Blackpool FC Memory match

Blackpool hero John Deary
Blackpool hero John Deary
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Blackpool 4, Peterborough 2, March 30, 1985

Players who can score 15 goals from midfield are a rare commodity, indeed,

In the case of the strikes in question by midfielder John Deary for Blackpool in the 1984-5 season, they played no small part in spearheading the Seasiders’ successful promotion push from the old Division Four.

Deary himself reckons it could have been even more, but for the fact he missed a significant chunk of the season with a knee injury.

As it was, Deary finished the campaign as the club’s leading scorer, as they went up under Sam Ellis in second spot behind champions Chesterfield.

Two of that impressive tally came in this week’s Memory Match, in what was one of the high points of a distinguished, decade-long career at Bloomfield Road than encompassed in excess of 300 matches in the iconic Tangerine.

Alan Ball was the manager who signed Deary as a youngster and the new boy eagerly took to training straightaway, and it wasn’t long before he was given his debut.

Deary recalled: “Training was fantastic and Ted McDougall was a brilliant coach, but unfortunately he had to leave the club for business reasons.

“Alan Ball was passionate about the game and I respected him – he was a World Cup winner and was probably the best one-touch player there has ever been, but one of his problems was that he couldn’t seem to get used to the fact the players couldn’t do what he could do with the ball.

“It came naturally to him and I think he found it very frustrating.”

Deary worked under a number of managers, and it was Ellis who was at the helm that promotion season.

Deary said: “Sam Ellis was totally different to Alan Ball – he came from the Graham Taylor school at Watford, and his style was more direct.

“We had a good squad at the time and though it was direct, it was exciting and it could also be attractive to watch.

“We got the ball forward quickly, with players running down the flanks, putting good balls into the box, and I could bomb forward.”

As the goal-scoring chart for that season shows, it played very much to Deary’s strengths as a goal-grabber from the midfield.

Deary had plenty of time for Ellis.

He said: “Sam was a good guy, but he was very strict – he wanted things done his way, but he brought the best out of his players.

“At the same time, he had his soft side.”

Less than 4,000 people saw Blackpool’s win over Peterborough, ending a goal drought in the process.

Or as Gazette writer Tony Quested (who else?) put it in his usual succinct, but off-the-wall way: “Their attack, which has recently resembled a toothless grandad gnawing a T-bone steak, found its bite just in time to tuck into a promotion feast.”

They scored four that late March afternoon 31 years ago, but it could have been more, had it not been for the heroics of John Turner in the Posh goal.

However, it was the visitors who made the early running, missing two clear-cut chances before Greig Shepherd gave them a shock lead.

The Seasiders had several chances to score before an equaliser, courtesy of that man Deary, finally arrived.

Danny Crainie, on loan at Blackpool from Wolves at the time, provided the cross and Deary supplied the finishing touch.

Within four minutes, Blackpool were ahead – former Celtic player Crainie and one-time Chelsea man Ian Britton set up a free kick move that foxed Posh, and a third Scot, Mike Conroy, was on hand to score his first goal in English league football.

Blackpool were not to be denied now and Eamon O’Keefe, on his Blackpool debut, made it 3-1 with a header four minutes into the second half.

Deary ensured it was 4-1 for Blackpool, after 78 minutes.

He was tripped inside the box, but he got himself up and made no mistake from the penalty-spot.

That wrapped up the contest for the Seasiders, but Peterborough did pull one back when Martin Pike netted from a free kick by way of mere consolation.

It was a complete change of goal-scoring fortunes for Blackpool.

Their four-in-one match was a reversal of recent downbeat trends – in the eight matches prior to the Posh match, they had scored only six.

During the latter stages of his Blackpool career, Deary’s manager had been Jimmy Mullen and he was later to be re-united with him at Burnley, leaving Bloomfield Road in a £30,000 deal after yeoman service.

He won two promotions with Clarets and he was a big favourite at Turf Moor before moving on to Rochdale.

Deary still dons football gear these days, turning out regularly for a team of Burnley veterans – the snappily-titled Vintage Clarets – who play matches for charity, appearing alongside former team-mates such as Steve Davis, Andy Peyton, Roger Eli, John Francis and Frank Sinclair.

Long, long before he retired from the game, Deary was wisely thinking about his future, setting up a double-glazing business in the Southport area, when he was only 26.

One day, Deary’s then-gaffer Mullen was aghast to see him measuring up the windows at the Burnley club-shop on the Friday after training!

The business is still going all these years on, with Deary the managing director.

He said: “I have five or six people working for me and we do some sub-contracting as well.

“It was a lot bigger business before the credit crunch, which hit a lot of people, myself included.

“But I learned a lot from the experience and I think we are a lot more efficient business for it.”

Deary is still an occasional visitor to Blackpool and Burnley, but the game is not something that is all-consuming as it once was.

He said: “I still adore football, but don’t follow it religiously and ask me who moved where in the last transfer window and I wouldn’t be able to tell you.”

But when you’re talking windows and doors for the home, Deary is very much a man on the ball!

O’Rourke, Moore, Price, Deary, Crainie, Greenall, Britton, Conroy, Stewart, O’Keefe Ciegelski, Substitute: Windridge.

Attendance : 3,809