Super Stuart Fleetwood
Fleetwood Town 2-0 Forest Green Rovers (29:01:11)
Forest Green Rovers fan Phil Sheppard enjoys another weekend away marred only by the football:
This is dedicated to Danny Last and Stuart Fuller, two larry let-downs who have used the excuses of the Berlin derby and working in LA to wriggle out of a weekend up the M6 (I'm only jealous).
For us FGR fans Fleetwood always brings back fond memories. For one season only, we had striker 'Super Stuart Fleetwood', one of the greatest to don the black & white stripes. Now he's gone, the only Fleetwood to brighten our day would be a trip up north and our first visit to Highbury, home of Fleetwood Town FC - and a weekend in sunny Blackpool to boot.
With all good football trips the first part of planning is the logistics. Trains were too expensive and after two days of hard drinking nobody fancied driving home. This left us with one option, the dreaded supporters club coach who were also on a weekend jaunt. The thought of numerous service station stops, irish bingo and constantly putting your hand in your pocket for this and that was soon put to bed with an excellent trip up and good company. We said our farewells in Blackpool and went on to our superb B&B.
Blackpool is described as the Vegas of the north. I've been lucky to go to Las Vegas and you couldn't be further from the truth. Rough round the edges would be an understatement but it serves a purpose, a bloody good night out. A few pubs and on to a Northern Soul club, nicknamed 'Cougar Town' by us and we were well and truly done. The club was the sort of place where the women didn't have their own teeth, but I think a lot of that was down to age rather than having them knocked out. It was like being with your gran on a night out!
Next day was the purpose of our trip, Fleetwood Town v FGR. Fleetwood along with Crawley Town are the money men in our league but miles apart in other ways. Fleetwood are being bankrolled by local businessman Andy Pilley (who still stands on the terraces) where Crawley's money emanates from mysterious sources further afield. Also Fleetwood own their ground where as Crawley are tenants. Also Steve Evans isn't their manager! Highbury is currently undergoing major redevelopment and when finished will be an excellent stadium. There is also an impressive large screen in the ground with instant replays that wouldn't go a miss in the Premier League. Whether they'll have the fanbase to sustain their long term ambitions remains to be seen - I'm not so sure.
The new Highbury is starting to take shape.
First stop when you enter the stadium is Jim's bar. 30 flat screen televisions and seven 'Pilleys Angels' serving behind the bar made it a great place to drink and as good a football bar as I've drank in. It certainly is a ground in progress but if the rest of it matches the standard of the bar it will be first class. With the match also being screened live in there it was hard to leave.
As per usual the football let us down. After a good first 45 minutes FGR caved in to Fleetwood pressure at the beginning of the second half when their left back Junior Brown stuck one in to the top corner. Even roared on by the ' 20 or so Accy Stanley Ultra's' who joined us after their game at Crewe was postponed whilst en-route it was never going to happen. Their substitute Clancy nodded in a second from close range and that was us done. It was then back to Blackpool to drown our sorrows.
Another great weekend slightly tainted by 90 minutes of football but if you get the chance to try Fleetwood I'd recommend it.