AFC Fylde can officially announce that Andy Pilkington has stepped down from his role as manager of the club’s Development Squad with immediate effect.

Andy has decided to take a break from the rigours of football management and said of his decision: “I have enjoyed my time as the Development Squad Manger immensely and would like to thank the club for providing me with an opportunity to step up into a semi-professional environment.

“I would like to think I have played a part in raising standards below the First Team and have provided a foundation for the club moving forward.

“I genuinely believe that the youth system at the club is something to be proud of and I’m happy that I have been able to contribute to its success and I’m sure it will go from strength to strength.”

Andy took over the role three years ago and in that time has achieved a number of successes, most notably leading the Development Squad to the Lancashire Football League West Division title on the final day of last season (pictured above receiving the league trophy).

“I would like to thank everyone who has supported me throughout my three years in the role” Andy added. “Most notably Simon Hurst who has acted as DS secretary and John Fleet who has been our driver/chef/tweeter and loyal supporter.

“I’d also like to thank all the fans who have supported us at games and enquired about our progress at First Team games. It goes without saying that I would also like to thank Chally & Col for their input and support.  David, Dai and the directors and of course Mick Fuller who brought me to the club and has provided invaluable support to me in my time here.”

First Team Manager, Dave Challinor, said of Andy’s departure: “I’m disappointed that Pilks has left his role but understand his reasons for doing so. One of the big complaints when I arrived at the club three years ago was that there was no link between the Youth, Development Squad and First Team and no real pathway for young players to progress through the club.  There’s been a dramatic change in this and he has played an integral role in assuring so.

“He’ll still be involved with the Academy set up but in a capacity that has less effect on evenings and weekends. The door is never closed and he knows a role will also remain for him if he desires or changes his mind.

“In the meantime, Josh (Holland) and Wrighty (Simon Wright) have agreed to hold the fort and we will have discussions over the next week or so as to whether we promote from within or bring someone in as his replacement. Whoever does fill the role will have a group of talented, hungry young footballers with plenty of scope for improvement and with a brief of getting them into our First Team.”

Challinor finished by adding: “I’d finally like to thank Pilks for all his effort, hard work and commitment over the last three years. Not only has he been a work colleague over this time but someone I consider a friend and hopefully he’ll be seen around the ground on a regular basis.”

As mentioned above, Andy will continue to be involved in the club’s highly successful Youth and Academy set-up which has seen the likes of Aaron Fleming, Ryan Charnley, Joey Mullen, Jake Gregory and Ben Duffield, to name a few, progress and make deserved appearances for the First Team over the past two seasons.

Andy finished with the following statement: “May I finish by wishing the club and everyone involved in it every success and I for one hope they reach their target of achieving Football League status by 2022. I see no reason why they can’t.”

Josh Holland and Simon Wright will take temporary charge of the Development Squad until a permanent replacement is found, starting with tonight’s home league tie with Curzon Ashton’s reserves.