When Sunderland don’t play on Saturday there’s time for a wander over the Pennines

John McCormick: bored
John McCormick. Across the Pennines

Every now and then, when there is no meaningful football on I take a wander around the NorthWest, focusing on some of the clubs we might otherwise forget. I must add, however, that I do mention big’ns when necessary, as you can see, which brings me to Everton FC who, having gained plaudits for their supporters’ player of the month, went one better with their magnificent gesture to help Bradley Lowery. Well done EFC, who surely are, as Sixer said after they tonked us, a class club.

Are Wigan on the way backFrom there we’ll move to Wigan, who were on the brink of promotion into the Championship under their new chairman David Sharpe when I last went on a wander. They made it and he remains at the helm but Wigan, with only one win from seven games, are struggling near the bottom of the table. I hope they stay up

blackburn rovers
Once Champions, once relegated. Will it soon be twice?

Wigan’s one win (so far) this season came against Blackburn Rovers, currently the only club below them in the Championship. There’s discontent among the supporters at Blackburn, not because they took on Danny Graham (he was prolific in the pre-season friendlies and has already scored this season) and Anthony Stokes, not because they appointed Owen Coyle as manager (he’s worked for three of their closest rivals) but because they believe the club is being badly run and starved of funding. Gates are falling and my season ticket holding son-in-law, who will be at the game, believes they are at risk of going down, things are that bad, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he was right.

Things were that bad at Bolton, who did go down, but at least they didn’t go under, which is what they were risking last time I visited them.  After debts were written off a winding-up order was dismissed and the consortium headed by Dean Holdsworth steadied the ship. Peter Reid joined the club for a while but has now departed, and Phil Parkinson was appointed manager in June. You might remember him from Bradford City, where he became something of a giant killer with scalps that included Chelsea, Aston Villa and Sunderland.

And if that wasn’t enough, car boot sales resumed at the Makron Stadium in July. It’s no surprise that Bolton are now looking likely to pass Blackburn and Wigan come the end of the season. I don’t want either of the latter two to go down but I would like to see Bolton doing well.

One team looking unlikely to go anywhere are Blackpool, whose tribulations featured prominently in my jottings. Blackpool, too, were relegated at the end last season, effectively by Wigan, who beat them 4-1 to seal that promotion, although Blackpool’s April draw with Fleetwood must have been as equally galling. Fleetwood are doing OK in League One while Blackpool now sit in the middle of League Two, below even Morecambe, who are holding their own and have been doing so since arriving in the league some ten years ago.

Despite signs of rapprochement after relegation  what was already an almighty rift between Blackpool supporters and owners appears to be getting wider. The supporters trust now refuses to talk to the owners on anything other than the sale of the club or changes to the Board and is supporting an “ethical boycott” of the club, its owners’ businesses, and sponsors. There were calls for Carlisle supporters to stay away from the game this weekend but as it’s one of Carlisle’s nearest away games and Carlisle is a well-supported team they are taking a full contingent. There are likely to be more Carlisle supporters there than from Blackpool.

With Karl Oyston being quoted as saying the club was not for sale as recently as August I can’t see this one being resolved any time soon, which is pretty much what I said a few months ago. It looks destined to go on and on.

And with that, I have to leave you. Spurs were on my go to list but the move to Sunday scuppered that, so I’ll be spending Saturday at home watching Final score and keeping an eye out for Wigan, Bolton and Blackburn, and of course, Accrington Stanley. I haven’t mentioned them before but I defy any fan in their sixties (i.e. 90% of our readers, I think) to ignore them.

Us oldies know who Stanley are – the club whose supporters wouldn’t let them die. They are at home to Portsmouth, another ex-premiership team, another one back from administration, and it will be a tough game.



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