AFC Fylde supremo David Haythornthwaite praises ex-Manchester United man and Salford City co-owner Gary Neville for his approach to ownership

David Haythornthwaite and Dave Challinor
David Haythornthwaite and Dave Challinor

He is one of the ‘Class of 92’ trying to dent David Haythornthwaite’s Football League dream, but the AFC Fylde supremo was full of praise for ex-Manchester United hero Gary Neville for his approach to ownership.

Neville, his brother Phil, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and David Beckham are members of United’s ‘Class of 92’, players in a famed youth side who went on to win titles under Sir Alex Ferguson in the 1990s and 2000s.
The six players named above are all part-owners of Fylde’s National League play-off final opponents Salford City, along with Singapore businessman Peter Lim.
Haythornthwaite joked that his daughter just wanted to know whether Beckham would be in the Royal Box tomorrow.
But the Coasters chief also stressed his admiration for Gary Neville, and not just because of the former right-back’s punditry and knowledge of the game.
On taking over at Salford in 2014, Neville sought Haythornthwaite out at Kellamergh Park to ask how he orchestrated Fylde’s rise through the leagues.
Back then Salford were in the Northern Premier League’s second tier but on Saturday they share the stage with the Coasters to determine which club rises into the Football League first.
While Haythornthwaite stressed Salford have three times his budget, the man whose side are now just one win from the Football League could not hide his respect for Gary Neville.
He said: “We had a bit of banter. He’s a fantastic guy and he’s exactly the same on television as he is in person.
“Not many know this, but when he took over at Salford I got a call asking if he could come down to Fylde because he had been told we were the club he should follow.
“He spent two hours with me and Kellamergh Park and what impressed me most was that he just asked questions.
“He didn’t talk about Gary Neville or Manchester United – he just wanted to learn and get knowledge. We’ve kept in contact and we had a bit of banter.
“I asked if he was going in the Royal Box and told him my daughter wants to know if David Beckham will be there – that was the important question.”
For Haythornthwaite, though, the winner must be football and he says he will not be nervous as he watches his men grace hallowed turf.
For Haythornthwaite, it will be a delight to see Challinor’s men play their attacking brand of football on a carpet like Wembley.
He said: “I’ve watched a lot of football games – England v Germany in the World Cup...
“I’ve been on some terrible games. Being a Blackpool fan I was pretty successful watching them in the play-offs, especially Cardiff. I went four or five times in various cups and won every time.
“The most important thing for me is that football wins. I said that against Solihull.
“At Wembley, if we turn up the pitch suits the way we play. We always have a way of playing football the way it is supposed to be played. We pass it and have skilful players.
“Wembley is the best place. We went to Salford and they did not cut the grass. That happens to us a lot. They do not water the pitch but they cannot do that at Wembley. There are no excuses.
“It suits an attacking side. They cannot bring in the touchlines and it is a perfect stage. If we play like we can, we could win that game.
“But Wembley is more about your head than your legs. It is about whether you can turn up and perform on the big stage.
“That is how you find out how good a club is and how good the individuals are.
“I’ve seen people freeze. I think we will be well prepared but Salford are a good side. They have a lot of experience and they beat us at Mill Farm early in the season.
“I said then, ‘They will win the league by a mile’. But they changed their style and we went there and beat them.
“They were the better side here, we were the better side there.
“To me it is about who turns up. If we turn up we win the game.”