Fleetwood Town’s players and staff have a responsibility to club chairman

Andy Pilley and Joey Barton
Andy Pilley and Joey Barton

Fleetwood Town boss Joey Barton believes the example of Knowsley United should give everyone at Fleetwood Town a responsibility to help fuel Andy Pilley’s Highbury dream.

Today’s clash pitting Town against Accrington Stanley is a reunion of sorts for Barton, who would watch his dad play with Stanley assistant Jimmy Bell and coach John Doolan.

For good measure, Barton would usually watch with Stanley’s Sean McConville whose dad, Peter, played at Alt Park in Huyton.

The club existed from 1967-1997, ending just as Town were starting their reincarnation and a journey up to English football’s third tier.

Barton said: “Obviously it seems it was a great breeding ground.

“I was laughing on Tuesday night because I had Tony Kelly, who is my second cousin who played for Bolton, Wigan and Stoke and he came to the (Leicester) game.

“He’s doing some scouting for Bolton; we were chatting before the game and it dawned on me because I’d made the wrong turning at Highbury.

“I was going to the game and ended up driving through Fleetwood town centre.

“It dawned on me that Knowsley United has now folded – there are 30,000 people in Knowsley.

“Knowsley United would have been in the same division and played Fleetwood multiple times when I was growing up.

“There are 26,000 people in Fleetwood; so what Andy Pilley, in essence, has done in Fleetwood is take Knowsley United and put it in League One.

“You think of how many people he employs in the area so I understand why Andy is felt in such high esteem in this area.

“When I think about it like that you realise just how far this football club has come in a short space of time.

“I always thought if a few of us made it and played football growing up at Knowsley United ‘would we all come back here and finish our careers here –and invest in the club?’

“I think we would have. I would have for sure, if it had still been in existence.

“Unfortunately they lost money and they could not keep going way before any of our careers finished.

“It really got me thinking about how far this club has come and it also got me thinking about the responsibility that we have.

“If we actually put this club in the league above then potentially the league above that what a story that would be.”