Fleetwood have a long and eventful history which dates back to 1908 when the original club was formed.
There have been many highs and lows for the Cod Army over the years from promotion and cup success to liquidation and reformation.
Town have been based at Highbury Stadium for almost 70 years having previously played at two other locations. The original team played on a pitch next to the North Euston Hotel, where the police station now stands.
And apart from two years after World War I when the club played on a temporary ground behind the Queen’s Hotel on Poulton Road, they remained at the Euston ground until moving to the present ground in 1934.
They started playing in their recognisable red shirts with white sleeves around 1919. The club’s colours were previously amber and black (pictured below) but changed to red and white as part of an arrangement with a trawler company whose own corporate colours were red and white.
Fleetwood was a major fishing port until the Icelandic Cod Wars and EEU fishing restrictions in the 1970′s. The port is now an important tourist destination in the area with a retail shopping centre, traditional market, picturesque seafront esplanade and miles of sandy beaches.
The current club was originally the brainchild of former Chairman Jim Betmead who, along with a number of other local people, set about clearing a disused Highbury Stadium, the home of previous clubs Fleetwood FC and Fleetwood Town.
The task was enormous. In fact the ground looked just like a bombsite with almost all facilities vandalised. In a very short period of time the perseverance and commitment of the volunteers delivered a minor miracle and an amazed North West Counties Football League grading committee recommended the club for membership at the Leagues’ AGM in June 1997 as Fleetwood Wanderers.
Fleetwood were duly accepted but before a ball was kicked in earnest, the club was celebrating the successful signing of a huge sponsorship deal, resulting in a quick change of name to Fleetwood Freeport FC.
Looking back, it has to be said that the town of Fleetwood has endured a chequered football history. The first representative side emerged in the mid 1880’s but the original Fleetwood FC did not come into existence until 1908. Just 5 years later they lifted the coveted Lancashire Junior Cup for the first time and in 1923/24 they were crowned Lancashire Combination Champions for the only time in their history.
Arguably the best spell came in the early 1930’s when Fleetwood won the Combination Cup three years in succession and were league runner’s up twice. After that tremendous period, the club fell on hard times but they still remained prominent enough in the mid 1960’s to become founder members of the Northern Premier League in 1968. In the third season of the new competition they lifted the NPL Cup by defeating Macclesfield in the Final.
But in 1976, after several rocky years, Fleetwood were finally forced into extinction; the victim of a winding up petition served by the Inland Revenue. A year later Fleetwood Town FC was formed, carrying all before them in their inaugural season, prompting a move into the Cheshire League.
In 1980 the club reached the First Round of the FA Cup where they met Fylde neighbours Blackpool. The Seasiders triumphed 4-0 but the glory belonged to Fleetwood.
On the formation of the North West Counties Football League in 1982, Fleetwood Town were placed in Division Two despite having previously been a member of the top division of the Cheshire League. At their second attempt, Fleetwood were crowned Second Division Champions and earned promotion to the top Division.
A year later, Town enjoyed their greatest day ever when they reached the Final of the FA Vase. Sadly, the fairytale ended in defeat as Fleetwood lost the Wembley final against Halesowen; Norman Moran scoring Fleetwood’s goal in a 3-1 defeat watched by a crowd of 16,715.
In 1987 Fleetwood joined the exodus of NWCFL clubs to form the new First Division of the Northern Premier League, winning the title in the very first season. Promotion to the Premier Division saw them compete favourably when they finished fourth in season 1990/91. However, the joy was short-lived and after a period of severe instability the club again folded in ignominious fashion in 1996.
A new club was formed in 1997 and during their second year of existence, season 1998/99, Fleetwood once again found themselves on the trophy trail when they clinched a magnificent North West Counties League and Cup double; earning promotion to Division One as a result. The following two seasons saw Fleetwood finishing 7th and 5th, respectively, in the North West Counties Football League First Division under the management of Mick Hoyle.
