Fan tram to honour some of Pool’s most loyal supporters

Blackpool's Atomic Boys fan group (together with duck mascot) pictured in the 1950s

Blackpool's Atomic Boys fan group (together with duck mascot) pictured in the 1950s

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Some Blackpool fans are still proving their loyalty to the club – despite its current woes.

For while one supporter has been chosen to represent the Seasiders in a special FA Cup choir, others are being remembered by their names being inscribed on a Blackpool tram.

Hazel Cooper

Hazel Cooper

Michael Hartley is one of 64 football fans who will sing ‘Abide With Me’ on the pitch at Wembley before the FA Cup Final on Saturday May 30.

The 79-year-old successfully applied to be among fans of each team which featured in the third round of this year’s competition.

They will make up the Songs of Praise FA Cup Fans Choir which aims to bring together stories which capture the spirit of the historic contest.

Michael, who now lives in Kendal, was chosen after he described match days at Bloomfield Road between 1948 and 1952 when Blackpool had a live duck as its mascot.

I knew the ritual well, I’d seen it often. I tucked the duck under my arm and ran out just in front of the Blackpool team

As a 14-year-old, Michael’s job was to carry a chalkboard round the ground which had team changes on it for the sake of deaf supporters who could not hear announcements.

He recalled: “On came an FA Cup replay versus Wolverhampton Wanderers and Sid Bevers was ill (Sid was the duck minder).

“When I returned with my board, I was asked if I would take on the duck. Wow, I couldn’t believe it! Of course I would.

“I knew the ritual well, I’d seen it often. I tucked the duck under my arm and ran out just in front of the Blackpool team.

“I ran to the centre spot, put the duck down and raised my arms to the Kop to bring a welcoming roar from the crowd.”

Meanwhile, another long-standing fan Hazel Cooper, who died last year aged 82, will be among the first supporters to have their name inscribed on a Blackpool FC-themed tram which is being painted by members of Fleetwood Heritage Leisure Trust (FHLT).

The work is being carried out at Blackpool Council’s Lightworks Depot on Amy Johnson Way before tram 641 is installed opposite the Pleasure Beach as part of the 2015 Illuminations.

Sisters Sue Clifford, of Bispham, and Sharon Baldwin, of Anchorsholme, have made a donation to the project in memory of their mother Hazel who attended the FA Cup Finals in 1948, 1951 and 1953 as well as Blackpool’s recent visits to Wembley for play-off finals. Sue said: “As soon as we heard about the Blackpool FC Tram project and that all the contributions were going to the FHLT, we just knew mum’s name should be added.

“Mum loved Blackpool, especially the Illuminations and BFC, so we felt it would be fitting to have her name alongside images of some of the club’s favourite players.”

Mary Jones, from Fleetwood, is supporting the project in memory of her late husband Trevor who was responsible for the purchase of tram 641 in 2011 and its donation to FLHT.

He will be recognised with an inscription at one end of the tram.

Arts society to sponsor Tangerines tram plan

The Blackpool Art Society has decided to sponsor the Blackpool FC celebration tram.

Susan Pugh, president of the society said: “We are one of the oldest art societies in England being founded in 1884, just before the football club, so we have a Victorian heritage in common.

“We felt this was a fitting way for two important local groups to support one another on one of the treasured vehicles that has come to be linked synonymously with our town.

“In our group there are ardent supporters of Blackpool FC and we are all proud of our town and our heritage.”

Supplies, expertise and support for the scheme have been sourced from local businesses and organisations and work has begun on preparing Tram 641.