Pond ready to start Seasiders rivalry

Nathan Pond
Nathan Pond
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Tomorrow’s derby date is  new  territory for the majority of the Fleetwood camp but not for Nathan Pond.

Tomorrow’s derby date is new territory for the majority of the Fleetwood camp but not for Nathan Pond.

And for good reason.

Not only is Town’s talismanic skipper the only survivor from the clubs’ last encounter – a 5-1 FA Cup thrashing nearly four years ago – but he’s also one of a handful of men to have represented Fleetwood at Bloomfield Road.

Not that either game holds particularly happy memories for the centre-half, as he was quick to point out.

“I played there against Liverpool and we lost 6-1 that day,” said Pond, who has earned the tag of ‘Mr Fleetwood Town’ after 13 seasons at Highbury.

“I’ve played there once and lost once, so hopefully we can get a better record there.”

Since the sides met in the FA Cup in January 2012, there’s been a seismic shift in the Fylde football landscape – Town’s rise matched by Blackpool’s decline.

“I’d have laughed at the idea of this when I first joined,” said Pond.

“I probably would have done after the FA Cup third round game. They’d just come out of the Premier League and we were Conference at the time.

“It was a 5-1 beating – hopefully we’ll give them a bit of payback. We’ve no fear and we’re confident in ourselves.

“That day they had Tom Ince, Matt Phillips up front and Lua-Lua. They’ve not got that sort of quality now.

“I don’t think it will be a 5-1 scoreline, but they’ve not scored in six and hopefully we can keep that going.”

Fleetwood have never found themselves short of local rivals, sparring in recent years with the likes of Southport, Morecambe and Accrington. But Pond is hoping this derby date isn’t a one-off.

“I wouldn’t say they’re our arch-rivals,” he said. “We’re certainly local rivals but there’s not a lot of history playing each other.

“It’s not got to that stage yet, but now we’re in the same tier – let the rivalry begin.”

Being Preston-born (but not a North End fan) adds extra spice to the occasion for the Fleetwood skipper, but he made it clear he’s only representing one set of supporters when Saturday comes.

“Since they got relegated last year, we’ve been looking forward to this.

“When the fixtures came out it was the first team we looked for.

“It’s a local derby. I’m sure the fans can’t wait – the players can’t either.”

“Being from Preston I’ve grown up around certain opinions of Blackpool.

“But I’m not representing Preston – I’m representing Fleetwood Town. I’m proud to do that on Saturday.

“Hopefully we can take the three points from them.”

Fleetwood are expected to take as many as 2,000 supporters to Bloomfield Road.

And, having warmed them up with back-to-back home victories, Pond is hoping to hear the Fleetwood faithful make Bloomfield Road their own.

“Taking that many fans can make a difference,” he said.

“All the away fans, especially when you get off the coach and see them there, give the lads a boost.

“It will hopefully be 2,000- plus on Saturday – an away game just down the road.

“It will be an amazing boost for the lads.”

Blackpool fans had planned to protest ahead of the game, continuing their campaign against the Oyston family’s ownership.

Those events have been cancelled but supporters are still expected to gather both on the Promenade and around the ground.

Pond refused to get drawn into such matters but called on Fleetwood’s own fans to hold their heads high and do the club proud.

“I’ve not got a message for Blackpool fans – it’s none of my business,” he said.

“Obviously Fleetwood fans will come in their numbers and they’ve got to behave themselves, enjoy the game and hopefully go home smiling.”