WHEN Vanda Picton first started supporting AFC Fylde, spectators had to muck in cleaning up the pitch before kick-off.
So she can hardly believe it that her beloved team is now part of one of football’s most famous competitions – about to play a tie in the FA Cup ‘proper.’
For after battling their way through the qualifying rounds, the club, formerly known as Kirkham and Wesham, will face Accrington Stanley for a place in the second round.
Vanda, from Kirkham, who declines to give her age other than to admit she is a pensioner, has supported the team through thick and thin for 34 years.
She said: “I remember the days when it was one man and his dog watching. We had to help clean up the pitch before the game, and then we’d put on pie and peas at half time.
“So to see the progress that has been made is wonderful, and we have a fantastic manager in Dave Challinor.
“I think the team can get through another round - they are playing so well at the moment.” At the other end of the scale, eight-year-old Harry Coyne, who goes to games with his dad Andy from Warton, is a relatively new fan.
Harry said: “If we can get through a couple of rounds, it would be great to see a team like Chelsea come here.”
It is a dream shared by many fans, for who the last memorable moment was when the team won the FA Vase in 2008 at Wembley.
David Tucker, 43, from Kirkham, said: “The club is ambitious. They are trying to get more people in and success like this raises the finances, and the general profile, of the club.
“I think we can win the game, and then we are only one game from the Uniteds and Chelseas of this world.”
Kenneth Berry, 76, from Freckleton, said: “I’ve been watching them for 15 years and as well as doing well in the cup, I think we can get promotion this year.”
Derick Fisher, from Kirkham, added: “I used to play for them when I was a lad and I’ve been watching for eight years.
“In my day we used to have to wash our own strips which they don’t have to do now, and the ground is a lot better.
Dave Pack 52, from Wesham, said: “It’s awesome what is happening here. I say – bring it on. It’s good for the club and the community.”