A season which, overall, has brought the smile back to the faces of Fylde RFC supporters will hopefully leave them grinning after tomorrow’s final home game.
That’s the wish of club chairman Dave Young before the curtain comes down on the Woodlands campaign with this weekend’s visit of in-form Sedgley Park.
Those smiles may have faded as three straight defeats have halted the momentum of a side which had mounted an impressive promotion challenge under coach Warren Spragg.
But after a miserable 2017-18 which saw rock-bottom Fylde win just three games all season, Spragg’s side have lost only three of their 14 Woodlands matches at the lower level.
The chairman says the reality of a second season in National Two North brings no financial worries, and feels the disappointment of Fylde’s failure to win promotion ahead of their centenary season is countered by the positives.
Young told The Gazette: “With my ex-player’s hat on I’m disappointed because you want the club to be playing at the highest level possible, but on the other hand there has been a buzz among supporters this season because we have been playing well and winning games.
“Financially, there is little difference between playing in the two divisions but what does help is having a winning side.
“There has been more atmosphere at games and that has been helped by having more derby games against Lancashire and Yorkshire sides in this division.”
But for a proud former second-rower, there remains that tinge of regret that his club has “just fallen short.”
Young added: “Maybe it has been a couple of games too far and we have been carrying a lot of knocks at the and of a long, hard season.
“Going into the final five games, I thought we could win them all or lose them all, but hopefully we can finish with a couple of victories and end up third or fourth.”
“We have lost crucial games but, overall, we have to be pretty pleased. We are definitely in a rebuilding phase and the key thing at the end of last season was keeping the lads together. Warren (head coach Spragg) succeeded in that and we improved over the course of the season.”
That ‘buzz’ around the club has helped Spragg to retain his players’ services for next season but, first, Fylde will need to halt Sedgley Park’s seven-match winning run in order to regain their top-four spot.
Spragg said: “We are disappointed with our recent form. Losing three consecutive games was always a possibility when looking at the fixture list, but I firmly believe we had the ability to win each of the games.
“It is important that we don’t let recent form be our overriding memory of this season. We have seen a group of young players respond to last season’s experience of losing lots of matches by overcoming those challenges and dominating games for a large part of this season.
“I am extremely proud of the way they have stepped up and matured as a group and I am very excited about the future for this team.”