsewhere, CJ Hamilton is making good progress on his recovery from surgery on his foot, but will still be sidelined for a little while.

Chris Maxwell (torn quad), Matty Virtue (ACL), Grant Ward (achilles) and Shayne Lavery (hamstring) all remain sidelined.

The likes of Daniel Gretarsson (concussion) and Reece James (foot) are both available having recovered from their setbacks.

As for the Blades, Lys Mousset limped off after scoring twice during the 3-2 win against Barnsley on Sunday.

Jayden Bogle missed out at Oakwell and will be assessed ahead of the weekend, while Sander Berge is out with a hamstring injury.

Neil Critchley’s pre-match comments

“When you’ve got a new manager, a new way of playing and a different system, it always takes a bit of time.

“They had a bit of a sticky start but since then they’ve picked up and having watched them play a lot recently, they’re an excellent footballing team.

“They’ve got outstanding players, you just have to look at their squad. The options they’ve got up front is quite frightening really.

“When you throw John Fleck and Oliver Norwood in there, who are arguably two of the best midfielders in this division, the backline and the experience they’ve got there, they’re a very good team with a very good squad.

“I would fully expect them come the end of the season to be challenging for promotion again, so we’re under no illusions about the task we’ve got.

“It’s a tough game, however we can take great confidence from our last few performances and how we’ve performed away from home against some good teams.

“It’s got the makings of a really good game.”

Opposition view

“It’s a really hard opponent,” Blades boss Slavisa Jokanovic said.

“I watched a lot of the games, they have a system and play football with a lot of intensity. They will press us with energy, they are brave and play good football.

“I have tried to share this information with my team to prepare them for the challenge ahead.”

Pool’s predicted line-up (442): Grimshaw, Gabriel, Keogh, Ekpiteta, Husband, Connolly, Wintle, Bowler, Anderson, Yates, Madine



Sue Ryder’s £41K “Life Full of Love” music therapy appeal for Fulwood neurological centre

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Do you love music? If the answer is yes the Sue Ryder Neurological Care Centre at Fulwood is hoping you’ll share that love.


The centre is seeking donations to its ‘Life Full of Love’ fund to finance a year of music therapy for clients coping with long term neurological conditions or having rehabilitation therapy for neurological problems, for example following a stroke or brain injury.

The therapy was introduced on a trial basis for six months and has proved so successful that now the Centre wants to extend it. Research has shown that, used alongside other rehabilitation techniques, such music therapy can dramatically transform the rehabilitation of brain injury survivors.

Music therapist Clare Maddocks said: “‘Neurologic Music Therapy uses musical elements such as rhythm, melody or pitch to connect with the brain.”

Charlie and Clare in a one to one therapy session          Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

Charlie and Clare in a one to one therapy session Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

She said a client’s automatic response to music “allows healthy and unaffected parts of the brain to be recruited, allowing patients to relearn functions such as movement or speech.”

Clare continued: “It also provides an invaluable safe space for the processing and expression of emotional and psychological needs without always having that pressure to put it into words.”

For Charlie (Charmaine) Botfield-Clarke, who collapsed in Blackpool in February 2020, the music has enabled her to express herself in a way she could not in conversation. Her family was told the mum-of-two was lucky to survive after she collapsed on the way to collect her youngest daughter from the school bus. Now, 18 months after she suffered a life-changing bleed on the brain, the music therapy is helping the 39-year-old reconnect with her family.

Charlie’s mother Sara Teresa Ashmore said: “She went to hospital, they did a scan and transferred her straight away to Preston. Fortunately she was operated on within three hours. It happened at 4.30pm and she was in theatre at 7.30pm. The surgeons told us that she would be severely brain damaged but she still has her personality and her sense of humour -she doesn’t suffer fools gladly! She remembers things from the past but her short term memory is very bad.”

Thanks to music therapy Charlie has written a song for her children

Thanks to music therapy Charlie has written a song for her children

Through music therapy sessions Charlie, who as a child used to collect sheet music as a hobby and also played the violin, managed to write a song which is an expression of her love for her children Lauren, 22, and Scarlet, 15.

