Blackpool F C may be struggling against relegation at Bloomfield Road but Blackpool Lodge No 1476 scored a decisive victory on its home ground at the Masonic hall in Adelaide Street when it installed its new master Simon Coldwell into the chair of King Solomon, earning valuable points and moving ever closer to the premier division of Masonic rituals.
Amongst the throng of expectant spectators was principal guest Raymond Martland Assistant Provincial Grand Master, accompanied by Terry Hudson Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master and Peter Bentham chairman of the Blackpool group of lodges. Supporting these dignitaries were acting Provincial officers Martyn Jones and Chris Walpole.
From the first whistle it was clearly evident that player manager David Bell, director of ceremonies of the lodge was on the ball and totally in charge of the action and that he and the team were working to a well-structured game plan.
Recruiting star players Bob McGown, Keith Beardmore and Ray Johnson as substitutes for senior warden, junior warden and inner guard respectively, the installing master Graham Oglesby kicked off with a strong squad behind him.
Playing a diversity of positions on the field, David Bell demonstrated his virtuosity by initially coming on as substitute for Graham, taking over from him after the presentation and obligation of the master elect Simon Coldwell. David proved his credentials with a magnificent display of ritualism. He appeared entirely comfortable in any position and demonstrated flashes of brilliance in delivering the addresses to the immediate past master, chaplain and assistant director of ceremonies; his adroitness gaining the plaudits of the crowd.
Once Simon was settled in as custodian, he led the team with calm confidence and the players performed with pace and flair. All played their parts to the full; there were to be no slackers in this line-up. Coordinating their game with tremendous skill and precision, they scored at every possible occasion.
The most spectacular winning shots however came from a perfect combination of junior brethren who took centre field to deliver the working tools of the three degrees. First on target was Robert Arrand with a splendid shot at the third degree tools, followed by Lee Martin who scored a blinder with an explosive shot at the second degree and finally, as cool as a turbot on ice, Grant Thornburrow struck home a winning first degree performance.
Nevertheless, the home team didn’t have it all its own way. Ian Smith on loan from Emblem Lodge No 6727 for an undisclosed fee came off the side line with a tremendous individual effort to power one home for the visitors in a magnificent address to the WM and then, nimbly crossing from the corner, Raymond Martland upped the game still further by scoring in fine style for the visitors with scintillating moves in his address to the brethren, displaying the panache and agility of a true professional.
But the day was not without its incidents. Spectator John Turpin, vice chairman of the Blackpool group arrived part way through the second half and was lucky not to have been shown a red card for having recorded the fixture on the wrong day in his diary.
But success was not restricted to play on the day. At the closing whistle a number of donations to charities amounting to a grand total of over £3,200 were presented to Raymond by Graham. Amongst the recipients to benefit from the lodge’s generosity was the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity to the tune of £900 plus an additional £400 recuperated in the gift aid scheme. The Blackpool Masonic hall building fund received £400, Guide Dogs for the Blind £500, the Lifeboat Youth Charity £800, Cats Paws £100, Aspire Forward £50 and Cancer UK £50. Members of the lodge are particularly proud that £1,200 of the total was raised by the lodge’s ladies’ committee, a sentiment that Raymond fully endorsed when conveying best wishes and congratulations from the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison.
The post-match banquet that followed the ceremony allowed the fans to celebrate in true style. Song and mirth filled the stadium when Phil Bolton accompanied Grant Thornburrow in a powerful rendition of the master’s song; the revellers joining in with gusto at each chorus.
In his response to the toast to grand officers, Raymond congratulated the team on its performance and awarded star status to the three brethren who had provided such a dazzling display in presenting the working tools.
It was a wonderful evening with no penalties awarded against the home team and a performance worthy of a trophy. It’s a shame that Blackpool F C seems incapable of emulating the standards of Blackpool lodge.