The ups and the downs; the good and the bad; a rainy Kellamergh Park or a sunny Mill Farm – we want to hear about those moments you cherish.
In episode three of ‘My View From The Terrace’, devoted AFC Fylde supporter and match commentator Jack Connor, shares his all-time favourite AFC Fylde XI from his time following the Coasters home and away.
My Ultimate Coasters XI – Jack Connor
In my 13 years of following AFC Fylde, both as a fan and as part of the club’s media team, I’ve been fortunate to see many terrific (and some not so) players don the white shirt and produce moments of pure magic that I’m still in awe of years later. Our press officer, Joe, kindly asked if I would come up with my ultimate AFC Fylde XI during this time, and I was only to happy to oblige.
Pretty straight-forward. The system played almost solely under the stewardship of Dave Challinor and Jim Bentley for the last decade.
Goalkeeper: Jay Lynch (2017-2019)
Signing in the summer before the Coasters would compete in the Vanarama National League for the first time, Jay came in from Salford City initially as second choice behind Rhys Taylor. Jay got his chance in a 2-2 draw at Eastleigh in the September and never lost his place until he left after the end of the 2018-19 season. He was only with the club for two years but in that time he became a fan favourite, a specialist in saving penalties and pulled off some of the most incredible saves you’ll ever see in professional football, ones away at Dover and at home to Maidstone stand out amongst others.
Right Back: Luke Burke (2017 – Present)
This was a very close one between Burkey and Caspar Hughes however I’ve gone with Burkey as he’s developed a lot since coming to the club on loan initially and I think we’re still some way from seeing his peak. An excellent crosser of the ball, willing to get forward at every opportunity and has come on leaps and bounds with his defensive work in the last couple of seasons, Burkey has been right up there in the fans voting for player of the season over recent years. I don’t think anyone will be forgetting that goal against Harrogate for a while either!
Centre Back: Tom Hannigan (2014-2016)
In my eyes the best centre half the club has ever seen, it was a real shame that Tom couldnt stay on with the club when we became full time professionals in 2016. He was a really calming influence on the rest of the squad, a real leader despite being one of the quietest and introvert people I’ve known. Despite that he had the full respect of every single one of his team mates and it’s no surprise that our defensive record particularly in the 2014-15 season was superb. He knew exactly when to time a challenge, his positioning was excellent and he came good with a few goals from set pieces. It’s no surprise at all to me that he’s gone on to be promoted twice since moving to Altrincham.
Centre Back: Josh Langley (2014-2018)
Next to Tom I’ve gone for his centre back partner Josh Langley. For me the most naturally talented centre half I’ve seen at the club. You could tell straight away that he’d been coached to a really high standard during his time at Wigan and that he’d taken a few things on board from his dad Kevin (a former First Division champion with Everton) who used to travel with the fans to the majority of away matches during his time with the club. He just oozed class. The relationship between Tom and Josh was ideal as he learnt a lot from the more experienced Hannigan and they just had a natural chemistry and understanding alongside one another. It’s a shame that Josh’s time with the club came to an end in the way it did, never really recovering from a serious injury suffered in a home game against Maidenhead at the start of the 2017-18 season.
Left Back: Zaine Francis Angol (2017-2019)
Another really close call between Zaine and long serving left back Adam Sumner but again I went for Zaine just because I feel he performed at a higher standard. ZFA was signed with Jordan Tunnicliffe and Josh Ezewele from Kidderminster Harriers in preparation for the 2017-18 season and instantly became a fan favourite with his powerful runs down the left flank and excellent link up play with the likes of Jonny Smith and Joe Cardle. His trademark give and go whilst running into the box saw him rack up plenty of assists over his two seasons at Fylde but only found the net himself twice, both at Mill Farm against Eastleigh and in the memorable 5-2 win over Tranmere.
Holding Midfielder: Brad Barnes (2012-2016)
Is my hair alright lads? The question we’d usually get from Brad before doing an interview after the game. A typical cocky Manchester lad with an eye for the pinged diagonal pass to the wings, Brad was a real leader and no matter what the result or score would always show his appreciation to the fans spending time chatting and sometimes drinking with them whether it was a home game or away, something that really stuck with a lot who remember him five years after his departure. Know best by most for his five goal haul in the 10-0 away win at Droylsden in 2013, he was another that left in the wake of the play-off final defeat to North Ferriby in 2016.
Central Midfield: Joe Booth (2008-2015)
If there was a Mount Rushmore of AFC Fylde I’ve no doubt that Boothy’s face would be on there. One of the big heroes of the club during the initial rise up the non league ladder, Booth spent seven years at Kellamergh Park racking up 326 appearances (still a club record) and scoring 78 goals in the process, a total bettered only by Danny Rowe and Richie Allen. He was a bit of a dead ball specialist, scoring several superb free kicks over the years and could also split defences open with an excellent range of passing. He’s since gone on to have successful spells with Bamber Bridge and Squires Gate.
Central Midfield: Andy Bond (2016-2019)
The minute we signed Bondy in the summer of 2016 I knew we had an absolute gem. He’d had a successful spell with Barrow in the top two tiers of non league football and had spent the majority of the previous six years playing in the lower two divisions of the football league. Still only 30, Bondy was able to give us three years of superb and consistent service, forming an excellent partnership with Sam Finley and later Ryan Croasdale. You knew you could rely on Bond in the big games when it really mattered and with 17 goals over 3 seasons he chipped in going forward despite often being used as a holding midfielder or sometimes filling in across the back four. That completely intentional goal against Solihull will live long in the memory for everyone who was there that night.
