Story by Greg Hallam
After three promotions in just five seasons, it is pretty safe to say that Fleetwood Town’s rise to the football league has been meteoric. The side’s attendances have increased by over 1000% from 134 in the 2003-04 season to over 2000 in 2011-12. They have now been able to attract star players such as Jon Parkin, proven at a much higher level. Even Joey Barton is training with them although a loan move to Fleetwood Town is very unlikely to be sanctioned by the FA, after Barton’s end of season antics in the Premier league. However, it just goes to show what rapid progress the club is making and that they are still aiming ever higher. Much of Fleetwood’s rise can be owed to millions of pounds worth of investment from local businessman and chairman of Fleetwood since 2003 Andy Pilley. He has worked hard to ensure that the infrastructure at Fleetwood would be good enough to reach football league standards. This Culminated in the redevelopment of their Highbury ground so that capacity increased to over 5000. An improvement was also made to the playing staff with more money spent on wages to increase quality. Jamie Vardy was signed for around £150,000 and was crucial in firing them to football league.
The side being assembled for the upcoming 2012-13 season leads me to believe that Fleetwood can emulate Crawley Town and win promotion to the heady heights of the English third tier. They have proven goal scorers up front in Jon Parkin and Steven Gillespie. In midfield they have steel and tenacity with a touch of quality in players such as Damien Johnson and Barry Nicholson who have both competed at a much higher level. The only reservations I have about the side is how defensively sound it is but with the quality in midfield and attack I expect them to outscore what they concede the majority of times. Therefore, it wouldn’t surprise me to see some thrillers by the seaside and ultimately another promotion for the Cod Army.
Fleetwood fans have a right to be dreaming about just how far they can go and if investment continues to flow through the club, then maybe one day they’ll be playing within the top two tiers of English football. However, if that investment starts to diminish they could quite easily go the other way and back into non-league football as fast as their rise away from it. This is already the third incarnation of the club and money troubles have hit them in the past but right now I am sure Fleetwood fans will not care one bit as they look to carry on this footballing adventure with another promotion.