“How do you turn a big fortune into a small fortune? Buy a football club.” Is a much-used quote by the owner of AFC Fylde owner David Haythornwaite.
Last club accounts show that AFC Fylde owe £1.3 million, money basically owed to the major shareholder Haythornwaite who sponsors the club to the tune of £900,000 per season. There are 80 people on the payroll. The stadium, indeed the whole Mill Farm complex is owned by Tangerine Holdings, a company owned by the Haythornwaite family. It’s not an obvious fit for an organisation which sells animal feedstuffs.
David is the son of a farmer. Talking to the local press, he said: “I am a Blackpool fan, that’s why I named my company Tangerine. My father was a Blackpool fan. I watched them through all the years and went to Torquay on a Tuesday night, Darlington and where ever. I tried to buy the club twice. But as we all know, the Oystons wouldn’t sell.” Had that decision been different, AFC Fylde would not exist.
Fylde’s latest manager took over in November. Adam Murray (surely he’s nicknamed Minty or Mint?) is a Brummie with 13 clubs in his playing career. These range from 54 games for Derby County to turning out for Rainsworth Miners Welfare. Clearly a man who likes variety in his football life, his previous managerial role was assistant manager at Bestikas. He was no 2 both there and at the Hawthorns to Valarie Ismael. Six years have passed since he was in sole charge of a football club but so far, results are very positive for him. Adam is a family man with 4 children.
One obvious link to Edgar Street is loan striker Mo Faal, formerly a Hereford loanee with 8 goals for the Coasters already. Faal is a bit older and a bit wiser since his premature exit from Hereford. He is no doubt galvanised by his contract at his parent club running out this summer. There’s more on Faal in the latest Talking Bull (still available vis the online shop). The Coasters also have ex Bulls loaner Keenan Patten on contract until the summer with a further years’ option. However, he hasn’t played since September and only occasionally warms the bench. Generally speaking, the Coasters shop in a different supermarket. They sign the sort of players Hereford United used to recruit when in the League. Players with hundreds of EFL appearances behind them and versatile too. So many play in 3 or 4 different positions they are hard work to analyse.
The immensely talented midfielder Nick Haughton is in his fifth season with the Coasters. Just the 15 goals and a dozen assists so far. Just! He barely misses a minutes’ action, never mind missing games. I wish we had never-injured goal scorers like that but so does every other club in our League. Normally netbusters move upwards after 6-12 months productive scoring at this level.
The Coasters home record is a very solid looking. They have won 10, drawn 2, lost 2, with only Scarborough and Chorley taking away 3 points. Thanks to covid, we’ve only played one game at Mill Farm. I must confess I missed the 2-1 defeat in April 2022 so I’m eager to add another ground visited tick.
I am prepared to be impressed by Mill Farm yet at the same time wondering about the wisdom of such a large-scale project. There are 2 Championship clubs just 8 miles away from AFC. The population of Wesham where Mill Farm is based plus the outlying areas as well, only amounts to 3,500. There was evidence of some resistance from locals to such a development before the local authority gave permission. Imagine the arrival of a 6,000-capacity stadium in Bromyard or Kington for a combined new club called say Leominster Wellington FC? Ponder on that.
Average Fylde gates are 1,000 and this for a top of the table team. Being a midweek game, maybe 700 will turn up? For visitors, the admission is £12 terrace or £18 seats with curiously no mention of concessions for seniors. For any of our North-West exiles, admission for U12s is free provided you pre-book via the club shop. It’s a handy threat if Junior has misbehaved. “If you don’t stop doing that, I’ll get you a ticket to see Hereford…”.
Fylde’s biggest league gate anywhere this season was the 3,200 at Edgar Street who witnessed a Bulls victory over the Coasters. A rather pleasing 2-1 win for us against the odds, one of our best results this season. We are in the market for a double this season. Or another double as we’ve already beaten Buxton home and away. Does sound impressive…
Full-time Fylde are jostling with full-time Kings Lynn for the title. There is a school of thought that if the pair were promoted, National League North would be a more even playing field next term. Except at Leamington and Kettering. Depends on who is relegated of course (too tight to call) and its already odds on that big spending South Shields will be promoted.
Only about 350 miles return from the Shire. We’ve had worse.
Maybe the new Bulls manager will be sat in the stand? See you there?