The ascendency through the football pyramid of Fleetwood Town FC is testament to the fighting spirit of the community- a town full of different personalities and characters, everyone with their own individual problems but all united through the hard times, and believe me, the town has had a few.
At the start of the 20th century, Fleetwood’s position as one of the major fishing imports was cemented in history; importing and exporting Cod all over the world to Iceland, Holland, France etc. This created a great sense of pride for the people on the Fylde Coast, but come the 1960’s, Fleetwood began to decline economically at rapid speed.
The town was hit by a huge flood in October 1927, which put 90% of the area of the town under water but not even a flood could dishearten the spirit of Fleetwood, as the community came together and renovated the town.
The main railway was closed in 1966 causing less visitors to the town, but the main factor was the serious collapse of the fishing industry through the ‘Cod Wars’.
The Cod Wars was a huge dispute between Fleetwood and Iceland on who can fish where in the Atlantic Ocean, but the town didn’t back down, they fought till the end for their rights but unfortunately lost the dispute; the fighting spirit wasn’t ignored, and the town’s nickname of the Cod Army was born.
The fall of the fishing has been parallel with the rise of the football club from the Western Lancashire League to League One, and also from playing on a park to a 5,327 capacity stadium has also brought a real sense of achievement and pride to the town again.
With six promotions in ten years through the football leagues, financial support from owner and local businessman Andy Pilley has been welcomed with open arms from Cod army fans and with Joey Barton currently at the wheel the club is now cemented as a respected league one club; but with the quality in the squad and the mentality around Highbury Stadium at the moment, the sky is the limit for the Trawlermen.
With cult heroes like Magno Viera, Sean Clancy, Jamie Milligan and of course, Jamie Vardy, all have written their way in the history books at Highbury stadium and are components to the personality the team from FY7 have created over the years.
Since Joey Barton’s first game in charge in 2018, Fleetwood have never been short of quality, attracting the likes of seasoned pros like Paul Coutts, Glenn Whelan, Mark Duffy and ex-Scotland captain Charlie Mulgrew- add these names to the talented youth Fleetwood currently have, Barton has had one aim, to take this football club to the top.
All around the club, Barton’s infectious attitude to win has filled the ambitious cracks on what the club has lacked in previous League One campaigns.
Barton’s created a ‘David versus Goliath’ mindset where Fleetwood go into games against the likes of huge footballing outfits like Ipswich, Hull City, Portsmouth, Sunderland and Blackpool, with such confidence, beating and getting results out of these sides, and also creating rivalries, like that lot down the road.
There is only seven miles between Blackpool and Fleetwood and the two coastal towns have created a bitter relationship, violence in and off the pitch and on it, makes the meeting between the two sides even more tasty than geographical reasons.
A town who has a smaller population than most of the ‘big eight’ in the division, are now proving they aren’t here to take part, they’re here to take over.