Season 2001/02 was a traumatic campaign for the club both on and off the pitch but after a late revival Fleetwood finally finished in a respectable 14th position. Betmead resigned as chairman, and ownership of the club transferred to former manager Mick Hoyle whose departure in the build up to the 2001/02 campaign had been the catalyst for the turmoil which followed.
On the up
In July 2002, Fleetwood Freeport reverted to the club’s former title of Fleetwood Town after the 5-year sponsorship deal with Freeport PLC ceased. The 2002/03 season that followed saw further mid table mediocrity but the club’s fortunes improved immeasurably when, firstly, Tony Greenwood was appointed as manager and then a few months later Hoyle stood down as chairman/owner to be replaced by Andy Pilley.
With the long serving Phil Brown and Kevin Pennington alongside him, Pilley inspired a dramatic and immediate transformation in the club’s fortunes. Greenwood was working his magic on the football side and after a third place finish in season 2003/04, only a failed ground grading denied Fleetwood promotion to the UniBond Northern Premier League First Division. Fleetwood finally made it to the UniBond League by winning the North West Counties Division One title in record winning style during season 2004/05.
Twelve months on, Town were celebrating back-to-back promotions when a sensational 5-1 victory over Brigg Town on the final day of the season saw them pip Kendal Town for second place and automatic promotion to the UniBond League Premier Division.
Season 2006/07 saw Town just fail to make the UniBond Premier Division play offs. The cups brought huge consolation though with a League Cup Final triumph over Matlock Town and an exciting run to the first round proper of the FA Cup the highlights. Off the field, Fleetwood opened the new £250,000 Percy Ronson stand and begin season 2007/08 hopeful of another fruitful campaign.
The UniBond Premier Division title and promotion to the Blue Square North was added to Fleetwood’s list of honours in 2007/08. Having tracked Witton Albion all season Town moved to top spot after winning their penultimate game away at Leek 2-1. The solitary Leek effort was the first goal Town had conceded in eight successive away games. That set up a final day drama with Fleetwood and Albion both at home to Frickley Athletic and Workshop Town respectively. Town gave Witton the chance they needed when held to a draw in front of almost 2,700 fans but Witton failed in their promotion bid with a 3-0 home defeat to suffer final day disappointment for the second time in twelve months.
So the Cod Army made it three promotions in just four years with 91 points from 40 league games. A £1million re-development at Highbury Stadium followed as Town took prepared for Blue Square North football in 2008/09.
But after a poor start to the campaign, manager Tony Greenwood left the club after nine league games and five points. His management team of Nigel Greenwood and Andy Whittaker also departed. Steve Macauley was named caretaker manager and took charge of one league game. Reserves manager, Steve Edwards, assisted Macauley.
Micky Mellon was appointed first team manager on 23rd September. Mellon, former player with West Brom, Blackpool and Tranmere Rovers, appointed Steve Macauley to the back room staff. Eric Nixon was appointed goalkeeping coach in October 2008.
Town finished eight place in the Blue Square North in 2009/10 and enjoyed an FA Cup run which came to an end at home to Hartlepool United in the Second Round in November 2009.
Micky Mellon steered his 2009/10 side to a second spot finish and promotion to the Conference National by beating Alfreton Town in the Blue Square North play-off final. Adam Warlow was named the Blue Square North Player of the Season. Town progressed to an FA Cup Second Round only to find themsleves narrowly defeated at League Two Northampton Town.
A fifth place finish and play-off semi-fianl spot in the Blue Square Bet Premier marked the club’s first season in the top level of non-league football.
Fleetwood Town were crowned champions of the Football Conference following the 2011-12 season. The club will take its place in the Football League for the first time in 2012-13.
Leading scorer Jamie Vardy, with 34 goals in 247 days at Highhbury, became the record non-league transfer signing when he joined Leicester City in May 2012.
Fleetwood Town announced on 1st December 2012 that manager Micky Mellon’s contract was terminated with immediate effect.
The club placed on record their sincere appreciation for what he achieved during his time with the club.