Rod rallies Cods

MAN OF THE MATCH: Rod Allsworth
MAN OF THE MATCH: Rod Allsworth
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Tomorrow’s home match against Wycombe Wanderers should hold few perils for a key member of the team at Fleetwood Town FC celebrating a significant milestone.

Of course, it depends on who the visitors field in midfield.

Could it be defence splitting Max Kretzschmar. Or impressive Georges Ehui? Or pacey Emmanuel Ighorae?

Wycombe have played Fleetwood 10 times. Won two, drawn two, lost six. Thrashed 2-0 for the FA Cup last November.

Odds should be stacked in Fleetwood’s favour having only had one crushing defeat in the last five matches.

Two draws away, two victories, home and away, and that blip on the Highbury landscape going down 5-2 to Port Vale.

But we’re not actually talking about what happens on the pitch tomorrow.

We’re talking about who does the talking about what happens on the pitch tomorrow.

Not the commentator, or even our own match reporter Rob Stocks, but the public address announcer Rod Allsworth who faces his 150th stint “on air” tomorrow.

Spare a thought for this unsung hero of the Cod Army – on the ball at least 45 minutes ahead of each match. He’s the chap who helps ensure fans filter through and fill that smart new stadium, errant cars are removed from blocking householders’ homes, and all the necessary health and safety announcements.

That’s before so much as a ball is kicked and he announces the teams and highlights each goal against the backcloth of the brand new big screen at Highbury Stadium. Proper league club this now, remember. Dirt track playing days long behind it. “Visiting clubs tell us facilities here are better than some of the much bigger name clubs,” Rod admits.

It’s all a far cry from where he started, in what amounted to a “hut”, his term not our’s, in the boardroom, sandwiched between VIPs and occasionally having to tell them to pipe down while he announced a goal.

He then spent a season under scaffolding in an improvised shelter – as the development of Fleetwood Town’s showcase ground went on all around.

“I missed the scaffolding when it was removed,” he admits. “I felt a bit like a bag man under there but it was home.”

Tomorrow he takes pride of place alongside the big screen broadcasting match results and other announcements at Highbury.

“I’m all kitted out, earpieces, microphone... but still out in the cold,” he admits. Generally he’s on the Press bench – handy if he needs a quick recap on what’s happened.

He adds: “I get wound up by the lads a lot – along with the fans. They see me as fair game.”

They may have some announcements of their own to mark Rod’s big 150 tomorrow.

Rod, a long time Seasiders stalwart, is now a Fleetwood fan too. “It goes with the turf.”

He’s one of the few permitted to literally call players names. He trawls through the opposition to ensure he’s word perfect. “It’s the linesmen who catch me off guard,” he adds. “I’ve come unstuck a few times with their names.”

The summer’s pre-season friendly between Blackburn Rovers and AEK Athens at Highbury held particular terrors from a side with more consonants than vowels in their names.

The titan of the PA was apprehensive whenever the Greeks were gifted a chance to score – in spite of only fielding three first team players in a youthful team. In the event he only had to credit Nikolaos Kourelas. “That was tough enough,” he concedes.

Rod also works as a disc jockey (aka Billy the Kid) on the Northern Soul trail locally and is helping organise a Gallopers Revival in memory of the old disco at Cleveleys.

Tomorrow – just after his stint as announcer at Highbury – he hosts a night of Motown and Northern Soul at the Talbot Club, Milbourne Street, Blackpool.

But footie’s his passion. Rod even carries the Gazette report penned after his match PA debut – Saturday, January 13, 2007 – when he delighted Cod Army fans by playing the Captain Pugwash theme to celebrate each goal.

“It was the first time we had done anything like that and they loved it,” he recalls.

“I felt immediately at home there and among friends. It’s a lovely club.”

He’s seen the promotion initially to Conference North, soaring attendances, the appointment of Micky Mellon as full time manager (January 2009), and Fleetwood’s most successful (2011-2012) season as they clinched promotion to the Football League for the first time.

“It’s been a roller coaster ride,” he adds.

But the last word goes to Paul Collier, Highbury stadium tour manager, who concludes: “We couldn’t ask for a better announcer. He’s a lovely unassuming but very funny guy. We all enjoy teasing him about his pronunciation of teams with lots of foreign players but he’s really professional and well liked. He’s also very easy to wind up – takes the bait every time!” or tweet her @jacquimorley