Looking Back: Imps v Blackpool 1985

Saturday 2nd November 1985

Lincoln City 0 Blackpool 3 (Canon League Division Three)

After the traumatic experience of the Bradford fire coming at the end of a season which saw relegation avoided by just five points there had been changes during the summer of 1985 with manager Colin Murphy leaving by mutual consent. With the board of directors seemingly dithering about appointing a replacement – leading to speculation that they had been unable to secure their first choice for the job – the post was eventually given to Murphy’s assistant John Pickering. He had to set about rebuilding a new-look side following the departure of most of the remaining players from the successful Murphy era, writes Malcolm Johnson.

After a moderate start to the season an unbeaten run of seven games had seen sixth place achieved in early October, but this had been followed by four successive defeats which saw the Imps down to 17th place less than a month later. Some good goalscoring form had seen three goals scored in three out of the seven home league matches to date but these had started to dry up together with goals starting to be conceded at the other end, partly due to the absence through injury of regular centre backs Steve Richards and Gary West.

Now in his fourth season in charge of Blackpool in his first managerial appointment was former Imps’ centre half Sam Ellis, captain of Graham Taylor’s record-breaking side of nine years before. He had led Blackpool to promotion at the end of the previous season as runners-up in Division Four, and they were currently second in the table, although 14 points behind runaway leaders Reading managed by another Graham Taylor protégé in Ian Branfoot. Second-highest scorers in the division, Blackpool were a tough test for the current Imps side.

The teams were:

City:

  1. Dean Greygoose
  2. Bobby McNeil
  3. Mark McCarrick
  4. Neil Redfearn
  5. Gary Strodder
  6. Ian Measham
  7. Andy Toman
  8. Phil Turner
  9. Bob Latchford
  10. John McGinley
  11. Gordon Mair
  12. Warren Ward (for McNeil)

Blackpool

  1. Billy O’Rourke
  2. David Moore
  3. Nicky Law
  4. Kevin Stonehouse
  5. Steve Hetzke
  6. Colin Greenall
  7. Mike Davies
  8. John Deary
  9. Paul Stewart
  10. David Windridge
  11. Alex Dyer
  12. Ian Britton (for Davies)

With goalkeeper Stuart Naylor needing a cartilage operation following a training injury City, with no other keeper in the squad had needed to find a replacement on loan. After being turned down by Grimsby’s Nigel Batch they had brought in 20-year-old Dean Greygoose who had played around two dozen games for Cambridge United. He was now playing what would be the sixth and last game of his loan period.

A recent signing at right back was Bobby McNeil who had played in around half the games of Hull City’s Third Division promotion-winning side the previous season. After roughly 150 appearances for the Humberside club the 23-year-old had been released by them in the summer following a wages dispute. With usual right back Gary Strodder having to fill in at centre back McNeil had been given a short-term contract with City. He was partnered by the versatile Mark McCarrick who had been signed by Colin Murphy in the summer of 1984 on a free transfer from Birmingham City after playing 15 times for them in the First Division.

With close-season signing Steve Richards injured 20-year-old youth product Gary Strodder had been switched to his true position of central defender after mostly featuring at right back since becoming a fairly regular first team player around two years ago. With Richards’ fellow close-season signing Gary West also injured John Pickering had taken the option of playing club captain Phil Turner in central defence at the expense of weakening the midfield. Turner, still only 23, was the last remaining player from what might be called the classic Colin Murphy side of earlier in the decade. Although it was considered by Pickering that Turner was needed in defence, in the two games he had played there three goals had been conceded at Notts County the previous Sunday, followed by an embarrassing 4-0 defeat in midweek to Boston United in the Lincolnshire Senior Cup.

Another loan player was 20-year-old Ian Measham who had made 17 Second Division appearances for Huddersfield Town the previous season. Something of a utility player but mainly a full back, at 5ft 11in he might have seemed a better bet than the 5ft 8in Turner in the centre of the defence. Alongside him was another 20-year-old in Neil Redfearn, signed by Colin Murphy from Bolton for around £8,000 at the start of the previous season after an earlier spell on loan. A player of some promise, he would go on to enjoy a lengthy career at higher levels of the game.

Wide on the right for City was close-season signing Andy Toman, bought from Northern League champions Bishop Auckland for £6,000, while on the left was Scotsman Gordon Mair who had joined from Notts County at the start of the 1984/85 season for £25,000. He had previously played around 130 games for the Magpies in the top two divisions.

City fielded two big strikers, with former Everton and England striker Bob Latchford, although 34 years of age, having been seen as what would nowadays be described as the marquee signing of the summer after joining from top flight Coventry City. He had impressed on his league debut in the first game of the season but then immediately suffered a back injury and was now playing his fifth game since returning to fitness. With a first goal for the club in the defeat at Notts County which had been his 500th Football League appearance there were hopes that City would now start to see the best of him. He was partnered by big John McGinley who had been signed by Colin Murphy in the autumn of 1984 from Charleroi in Belgium after playing for various non-league clubs in the north-east and making a handful of appearances for First Division Sunderland. Previously a winger, following the early injury to Latchford he had since been played as a striker and was currently leading scorer with five goals.

Substitute for City was 23-year-old Warren Ward who although Devon-born had played non-league football in Yorkshire before scoring three goals in four appearances for York City towards the end of the previous season. Released by them he had joined City in the summer and had four goals from nine appearances so far, and would go on to finish the season as joint top scorer with Redfearn.


If you want to read about happier Blackpool memories, then why not check out our 2-0 win in 1992 here