FOREST AWAY: Blackpool, FA Cup R3 Replay, Wednesday 17th January – Fan Guide
There is an elephant in this away guide. Big and sweaty and causing a lot of distress, so much so that I feel compelled to mention its presence. Some proper commentary and input from Forza Garibaldi may follow but, for now I’ll say this as myself, as I like these guides to reflect current matters…
We look like we have got ourselves in a bit of a mess. We can dress it up a number of ways; that the rules are rigged against the smaller teams, that they do not reflect common sense or logic, or that we misinterpreted them, but if we have broken the rules then I can’t help but think it is a bit of a farcical situation. Caused by that same underlying theme that I think has always dogged this ownership; that they want it all now. We are all dismayed by these charges but are any of us truly surprised?
Our transfer dealings, especially since promotion, have been akin to Augustus Gloop running into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory and jumping head first into that river of chocolate. Fuck what happens next. Now we can see that there are indeed implications, severe and dangerous, implications. If these charges stick then we have been truly foolish and it must lead to a re-think. Spending money is not the cure or the answer, it can help but when done sensibly and with the idea that it is part of a long-term strategy. That I am still saying the same things as in 2017 when they sacked Mark Warburton is something I find particularly frustrating and alarming.
I dearly hope that tucked away up our sleeves is mitigating evidence so powerful that it sends the Premier League auditors scurrying away for cover and our good name is given a nice rinse down. I fear, however, this may be a fanciful hope. But I like to live in hope and I am always mindful that I know absolutely nothing on this subject.
The other thing to consider for us all is how this has happened before our very eyes. We’ve mocked others, notably Derby, for how they have sleep-walked into a nightmare. Our situation is clearly a thousand miles away from their Armageddon but, as supporters, we have to be prepared to question and challenge. We have to. We must ignore the stooges who tell us that everything is fine and dandy, and we have to be prepared to think deeper than believing that being a Premier League somehow cures all ills. Good things and bad things can happen in tandem and we are, I believe, duty bound as fans to put our case forward when it comes to the preservation and the reputation of our football club. On the same theme, we must also not let this turn into a witch hunt against the club hierarchy who may end up totally exonerated in this or have their justifications. There are always extremes on both sides; I suspect many of us will thankfully head for the balance of looking both ways.
On the subject of debate, we communicated earlier in the season that we had been invited to join a new Fan Advisory Board that the club were initiating. This is now a compulsory requirement under Premier Leagues rules regarding fan engagement and it is concerning that this board has not yet gathered. Meetings earlier in the season may at least allowed concerns on this topic and others to be addressed and identified earlier. The first meeting is scheduled for this month and it is imperative that Forest do not delay this any further and that they are prepared to have an open and frank debate with fans. The role of this board is then to ensure that all fans are briefed and given an opportunity to have a say – that is what Forza Garibaldi will continue to strive for.
TRAINS: Blackpool North is a fair old walk from Bloomfield Road so if you are arriving into there, allow 25/30 mins to reach the ground.
As expected, I can see no services that will allow a return journey after the game to be possible. The 22:02 gets as far as Sheffield at 00:48 with the Nottingham leg not completed until the following morning. Keeping in mind that extra-time may apply presumably train travel will not be a popular option!
ROAD: Whether you head via M1/M62 or A50/M6 from Nottingham, it’s likely that to reach Blackpool using the M55. On the edge of Blackpool, the motorway becomes Yeadon Way and this will take you pretty much to the ground. On the way in you will spot plenty of car parks that aren’t usually too expensive, vast spaces for the summer crowds but desolate tarmac emptiness in mid-January. A little closer to the ground there is still bits of street parking but it is a little harder to come by on the B&B streets that often have permit parking.
What we have found works well on our last couple of visits is to leave Yeadon Way before you get too close to the stadium and park in the big estate. It leaves around a 15/20-minute walk but offers free parking and a quick getaway afterwards. A suggestion would be to look for Watson Road and use one of the streets off of it which then allows you to walk down Lytham Road towards the stadium / suggested pubs.
The Manchester is the main away pub down towards the seafront. It has been suggested that it may not
be open for this game but I have not been able to confirm this and still await a formal response. The Bridge is the other dedicated away bar. Both these options are shown on the enclosed map.
It goes without saying that there are plenty of other options, especially if you have the chance to head down the sea front and into the town centre. Our Blackpool fan below has a couple of suggestions too.
For the last couple of visits, we have drank at the New Albert which is on the other side of the ground (towards the suggested parking spot) on Lytham Road. This isn’t an away pub but we’ve made to feel welcome and is likely to be a stop for some of us again this time.
Q&A with Blackpool fan Jane (@blackpool Jane)
It isn’t that long since we were regularly sparring in the Championship but our visits to Blackpool bizarrely carry on through the FA Cup. What did you make of the original game in Nottingham and do you fancy your chances in the replay?
You’re the new Barnsley! We always get them in the cups too. I was pleased with our performance in the original tie and saw signs that we remain a bogey side for you, which leaves me hopeful for the replay. We do have a good record at home this season so I don’t see why we can’t win the replay. We have some excellent players and a top coach.
Our managers had differing views on the worth of relays after the game. Undoubtedly they can be a vital source of revenue but there was also a genuine chance for you to progress if the game had done to extra-time / penalties. For fans dedicated to following the team away it’s also a long way for a midweek game! What’s your view on it?
We’ve had a bit of drama in the competition this year. Basically, we lost out on a Saturday gate in the last round because of Forest Green fielding an ineligible player and their previous tie having to be replayed. The FA Cup is a huge financial help to ‘teams like Blackpool’ (albeit a drop in the ocean to moneybags like Forest), so this replay is definitely welcomed. Blackpool isn’t that far from Nottingham and, besides, who doesn’t want to come to Blackpool? It’s the fixture many people look out for.
It would be understandable, given the familiarity with each other and the time of year, if Blackpool supporters were not overly excited about a replay with Forest but will there be a decent crowd turn out?
I’m not sure, with it being on tv and in the middle of a cold snap and midweek and in January when people are skint. I wouldn’t anticipate a huge crowd.
What about your League One campaign? Presumably a top six finish is very much the aim. Is it achievable?
Absolutely. Automatic should be the aim but let’s get into the playoffs first and take it from there. I haven’t seen any team in this league that can match us on our day. We just need to be more consistent away from home.
Do you have any recommendations for those coming up in the car in terms of parking?
There’s loads of free street parking if you head south from the ground.
What about drinking spots for those who have time before the game?
If you’re an ale drinker like me then don’t miss Cask & Tap in town. Nearer the ground there’s Shickers and No 10 – again both alehouses.
Thanks to Jane for her insight.
To the 2,000 + travelling, good on all of you for making the effort. When the bright lights of the Premier League aren’t burning, these long trips in the week take a lot of dedication. Safe travels to you all.