AFC Blackpool is born

IT'S out with Blackpool Mechanics and in with AFC Blackpool.

The Common Edge part-timers will kick off the new season with a new identity after getting the go-ahead from Bloomfield Road.

The name-change hinged on Blackpool FC giving it their full blessing and the Championship club assured the Lancashire FA that they couldn't see any confusion cropping up.

Formed 60 years ago by workers at an engineering factory, Mechs put the wheels in motion to project themselves as the resort's number one club outside the Football League.

And long-serving chairman Tommy Baldwin is delighted that the Seasiders didn't throw a spanner in the works.

"I'd like to thank Blackpool's chairman Karl Oyston and his colleagues for their cooperation and we can now set off on a voyage of discovery," said Baldwin, at the helm for almost 20 years.

"People might say this is the end of an era but I regard it as a fresh start and a new challenge. I'm looking forward to taking us through the next ten years."

Formerly in the Lancashire Combination, Mechs spent virtually all the past 25 years in the bottom division of the North-West Counties League.

"What people don't see is the work going on behind the scenes. A youth set-up is coming through and we hope to establish an academy in a couple of years," added Baldwin.

Bloomfield Road secretary Matt Williams said Blackpool FC were pleased to help the Common Edge club.

"We're anxious to forge closer links with all clubs on the Fylde and hope this works out for Mechs.

"We're keen to work with all local football right down to the juniors and this is something we want to drive forward in the next 12 to 18 months.

"In the past it's been a case of us and them with the clubs but we don't want that."

Williams added: "Already we've got good relations with Fleetwood Town and AFC Fylde – Kirkham and Wesham as was – and it was great for the Fylde coast that both did so well last season.

"We hope that AFC Blackpool and Squires Gate can progress up the pyramid."

Meantime AFC Blackpool and Gate are on collision course in both the FA Vase and FA Cup as Vase winners AFC Fylde prepare for their debut in the latter competition.

South Blackpool bragging rights are definitely at stake on September 20 when the neighbouring NWCL rivals clash at Common Edge in the second qualifying round of the Vase.

Holders AFC Fylde, who went right through from the first qualifying round to Wembley in their first season, don't enter until at least the second round.

AFC Blackpool and Gate also meet at Common Edge in the FA Cup preliminary round on August 30 provided both survive the extra preliminary a fortnight earlier.

Gate entertain Biddulph Victoria from near Stoke and Mechs visit Congleton Town.

AFC Fylde's FA Cup baptism is in the extra preliminary away to Leek CSOB, whom they met last season in division two of the NWCL en route to promotion.

Victory would bring a home tie against Sheffield FC, the country's oldest club who play in the Unibond League.