AFC Fylde's humble heroes Dave Challinor and Danny Rowe deserve play-off glory says owner David Haythornthwaite - and video of team's departure for Wembley
David Haythornthwaite does not only want to clinch promotion to the Football League for himself and his club, but also to reward the loyalty of two key figures at AFC Fylde – two men he thinks should already be in the EFL in manager Dave Challinor and top scorer Danny Rowe.
Haythornthwaite’s own association with the club started in 2007, when the club was still called Kirkham and Wesham.Haythornthwaite appointed a then 35-year-old Challinor in 2011 after his successful first stint as a manager at Colwyn Bay.Fylde were in the fourth tier of non-league at the time and the ex-Tranmere player guided the Coasters to the Evo-Stik Premier Division.His second promotion came in the 2013-14 season and it was when Fylde arrived in National League North that Rowe joined Haythornthwaite’s revolution.One hundred and forty nine league goals later, Rowe and Challinor have helped to steer Fylde to this stage – one win from achieving Haythornthwaite’s dream of reaching the Football League.Fylde face Salford City at Wembley tomorrow, and speaking from their plush multi-million pound Mill Farm base, the chairman recalls fondly how Challinor used to mow the grass and tidy up at their former Kellamergh Park home.Jobs he did not have to do but which typified the man, says Haythornthwaite, who says local boy made good Rowe, 29, has the same qualities of humility, honesty and family values which have been key to his success.And businessman Haythornthwaite, whose VetPlus empire helps to fund the club, says those are not common qualities these days.Now he wants to fulfil his promise to Rowe of getting him to the Football League, having turned down a £175,000 bid from League Two club Cheltenham in the summer.Haythornthwaite wants to see his star striker and loyal manager get what they deserve: a shot in the Football League.He said: “I’ve said lots of times the chairman-manager relationship is the most important one. If that is not right it will fall apart.“From day one we have had an amazing relationship. Dave has loved this club since he has come here. He has treated it like his own.“He maybe did not love it when he first came but he has grown to love it.“I can still see him sitting on the mower at Kellamergh Park cutting the grass. Nobody asked him to do it.“He has never in seven years come to me and said, ‘I need some more money’.“That is unbelievable for a football club. We have a really good relationship.“I’m so pleased for him and for Danny Rowe.“Danny, as you know, was subject of a bid. I turned down £175,000 for him.“Fortunately I could. He would have gone Cheltenham.“I think Danny in his heart wanted to go because he wanted to play in the Football League. I said, ‘Danny, stay here and we will go together’.“So if I can get both of them there, it will be a great day for them for sticking with me.“Danny probably did not have an option because he was under contract! “With Chally as well, there will be a time hopefully for him when he is managing higher up the league but if we can do that together it would be brilliant.”And Haythornthwaite says humble Rowe, who picked up the National League Player of the Year award for the second season in a row and the golden boot, has the perfect temperament for Wembley.The Fylde native is yet to feature in the Football League, having been released by Manchester United as a youngster.He turned up at Mill Farm after stints at Blackpool Wren Rovers, Fleetwood Town, Stockport County and Lincoln City.Haythorthwaite is pleased to see him silencing the critics by continuing to rack up the goals but now he wants his star asset to fire them all to League Two. He added: “Danny’s a farmer’s lad from just down the road.“As you can see, in the press conference he is very shy. When he scores a goal he does not really celebrate.“He is that kind of lad but what a player and what an accolade.“People say, ‘He does not run, he does not do this’. But he has won National League Player of the Year back to back, voted for by other managers.“It is incredible to win it back to back and for him to win the golden boot is tremendous. It says everything about him.“But he is a very humble guy. Sometimes you want to shake him and say, ‘Come on, Danny. You are our leader!’ But he is not that kind of guy.“I think has is the perfect temperament for Wembley.”And the chairman says the goals have not changed Rowe, who is still the same as when he turned up in 2014 as a 24-year-old.Haythornthwaite said: “I have not seen a change since he came.“He has been exactly the same since he turned up.“Even when he had not scored any goals for us, he had the same temperament and was the same kind of lad.“His mum and dad are very nice people. I saw them on Saturday going to Solihull.“His dad was getting on the supporters’ coach. They are very humble.“Bill Rowe probably has enough money to fly down in a helicopter!“He went on the supporters’ coach, though, because they are well grounded people, real people.“I like to think we are lucky enough to have Chally too, who is a real person.“He is humble, a family man. He cares and he is honest.“They are not traits you find in many people today.”