Sports in Blackpool

Whether you're the sporty type who loves to compete or are more of a spectator who enjoys the vicarious thrill of watching competition, Blackpool has a lot to offer you.

Blackpool has many sports centres that promote sports like football, darts, cricket or badminton as well as a few football pitches, junior teams and a Coca-Cola League Division side.

The Blackpool Sports Centre on West Drive is one of the town's most popular sports venues. It provides facilities for football, volleyball, basketball, badminton, indoor hockey, wall climbing, martial arts and netball.

Blackpool has two public swimming pools for those who prefer to do their exercising in the water. These are the Lido Pool on Lytham Road and the Moor Park Swimming Pool on Bristol Avenue. On the other hand, if it's a weekend and you have the kids in tow, perhaps the venue of choice for water fun is the Sandcastle Waterworld on the Promenade. It has a number of popular water slides and a wave pool.

With an eight-rink bowling stadium, the Blackpool Borough Indoor Bowls Centre on Larkhill Street is the ideal venue for crown green bowling, whether it’s for competitive team matches or laid-back family fun.

If golf is your game, Blackpool has a number of top-flight golf clubs that are certain to capture your fancy. The two most popular ones are the North Shore Golf Club and the Fleetwood Golf Club, both 18-hole 71 par courses. Casual golfers will enjoy the 18-hole Stanley Park Golf Course.

Blackpool also has its own elite cricket team that competes in the Northern Premier League against the likes of Fleetwood, Barrow and Lancaster. That's the Blackpool Cricket Club which is based at Stanley Park.

Darts is also a major sport in Blackpool, especially since the town hosts the prestigious Stan James World Matchplay Darts Championship every year. Held traditionally at the Empress Ballroom in the Winter Gardens, the competition brings together the 32 top professional dart players in the world who vie for over £100,000 in prize money. The Stan James World Matchplay Darts Championship draws in huge crowds to the Empress Ballroom and is televised live to countless people worldwide via satellite.

Of course, one of the most popular games in town is football. The Blackpool Sports Centre is a favourite venue for friendly five-a-side games. The venue has a sports arena and an all-weather outdoor pitch. Meanwhile, for a casual kick-about with a few friends, Blackpool boasts more than 80 public parks that are perfect for just such an occasion.

One of the best parks is Stanley Park, one of the most beautiful parks in Blackpool which stretches to over 256 acres of scenic parkland. Not only does it have lots of space for football, it also has its own cafe where players can grab a quick drink to freshen up.

Anyone can see that the spirit of sport is alive and well in Blackpool every time the city's professional football team, the Blackpool FC aka the Tangerines, compete, with throngs of boisterous fans coming out to cheer them on.

The Tangerines were formed in 1887 but did not get to play in the football league until 1903. They toiled in the second division for many years, during which time the club was often saddled by debts while only a few loyal supporters cheered them on.

Blackpool FC finally got its big break in 1929-30 when it was promoted to Division One as champions. However, they would only stay there for three brief seasons before falling back to the second division. Their next breakthrough would come in 1936-37 when they would once again climb up to Division One. This time, they would remain among the top tier teams for the next 25 years.

After World War II, Blackpool FC would sign sensational striker Stanley Matthews, nicknamed The Wizard of the Dribble for his skill at soccer, and he would lead them to great prosperity and success. The number of Blackpool FC supporters ballooned during this time.

Blackpool FC would reach the pinnacle of their success in 1953 when they won the FA Cup final at Wembley via a 4-3 victory over Bolton Wanderers. What made the win even more thrilling is that the Tangerines had to climb back from 0-2 down to win the cup. Since then, that game has been immortalized as the "Matthews Final" in honor of Stanley Matthews' role in the match.

With Matthews as the Tangerines' driving force, Blackpool FC became of the most popular teams in the league, both for home and away games. In fact, for three seasons - 1950-51, 1954-55 and 1955-56 - the Tangerines were the most popular visiting team in the UK. About 40,000 fans on average watched their games during that time.

Unfortunately, in 1966-67, Blackpool was relegated back to Division Two and the period that followed has been marked by highs and lows. The team now plays in the Coca Cola League Division One.

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