A Wembley Double
As the 1990–91 season drew to a close, Blackpool were in the heart of the promotion battle. They went into the final game of the season, at Walsall, in second place, knowing that one point would be good enough for automatic promotion. In front of a large following, however, the players "froze" and were beaten 2–0. The play-offs beckoned, and after disposing of Scunthorpe United in the semi-finals, Blackpool could look forwards to their first Wembley appearance in 38 years. On 22 May 1991, after the second leg of the semi-final, the news came through that Stan Mortensen, one of the club's most famous players, had died at the age of 69.
Some 15,000 Blackpool fans travelled to London for the play-off final. The game went from end to end before finishing 2–2 after extra time. For the first time, penalties would decide promotion in the Football League.
In sudden death, Dave Bamber, whose seventeen League goals had helped them get to that point in the season, put his spot-kick wide of Gareth Howells' left-hand post and Torquay United were promoted, while Blackpool faced another season in the League's basement division.
Despite the loss, Ayre was rewarded with a new contract and directorship at the club.
For 1991–92, Blackpool were the favourites for not only promotion but for the championship. Little money was spent on new players, but ₤400,000 was raised via the club-record sale of Alan Wright to Kenny Dalglish's Blackburn Rovers.
Blackpool began the campaign in a strong manner, and were in the top four throughout. By the end of the season, the team had managed a run of 31 wins in 35 League games stretching back to the previous season. They were not as successful on their travels, however, winning only five times.
It was a case of déjà vu when Blackpool went into the final game of the season, at Lincoln City, needing a solitary point for promotion. Again, they buckled under the pressure and lost 2–0, and the play-offs would decide their immediate future once more.
Blackpool faced Barnet in the semi-finals and won 2–1 on aggregate over the two legs, meaning a visit to Wembley for the final for the second consecutive year. Their opponents were Scunthorpe United, whom Blackpool knocked out at the semi-finals stage twelve months earlier, finished five points behind them in the table.
On 23 May 1992, a red-hot Saturday afternoon in the English capital, some 13,000 tangerine-clad fans witnessed another end-to-end battle, with the final score being 1–1 after extra time. Yet again, penalties were needed. This time Blackpool were victorious, after Scunthorpe substitute, 21-year-old Jason White blasted his kick high over the crossbar of Steve McIlhargey, who had just saved Graham Alexander's effort. Blackpool were back in English football's third tier after a two-year absence.
Read more about this topic: History Of Blackpool F.C. (1962–present)
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