Matty Hughes with Graham Alexander
Fleetwood Town Football Club Target Wembley
Hughes had netted an impressive sixteen goals for Skelmersdale this season to fire them top of the Northern Premier Division, before making the switch to Highbury.
Speaking to the club’s official website for the first time on Thursday, the former Everton youth team player said he can’t wait to get going: “I couldn’t believe it when I got the call to come to Fleetwood. I’ve always wanted to be a professional footballer ever since I was a kid, so this is my chance and I have to take it”.
His exploits during the first half of this campaign for Skem had seen a number of Football League clubs show an interest in him, and he hopes his former side can get promoted: “They’re flying at the minute, and are doing better than what they expected to do. I’d say Chorley are favourites to win the league, but we’ve had a good go at them and they’re all a great bunch of lads”.
The 21 year old will have to adapt from part-time football to full-time football with the Cod Army, and admits he won’t miss the early starts in the mornings anymore: “I was telling my girlfriend that it’ll be better than getting up at 6am every morning, but I’ve adapted well so far and I just need to keep as I’m doing”.
Prior to Skelmersdale, Hughes represented Golborne Sports Club: “I was at Skelmersdale for a year, but before then I was at amateur level with Golbourne. Skem invited me down for a trial, and I did well, so it’s gone from there really”.
Asked what he feels he can bring to the team, the Wigan born striker replied: “I can bring a bit of versatility to the team. I watched the game on Monday against Scunthorpe and we should have won, but it wasn’t to be. I can get wide, get at players, deliver good balls and score goals”.
With Saturday’s game to York on the horizon, Hughes admits it’s going to be a difficult task for him to force his way into the starting eleven: “I can’t wait to get going, but I know it’s going to be hard to break into the squad at the minute because they’re flying, but I’m sure I’ll adapt to it and bring a lot more to the squad”.
Manager Graham Alexander added: “He’s a young, hungry pro who is desperate to do well. Our scouts have watched him several times this season and he’s impressed them every time. It’s all down to him and his application now, as I don’t care about the age of players. If they show they’re good enough to be in the first team, then that is where they will be”.
By James Edwards
Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Northern Area Final, 1st leg
Tuesday 4th February 7:45pm
Fleetwood Town Football Club vs Chesterfield
Ticket prices from: £13 adults, £9 concessions, U16's go free
It's the first time in the Club's history that this has happened, to another win against Carlisle United, in the Jonstone's Paint Trophy Quarter Final tie.
The 24 year old who was signed in the summer from fellow League 2 rivals York City scored his 2nd goal of the season on Saturday although Blair admits it was a bitter sweet feeling.
“It’s unfortunate about the result but I was happy that I played 45 minutes”
“Again, I’m not happy Junior Brown got injured, but it gave me a chance and I managed to score a goal but it’s an unfortunate end to what was a very good month”
The goal was Blair’s 2nd in as many games and he explains how there was a slight element of luck which helped him on his way
“I should have been at the back post so I’ve got myself out of a bit of trouble by picking it up and I just got at the full back, tucked inside, and managed to sneak it into the far corner”
Despite performing well for Town in Cup competitions Blair has had to settle for a place on the bench so far this season and he admits he is going to have to be patient when it comes to gaining a starting spot.
“I’ve just got to keep myself ready
“The gaffer said from day one it’s a squad game, not a team game and we’ve got a very good squad
“I’ve just got to wait my turn, everyone wants to play that’s the main thing, but if im coming off the bench and getting goals I’ll take that for the time being, I won’t like it all season but just for the time being while the team are wining you don’t expect changes
“I’m happy with how it’s gone so far from being on the bench point of view but obviously the main goal is to get in the starting eleven.”
The defeat to Exeter was a bitter blow for Blair and his teammates but the wingers is hopeful of a return to winning ways when they come face to face with Bristol Rovers on Saturday
“They are a good team and it’s another long journey for us but we’ll travel on the Friday and get ourselves right. We’ll go away from home and perform as we know we can.”
