THE best day of our lives – that is how many Fleetwood fans will remember Saturday’s clash against the Seasiders.
Despite crashing out of the third round of the FA Cup after a 5-1 crushing defeat by their more illustrious neighbours, followers of the Cod Army said their team “did them proud”.
The atmosphere was electric, as a sell-out crowd gathered to watch the definitive derby at Fleetwood’s Highbury Stadium.
And spirits were high before kick-off, with many fans predicting a close game or a draw and a return to Bloomfield Road.
Match day programme seller Richard Wright, 17, from Fleetwood, told The Gazette: “I think we will win in front of a home crowd. We have a lot of people down here today.”
Gavin Thompson, 28, was at the match with his brother Liam, 25.
He said: “I predict Fleetwood will win 2-1, Vardy will score the winner for Fleetwood.
“I hope so. I’ve supported them all my life, they deserve a win.”
Liam added: “When we found out we would be playing Blackpool, it was absolutely amazing.
“It is the best day we could have had on the Fylde coast.”
But hopes of pulling off an FA Cup upset were dashed when the team fell behind to Lomana Lua-Lua’s 24th minute strike.
The Seasiders added two more as the game progressed, but Fleetwood’s Cod Army remained in fine voice.
And despite a goal from Town favourite Jamie Vardy, it was not enough to threaten the tangerines, who scored another two before the final whistle.
But fans remained positive and expressed hope the Fylde coast teams would meet again in time.
Fleetwood fan Andy Smith, 24, said: “I thought it was a very entertaining game, it was a good match.
“Fleetwood did as much as they could, but Blackpool’s Matty Phillips is the best player I have ever seen at Highbury.
“He was the difference between the two teams.
“We didn’t deserve to lose 5-1, it could have been closer, but I had a good time. Unless we get a couple of promotions, it could be a long time before we meet again.”
John Hughes, caretaker at the Fleetwood ground, said: “Whatever the result, it has been a great day out for the people of the Fylde coast and seeing the ground so full has been fantastic.
“When I think back over the years, it is unbelievable to imagine how far Fleetwood Town has come in the last few years.
“I don’t think the score does Fleetwood justice.
“They have done us proud today.
“It has been the best day of my life.”
Fleetwood chairman, Andy Pilley, also known for his support of Blackpool FC, said he was extremely proud of the players, who had given the supporters an enjoyable afternoon.
He added: “I think the fans enjoyed it.
“We would have preferred the game to be closer. I don’t think the score was a fair reflection.
“But sometimes football ends up that way.
“We had many chances, and it is certainly a day I will remember for the rest of my life.”