Right Wing: Richie Allen (Various spells, I don’t think even he knows)
If I had to be put on the spot and name the most naturally gifted player I’ve ever seen in my 13 years of following AFC Fylde it would be Richie Allen without a moment’s hesitation, and I’d imagine it would be the same for many of those who have followed the club since the days in the Evo Stik leagues and even further back. A real enigmatic talent, Richie could infuriate you for 89 minutes and then produce a moment of magic which reminded you why he was so loved at Fylde. He’d think nothing of taking on five or six players before cutting onto his left and curling a beauty into the top corner from 30 yards out. Like Bond before, Richie was a big game player who thrived on being the centre of attention, as he’s shown at both Fylde and later Salford City. His finest game in a Fylde shirt in my opinion came in a 6-2 win over Colwyn Bay, where Richie scored a six minute hat-trick in one of the most ridiculous starts to a game I’ve ever seen. His third from the spot made it 4-1 after just 11 minutes! In all Richie scored 119 goals for the Coasters, a record which would stand until Danny Rowe surpassed his total in August 2017.
Left Wing: Jack Muldoon (2017-2018)
Maybe a controversial pick as many will have said Michael Barnes, but I just loved watching Jack play. Signed from Lincoln City where he had just won the National League title, Jack was another like Andy Bond who was a guaranteed success at Fylde. His rapid turn of pace, eye for goal and tireless work rate made him a definite fans favourite in a team already full of fans favourites. He was extremely versatile, able to play on both sides as well as through the middle, he really complimented the likes of Danny Rowe and Jonny Smith and it’s no surprise that once we gelled as a team we were almost unstoppable in the second half of the 2017-18 season. Jack was another big game player emphasised by his memorable goals in the 6-0 win over Macclesfield, the 5-2 win over Tranmere and the 7-1 demolition of Aldershot all in the space of three months.
Striker: Danny Rowe (2014-2020)
I’ll always loved Blinks for those goals against Kidderminster and Bradford PA, but come on. It wasn’t going to be anyone else was it?
As signings go bringing Danny Rowe in the day before the start of the 2014-15 season has to be seen as one of the best in English football over the last decade or so. His incredible calm under pressure, anticipation and frankly ridiculous shot power saw him chalk up 192 goals in 293 appearances for the Coasters in five and a half years. I’m not sure we’ll ever see a player in the professional ranks of British football have a season quite like the one Rowey had in 2016-17, scoring 50 goals in all competitions and setting up plenty more as Fylde won the National League North title. If I were to talk about his memorable goals I’d probably miss the start of the season in August, but the crowning glory has to be that famous free kick in the FA Trophy final in 2019.
Who put the ball in the Orient net! Danny Danny Rowe!!
Ben Hinchliffe (2012-2016) – A reliable and popular keeper during the Kellamergh Park era, It’s been no surprise that Ben has gone on to have a very successful spell with Stockport County since leaving the Coasters
Jordan Tunnicliffe (2017-2019) – A true warrior who formed a superb partnership with Neill Byrne, Tunny will always be remembered for that heroic performance away at Solihull Moors in the play-off semi final. He channeled his inner Terry Butcher that day and looked like he’d been on the set of a war film by the end. Smashing it at Crawley, scoring against Leeds in the FA Cup and recently being named in the League Two Team of the Season
Adam Sumner (2011-2016) – First signing of the Dave Challinor era at Fylde, Adam was never less than a 7/10 every game and was one of the best crossers of a ball I’ve seen in non league. Former a great understanding with Danny Lloyd down that left side. A big part of the club’s rise in the early 2010’s, Sumner made over 200 appearances in a Coasters shirt.
Sam Finley (2015-2018) – A Paul Gascoigne-esque player who would grab a game by the scruff of the neck and produce moments of magic at the drop of a hat. Sam’s temper sometimes got the better of him and he received his fair share of suspensions, however the fans will remember him most for his incredible long range goals, including strikes against Harrogate Town, Darlington and Aldershot Town. Sam is another now plying his trade in the Football League at the Coasters’ neighbours Fleetwood Town.
Nick Haughton (2018-Present) – Arguably the talisman of the current Fylde team, Nick has really established himself as a star player after an initial slow start. One of the best on the ball I’ve seen at the club, he will take on defenders for fun and leave them for dead with his quick feet and change of direction. Perhaps his best performance in a Coasters shirt to date came in the FA Trophy game away at Dorking Wanderers where he scored two goals en route to a 4-2 win, the first of which a superb free kick from almost 30 yards.
Jonny Smith (2017-2018) – Like Jack Muldoon, Jonny was a one season wonder with the Coasters but what a season it was. He made an immediate impact scoring a superb equalising goal on the opening day of the season against Boreham Wood and would improve with almost every game. His most memorable moment for Fylde would probably be his superb solo goal against Kidderminster Harriers in the FA Cup. Jonny is another who has forged a successful career for himself in the EFL, currently starring in League One for Burton Albion under Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.
Matthew Blinkhorn (2013-2018) – For the Kidderminster and Bradford goals alone he has to be here. Matty signed in 2013 after a season at Hyde and went on to score more than 20 goals in his first season for the club. The goals dried up somewhat after that but he could always be counted on to come up good in high pressure situations. He was a popular figure with the fans and would stay and have a chat and a drink with them after the games, I can imagine he had no shortage of offers to buy him a pint after those two 97th minute equalising goals I mentioned earlier. I’ve still never quite seen scenes at Mill Farm like that day against Kidderminster. They will stay with me forever.