News   |    October 4th, 2021


I was at Fleetwood on Saturday. When you arrive and park in the 1930s housing estate near the ground, it feels like how football used to be many years ago, particular when the rain is hammering down and the streetlights are on full in broad daylight.  

Even as a Northerner you wonder why you have made the effort, enduring the M6 / M55 for two and half hours without even having Blackpool as the end destination.  As Mark Howard and I got out of the car, we noted that we could have been in The Castle right now, being roundly abused by legendary day time DJ Joe Curran!     

But, as usual, appearances are deceptive: this is a very progressive club and a lot of top talent has come through here and as ISM builds its business out, places like this are a must-visit.

Fleetwood was in non-league football ten years ago, and is now competitive year-in year-out in League One (seven seasons straight so far).  It has also built a huge community and training facility that many clubs should replicate.  I went to look after the game, and it services the professional team right down to overweight 5-a-siders.  Impressive.   

The club is a production ground for young players – Jamie Vardy being the standout.  More recently, the mountainous Harry Souttar of Stoke, who looks set for a major move in the summer window, had 44 games on loan here between 2019 and 2020.  He matured so much at Fleetwood he was given Stoke’s vice-captaincy at 22 when he returned, and has skippered the team several times this year given Joe Allen’s absences.  

It was a very interesting afternoon.  James Hill is a current England U-20 international centre-back, composed on and off the ball, and not scared of mixing it with units like Jayden Stockley.  Jay Matete impressed with his quick feet and thoughtful distribution in midfield (although it might have suited him even more to be the ‘sitter’ instead of Jordan Rossiter). 

For Charlton, Sam Lavelle is a terrific organizer, a traditional English centre-half, whom one suspects would be more talked about if he was flamboyant in appearance and manner, rather than just doing his job to a high level.  

This was my second trip to Lancashire of the week, having gone to Wigan v Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday.  I recommend a visit to ‘Vardytown’ and it will be interesting to look back at my notes in a few years time and see where the players that caught the eye ended up. 

Enjoy your week and thank you for your business with Integral.

Mike Newton - Chief Executive, Integral Sports Management.

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