Challinor ready for biggest step up with Fylde

Dave Challinor
Dave Challinor

Manager Dave Challinor insists AFC Fylde will not be making up the numbers in the National League next season and believes the club is more than ready for the challenge.

The Coasters boss said: “It’s a big step up. We have come up from a division in which we were one of just two or three full-time teams.

“We are now going into a league where the vast majority of teams are full-time and have full-time infrastructures, so all of a sudden the advantage we had is gone.

“We have to move forward too. We don’t want to go into the league and just survive. We want to be competitive.

“We have become accustomed to winning games and we want that to continue.

“However, we have to accept that at points during the season we will be up against it and inevitably we are going to lose games. We are all looking forward to the challenge and it’s one we will meet head on.

“We will be coming up against teams we have never faced before and it will be a great adventure, but we want to be successful. We will be looking at those top positions.”

But Challinor admitted that bidding for promotion would be a tall order. “It’s a big ask but we have a plan in place and that has been successful to date.

“The long-term aim is the same – we want to be in the Football League by 2022. That was set 15 years ago, so we still have five years to realise that. We’d like to do it quicker but we have to be realistic.

“If we were to have a steady season with an eye on the play-offs, then that wouldn’t be the end of the world but we will go into the season positively.

“We know it’s a huge step, and while many have tried only one has successfully achieved Football League status from National League North (Fleetwood). It will be difficult but that’s where our focus lies. We are one step away from where we want to be but it’s the biggest step.”

Challinor stresses the quality of players in the National League is as high as it has ever been: “The level of player has absolutely improved. With so many foreign players over here now, good British players are filtering down the leagues.

“The division we are now in is very strong. There’s a mixture of ex-Football League clubs and new clubs, who are ambitious and want to be part of that elite group.

“It makes it that much more special that we are competing on a level playing field with the likes of Hartlepool, Leyton Orient.”