The rise of AFC Fylde has been dramatic to say the least, less than 10-years ago the Coasters were playing North West Counties Football, as well as winning the FA Vase in 2008.
An unbelievable raise up the Non-league pyramid to step two has followed and come Saturday evening, they could be on their way to the Vanarama National League.
AFC Fylde make the trip to North Ferriby United in the National League North Promotion Final.
Top scorer for Fylde, Danny Rowe knows what is at stake for the Lancashire side.
He said: “Obviously it’s going to be a great occasion and if we win it that would be brilliant.
“They did beat us home and away in the league this season. Also, the tie is away at North Ferriby United.
“But this game is a one-off match and you have got to be at your best on the day to win the match and go up. We all know that it’s a one off game and so do the North Ferriby lads. As I say we have all got to be at our best to win the game.”
Promotion would also mean trips to a number of former Football League clubs, something that must have seemed unimaginable at some points in their recent history.
Rowe and his teammates will be coming up against the likes of Wrexham, York City and Tranmere Rovers should they win at the Eon Visual Media Stadium on Saturday.
Rowe said: “If we were to go up it would be fantastic.
“The National League has some great teams in the league like Wrexham and Tranmere Rovers.
“They have some fantastic facilities, but it’s not just that, the standard of football in general also goes up.”
Fylde have had a fantastic season not only making Saturday’s final. But also making the last 16 of the FA Trophy, losing 1-0 to Gateshead and reaching the 1st round proper of the FA Emirates Cup where they visited for former finalists Millwall.
But Rowe believes that some might see this season as a failure if they don’t win promotion on Saturday.
He said: “It has been a great season, but the main aim at the start of the season was promotion and let’s says we didn’t get promoted people might look and say it hasn’t been a good season. When in reality we have got to the last 16 of the FA Trophy and 1st round proper of the FA Cup.”
In the semi-finals, AFC Fylde knocked out Harrogate Town winning 2-1 on aggregate. Winning 1-0 away in midweek before drawing 1-1 in the final ever game to be played at Kellamergh Park.
It may be Fylde’s final game at Kellamergh Park and Coasters will no doubt that many fond memories. But Sam Finley may have written his name into Fylde folk law with his goal.
Speaking about the goal Rowe said: “It was a fantastic goal from Sam [Finley] I was pleased for him and he couldn’t have hit it any better.
“Also, it was in a big game against Harrogate Town in a semi-final in the last game at Kellamergh Park. It could only be bigger and more important if he was to do it on Saturday in the Play-Off final that would be fantastic.”
Promotion will put Fylde, who are moving to their new Mill Farm ground this year, just one league outside the Football League, a dream that many at Fylde share.
Chairman David Haythornwaite has targeted 2022 as the year they will be a Football League outfit.
Rowe said: “It would be fantastic for not just the players. But the whole club, the chairman, the manager and everyone else.
“If we were to get into the National League Premier then we would be one step off the Football League and that would be fantastic. It’s where the chairman would love us to be one day. But it’s not going to happen overnight, we know that and the chairman knows that.”
The National League North Promotion final between North Ferriby United and AFC Fylde takes places on Saturday 14 May. Kick off at the Eon Visual Media Stadium is 3pm. Admission prices are £12 Adults, Seniors £6 and Under 16s free.
Interview: Rich Scott (@richscottmedia)
Image: Steve McLellan