Carlsberg UK have a close affinity with the football market, as the official beer of the Premier League and as suppliers to over 30 league clubs.
They are also one of the largest brewers in the UK, and now have arguably the most exciting portfolio of brands in the UK with 3 of the top 5 fastest growing lager brands as well as the exciting new Somersby Cider brand.
Carlsberg Sponsorship Deal for Fleetwood Town Football Club
Martin Booker, Head of Commercial, is delighted with the new deal which is worth a significant five figure sum each season. “This new deal gives Fleetwood Town a greater financial benefit in sponsorship terms and commercially going forward will see numerous additional financial benefits based on our increased volume via bars, hospitality and functions at Highbury Stadium.
"We are also working hard with Carlsberg to improve the branding in and around the club which can only be a win-win situation for both parties. We looked to extending the deal as we have a great working relationship and with Carlsberg’s involvement in football increasing that can only be a good sign longer term. The fans will also see some new benefits from the sponsorship too.”
Barney Woolcock Sales Manager for Carlsberg in Lancashire and Cumbria said. “I am delighted to extend our sponsorship deal here at Fleetwood Town FC. It is clearly evident that the club is moving in the right direction, both on and off the field and that there are some exciting times ahead for the club and the fans.
"The directors and the commercial team here know where they want to be, and their passion coupled with the knowledge and professionalism of Carlsberg UK can only be a winning combination. We are fast becoming a major brand in the football market with our recent deal to become the official beer of the Premier League but we have a Premier League set up here at Fleetwood!”
Scott Davies, last season’s Player of the year, saw at first hand the new Carlsberg fans man of the match award which is voted on via @ftfc Twitter at the end of games. The specially made 3 litre Carlsberg bottle is presented by a supporter at the end of home games to the Man of the Match with the most votes. Fans lucky enough to be selected will present the award receiving a signed Carlsberg football . This will take place in Jims Sports Bar every home game at 5.30pm.
Scott Davies picked up his second clean sheet of the season at Hartlepool – one he feels is a reward for Town’s brave defending.
The Cod Army came away from Victoria Park with another three points courtesy of Jeff Hughes’ early goal, and a clean sheet to boot after surviving mounting pressure from the home side throughout.
Davies denied veteran striker Steve Howard’s header which looked destined for the net late on, and had Nathan Pond on hand to clear off his line in the first half.
And having already kept one shutout in Town's first away match - a 2-0 victory at Plymouth Argyle - the 26-year-old was delighted with another perfect outcome.
“We’re delighted. I thought the back four were tremendous (against Hartlepool),” said Davies.
“I thought with Pond coming into the side it proves that, as we’ve said before, it’s a squad game. He came into the team and slotted straight into the back four and, as a unit, we were outstanding defensively.
“You’ve got to expect a lot of defensive pressure in most games in this league, and you’ve got to be able to be professional and fight, and have the desire not to concede goals.
It was the perfect response for Davies after shipping three goals against Burton Albion at Highbury, and he explained it’s exactly what manager Graham Alexander was looking for.
“We knew we had to get some sort of result after last week (against Burton Albion),” he said.
“The gaffer asked for a response and I think the boys gave him that, and what better way than to come to a difficult place like this and get the three points and the added bonus of a clean sheet.”
Town’s goalkeeper was called into action many times during the trip to the north-east, but none more so than a save at full stretch from Howard’s header, although he says it’s just part of the job.
“Obviously that’s what I’m there to do (make saves). It’s always nice to make a good save contribute to a successful three points. That’s exactly what it’s all about. Every one of us needs to contribute on a Saturday, and we did that against Hartlepool.
“Both Pondy and Murdoch deserved the chance and when they got it, and they were both brilliant. They’ve came in and showed why they think they should be in the team themselves.
“They’ve done themselves no harm and I thought Stewart bossed it in the midfield, and Pondy likewise at the back. That’s all part of having a competitive squad.
“We all know we have to play well to stay in the team. That’s the kind of environment that the gaffer is trying to build at the club.”
