John Murphy has labelled the under-18s’ FA Youth Cup quarter-final against Blackburn Rovers tomorrow (Wednesday) as the ‘biggest game in youth history’ for Blackpool.
The former Pool striker, who won promotion and two Football League Trophies as a player at Bloomfield Road, is relishing the prospect of seeing his side try and book a place in the semi-finals of the competition.
“It’s probably the biggest game in youth history for Blackpool. I don’t think any Blackpool youth team has gone this far, especially in recent times,” Murphy admitted.
“This match has been on the horizon for three or four weeks and we just can’t wait for the game now. The lads are excited and it’s a really good opportunity for them.”
The youth team prepared for this match with a league fixture against Fleetwood Town on Friday, which the under-18s went on to win 8-0.
It was a strong side that took to the field at Poolfoot Farm and it was a run-out that proved invaluable, given that other North West Alliance fixtures had previously fallen foul of the weather.
“Ideally, I didn’t really want to play our strongest team but we hadn’t played a game for a while, and some of the lads hadn’t played since Ipswich. We felt we had to get some minutes in to them and thankfully they’ve come through unscathed,” Murphy said.
“That performance can only be a good confidence booster for Wednesday, but we know it’s going to be a tough game. Blackburn are Cat 1, though we have done well against those teams lately. We’ve earned the right to get this far and it will be a good test for the lads.”
The tie at Ewood Park, which kicks-off at 7pm, will be Blackpool’s sixth in this season’s competition, yet the pressure isn’t necessarily mounting.
“They don’t seem to play with any pressure, they just seem to take it all in their stride. I could probably go in there and not say a lot because they know what’s expected - they’ve done it five times already. We’ll still give them all the clichés, though. We always tell them to treat it like it’s their last game,” Pool’s Professional Development Phase Coach revealed.
Admission to the fixture is priced at £4 for adults and £2 for concessions, with some good travelling support expected to cheer the lads on.
“I’ve heard a few Blackpool fans will be going and I’m sure the first-team staff will be there. We gave our tickets out yesterday and everybody took three, though people probably would have had five or six!
“It’s a local game and the match will be at an old Premier League ground. It’s really impressive inside and out, but we’ll put that to the back of our minds and treat it like any football pitch. Whether you play at Wembley or on the park, it’s still a football game with 11 vs 11,” Murphy added.