Friday, July 22, 2011

Avenue chief wishes he had held play-off semi-final at Valley Parade

 Source: Bradford Telegraph and Argus

 3:30pm Friday 22nd July 2011

 By Ian Whiting

In the three years that Bob Blackburn has been the owner of Bradford Park Avenue, the club have gained promotion from UniBond Division One and then been involved in the play-offs for promotion from the Premier Division twice.

However, Blackburn says: “If I could go back in time, I would have asked to stage last season’s play-off semi-final against FC United of Manchester at Valley Parade. Their supporters had too much influence on the game at Horsfall.

“There were a couple of thousand of them and there were things being thrown on the pitch and flares going off on the terraces and everything.

"Our players had never witnessed anything like it and had one eye on the stands. You can’t win a football match like that, I wish we had switched it to a bigger venue - you never know, it might have meant a different outcome.”

The opening three Avenue pre-season friendlies have only whetted the appetite of Blackburn.

Their chief executive officer flew back into Britain a couple of weeks after the players had returned to training.

He was soon on the sidelines watching John Deacey putting the players through their paces and stated at the time that the new campaign could not ‘come quickly enough’ because he missed football so much through the summer.

After watching Avenue’s new-look squad play at Tadcaster Albion and then at home to Droylsden last week and in the Bradford friendly derby last night, Blackburn is looking forward to the new campaign even more.

The Avenue chief said: “I’m more confident this year than either of the last two and I think the stats speak for themselves. Everyone at the club works hard and we are knocking on the (promotion) door every season.

“John has built the nucleus of a very good side here and he now has a lot of lads who have played together for a few years.

"He is trying to add the right kind of people to that squad - ones that can fit in because we are a football-playing side.

“I’m really looking forward to it but that’s mainly because I’m a fan. Every supporter of every club up and down the land will feel exactly the same at this time of year.

"My boyhood club was Liverpool and I’m convinced they will challenge for the Premier League title, like I do every year. Maybe I’m just too involved as a fan, with Avenue and Liverpool, that it’s clouding my judgement but I certainly hope not.”

Blackburn, Avenue chairman John Dean and fellow director Kevin Hainsworth have ploughed a lot of time, energy and personal money into the club over the years.

The chief executive officer's building company Kelvic are the main sponsors and they have done extensive work at the council-owned Horsfall Stadium during the close season.

The board of directors know that the money and time they put into the ground is non refundable but they do it to ensure Avenue make the right impression for a club pushing for promotion to the Blue Square Bet North Division.