Fleetwood chairman’s derby dream

Andy Pilley
Andy Pilley

Saturday’s League One trip to Bloomfield Road is a dream come true for Fleetwood chairman Andy Pilley.

Saturday’s League One trip to Bloomfield Road is a dream come true for Fleetwood chairman Andy Pilley.

The energy entrepreneur grew up a Blackpool supporter and could hardly have dreamed of such a showdown when he bought into the North West Counties League club.

Jump forward little more than a decade and Fleetwood are five points ahead of Blackpool in the third tier of English football as they prepare for their first ever Football League meeting.

“It’s a special fixture,” Pilley told The Gazette. “I think it’s a dream fixture, one I’ve often hoped would occur.

“But even with me being the eternal optimist, I didn’t expect it to happen so soon.”

Town were thrashed 5-1 last time the teams met, in the third round of the FA Cup in 2012.

But Pilley’s team are set to go into Saturday’s clash as favourites after solid home victories over Swindon and Millwall.

Blackpool, in contrast, have lost their last seven and haven’t scored in six, with goal difference alone keeping them off the bottom.

“I’ll let the bookies talk about all of that,” joked Pilley. “I don’t want to say we’re favourites.

“It will be difficult for us. Blackpool will not want to lose this one.”

But Pilley is pleased that Town are beginning to pull out of their own slump under the guidance of manager Steven Pressley.

The loan signings of Tariqe Fosu and David Henen have certainly helped, and Pilley believes Town are now starting to show they can play attractive football.

“I think at Peterborough you could see the green shoots,” he said. “They held on to win (2-1 the Saturday before last) but we gave it a really good go.

“We moved on to the Swindon game and it’s turned round. We showed we can be a force to be reckoned with and played some of our best football.”

While Preston will always be the arch-rivals for many Blackpool fans, Pilley knows what bragging rights are at stake.

“It’s massive for the supporters,” he said. “They live, work and go to school with Blackpool supporters.

“We’re out to prove, as they might say in Manchester, that the noisy neighbours can be a force.”

The Fleetwood chairman isn’t getting carried away but allowed himself to consider what victory this weekend would mean.

“A win would be great,” he said. “Of course there’s a bit of one-upmanship, with friends and at work, but there are also three points at stake.

“Those points would help us to climb away from the relegation zone and start to look upwards to the top half of the table.”