Move over Blackpool – the Cod Army is on the march. That was the message as Fleetwood woke up, still barely able to believe it could look forward to an FA Cup tie at home to neighbouring football giants Blackpool FC.
Following the team’s win at Yeovil on Tuesday night, Town chairman Andy Pilley Tweeted: “Was it all an amazing dream? No, it’s definitely happening!”
And the rest of the port was just as excited about the situation and what it could mean for Fleetwood.
The chairman of Fleetwood Chamber of Trade Derek Eaton said: “It’s brilliant for the town – it’s another major boost.
“It can only help people think in a positive manner.
“We have had so many things go against us, with the delays on the tramway works and other things, but now things are coming back together, and I think this game will put Fleetwood on the map.
“We are going somewhere.
“Blackpool has had tremendous publicity, but now its little next-door neighbour is going to get the same as well.”
The chairman of Fleetwood Town Council, Coun Alan Marsh, said: “It’s magnificent. We need good things happening in the town.
“Let’s beat Blackpool, and bring on Manchester United. Fleetwood is on a roll, and this sort of thing, like the new building that’s going on in the town, is fantastic.”
Cod Army member Steve Lynton, who runs the Granada Fish Bar on North Albert Street, said: “It’s great for the town, and it’s great for the Fylde.
“When Blackpool are away, we get a lot of Blackpool fans come to support Fleetwood, and Town supporters going to back Blackpool when they are away.
“I think it makes Fleetwood a bit more high profile and, hopefully, will encourage some youngsters to come and support Fleetwood.
“I think all the media coverage we have had from the Gazette, ESPN, Granada and the radio stations in Lancashire puts Fleetwood right on the map.
“It’s great for the town, because when people are in the area they will think about coming to Fleetwood.”
He added: “The team have already beaten two clubs from two leagues above, which is fantastic, but to face a team another league further up is going to be very, very tough.”
And from his office in Parliament, MP Eric Ollerenshaw said: “It’s fantastic news. The progress the team is making is incredible, and this is a nice Christmas present for us all.”
Among the breathless fans after the game was civil servant Rob Fail, 42, of Victoria Street, Fleetwood, who said: “It was quite a big ask, but with the way we have played away from home this season we had a chance.
“It couldn’t be better than to play Blackpool.
“We are not really known for much since the fishing industry went, so it’s nice to have something to shout about.”
Lance Stokes, 52, of The Strand, Fleetwood, added: “It brings back memories of 1980 when we played them before.
“Blackpool will start as favourites but it will be a great occasion.
“We played fantastic and it’s even better Blackpool are coming here.
“I’m sure we could fill the stadium three times over.”
Chris Marland, 43, a factory worker from Lowther Road, Fleetwood, added: “I was very nervous and I thought we had blown our chance during the last game.
“I wasn’t that optimistic about the Yeovil game, and I thought we totally outplayed them.
“It means everything to me that Blackpool will be coming here.
“It’s brilliant for Fleetwood. There are a lot of Blackpool fans living in Fleetwood and a lot of Fleetwood fans living in Blackpool, so this will bring them all together.”
Ian Hadgraft, 52, an engineer from Broadwater, Fleetwood, said: “It’s going to be great and it’s massive for the town.
“We are small fry compared to Blackpool, but at the end of the day, it’s a one-off game.”