Interview with a Fleetwood fan Friday, 17th Aug 2018 12:05 by Col
Ahead of this weekend's game with Fleetwood, we've spoken to a Fleetwood supporter to tell us all things Fleetwood.
1) Who are you and how long have you been a Fleetwood supporter? My name is Martin Crane, I’m Fleetwood born and bred, I’ve been watching Fleetwood for around 10 years, and this season will be my 8th as a season ticket holder.
2) What makes supporting Fleetwood different to any other club? We’re a real community club. Fleetwood is the 2nd smallest town in the football league (Forest Green are the only one smaller), and were unique in that, geographically, were on a peninsula, so surrounded on 3 sides by water, and Blackpool on the other. That means we will always struggle for numbers. Having said that, we regularly get 20%+ of the towns population at home games, and it has really brought the town together. There aren’t many clubs can boat figures like that.
3) Clearly your Chairman has ploughed plenty of money into your club – what are the long term ambitions and are they realistic? This is a question that you get asked a lot, as a Fleetwood fan, and I have to say, in this league, it’s one that annoys me. There’s no doubt that we’ve had significant investment, and we got into the football league with a model of buying the best players in the league. However, since we’ve been a football league side, and especially since we’ve been league 1, that level of investment is mid table at best. There’s a perception that the chairman just pours money in and buys success, but that is just not fair. The money he’s spent in the past 5 years is on infrastructure (like the state of the art training complex), and on such ring the long term future of the club. If you look at the transfer dealings in recent seasons, we have turned over a profit most years, and our wage budget pails into insignificance when you look at some of the teams in this league. We’re not poor, by any means, but Andy Pilley owns a utilities company, he’s not an Arabian oil sheik, he’s an excellent business man though, who has his eyes set on the championship, and I have no doubt he will achieve that dream in the coming years.
4) The appointment of Joey Barton has brought plenty of attention – how’s he coming across so far? Barton’s appointment was certainly a divisive one, and one that I will openly admit I wasn’t happy with. His chequered history was such that, for me, he was a man I was embarrassed to have in charge of my club. Having said that, from a footballing sense, it could be a master stroke. Pilley has a history of hiring young, first time, managers (Mellon and Alexander were both big hits), and he is clearly impressed with Barton. He talks cohesively and I don’t think anyone can doubt his passion. Pilley has put his faith in him, and backed him in the transfer market, and what I’ve seen so far has been impressive. He certainly has a point to prove, and you get the impression that he is determined to do that. It’s, clearly, still early days, but the feeling around the club is very positive about him. Time will tell, but, I think he has the potential to do very, very well.
5) Our manager Keith Hill pinpointed Fleetwood as the club who had done the best business over the Summer with respect to signings. How’s it looking so far? As I touched on above, the transfer business has been impressive. I feel, we probably have the best attacking unit in the league, with 6 experienced, quality strikers, and a youngster waiting in the wings too (keeping them all happy will be a challenge mind, but there is a healthy competition for places). Craig Morgan and Tommy Spurr add excellent experience to the back line, and Dean Marney has dropped from the Premier League. I’m personally excited by Jason Holt, who has joined on loan from Rangers, he’s looks like an outstanding talent for this league. Barton has already used his contacts to bring some of those in (he played with Marney and Long at Burnley, and Holt at Rangers), for me, the fullback areas still look weak, but other than that, I feel we have a very strong squad who should be right up there.
6) What would constitute a good season for Fleetwood? . Both Pilley and Barton have made it very clear that playoffs is their target, so we go into the season full of optimism with that aim. There’s no doubt that last season was a disappointment though, and I think the league is much stronger this year. I’d be happy with anything in the top half, but, if Barton hits the ground running, the new signings gel, and were lucky with injuries, there’s absolutely no reason we can’t push for a playoff spot. The squad looks stronger than it did 2 years ago when we did just that.
7) Any particular thoughts or memories of Rochdale? Yes, actually. I have a couple of friends who are Rochdale fans, one of whom lives in Fleetwood, so it’s always a fixture I look out for. I’ve actually been with him to a couple of Cup games, back when we were a none league side, so it’s a club that I wish nothing but success for. We love the away day at Rochdale, and the home fans are always welcoming. The chippy over the road introduced me to the delights of the rag pudding. All of that said, I hope you get hammered on Saturday so that I can get the bragging rights again!
8) You’ve got a couple of our former players – Ashley Eastham, Bobby Grant. How have they done for you? There have been a few that have played for both clubs over the years, but the two we have now have both been excellent. Ashley Eastham was our player of the year last season, a standout, consistent performer in an otherwise forgettable year. Bobby Grant has been superb. He plays much deeper now, so his goals have dried up a bit, but his passion and enthusiasm are second to none. His work in the community is absolutely unrivalled, and I have never met anyone who has said anything other than, he’s one of the nicest, most down to earth, men in football.
9) Name you’re all time Fleetwood XI Our rapid rise means that, if you were going to make the best Fleetwood XI it would almost certainly be from the current squad (plus Vardy), league one players are better than the ones we’ve had in the past, so I can’t do it on ability, for me though: GK Chris Maxwell RB Conor McLaughlin CB Nathan Pond CB Cian Bolger LB Alan Wright CM Bobby Grant CM Jamie McGuire CM Jamie Milligan CF Ashley Hunter CF Andy Mangan CF Jamie Vardy
10) Predictions for the game? You’re playing us at a good time I think. We don’t know our best 11 yet, and we’ve won one, lost one, so it really could go either way. Marney and Holt didn’t play the opening game though, and I think they will make the difference in that midfield, so I’m going to go for a 2-1 Fleetwood win.