Sessions provided her with opportunities to take a direct role in the process, from creating lyrics to choosing musical content from choices presented by Clare, as well as making a recording to share. Charlie has since spoken of how the writing and recording of her song left her feeling ‘proud’, and of how the song is about reassurance for her daughters, but it also provides comfort when she is missing her family.

Sara Teresa said: “The music therapy has been so beneficial because Charmaine always loved music. The first opportunity we had we took a radio into the Sue Ryder centre for her so she could listen to her music. Music takes you right down memory lane and it is such a powerful thing. When she told me about the song she said she had written it for her girls and that it was from the heart. It’s just beautiful. I cried when I heard it.

‘We know it will be slow progress but we think she is doing really well at Sue Ryder. Slowly but surely my daughter is coming back. I’m just happy that she is there and that she is well looked after. I know she is happy there and I can have a good conversation with her and reason with her which is great.’

Music therapist Clare Maddocks leads a group music  therapy session at the Fulwood centre

Music therapist Clare Maddocks leads a group music therapy session at the Fulwood centre

The therapies team at Sue Ryder wanted to use Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT) to help with clients’ cognitive, behavioural, emotional and psychological needs. The Post was invited to watch a group music therapy session. We saw how different clients joined in using mini instruments to help accompany Clare who sang and played the keyboard choosing memorable and well loved songs. For some clients just being there was progress, others wanted to join in all the way through.

.Clare, who works for arts therapy organisation Chroma, said: “Music Thtrapy has regularly provided new information on clients that may not have been observed previously, such as helping to build new neuro pathways for limb movement or identifying that an individual benefits best from visual and auditory stimuli when presented with new information.”

She cites one example, when working with a client with an impaired left arm, Clare supported her to use her affected arm to use wind chimes, which by the end of the session, she was able to play independently. She had a physio session immediately after during which she was able to initiate, without verbal prompts, completing exercises with her left hand, which she had not been able to do until that point.

Clare also has one to one individual therapy sessions with clients.

Sue Ryder clients can use or be helped to use different instruments, such as these chimes,  during the music therapy sessions

Sue Ryder clients can use or be helped to use different instruments, such as these chimes, during the music therapy sessions

Centre staff have reported that both the group and individual sessions have provided a lifeline for many clients who may struggle to communicate effectively. It has helped them to improve not just their communication skills but independence, self-awareness and awareness of others, plus improve their concentration and attention skills. It has also helped cut social isolation because music therapy can be performed safely and at a social distance. This has been particularly important during the pandemic when many traditional social gatherings and complementary therapies had to be postponed.

Hannah Halliwell, Head of Therapy Services at the centre said: ‘Music Therapy has been a real lifeline for so many of our clients who struggle to communicate effectively. It allows them to remain emotionally and physically connected through shared music-making and greatly improves their quality of life. This project has been hugely successful and has helped us to create the best environment for our clients to thrive in their everyday lives.”

Centre director Chris Walbank said: “At the centre we are constantly striving to ensure we are at the forefront of modernising neurological care and we are continuously trying to introduce impactful new therapies such as music therapy. By donating to our ‘Life full of Love’ fundraising campaign you will help us offer a life-line to so many of our clients who struggle to communicate effectively.”

He said the pilot music therapy programme had: “offered our clients immeasurable social, physical and emotional benefits, helping to develop their communication and interpersonal skills and enabling them to live more fulfilling and happier lives.”

Chris added that the extra finanical pressures caused by the pandemic meant they were looking for donations. He said: “Now more than ever, we are relying on the generosity of the public to raise £41,000 and ensure we can continue to deliver music therapy and other cathartic therapies over the next year that can be life-changing for people living with neurological conditions.

To donate see: or here ,

A Sue Ryder client keeps time, enjoying the rhythm of the music

A Sue Ryder client keeps time, enjoying the rhythm of the music

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Clare sings songs and plays the keyboard during the socially distanced music therapy session

Clare sings songs and plays the keyboard during the socially distanced music therapy session

Blackpool Illuminations £13m upgrade included in first Town Deal submission

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A £13m upgrade of Blackpool Illuminations which will see new light features built and the continued extension of the display until January is among the first three schemes set to receive funding from the resort’s £39.5m Town Deal.


Since the award of funding was announced in October last year, town hall chiefs have been compiling business cases for seven schemes which are each due to receive a share of the cash.

