Stability. Normality. Hope. Three things Blackpool fans could only dream of a matter of months ago, as the club languished under the Oyston reign.
Fast-forward to the present however, and the club’s fortunes have been transformed. New ownership and the return of thousands of fans mean that stability, normality and hope are now the Tangerines’ tangible realities.
But such is the nature of football that time quickly moves on.
Thirteen league games into the new season, the Seasiders sit sixth in League One but for some, that’s not the full story.
Manager Simon Grayson, who led Blackpool to promotion to the Championship in 2007, has come in for criticism from a growing number of fans for his team’s style of play in recent games, particularly following poor results against bottom-of-the-table Bolton and at home to Rotherham.
Pool have scored just five goals in their last six league games, and have the joint second-lowest goal difference of the division’s top 10 teams.
Prominent supporter Daniel Hogg – well-known for his drumming at games amongst his fellow fans – believes that issues are starting to emerge.
He said: “A lot of fans are now starting to worry that the momentum and feel-good factor was masking over the cracks early doors and we’re now starting to be found out.
“Undoubtedly, the 0-0 draw at Bolton was nothing short of disgraceful with the lack of intent against a team in their situation. It looked like we were the team that had been patched together in the last month, not Bolton.”
Hogg thinks he is one of many fans who have been frustrated by the absence of creativity and attacking quality in Blackpool’s play.
“I think there’s that feeling amongst most fans that if we were to take that attacking step forward, we’d cause teams problems in this league and we’d probably score more goals than we’d concede,” he added.
“I think the squad we’ve got now is good enough to be promoted. We just need to have a bit more belief.”
Although grateful for the improved position the club now finds itself in, Hogg says there’s nothing wrong with the fans being ambitious.
He said: “What a lot of people have done will never, ever be forgotten and the commitment and the sacrifices we made in boycotting the club to get us to where we are now also shouldn’t be overlooked.
“Obviously it’s an improvement being at Bloomfield Road on a Saturday, as opposed to walking round a supermarket pushing a trolley, pretending to care what groceries you’re putting in the bag, but why should we settle for mediocrity?”
Football writer at the Blackpool Gazette, Matt Scrafton, says the club is currently in a strange situation.
He said: “On the face of it, results are fine. The club’s objective is to get promoted in two or three years so you’ve got to be happy with where they are, but there’s more to it than that.
“It’s the manner of the performances. They feel like Grayson is happy not to lose first and foremost. When the results start going against you as well, that’s what really frustrates the fans.”
Despite the disappointing displays, Scrafton was quick to point out that the on-field issues have been exaggerated by some supporters.
He said: “I do think there has been an over-reaction in recent weeks. It’s far too soon to be thinking about changing managers. But I think before results improve, there has to be an emphasis on playing better football.”
Blackpool fan and former Vice-Chair of the Blackpool Supporters’ Association Fiona Martin says the club needs time to put itself back together on the pitch as well as off it.
She said: “I think it was always going to be the case that it was going to take a couple of years for things to calm down. League One is a division where all the teams are very evenly matched and it’s a difficult division to play in.
“The club has been through a massive, dramatic rebuild in the last six months and it’s a long way off being the completed article. We’ve just got a new board in place, they’ve got their owner and they know what they want to achieve.
“At the same time though, there does need to be some positivity coming off the pitch to keep that momentum going.”
New chairman Simon Sadler took over the club in July, after previous owner Owen Oyston was ousted after a lengthy court battle with former director Valeri Belokon.
Pool’s drab 0-0 draw at the University of Bolton Stadium, underwhelming 2-1 loss against Rotherham and defeat at Carlisle by the same scoreline in the EFL Trophy have done little to lift the mood of dissenting supporters.
But given how far the club has come in a relatively short space of time, Scrafton is trying to look at the bigger picture.
He said: “It’s good that the fans are getting back to being football fans and we know that Blackpool supporters aren’t the only ones to do this; football fans are fickle. They’re arguing over little things about football again, which is the glory of being a football fan and Blackpool fans haven’t been doing that for four or five years.
“Fans should be complaining about football rather than getting a train down to London to sit in on court cases. They’re now sitting in the stadium where they should be and watching their football team, which is what it’s all about.”