Who Are These Jobbers?
If it was up to me I would happily dedicate this section for lavishing praise upon Fleetwood Town. They are, of course, a club that has enjoyed a meteoric rise from the North West Counties League to League One in the space of just 15 years. They have given a community a focal point and something they can all rally behind in an area that has been left behind in recent years.
I would absolutely love to eulogise the work of chairman Andrew Pilley for being an integral part of this rise. I would love to.
But... there is one problem. One image that is burning itself onto my conscience - a scene that has the potential to become a reality on Tuesday evening.
That scene is, of course, Fleetwood’s manager and the deepest thinker in the game, Joseph Barton striding over to the away end holding up six fingers to an apoplectic travelling support. If you didn’t know already, he participated in a game where Newcastle United beat Sunderland 5-1 nine years ago and he likes to remind us of that scoreline at every opportunity.
While the irony may be lost on little Joseph that this gesture also references the Sunderland’s winning run against our black and white friends, I can’t scrub the image from my mind.
Even if Barton is banned for allegedly nutting Barnsley manager Daniel Stendel, he will find some way to lord it over us should Fleetwood shoot down our promotion dreams more than they already are. Why is it always you, Barton? Why do you always find us in our worst moments, Barton? Why do you not quote Nietzsche as much anymore, Barton?
This is going to happen, isn’t it? ENJOY EVERYONE!
What’s The Ground Like?
In contrast to a lot of the goddamn jobbers we have had to face in this godforsaken league, Fleetwood have been playing at Highbury Stadium since the 1930s. No stadium in the car park of a retail park for this fishy lot, they simply renovated the ground for every move up the divisions they took.
Similar to Morecambe’s Globe Arena, Highbury features one git modern stand with executive boxes and all that fancy craic while there are two terraced ends and a side stand they seemingly forgot to finish.
Given its diminutive size, there will only be around 1,000 Sunderland supporters packed into both The Percy Ronson Terrace and a section of the Parkside Stand.
How Do I Get There?
You know you want to spend a Tuesday afternoon traversing the beautiful British countryside towards the Fylde coast, so come on - get in the car and let’s go.
Take the A1(M) down to Scotch Corner before heading west on the A66 and A685 before joining the M6 at Tebay. Snake your way down into the north west passing Lancaster and exiting at junction 33 for the A6 and head along Garstang Road heading towards Poulton-le-Fylde. Find your onto Amounderness Way before exiting for Fleetwood Road, go over the roundabout onto Broadway and the ground is well signposted.
Street parking is available around Highbury Stadium and if you get lost put FY7 6TX into your sat nav.
Fleetwood is handily bereft of a railway station so for those big dawgs aboard the train will have to get off at Blackpool North. Walk along to North Pier station and take the tram up to Fleetwood. get off at Stanley Road and the ground is a short stroll away.
Where Can I Get The Sesh Started?
If you can tear yourself away from the cabaret bars of Blackpool for JUST ONE SECOND, you may be able to enjoy some liquid refreshment in this charming Victorian seaside resort. While Jim’s Sports Bar at the ground does admit away supporters, maybe you’d like to get out and explore such an overlooked part of the country.
A short walk from Highbury Stadium the The Queens on Poulton Road while Three Lights on Herring Arm Road provides all your lager needs and cheap food. Strawberry Gardens Pub & Bistro, also on Poulton Road, prides itself on being the “official away pub” and a place where can enjoy a “pre-match pint and some banter with the locals”.
And if I know Sunderland fans as well as I think I do, there is nothing more they enjoy than banter! It also has a whopping 18 hand pumps of real ale and ciders, git loads of lagers and an extensive food menu.
If you happen to venture into Fleetwood itself you can fill yourself up with Wetherspoons goodness at The Thomas Drummond on Thomas Street.
I’m Staying Owa, Is There Owt To Do?
Every so often a true tour de force of programming graces our television screens. In late-November 2017, Channel 5 brought us ‘Bargain Loving Brits Blackpool’ which put the lives of the holidaymakers, performers and shop owners of the seaside town in the glare of the nation. Among the many delightful characters (including an ice cream man and a Debbie Harry impersonator) of the series were Scottish sisters Margaret and Agnes.
The pair would visit the Golden Mile three times a year and one of the highlights for them was a trip to Fleetwood Market. We are treated to seeing Margaret and Agnes peruse the stalls of the largest indoor and outdoor market in north west England and pick out a couple of pairs of sexy bloomers.
If you want a little more than just a market you can see where they produce Fisherman’s Friend, the hearty menthol lozenge that put Fleetwood on the map. Enjoy a panoramic view of the Fylde coast from Rossall Tower where, on a clear day, you can cast an eye over Morecambe Bay and the Forest of Bowland.
Fill your brain full of Fleetwood knowledge at Fleetwood Museum which charts its history from Victorian new town to cargo and fishing port to holiday resort to whatever it is now. To top it all off enjoy a leisurely stroll along Fleetwood Waterfront for a spot of fish and chips.