Town take to the road again next Saturday when they visit AFC Wimbledon. Supporters travel departs Highbury at 8am and costs £25 or £12.50 for season ticket holders. Coach places can be booked through the club shop or call 01253 775080.
The Rotherham-born centre half was named in the PFA League 2 Team of the Year last season and finished second in Southend's Player of the Year poll – playing a prominent role in the club's route to Wembley in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy. He also played over 50 games for the Essex club.
The in demand 25-year-old, who started his career at Sheffield United, also has experience from his time at Rotherham United and Bury.
The defender spoke before his debut against Coventry City when he played full debut.
“I think it is a good move at the right time and the club's going in the right direction. I think as soon as I got on board I knew it was a great move for me.” Cresswell said
“I think I bring passion, aggression, I like to think of myself as a dominating centre-half that wears my heart on my sleeve. I think those qualities will be there for everyone to see and I look forward to working hard for this club and getting it where it wants to be, which is promotion.”
Cresswell insists he is looking to replicate the form that saw him named in the back four of the PFA League 2 Team of the Year, but said it isn't an individual effort, but a team effort.
“Last season I played 50 plus games for Southend and I got the merit for being in the Team of the Year, which was a fantastic achievement for myself. I will be looking to replicate that this season and I think if I am doing well, it will be because Fleetwood are doing well and that's the aim for everyone.”
Cresswell featured in both games against Fleetwood last season, and looking back over his new club's first season in the Football League, the defender says that Town handled themselves very well and will be able to go to the next level with the signings Graham Alexander has made this summer.
“They (Fleetwood) came up and they showed good signs of maturity in the way they played and they got points on the board nice and early. I think they pitted away at the end and I think that's why the manager is here now to push them on to the next level. With the signings he has made over the summer, that is the key and I am looking forward to getting into this.”
Fleetwood's latest recruit will be no stranger in the dressing room either. He has played with a number of the Town players from his time at different clubs and says he has enjoyed his first day on the Fylde Coast whilst also admitted he is looking forward to linking up with fellow Yorkshireman Jon Parkin.
“I have played with (Gareth) Evans, Stephen Jordan came to Rotherham for a short period of time and I played with Scott (Davies) at Morecambe a few years back. The lads welcomed me in today and it has been a good first day.
“He's a good lad. I have heard good things about him and we look forward to travelling together and I am sure we will have a good time a long the way.”
Back in 2008, Cresswell went on a short loan spell to Hungarian side Ferencváros whilst he was a youngster at Sheffield United, and looking back on the opportunity, he says he has no regrets after opting to stay in England and kick starting his career with Bury instead – saying he would not be where he is today if he had made the move abroad.
“I had arranged to sign for them (Ferencváros) on a 12-month loan, and I cut it short because I had interest from League 2 clubs over here so I thought at the time it would be the wrong move for me to take it.
“I think if the options of playing league football in England weren't there I would have gone for their 12-months, but it was too good to down over here and look where I am today and I am not looking back on it.”
Alexander's ninth summer signing will come into the Fleetwood team with a full pre-season under his belt with Southend, and reflected on a hectic day which ended with Town chairman, Andy Pilley, selling the club to his latest signing.
“It's gone well (pre-season), I have done a full pre-season with Southend. They have gone on a trip to Madrid at the minute and I got pulled at the last minute saying that Fleetwood's bid had been accepted.
“I was over the moon and I shot straight up here and spoke to the chairman. As soon as I spoke to him and saw his ambition and drive, for everyone that has seen him at Fleetwood, I think it is a massive selling point. I walked away, shook his hand and the deal was done.”
Fleetwood have two more pre-season matches until the season kicks off against Dagenham & Redbridge a week on Saturday. Town host Coventry City at Highbury and will also travel to Southport on Saturday before the big kick-off and Cresswell is hoping to get some game time before the new season gets underway.
“The gaffer asked me and I would love to be involved in the games, so hopefully I can get as many minutes under my belt and I look forward to the start of the season.”
