Fylde’s super coach hailed by chairman

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Fylde Rugby Club chairman Andy Hiles hailed the “fantastic” contribution of coach Mark Nelson as the curtain came down on the National League One season.

Nelson (right) has served the club as a player and in two spells as coach, spanning the best part of two decades.

Hiles said: “We can see what Mark produces on the pitch, but there is also what goes on behind the scenes and his commitment to the club. He is a big asset on the social side and we get on brilliantly.

“He is fun to work with, but he calls a spade a spade and you know where you stand with him.”

Saturday’s 50-30 win over Old Albanian, and the crowd’s reception for Stephen Briers on his farewell appearance, ended the season with a distinct feelgood factor surrounding the club.

Hiles reflected: “There was a fabulous crowd and good weather. It was lovely to see Steve Briers play as well as he did and sneak in for a try. It doesn’t get better than this.

“We have a great group of people, including volunteers, and days like this bring it all together.”

Fylde have finished the season in third or fourth place in National One – depending on whether Coventry succeed in getting a points deduction overturned.

Now the question is whether Fylde can take the next and most significant step and challenge for a place in the Championship.

To attaining that standard, the first team would probably have to be predominantly full-time, with all that entails financially.

Hiles said: “You can’t hold the players back, it’s as simple as that. We have a wonderful squad and are clearly capable of playing at this level. For the last three seasons we have been touching the top of the table.

“I see no reason why we can’t carry on what we are doing. If at some point that means we are in a real promotion position, we will have to look at what that means to us.

“It would really be a massive challenge to the club, but what a good problem to have is my view.

“At that level it’s not just the playing side of the club which needs to step up to the plate, there are other aspects.”