When he was appointed as the manager of AFC Fylde back in November 2011, Dave Challinor can only have imaged the highs and the lows the AFC Fylde job would have in store for him.
From the euphoria of winning league titles, to the heart wrenching defeats in playoff finals, Challinor and Fylde have been inseparable in their climb up the football pyramid.
Almost eight years in charge of the Coasters has seen Dave Challinor and his assistant Colin Woodthorpe become club legends with what they have achieved.
Here’s a look back at their unforgettable reign.
2011-12 – Evo-Stik North: 1st (Champions)
After making the switch from Colwyn Bay to AFC Fylde, Challinor started his tenure as he meant to carry on, with a 4-0 victory over Cammell Laird.
This set the precedent for a successful season, and the Coasters went on to clinch the title against Salford City, amassing an impressive total of 99 points.
Challinor was awarded the Manager of the Year trophy, and the Coasters were promoted to the Evo-Stik Premier.
2012-13: Evo-Stik Premier: 5th (Playoffs)
In the first year competing at this level, Challinor guided his side to a fifth placed finish in the Evo-Stik Premier, with a resounding 93 goals scored in the league campaign.
Amongst these high-scoring games is a club record 10-0 win against Droylsden – where Brad Barnes netted five goals.
The Coasters missed out on promotion however, after losing to second-placed Hednesford Town in the semi-final – with only a penalty shoot-out being able to separate the two sides.
In the FA Cup, AFC Fylde reached the First Round Proper for the first time in their history, taking on League Two side Accrington Stanley at Kellamergh Park.
Despite a 4-1 defeat, the experience helped build a great platform for the Coasters to build on, as their next season would show.
2013-14: Evo-Stik Premier: 3rd (Promoted via playoffs)
With the disappointment of the playoffs put behind them, the management duo of Challinor and Woodthorpe guided the Coasters to their best season yet.
Finishing in third place on 93 points, an improvement of 18 points on the season before, Fylde once against competed in the playoffs.
This time around, AFC Fylde were promoted through the playoffs, with a Richie Allen hat-trick against Worksop Town in the semi-final seeing them through to the final.
A home final against Ashton Athletic stood between Fylde and promotion to the National League North – with the game heading to penalties.
Goalkeeper Ben Hinchcliffe stood up to take the decisive penalty, thundering it home to confirm the Coasters promotion to the sixth tier of English football.
Promotion capped off a ‘treble’ for Fylde, who had also won the Lancashire FA Challenge Cup and the Northern Premier League Challenge Cup.
2014-15 National League North: 2nd (Playoffs)
Fylde’s first season in the National League North was a memorable one, with Challinor guiding the Coasters within a whisker of the title at the first time of asking.
Danny Rowe netted 26 goals in his first season with the club, as a prolific partnership with Richie Allen saw them fire Fylde to within two points of the title.
However, Fylde narrowly missed out on the title to Barrow by just two points, before losing in the playoff semi final to the eventually promoted Guiseley.
Once again, the Coasters reached the First Round of The FA Cup – with AFC Fylde travelling to League Two side Plymouth Argyle, battling to a 2-0 defeat in front of 6,000 fans.
2015-16: National League North: 3rd (Playoffs)
The Coasters were once again in contention for promotion, with the playoffs achieved by Challinor’s side yet again.
Striker Danny Rowe continued to shine under Challinor, sharing the golden boot on 24 goals, seemingly flourishing in the attack minded side.
This time round, the Coasters went one better, beating Harrogate Town in the semi-final 2-1, but fell in extra-time to North Ferriby United to deny promotion.
The side performed memorably in The FA Cup once again, beating Barrow in the Fourth Qualifying Round to set up a high-profile clash with League One side Millwall at The Den.
2016-17: National League North: 1st (Champions)
After going close on two occasions, it was third time a charm for Challinor’s side – with the Coasters clinching promotion to the National League as champions.
It was a memorable campaign that saw the Coasters finish on 88 points, 6 clear of Kidderminster Harriers – of whom the Coasters contested one of their most memorable games.
With Matt Blinkhorn’s late, late equaliser against Kidderminster Harriers, the Coasters earned a dramatic point at Mill Farm which helped keep them ahead in the title race.
Challinor’s Fylde side secured the title away at Boston United and capped off a brilliant season which saw Danny Rowe netting a monstrous 46 goals, with the Coasters firing 109 goals in the league.
2017-18: National League: 7th (Playoffs)
The first season in non-league’s highest division was yet another remarkable one for Challinor and Fylde.
Despite a slow start, the Coasters went on a fantastic run of form, and after beating Tranmere Rovers 5-2 on New Year’s Day, made an assault on the playoffs.
The playoff position was confirmed on the last day of the regular season away to Wrexham, where a 0-0 draw was enough for Fylde to pip Dover to seventh place on goal difference.
Whilst the Coasters couldn’t overcome Boreham Wood in the Elimination Round of the playoffs, this achievement capped off a brilliant season.
Fylde also captured the imagination of the nation when they reached the FA Cup Second Round for the first time, taking on League One side Wigan Athletic.
The Coasters took Wigan to a replay after a 1-1 draw live on BBC, with the winner of the replay earning a Third Round tie against Bournemouth at home.
Despite leading late on, Fylde couldn’t do anything to stop Will Grigg striking twice to turn the tie on its head – but the Coasters side held their heads high after a memorable campaign.
2018-19: National League: 5th (Playoffs and FA Trophy Winners)
Challinor’s full final season in charge of the Coasters was one to remember, with the Coasters visiting Wembley Stadium twice in the space of eight days.
The league campaign saw Fylde compete at the top end all season long, whilst contesting in the FA Trophy.
A memorable semi-final win over Stockport County saw AFC Fylde book their place at Wembley, as Alex Reid’s 90th minute winner saw the Coasters claim a 3-2 aggregate win.
Meanwhile, Fylde’s league campaign saw them achieve fifth place in the league, with playoffs once again the order of the day.
Wins over Harrogate Town (3-1) and second placed Solihull Moors (1-0) saw AFC Fylde just one win from the Football League, booking them a second Wembley final.
A loss to Salford City in the playoff final denied them promotion, but the Coasters dusted themselves down and returned for the FA Trophy final.
Danny Rowe struck a second half free-kick to help beat Leyton Orient 1-0, with Challinor leading the Coasters to becoming the first team in history to have won both the FA Vase and the FA Trophy.