After six years away, Blackpool secured a return to the Championship yesterday when they defeated Lincoln City 2-1 at Wembley in the League One play-off final.
The Seasiders have been on a rollercoaster ride since exiting the Premier League in 2011 – a Championship play-off final loss, back-to-back relegations into League Two, promotion back into League One and a takeover to finally get rid of the Oyston family from Bloomfield Road.
But under the ownership of Simon Sadler, the good times have come back to the club and under former Liverpool under-23 manager Neil Critchley, Blackpool have developed into a formidable unit as shown in the capital against the Imps.
Critchley brought in four loan players this past season and one of them was Nottingham Forest right-back Jordan Gabriel, whose only previous Football League experience was nine games on loan at Scunthorpe United and three appearances for the Reds.
Blackpool quiz: Does Bloomfield Road have a higher or lower capacity than these 18 grounds?
The 22-year-old played 37 times in all competitions for the Seasiders but he was denied the opportunity to pit his wits against his Forest team-mate Brennan Johnson – Gabriel was left on the bench with Ollie Turton preferred and despite Blackpool winning in the end, Turton did put the ball into his own goal in the first minute from Johnson’s cross.
Regardless though Gabriel was on the winning team and he couldn’t contain his excitement as he took to Instagram to celebrate.
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Gabriel will have been disappointed to miss out on the final and the opportunity to play at Wembley, but it’s a squad game and he more than played his part throughout the course of the season.
The question is though – what’s next for the right-back?
Having spent a whole season in League One, Chris Hughton may want to take a look at him in pre-season to see how he’s developed under a top coach like Critchley, and he may think he’s ready to take a place in his senior squad – especially with the departure of Cyrus Christie.
With Gabriel turning 23 in September this does feel like a make or break summer at the City Ground for him – and if he finds himself unwanted at the club then Bloomfield Road could be made his new permanent home perhaps.