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Profile: The Cod Army

23 October 2012

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Fleetwood Town Football Club was officially established in 1997, but the club's history dates back to 1908. The original club, named Fleetwood F.C, were crowned champions of the Lancashire Combination league in the 1923/24 season and went on to register three successive Lancashire Combination cup triumphs in 1932, 1933 and 1934.

After almost 60 years as a Lancashire Combination club, they were founder members of the Northern Premier League in 1968 and finished in 10th in their inaugural season. One of several leagues beneath the old Division Four, this was considered the fifth step in the English pyramid system and the club would not surpass this level until 2010/11.

They started playing in their recognisable red shirts with white sleeves around 1919. The club’s colours were previously amber and black but changed to red and white as part of an arrangement with a trawler company. Fleetwood was a major fishing port until the Icelandic Cod Wars and EEU fishing restrictions in the 1970s. The port is now an important tourist destination in the area with a retail shopping centre, traditional market, picturesque seafront esplanade and miles of sandy beaches.

They won the Northern Premier League cup in 1971, but languished in the lower half of the table and finished bottom for two successive seasons in 1974/75 and 1975/76 before eventually folding in 1976 duet financial difficulties. The club was re-established a year later as Fleetwood Wanderers F.C and placed in Division One of the North West Counties League, which is now the tenth tier of the English pyramid system.

A sponsorship deal meant the club was immediately renamed Fleetwood Freeport F.C, before being renamed Fleetwood Town F.C after winning promotion to the Premier Division of the North West Counties League in 1999. Three years later, Tony Greenwood was appointed manager and soon after, Andy Pilley took over as chairman.

The club reached the Northern Premier League Premier Division in 2006 after successive promotions, before the Cod Army lifted the Northern Premier League Challenge Cup the following season after defeating Matlock Town 1-0. The following season, Fleetwood continued their miraculous rise by winning the Northern Premier League, gaining promotion to the Conference North.

However, after beginning the 2008/09 season poorly, Tony Greenwood was dismissed and replaced by current manager Micky Mellon, who continued in his capacity of Under-15 and Under-16s coach at Burnley. In January 2009, he was appointed full-time, becoming the first Fleetwood manager to do so and he led the club to the FA Cup second round proper for the first time, losing 3-2 at home to Hartlepool United in front of a then record crowd of 3,280.

Fleetwood eventually won promotion to the Conference in 2009/10 after beating Alfreton Town 2-1 in the play-off final, as Southport clinched the title following the demise of Farsley Athletic. In 2010/11, the club made all of its playing staff full-time professionals although club captain Jamie Milligan was forced to leave the club.

Town spent most of their first season in the Conference contesting the play-off places, before they eventually suffered an 8-1aggregate  semi-final defeat against AFC Wimbledon.  The following campaign, however, was the most successful in the club' s history when the Cod Army reached the FA Cup third round for the first time, losing 5-1 to local rivals Blackpool.

They secured promotion to the Football League for the first time after a staggering 29-game unbeaten run and clinching the title with two games remaining.  The cod Army currently occupy third place in League Two.


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