Town Deal cash reallocated to key Blackpool regeneration projects

The first three submissions cover plans for a £13.2m upgrade of the Illuminations which includes £4..5m from the Town Deal; £500,000 from the Town Deal for a Youth Hub, and £7.5m from the Town Deal towards infrastructure at the Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone.

Investment will be  made in Blackpool Illuminations

Investment will be made in Blackpool Illuminations

Appraisal of the schemes has now been completed and submitted to the Department of Levelling Up, Homes and Communities (formerly the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government) with the council expected to receive the funding by the end of the year.

A report setting out the Blackpool Illuminations submission says: “The overall aim of the project is to rejuvenate the Blackpool Illuminations as a means

to attract an increasing number of visitors to the town in the autumn and winter period, and extending the traditional Illuminations season by two months, from the current September to November season until January.

“This will be done by designing and creating a number of new centrepiece attractions over a five-year period and improving the lighting infrastructure and provision of essential equipment needed to deliver the illuminations in an efficient and sustainable manner.

“This project will support the famous Blackpool illuminations through modernisation and innovation.”

This year sees the Illuminations extended until January for the first time in its history, after last year’s proposed extended display was curtailed by lockdown.

The Blackpool Youth Hub aims “to support young people in the town to access jobs and training” by supporting the transition from school into employments.

It is hoped to provide a ‘one stop shop’ for young jobseekers aged 16 to 24 within a vacant town centre unit in the Bickerstaffe House council offices.

The project will run from April next year until September 2023, but it is hoped to begin a pilot scheme earlier if a bid for £444,000 from the Community Renewal Fund is successful.

Town deal funding of £7..5m is earmarked towards the £18m cost of new roads and infrastructure at the Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone.

Proposals include a new access point for traffic from the east of the site, with changes to Common Edge Road.

This will improve traffic flow and open up additional development space for new businesses.

The other four projects in the Town deal are £8m towards the relocation of the courts building to enable later phases of the Blackpool Central leisure development; £9m towards the development of a multiversity in the town centre; £5.5m for the Southern Quarter/Revoe community sports village, and £4.5m for The EDGE incubator business hub at Stanley Buildings on Church Street.

These are due to be submitted to the government in November, with payment of funds due next March.



Blackpool striker still has a big part to play at Bloomfield Road

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Gary Madine can look forward to his reunion with former club Sheffield United and forget about his recent injury woes.


The Blackpool striker briefly spent time on loan with the Blades in 2019, having previously made more than 100 appearances for their rivals Sheffield Wednesday.

The 31-year-old will inevitably be fired up for today’s visit to Bramall Lane, having scored his first goal in nine months during last week’s 2-0 derby win against Preston North End.

Madine has endured an injury-hit 2021, having been forced to undergo surgery on his groin to solve a niggling problem that plagued much of last season.

Gary Madine celebrates scoring against Preston North End last weekend

Gary Madine celebrates scoring against Preston North End last weekend

Brett Ormerod column: Blackpool-Preston North End derby day was worth the long w…

However, he is on the mend and has made eight appearances already this season.

Blackpool boss Neil Critchley said: “It was such a frustrating time for Gary from January onwards.

“It was really stop-start and I know it weighed heavily on him mentally.

“He had a really good first half of the season for us and he was a big part of the team. He was enjoying his football.

“He’s a big influence in our squad and we missed him and his influence on the pitch, although he still had an influence off the pitch.

“Gary likes to feel part of things on the pitch and in the second half of the season, until right near the end when he pushed his body through to try and help us in the play-offs, he was struggling a little bit.

“I have to give credit to Stuart (Irwin) here, the physio, as well as the doctor.

“We felt the right solution was to have surgery in the summer, but even in pre-season, it was still niggling away at him and that was hard for him.

“I kept him here in the summer because of what he brought to us last season and what I knew he would bring to us this season.

“He missed the first few games of the season when his experience and presence would have helped us, but unfortunately that wasn’t to be.

“He’s shown his importance to us in the last few games, that’s for certain, and we’ll have to manage him throughout the course of the season but he’s a big player for us.”

Sheffield United currently sit 14th in the Championship, three points adrift of the Seasiders.

Slavisa Jokanovic’s side endured a difficult start to the campaign after relegation from the Premier League.