Blackpool’s 1969/70 season penultimate game saw them play rivals, Preston North End, at Deepdale. The ‘pool team knew that a victory would return them to the First Division. The away side did not disappoint, forward Fred Pickering netted all three goals to take ‘The Seasiders’ up, sending North End to Division Three.
A stalwart of the promotion winning team from 51 years ago was Dave Hatton, with 251 league appearances and seven goals during his seven years at Bloomfield Road. Former defender, Hatton, recently recalled the euphoric evening at Deepdale “There was always a real rivalry about playing Preston, we felt we could beat them, but it was always tight. There was a full house making lots of noise, but we didn’t give anything away. Pickering got the first goal after 16 minutes, easing the tension slightly. We seemed to get more of the ball and Pickering got another one. It was 2–0 at half time, they had to come at us. We never really felt as a defence that they could do it and we had it sussed out already. As the game progressed, they made more mistakes and then Pickering got the third goal, it was game over. We finished up easy winners at 3-0.”
After the euphoric win at Preston and celebratory beers in the changing room, the team returned for further revelry at The Lemon Tree, Squires Gate. Hatton remembered late evening, “The club booked us a meal there for about 11 o’clock. We were all together at a big, long table but what time I got home I don’t know!” It proved a highly enjoyable night of celebration for the Blackpool staff and players. Promotion had been attained with one league game to spare. The visit to Oxford United five days later proved to be anti-climactic when Blackpool were defeated 2–0.
Hatton recounted his teammates from the promotion winning side with considerable fondness, “When I moved here, Bill Bentley lived on the same estate, and we became very good friends. He was a good player with a great left peg on him. Jim Armfield was the nicest fellow, always a gentleman and a quick fullback. Tommy Hutchison was a nightmare to play against in training, I always thought he was brilliant, and he was great at beating players. Hutchison could hold onto the ball, you couldn’t get it off him, but his crosses weren’t the best and he didn’t score a lot of goals, but he would always be in my side.”
45 years after Hatton departed Blackpool for Bury, his affection for the tangerine team remains undiminished. He continues to reside on the Fylde Coast and enjoys visits to Bloomfield Road to watch the current team in action. Hatton remains proud of the part he played in helping his adopted town’s team gain promotion. The victorious evening in Preston five decades ago when two headed goals and a tap into complete Pickering’s hat-trick are key moments in ‘The Seasiders’ history. It proved to be a highly successful debut season for Hatton who remains a modest and highly likeable Boltonian.
The FPA is currently being re-established in the wake of new Club ownership and the lifting of lockdown restrictions. The association will receive not only the full support of Blackpool Football Club, it will work closely with the various departments within it.
It is the intention to make the former players feel very much part of the Club’s history and its future. There will be opportunities for social gatherings both on match days and other arranged events such as golf days and bi – monthly meetings. The FPA will also be a key organiser and supporter of local charity events as well as giving assistance to former Blackpool players where it is required.
The association is very keen to recruit new members and is free to join. Application forms and further details can be obtained from John Cross by email email@example.com or phone 07984 940879.