A near sell-out crowd of 15,871 inside Bloomfield Road saw Blackpool snatch a point with a late equaliser against Southend in an emotional day for the Seasiders.
After a boycott lasting four years and more than two hundred games, thousands of fans flocked back to their famous old home on Saturday to mark the end of the Oyston era and the beginning of a new dawn for the club.
The Not a Penny More campaign saw the Tangerines playing before meagre crowds as thousands of fans stayed away in an unprecedented protest at how the Oyston family ran the club.
After receiving assurances from the receiver, whose appointment by the High Court effectively ended the Oyston era, that no money taken at the turnstiles would go to the controversial former owner, the fans returned to witness Terry McPhillips side benefit from an own goal in the sixth minute of stoppage time to make it 2-2 and spark jubilant scenes.
McPhillips had nothing but praise for the clubs long-suffering supporters in his post-match interview. When asked about the atmosphere inside the ground by the Blackpool Gazette he said ‘It was awesome.’
‘There were hairs standing up on the back of the neck as I walked out, goose pimples, all that.’
He then went on to thank the fans ‘I knew it was going to be like that because of the lead-up to it. I can’t thank the fans enough for their support and how they’ve gone about it.’
‘It was brilliant to be here. I’ve been in Bloomfield before when it’s been rocking but never quite like it was on Saturday.’
When asked whether Blackpool now felt like a new club the manager said ‘I wouldn’t say that – it’s still Blackpool and it’s still tangerine.’
“But it feels like I’m at a club with a big support in this league and with that support I think we can go places.’
‘For me it’s exciting. I’ve felt their pain and the suffering because I’ve been speaking to the supporters all week.’
‘Everyone has got a different story, why they didn’t come. Some were four years; some were five, some were six. But they’re all back now, and it’s brilliant.’
Players and staff brought the unique occasion to an end by taking part in a lap of honour to show their recognition to the returning supporters.
What a magnificent day at Bloomfield Road. The Blackpool supporters got their club back and in doing so proved once again what a football club means to the towns and cities of this country.
Not many teams get to do a lap of honour after a 2-2 draw at home, but it wasn’t about the result. It was about what no one has better articulated than the late great Sir Bobby Robson.
Here is his memorable quote below.
‘What is a club in any case?
Not the buildings or the directors or the people who are paid to represent it. It’s not the television contracts, get-out clauses, marketing departments or executive boxes.
It’s the noise, the passion, the feeling of belonging, the pride in your city.
It’s a small boy clambering up stadium steps for the very first time, gripping his father’s hand, gawping at that hallowed stretch of turf beneath him and, without being able to do a thing about it, falling in love.’
I hope the EFL bear Bobby’s wise words in mind when they finally decide whether or not to administer the twelve point deduction for going into receivership.