2014/15 will be Fleetwood Town’s debut season in League One, the highest in their 106 year history.Their play-off win at Wembley last year meant their promotion was their sixth in the last ten years. That’s quite some rise, storming the Football League in a similar fashion to Crawley.
Only 7.3 miles separates the town from Blackpool and the Cod Army are edging ever closer to them in the footballing pyramid as they look to complete their steep ascent to the top.
Despite being 106 years old, they were reformed as recently as 1997 and the club play their football at the Highbury Stadium, a 5,300 capacity ground, with one modernised stand which was built in 2007.
Iron fans will know the Cod Army better than others in the division, having played them in League Two home and away last season.
They helped a star rise to prominence, as Jamie Vardy fired them to Conference success into the Football League and Leicester City paid Fleetwood a club-record £1million for his services, which could potentially rise with the Foxes’ promotion to the Premier League and Vardy’s appearance count rising as his reputation in the game goes from strength to strength.
Manager: Graham Alexander
After becoming only the second outfield player in English football to reach over 1,000 professional appearances, Graham Alexander is trying out management and what a start he’s had.
The former Scottish international could play at right-back and defensive midfield throughout his career and he was well known throughout the football league for his penalty-taking ability. He scored 77 penalties in a 21-year professional career.
After coming through the academy at Scunthorpe, Alexander went on to win the Player of the Year award for the Iron aged 22.
185 of his 1000+ appearances came for the Iron, scoring 24 times in five years, from 1990 to 1995.
He swapped Lincolnshire for a four-year stint in Luton before an eight-year stay at Preston North End. Alexander swapped Deepdale for Burnley’s Turf Moor, before returning to Preston, four years later, for a season before hanging up his boots.
Voted by the fans as North End’s greatest ever right back, he had a stint as joint caretaker manager at the club before moving into the role as their Head of Youth Development.
After Micky Mellon was sacked by the Cod Army, Alexander was appointed as their new manager in December 2012 and he won promotion in his first full season as boss.
Key Player: Nathan Pond
The supporters’ Player of the Year for 2013-14, Pond stood out in a strong Cod Army squad last season. At the age of 29, he’s in the prime of his career and he’s showing exactly that, by producing a number of eye-catching performances as his side earned promotion.
He made a total 51 appearances in all competitions for the Lancashire side in defence as he showed commitment to the cause and putting his body on the line to help his side stay near the league’s summit.
He joined non-league Fleetwood eleven years ago after starting out at Lancaster City. In that time, he has made over 300 appearances for the club, with loan spells and Grimsby and Kendal Town in between.
He has experienced a few promotions in his time at the Highbury Stadium, including from the Conference into the Football League for the first time in the club’s history and then taking them to new heights by elevating to League One.
After proving popular with the fans by winning the award, he told the club’s website: ““I’m delighted to win the Supporters Player of the Season award, and I really do appreciate the support over the years. It’s been a while since I won an individual trophy, so to do it in my testimonial year is pleasing. This year has definitely been my most consistent at the club, and I’ve played a lot of games.”
The Cod Army stormed to play-off success as Wembley in 2013/14, to take them to an all-time high, as they rightfully earned their place in League One along with the Iron, Chesterfield and Rochdale in 2014/15.
It was Graham Alexander’s first full season in-charge at Highbury and his methods finally began to fit into place as he brought in his own playing staff to make a promotion charge.
They had a good start to the season, as they lost just one of their first eight league games. Consistency proved to be the winning formula, as they kept hot on the heels of the sides in the automatic promotion spot.
The Iron were unbeaten against the Cod Army, having won 1-0 on the road, with thanks to a goal from Sam Winnall, and then drawing 0-0 in front of the Sky Sports cameras at Glanford Park, as Sam Slocombe saved a penalty.
Their top scorer in 2013/14 was former Chester midfielder Antoni Sarcevic, with 14 goals, closely followed by David Ball’s tally of ten and Jamille Matt’s eight.
Their season finished with Wembley success, as Fleetwood beat Burton Albion 1-0 in the League Two play-off final, after beating Nigel Worthington’s York over two legs in the semi-final.