Pilley: We’re breaking down barriers

Stephen Dobbie celebrates his equaliser against Bristol City
Stephen Dobbie celebrates his equaliser against Bristol City
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The future for Fleetwood Town is whatever the club want to make it, insists chairman Andy Pilley.

And although the energy entrepreneur has his eyes set on Championship football at Highbury, he’s loving life in League One – making it clear the club were ‘breaking down barriers’ merely with their presence in the third tier.

“You’ve got to look at the next three or four games, “ said Pilley.

“Sheffield United, Coventry, Bradford.

“These are clubs who have been in the Premier League.

“They are clubs with fantastic history.

“Fleetwood does have a history but not at this level.

“We’re constantly breaking down barriers and creating our own history.

“But the mention of those names shows how difficult it is to lock horns with teams at this level.”

Fleetwood’s fans have got used to success, the club managing six promotions in 10 seasons to reach League One.

Pilley knows from here on in things are going to be much tougher, insisting progress at Highbury now can’t be measured merely in league position.

“The supporters have to be patient, they’ve got to be realistic,” the chairman told The Gazette.

“We can’t win leagues every year, we can’t win promotions every year.

“The vast majority are very intelligent, they know their football.

“They know progress this year will be finishing in a healthy position in the league and seeing the club in a good position to progress again next year.”

But the Fleetwood chairman remains a man with big dreams for the club he’s guided from the North West Counties league to Wembley and beyond.

“The future is whatever we decide we want it to be, whatever we make it,” he said.

“We’ve got a really really good group of people who are committed and pull in the same direction.

“I like to think good things come to those people who deserve it, who work hard.

“If we all pull in the same direction and invest to a degree I’m convinced we can be a top English football club.

“I can’t wait to see that.”

And he is still hopeful the club can make the step up to join the ranks of the Championship - rubbing shoulders with some real giants of the game. I’d like to see, in five years’ time, a club in the Championship, ideally.

“But if we’re a well-run League One club I won’t be disappointed.

“We’ve just got to keep pushing on, on and off the pitch, grow our fanbase, grow the infrastructure at the club and take things as far as we can.”

Such dreams can wait and Pilley, like many Fleetwood fans, is right now content to enjoy the adventure of a first season in League One.

He said: “It’s been as eventful as ever, there’s lots going on, it’s incredibly exciting going into a new division.

“With a lot of the stadiums we’re going to, the illustrious opponents, it’s real pinch yourself to see if it’s true territory.

“We made a fantastic start, we hit the heady heights of the top of the league.

“Unfortunately we’re not still there but we’re doing OK, we’re sitting a healthy 11th, there’s all to play or and hopefully we can build on that position in the second half of the season.”

And he knows Town could have been in a higher position, given the fine lines involved in many of their games.

“I don’t think I’ve ever known a season when each and every game has been so close,” Pilley said.

“I don’t think we’ve lost by more than one goal and I think on only two occasions we’ve won by more than one goal.

“Every single occasion has gone down to pretty much the last kick.

“It makes it very exciting, not so good for the nerves but certainly entertaining.”

No game illustrates the task facing Fleetwood more than the 3-2 defeat against Preston, a game Town were leading 2-0 at the break.

Pilley admits the first half was a real highlight, but he enjoyed a battling home point and a youth victory more.

“I enjoyed the first 15 minutes at Deepdale, that was fantastic,” he said.

“Not sure after that. There have been some great games.

“I think about the one against Bristol CIty, a fantastic game of football and one of the best I’ve seen.

“To come back and get a 3-3 draw was fantastic.

“Bristol City were a special team who I have no doubt will go on to get promoted.

“I’m very proud of our team who have gone out and competed against all of these teams. There’s nobody who has brushed us aside.

“The youth teams have done really well too, beating Sheffield United, through to play Sunderland in the next round.

“That reflects well.”