London (AFP) – Kenny Dougall became the first Australian to score in a club game at Wembley as his double in Sunday’s 2-1 win over Lincoln in the League One play-off final sent Blackpool back to the Championship for the first time since 2015.
The 28-year-old defensive midfielder’s goals either side of half-time completed a remarkable year for him as he had been without a club after being released by Barnsley last summer.
He proved an inspired signing by coach Neil Critchley, who is in his first senior managerial post after seven years as Liverpool Under-18 and Under-23 coach.
“You don’t get to play at Wembley often, so to score two goals is fantastic,” Dougall told Sky Sports.
Blackpool’s return to the second-tier Championship comes after several traumatic years since spending one season in the Premier League a decade ago.
The upturn in their fortunes has come since Hong Kong-based businessman Simon Sadler acquired the historic club for £10 million (11.6 million euros) from receivers in June 2019.
Sadler was at Wembley to see Dougall fire them back into the Championship after they came back from conceding the earliest ever goal in the third-tier play-off final, Ollie Turton putting the ball his own net after just 48 seconds.
Critchley’s job looked to be at risk when Blackpool lost six of their first nine league games this term.
“After the start we had, to finish here in this manner has been incredible and I’ve got nothing but praise for everyone who’s supported me this season,” 42-year-old Critchley told Sky Sports.
“They (Liverpool coaches and former captain Steven Gerrard) all keep in touch.
“Liverpool is a special football club and if ever I need advice there is no better people than them.”