Brett Ormerod is forever associated with Blackpool for two magical promotion-winning stints with the club, though it was a few short miles east that the popular former marksman felt the old emotions stirred last season in non-league.
Following long-serving Dave Challinor’s departure last October, it was Ormerod and his former Blackpool teammate John Hills who temporarily stepped into the breach at AFC Fylde. In a season of struggle for the Coasters, which later culminated in a points-per-game relegation from the National League, it helped bring about a brief lift.
Former Morecambe boss Jim Bentley would take over soon after, but Hills and Ormerod’s interim tenure comprised a 6-1 win over Peterborough Sports in the FA Cup, before a 2-0 success at Boreham Wood in the league. For erstwhile Premier League player Ormerod, it was an experience that undoubtedly recaptured something.
“It was just nerves a bit, especially on the first match day, but a nervousness that you miss,” he explained. “The first game, it was a cup game and we went in Saturday morning, just had a brew and were just talking, and I got them butterflies that I’d not had since I finished playing.”
“There’s a bit of an addiction to that, that sort of lost feeling that you just don’t get when you don’t play. Me and Hillsy went in the first day, they hadn’t been winning games, they hadn’t been scoring a lot of goals, and when we went in they looked pretty low on confidence.
“We just tried to change that, we tried to make everything upbeat. We gave them a way that we wanted to play; pretty much in the style of Ian Holloway at Blackpool.
“I played under Ian Holloway in a 4-3-3 and Hillsy had been on the youth team staff at the time. Just picking the lads up and getting them enjoying football again, and we managed to do that.
“I really enjoyed it and I felt we picked the lads up and got a real smile on their face.”
It is over four years since the one-time Southampton man announced his retirement from playing, and a further six since that May Saturday at Wembley in which he further inscribed his name in Blackpool folklore. Ormerod’s winner in first-half stoppage time against Cardiff City in front of over 82,000 was one of 81 he netted for the Tangerines.
During his first spell at the club, he played alongside former Everton prospect Jamie Milligan. An in-depth interview feature on this site earlier this year, ex-midfield man Milligan is in his first senior management job at Bamber Bridge.
As well as that caretaker stint at Fylde, 2019/20 also saw Ormerod lending a hand at Brig. Milligan said he hoped he would be involved again at the Northern Premier Division side in 2020/21, so what is the latest on that?
“Yeah, it’s just availability really. Hopefully when things get back to some kind of normality, then I’ll try and get down as much as possible.
“Obviously I can’t get down to every game, because I do a bit with Radio Lancashire and media work. At the moment, everything’s so stop-start, so I’ve just stayed away really for the time being, let Milly and his staff, Hillsy, crack on with that.
“If and when it settles down, I can try and get back into some sort of routine with taking training every now and again, because I really enjoyed it last year. I joined at the back-end of last year for a few training sessions and they’ve got a really good set of lads there, so I definitely want to carry that on.”
In addition to his co-commentary for BBC Radio Lancashire, the ex-Preston North End forward is currently a columnist for the Blackpool Gazette. While there is no direct replacement for playing, with a foot in both media and coaching in recent times, does he have an inkling at this point as to which of the two perhaps feels the most likely long-term endeavour?
“I’d probably say the media, because I never really wanted to go into coaching when I played, but since we had a little spell, me and Hillsy at Fylde, I really, really enjoyed that, and I’ve really enjoyed Bamber Bridge as well. I never rule anything out but that sort of whet my appetite for the other side of the game.
“It’s so difficult for players coming out the game to get into management and coaching, because there’s so few jobs and so many players, so you need a bit of luck, and sometimes you need to know someone who’s willing to give you that chance. I sort of thought, ‘The odds of that? Maybe not,’ but I enjoy both sides of it.
“I really like the radio side at the moment. Obviously it’s a bit different with no crowds – the quicker we get back to that, the better – but it’s still better than nothing.
“So I wouldn’t rule anything out.”
Interview by @chris_brookes