I was a plastic Everton fan as a lad. Absolutely no reason for it except I liked Alan Ball's white boots I suppose. Then, aged 11, after watching my Dad, Joe Sherrington play every Saturday afternoon for the legendary Lansil FC (who seemed to win every trophy they played for), my Dad told me in Oct 1970 that he was taking me to Dalton Square, Lancaster, at 6am on Saturday morning to get on a coach to London with a bunch of strangers to watch Blackpool at West Ham. "Oh, by the way," says Dad nonchalantly, "I'm not going as we have a game that afternoon".
So, there I was, in my shorts in the dark, waiting for the coach to arrive, bang on time. Door opened and I was bundled in. Reg Bibby, who Dad worked with at Lansil, was the Lancaster and Carnforth supporter's coach organiser introduced himself to me. He then took me to the back of the coach to meet 'the lads', a group of young men (but were probably late teens) who would look after me. I don't remember much of the journey either way, but I distinctly remember going in to the ground and the amazing atmosphere and buzz around the place. I didn't see much of the game, being a diminutive 11-year-old, but Blackpool lost 2-1. There weren't many Blackpool fans in around us because, in those days, you didn't show yourself at away matches unless there was a lot of you, for obvious reasons. The result was unimportant for an 'Everton' fan, but the experience was something that will stay with me forever.
The coach dropped me off in Carnforth at midnight. Mum had arranged for me to stay at my cousin's house as it was a short walk from the coach stop rather than the very long walk from Dalton Square to home on Ryelands. I remember being exhausted, but full of excitement at what I'd done that day and the way I felt being part of a group of amazingly partisan individuals that called themselves 'Pool fans'. I was hooked and couldn't wait to go to more games - I had been well and truly converted. Mum and Dad arranged for me to go to loads of games after that and I loved it. I didn't even feel any kind of sadness or disappointment that season when it ended in relegation. The next season couldn't come soon enough - and I never went to see Lansil again!
For 5 years I went to almost every home game and as many away games as I could get to. I fell in love with Blackpool FC and they have been my passion ever since. I joined the Army in Oct 1975 but continued to support my first love whenever I could, that normally meant when I came home on leave for home games and as many away games in the south of the country as I could get to. Service abroad really got in the way, but I still managed to get to see the Tangerines from time to time. I'll never forget the LDV Trophy final against Southend at the Millennium stadium when I flew back to Stanstead from Germany and hired an E Class Mercedes to drive to Wales. It was so worth it to see Cardiff turn Tangerine - and we won 2-0.
However, nothing will eclipse that wonderful day in 2010 when we won the play-off final to be promoted to the Premier League. When the final whistle blew, I confess to having wet eyes.................all those years in the doldrums of the 3rd and 4th division forgotten, this is it, back where we belong.
After my exile of 38 years serving Her Majesty, I couldn't wait to move back north and get my long-sought season ticket in 2013. I didn't care that we had been relegated to the Championship, it was fantastic to get to home games on a regular basis again. Of course things had changed. The ground was something to be proud of, not embarrassed about. The fan base was good (regular crowds of 14,000+) and decent football to watch. Another shot at the play-off final where the best team lost. Then something happened to Karl Oyston. I don't know what it is, what caused it or what can be done about it, but he clearly doesn't love the club like his father did and definitely not as much as I do. Having waited 38 years to get my hands on a season ticket for 3 years, it breaks my heart this year to not have one. But if that's what it takes to protest with everyone else to try to improve things at the best club in the world, then that's what I have to do.