Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Seasiders

Blackpool is the Atlantic City of England -- a rundown old resort town on the sea close to Manchester. It has the only soccer club in England that uses orange as its primary color -- although the British call the color (which is identical to that of the Tennessee Volunteers) "tangerine."

From the 1930s to the early 1970s, Blackpool were a power in English soccer -- their victory in the 1953 F.A. Cup final is considered one of the greatest games ever played. But as the British economy improved after World War II, Britons preferred to take their holidays in warm weather, and the old resort town went into decline. As did the soccer team. Blackpool were relegated from the top division after the 1970-71 season, and they eventually fell all the way down to the fourth division. Slowly, slowly they worked their way back up, and last year they pulled a series of upsets and returned to the top flight for the first time in almost 40 years. They play in what is by far the smallest stadium in the EPL (it seats only 12,555 people) and they are given no chance of avoiding relegation.

But in the first game of the year, they have jumped out to a 3-0 lead at Wigan Athletic. So for now, at least, Blackpool are leading the league.

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