Andy Pilley has returned to the park he played at as a boy to help local youngsters chase their own football dreams.
In a new partnership, Fleetwood Town will now help maintain the football pitches at East Pines Park, Anchorsholme.
Although the park is lovingly looked after by a dedicated ‘Friends’ group it has suffered in recent months through a spate of anti-social behaviour while poor drainage often left the pitches unplayable.
On hearing about the issues, Fleetwood Town chairman Andy decided to get involved. He said: “I played football at East Pines Park as a young lad and myself and my mates had some great times there.
“However, the pitches have never been the best – in fact, the goalposts don’t even line up!
“So, when I was approached by the Friends group, I knew this is something I would love to get involved with.
“The Friends group does an amazing job and it has won a £10,000 Postcode Lottery grant allowing new drainage to be installed, together with a new playing surface and nets. But to keep the pitches in good condition they need to be maintained properly.
“We are delighted to announce that grounds staff from Fleetwood Town will look after the pitches. I am really pleased to be able to give something back to the community where I grew up.”
The Friends of East Pines Park are made up of local councillors and volunteers who do tireless work in maintaining the park.
Since 2015, the group has secured funding and raised money allowing them to install £45,000 of new play equipment, erect £28,000 of new railings, plant more than 4,000 plants and open a café at Anchorsholme Library.
Earlier this year the park was named ‘Best Park in Blackpool’ in the Blackpool In Bloom awards
Cllr Paul Galley, who is chairman of the Friends group, said he was delighted Andy and Fleetwood Town were getting involved.
Cllr Galley said: “The park is much-loved and well used. The Friends group has done so much to transform it into a place to be used by the whole community.
“However, this year there has been a number of anti-social behaviour issues and we are determined that this doesn’t happen again.
“Both myself and my fellow Anchorsholme councillor Tony Williams have made it a priority to have a number of options in place for teenagers to be involved within 2019 and onwards. These new pitches, looked after by a Football League club, will be the best around!
“We can’t thank Andy Pilley enough. Both he and Fleetwood Town have been absolutely amazing and this new partnership with the ‘Cod Army’ will have a massive positive impact on the park.”