Fleetwood: Alcohol Free Zone

  BILLY'S CONTRACT keeps dry

A second view of the same match as the previous article. However, Bizz match reports aren't really about the football, so it would be a pity to miss out on more misadventures from that day...

More often than not, travelling away to see Pools ...by road anyway, involves travelling down the tarmac of the A1, M1, and M62 motorways. So one would have thought the uncharted territory of the A66 and M6 respectively would be a welcome change as we made our way to Fleetwood, the home of The Fisherman's Friend.

The only snag was that we had done much the same journey a couple of weeks earlier on our way to Morecambe so we knew what to expect. Lesson one, on the return journey do not stop off at Kirkby Stephen for Fish and Chips. Yuk.

The first part of the journey was reminiscent of when we played Fleetwood in the cup. Fog. Fortunately by the time we arrived at Blackpool's version of Seaton Carew it had cleared.
After enjoying fish and chips with the obligatory bread and a mug of tea at the Ferry cafe on the sea front we headed back into town in search of ale and observed that like Morcambe, Fleetwood is a typical run down British seaside resort, but with trams.

I am sure much of Life on Mars was filmed here. On my last visit to the town it was shrouded in thick fog ...you could not see two feet in front of you. In hindsight that is probably the best way to view Fleetwood. In dense fog.

We parked up less than 50 yards away from the ground in almost the exact spot that I did when we came down for the cup match. I told my thirsty group that there was a good pub on the next street which was across the road from the world famous Fisherman's Friend factory. No sign of it.
I knew I was on the right street as I recalled a bloody railway line running up the middle of it!
We eventually found the pub but it had been turned into sheltered accommodation. I said it was amazing how things change in a couple of years but it was only afterwards I realised it was over 5 years since 'Pools played here last. How times flies.

We headed to the social club next to the ground. The kindly doorman (Think Max and Paddy) advised that away fans were not allowed in but Fisherman's friends were very welcome. Having told him I have no mates who catch fish or go out in trawlers he told me the Sports Bar at the other end of the stadium (he said the word 'stadium' without laughing) would let us into their drinking establishment. I then recalled that said Sports Bar had advertised on one of the Pools message boards inviting and positively encouraging any travelling Poolies to visit this drinking emporium.
"I pretty much scuppered any chance that we had of getting in when I said "Come on pet, Fleetwood haven't got ten fans""

As we made our way into this hostelry we were barred from entry by a small but stocky woman who resembled a 1970's clippie (bus conductress) and said that as it was two thirty no more away fans and only home fans were being allowed in, and that at that moment in time she could only let ten home fans in as the club was nearly full. I pretty much scuppered any chance that we had of getting in when I said "Come on pet, Fleetwood haven't got ten fans". Even some of the Fleetwood lads had a laugh at this.

Into the ground a few minutes before kick off only to be told by a friendly steward that we could get a drink in the main stand at half time. Since our last visit to Highbury, Fleetwood now have an impressive looking main stand, not that it held that many people, nor were there that many people in it, but impressive nonetheless.

The other side of the ground is really strange. they have a smallish stand which runs three quarters the length of the pitch. This stand has obviously replaced the old stand, however the old stand is still there right behind the new stand complete with roof. It looks as if the new stand is taking shelter within the old stand. Google, it dear reader.
One would have thought that by demolishing the old stand in its entirety that they could have put a bigger stand in its place. I bet the council were involved in that decision.

Game is only two minutes old and Jordan Richards puts in an awful and unnecessary tackle on Fleetwood's Jeff Hughes that not only sends the lad up in the air but also into the nearby Irish Sea.
I could not believe Colin Cooper's comments after the match saying that because the sending off was so early on in the game the ref should have shown Richards a yellow and as a result the match was spoilt as a contest. On the other hand if one of their players had committed a similar offence I am sure that the Pools management and fans alike would have been screaming for the dismissal of the offending player.

I'm sorry but I have to disagree with Cooper's remarks. If anyone spoilt the game it was Richards for his reckless tackle. Why he had to put a challenge in like that so far down the pitch was either plain stupid or lacking in experience. As for the consequences of Richards' dreadful tackle, not only did he break a bone in Hughes' leg, an injury that will keep the lad sidelined for several months, but he left Pools to play on with ten men for over ninety minutes, which was a major contribution to our losing the match. For Richards personally, it is a lesson learnt that he has let slip the chance for a run in the first team due to Michael Duckworth's injury.

Half time arrives at nil nil and I am in need of a drink so make a quick dash over to their new stand for a quick sherbet. Talk about slow in pulling a pint. Made the staff in the bars behind the Cyril Knowles look like greased lightning. In the end after 20 minutes of waiting I came away with a cup of tea.

As for the match itself, Pools' ten men bravely hung on until the 67th minute when the oak sideboard that is Jon Parkin scored. Thereafter game over. Had it not been for the sending off I am sure that we could have got something out of the game as, like many of the teams in this division, Fleetwood were nothing special.