Read the full report from this great start to the season, where goals from David Ball and Antoni Sarcevic proved Town’s credentials against higher-division opposition once again at Highbury.
Tuesday 30th July 2013
After training a Question and Answer session will take place with all the new signings and the manager in Jim's Sports Bar. There will also be , and is a chance for the Cod Army to meet and have pictures with all the Fleetwood’s first team players.
Fans can look at the new Puma Home and Away shirt for 2013/14 as well as other merchandise which will be on display and available to buy on the day. The club will also get the opportunity to inform fans on the plans and intentions off the club for the upcoming season.
Programme of Events
10.30am Arrival – Watch Training session from Parkside Stand
12pm Post Training Session, make way to Jims Bar, meet the players for Q & A Session, Photo’s, autographs etc Bar will be open for snacks and refreshments, NEW Kits on Show
1.30pm Event Finishes – Club Shop open for business for new Puma home and away kit and much more.
The Northern Irishman made 24 appearances in three years at Deepdale, and was one of many members of the Fleetwood Town camp up against familiar faces from 20 miles down the road.
And while Preston-born Pond enjoyed his testimonial with a 4-0 win at Highbury, McLaughlin admitted it felt strange seeing his former colleagues once again.
“It was a bit strange having only left Preston a couple of years ago and to see some familiar faces,” said McLaughlin.
“To play against them was strange at the start but I just had to get on with it and focus on our own game.
“There are a lot of Preston connections here at the minute (Alexander, Lucketti, Parkin etc) so it was good for us to play against them and get the win, and especially in Pondy’s testimonial - it was a big win for us.”
The 21-year-old made 15 appearances for Town last season, having signed from North End in July 2012, and was part of the squad that travelled to Austria for a pre-season training camp.
And with the English weather rising in temperature over the last week, the Northern Ireland international says it feels like being back in Obertraun.
“The weather is pretty similar to what it was in Austria. It was very warm over there as well when we were training,” he continued.
“The running has been toned down a little bit now though. I think the 90 minutes against Preston and the 90 minutes the lads got in the last match (against SV Wacker Burghausen) have helped.
“It’s more about everyone gaining game time now, and if some of the lads don’t play on Wednesday, we’ll be doing running to maintain our fitness.”
Fleetwood Town’s summer transfer spree continues with the arrival of Scottish midfielder Stewart Murdoch, who will join Town on a two year deal once his contract at Falkirk finishes at end of this month.
Manager Graham Alexander believes that Murdoch is a great acquisition for the club and discusses why he opted to sign him. “Stewart comes down from Falkirk and he’s a lad we’ve been alerted to. We kept an eye on him, watched him a few times and spoke to many people up in Scotland and the responses were positive. I went to watch him myself towards the end of the season and everything I saw was great to see.”
Stewart Murdoch, 23, was being pursued by other football clubs but decided to join the Cod Army as Alexander elaborates, “We had to fight off some competition to land him. He’s a good young player come through a very good club at Falkirk, who have a history of good youngsters in their squad. We’re really pleased to have him on board.”
Murdoch has had loans spells at Berwick Rangers and East Fife before returning to Falkirk where he cemented a first team place. And Graham Alexander believes his loans spells has benefited him. “They bring their youngsters through at Falkirk because it’s part of their policy. I think he needed that first team experience before they recalled him and put him in the first team. They (Falkirk) have a team full of youngsters and he was one of the older players there despite only being 20. So, he had a lot of responsibility on his shoulders to look after them and I heard he handled it extremely well. I could see it myself when I went to see him. He’s a young man but he’s got a mature brain on him.”
Alexander was full of praise for his new signing. “I think he is a fantastic addition and it’s a great opportunity for him to come to England. He can get up and down the pitch like a good old modern midfielder. We’ve seen the power he has and the way he can pass a ball. He ticks all the boxes. When I’ve spoken to him, you can see how dedicated he is to his job. He wants to do well because he is really ambitious and I think that’s what he saw in us. He identified the journey the club want to go on and I think he really wants to be a part of it.”
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