Due to the fact that they have spent a fair bit of cash, some supporters of other clubs seem to be quite bitchy when it comes to Fleetwood. Yes they may have spent quite alot to get where they are but in my view they have done it with alot more class than the likes of Crawley and Rushden and Diamonds have done. Going back a few years Wigan outspent the rest of the lower leagues as they marched up the football pyramid and now everybody (bar me) seems to want them to stay up. Short memories some do have. Fans of other teams may pour scorn on Fleetwood but lets be honest, most of us would love a chairman like theirs who wants to invest in their club and build it at all levels. His investment makes our Chairman's input into Lincoln City look like mere chicken feed (Or should that be turkey feed)
Personally i would rather Fleetwood go up than sides like Wrexham and Luton who's fans seem to think they have a god given right to win promotion. The only problem with a Fleetwood promotion is that we miss out on a great away weekend in Blackpool. Lets hope that Southport don't win the playoffs.
Anyway enough about Fleetwood.
Its been a couple of years since i visited the fair town of Blackpool and on that occasion it was January so a fair bit of it was shut. I have always enjoyed Blackpool. I know some people think its tacky and run down but for me a weekend away is what you make of it. I have some great memories of nights out there. My first trip here was the infamous trip to watch the Imps take on Blackpool in the 98/99 season (which we won!) and i have pretty much enjoyed the jaunt there since. I have often used Blackpool as a base for Imps away trips in the past with trips to Rochdale and Wrexham (both of which we lost). On my "List to do" is to stay here midweek for either an AFC Blackpool game or Blackpool Wren Rovers. This depends on holidays and cash so its very much in the "Watch this space" category for next season. There is also Squire Gate and AFC Fylde not to far away, but one at a time i think.
The match was a Friday night fixture so our plan was for a night out on the town on the Thursday night then chill before the Imps game on the Friday then travel back home Saturday morning.
I enjoy Thursday nights out in Blackpool much more than Friday and Saturday nights. There are enough folk out for it to be a good atmosphere but its not to rammed with Primark versions of TOWIE wannabes. You also get some pretty decent deals on drinks, which i am sure you will agree is always welcome. After heading out about 7ish and visiting a number of watering holes we ended up in Vodka Revolution where 6 shots cost a very reasonable £8 so we set about the task of sampling most of the shots on the menu. All of them were quite nice but i can thoroughly recommend the chilli shots. They have a real kick to them as you knock them back.
The Friday was spent chilling out and recovering form the previous night. The game was scheduled to kick off at 7.30pm. From Blackpool sea front you can either get the number 1 bus up to Fleetwood or you can get the tram. We decided on getting the bus from the stop outside the Hilton Hotel at about 5 o clock. As we waited the Lincoln City team bus pulled into the coach park at the hotel for what i assume was a pre match meal. I am sure that had they wandered along the seas front they could have found something cheaper but there you go. Once on the bus you want the stop near the Highbury fish and chip shop which was doing a brisk trade. I had read that away fans were not allowed into the social club next to the away turnstiles so we stayed on the bus and got off in town so we could have a few drinks and walked up to the ground. The pubs in Fleetwood were certainly cheaper than the ones in Blackpool (by about £2 a round) and most had lots of pictures of fishing trawlers from years gone by. I had expected them to be packed with Fleetwood fans but maybe they had all decided to drink in the bars at the ground. Fleetwoods ground is a cashless stadium which means you have to get a ticket before you enter the ground, thankfully the away ticket office is slap bang next to the away turnstiles. Tonight's entrance was £15 for covered terracing.
As we got round to the away end again the Imps supporters bus had just pulled in with the normal assortment of "characters" on board. It goes without saying that they moaned about the same things they always do when they get to a new ground; having to queue for tickets, not being able to go in the clubhouse (stacks of pubs in Fleetwood guys come on) etc. The programmes had now arrived and were priced at a very reasonable £2.50. It was quite a decent read and proof that you can knock up a decent programme with a nice range of articles with interesting things and still sell it at £2.50 i can certainly think of one club that could do with a few more articles in the programme and less pictures to pad out the programme.
As you stand in the away section you can't help but admire the large main stand to your right. In an age of Lego brick lookalike stadiums its great to see something different. The stand has replaced the area where we had the V.I.P meal last time we were here. Although the old stand was nice its not a patch on the new one as you can see from the pictures below.
A City win however was a huge ask. Fleetwood have only lost three matches all season long and were unbeaten in 26 games. Their last league defeat came back in October. Before the game they had racked up an impressive 102 points. Given all this its hardly surprising that some bookmakers were offering up to 10/1 for a City win. Those odds could well have got bigger as City lost defender Tom Miller in the warm up meaning Karlton Watson got a rare start along side Josh Gowling in the heart of the defence.
Fleetwood could have wrapped the Championship up on Tuesday night but Wrexham spoilt the party with a 1-1 draw. The opening exchanges were fairly even but just as it looked as if the home side was building up a head of steam City look the lead out of nowhere when a smart move was finished off well by Jamie Talyor. Highbury was stunned as the Imps fans huddled in the corner went mad. I must admit i didn't expect the scoreline to stay the same for long so a took a picture of the scoreboard for old times sake.
Lincoln did have a couple of late chances to win the game late on through breakaways by Jake Sheridan and Louis but in the main it was the hosts who controlled the game. As the crowd grew restless they started to appeal for anything and everything going. At the end of the 90mins the ref added a further 5 minutes to be played and i got a horrible feeling we were going to let in a last minute goal and give the TV company showing the game the fairytale ending they would so have liked.
Over the past few years we have seen some really feeble away performances from the Imps but today they were immense; they stood up to the huge challenge and came through it with flying colours. As the Fleetwood players and fans trudged off the Imps entire squad went into the traditional post match huddle in the centre of the pitch. Then they came over the applaud the City faithful who were brilliant all night long. Although it was only a point it felt like so much more, and after the showings at the likes of Barrow and Braintree etc, it reminded us of why we go to away games.
After the game we decided to head back on the tram which in hindsight was a bit of a boo boo. As we got to the nearest tram stop we discovered that it was shut that meant a walk down to the next one. Thankfully this one was open. The new tram system does seem to be half baked at the moment and has attracted plenty of criticism in the local press. We overheard a couple of locals saying how much of a joke the new system was, so its not just us away fans who were struggling to work out fares and which stops are open etc.
We decided to celebrate our point against the Cod Army with a nice late night portion of fish and chips. There was fish shop just round the corner from the hotel so we piled in there and very nice they were too. The fish was fried there and then and served with plenty of chips, all this for under 4 quid! You really can't go wrong can you?
Selected Saturday results.
Grimsby Town 2-2 Wrexham
Fleetwood Town are confirmed as Conference champions
Hayes and Yeading 1-3 Mansfield Town
Lincoln Citys status in the BSP is confirmed for the 2012/13 season
Congratulations Fleetwood Town FC