Fylde Women: The team that rose again now flying high
The second lockdown has stopped many a football team in its tracks, but it’s been particularly tough on Fylde Women to be grounded after their flying start.
The newlook team now based at Kellamergh Park in Wesham has defied the odds to win five of their first seven games, losing only once.
That has left them second in the FA Women’s National League Northern Premier Division, the third tier of the English game and the highest level to be affected by the four-week shutdown.
Fylde may lose some momentum during lockdown but they are still bursting with pride at their sensational start.
The team briefly went out of existence over the summer, a victim of AFC Fylde’s need to cut costs, only to be resurrected under the new management team of Kim Turner and Danielle Young, who assembled a squad in double-quick time for a demanding season.
First-time manager Kim, the former Northern Ireland midfielder whose clubs include Manchester City and Blackpool Rovers, told The Gazette: “Lockdown is really tough because we had momentum. We had a plan and this has messed it all up but I’m so proud of the girls and how well they’ve adapted.
“Three or four months ago we didn’t have a team. We’ve come back with a new management team, a new framework and they’ve gone out and played great football, and all through a global pandemic.
“They have shown an amazing attitude and resilience, and when you have that in your locker you don’t want to disband like we’ve had to.”
However, the team have remained very much in contact as Kim explained: “The girls have a three-week lockdown programme and have been supplied with all the tools they need.
“They have two weekly check-in sessions on Zoom and a four-day training programme each week.”
Even so, the scheduled return to action on December 6 would be a big ask, with lockdown due to end only four days earlier.
“We’d only have time for one proper session, so hopefully the restart will be put back until the 13th,” Turner explained. “Then we could play twice before Christmas and catch up on fixtures in January, when the league left some gaps in the schedule anyway.”
Now 35, Turner hung up her boots two seasons ago but co-manager Young remains on the playing roster and the duo are complementing each other well.
“I oversee everything on the pitch and Dan looks after everything off it,” Kim added. “We have two other coaches and the four of us have an open forum. We bounce ideas off each other and test each other’s skills.”
And none of them could have imagined how quickly everything would come together on and off the field.
“We couldn’t have expected such a good start,” said Turner. “We’ve got girls who have had ups and downs but we’ve brought them together and have given them a structure.
“It’s a bunch who enjoy being together and our framework is about managing people first and foremost more than managing football.
“If you’d told me we would be in the top three at this stage I’d have been delighted but to be second – and we were top until just before lockdown, when our game was postponed – is just incredible.
“The next big challenge is to pick up again after lockdown but everyone is enjoying it so much that hopefully we can do it.”