It’s full steam ahead for Club 25 in the waning days of this calendar year as we have a second straight review of a 2019/2020 shirt for your perusal today. Last week we featured Għargħur F.C. but this time around, we’re having a closer look at a kit closer to home (highly dependent on how close you are to Lancashire). Introducing the current home shirt of AFC Fylde;
AFC Fylde currently play in the Vanarama National League, the fifth-highest level of English football and the doorstep to the Football League, and are now in their third straight season following the side’s promotion from the National League North in 2016/2017.
An ambitious team propelled by the investment and know-how of President Dai Davis and Chairman David Haythornthwaite, Fylde have come a long way in a very short time – their promotion from the National League North being their sixth step up in only eleven (!!!) seasons – and have been eagerly challenging for a seventh what with qualifying for the play-offs in 2017/2018 and 2018/2019. The Coasters, as the club’s nickname goes, suffered Wembley heartbreak in the final last year by losing to Salford City, but with their ambition to reach the Football League undiminished, we are very happy to be able to bring you a closer look at the team’s excellent home shirt today.
All white has been the standard brief for the club’s home shirts since its renaming from Kirkham & Wesham in 2008, and makes for a classy and minimalist look which has now been elevated by new technical partner Under Armour with an amount of extra detailing. This represents a minor but very welcome break from tradition for AFC Fylde, who have always been very careful not to stray too far from the pure white they are known for.
(Image credit; AFC Fylde)
In a thoughtful display of taking the opinions of fans on board, AFC Fylde opened a kit vote in March to determine which of two shortlisted designs would resonate the most with the Mill Farm faithful. Although Under Armour had yet to be revealed as supplier (Kappa was still attached to the club at the time) and the sponsors were still to be confirmed, the winning design ended up being plenty representative of the final product.
One might be able to argue that these two designs are really quite similar, differing only in terms of the detailing at the shoulder seam, but we think the vote itself represents a terrific and creditable first step towards evolving the concept of what an AFC Fylde kit is; after all, with the more colourful option two beating out option one, the supporters have shown to be receptive of change and hungry for a bit more navy and red on their tops. This is something to be excited about; white, navy, and red make for a great combination and can pave the way for exciting designs that combine all three.
Under Armour always represents quality – in design, material, manufacturing standards, and so on – so we were very pleased to note Fylde had signed with them following their association with Kappa and the club’s one-time use of an adidas shirt for the FA Trophy final. The ‘UA’ logo, in navy, appears on the right chest underneath the navy and red bands and is sublimated – as is every other detail on the shirt (crest, sponsors, you name it) in what can only be considered a delightful dedication to durability; after all, sublimation ensures that washing machines can’t damage the details on a shirt.
Although Club 25 has been posting weekly articles since early 2017, it wasn’t until late 2018 that we covered our first Under Armour shirt. This initial review of a signed Queen’s Park shirt has since been supplemented with reviews of a Mauritian side and Southampton, so if you fancy seeing UA’s other efforts in our reviews, do give these links a click;
- Curepipe Starlight 2018/2019 Home Shirt
- Signed Queen’s Park F.C. 2013-2020 Home Shirt
- Southampton 2017/2018 Home Shirt
The collar on this shirt is notable for two reasons; for one, it is home to a most entertaining hashtag – #BornToBeFylde being a playful nod to the classic Steppenwolf song and the club’s go-to hashtag on Twitter – and for two, it is shaped in a way that is very reminiscent of the collar on the Southampton shirt we mentioned previously. It is a lot more understated on this shirt however, and pleasingly so – the collar being white helps tremendously in keeping it from standing out against the front of the shirt.
Under Armour’s logotype and logomark are repeated inside the collar – and stickered at that – along with the kit’s sizing info and its country of origin. A brand with sensible sizing, there is no need for supporters to buy a shirt one or two sizes bigger than they themselves are (a common complaint with Kappa who really do love a tight fit). If you typically wear an M, don’t be afraid to order that exact size from the club’s online store.
AFC Fylde’s crest, introduced in 2014 to replace the old version (inset on the left), proudly sits sublimated on the left chest of the shirt, featuring a busy scene comprised of four elements that the borough of Fylde is known for; the factory building reflects the many mills in the area (like the old Birley’s mill in Kirkham), the windmill represents the famous landmark on the promenade at Lytham, the schooner stands for the Skippool Creek near Poulton-Le-Fylde, and the jet fighter symbolizes BAE Systems, an aerospace company and major employer based in Wharton.
All four of these elements are transposed on a shoreline, representing the coast of Morecambe Bay, and tell the story of the Fylde in a much better way than the isolated symbols on the old crest ever could. The Latin motto Gaudeat Ager was added with the first word meaning as much as ‘to prosper’/’to be joyful’ whereas the second means ‘field’ (representing Fylde). As such one can hold this saying to mean ‘Let the field prosper’ or ‘Let Fylde be joyful’ – whichever you prefer, really.
Finally, 1988 represents the year wherein Kirkham Town FC and Wesham FC fused to form Kirkham & Wesham, which was renamed AFC Fylde 20 years later. Combining this and the visual storytelling based around the four symbols of the Fylde makes for a great example of how to do a modern crest in a time where more and more clubs seem to choose overdesigned post-modern monstrosities as their main identifier. Fylde’s logo is meaningful and to the point, and all the better for it. The two stars above it, for the 2008 FA Vase and 2019 FA Trophy, add a hint of glamour to it all.
Main sponsorship of the shirt is supplied by VetPlus, a business that deals in food supplements (nutraceuticals if fancy words are more your style) for pets and is part of Chairman Haythornthwaite’s Tangerine Group of companies, while on the right sleeve of the shirt we find the logo for Rustlers.
A self-styled ‘micro-snacking brand’, Rustlers are the premiere brand of the Irish Kepak company (who have their UK head office in Kirkham) and deal in a slew of meat-based snacks. They also serve as a principal sponsor to AFC Fylde’s community foundation, and we imagine their burgers are the best-selling foodstuffs on match days at Mill Farm.
As for the 2022 on each sleeve, just above the stylish navy and red cuffs, we’re happy to confirm that this isn’t the Best By date of the Rustlers sponsorship, but rather a daring profession of the club’s ambitions. In July 2007, when Kirkham & Wesham was still the name on the shirt, Haythornthwaite and Davis announced that the club was aiming to be in the Conference by 2017 and in the Football League by 2022 – the latter year would from then on be carried on the club’s shirts to further espouse this drive to climb the ranks of English football.
The Conference North was reached well ahead of schedule in 2014, which probably gave the club’s critics quite a bit of food for thought (we can’t resist the urge to make a pun involving Rustlers here – maybe AFC Fylde Rustled some feathers?). This ‘2022 initiative’ in terms of its place on the Coasters’ shirts is also quite reminiscent of the stars on the Forest Green Rovers shirts – a similarly ambitious club who have had a bit of a headstart on Fylde and are now in League 2.
Flipping the shirt over we find a bit more detailing, which really helps to make it stand out from the pack – with the reverse of football tops often being rather plain. In big navy letters, ‘COASTERS’ is written across the lower back, while up near the collar Under Armour’s ‘UA’ logo is repeated once more.
Shown above is the matchup between AFC Fylde and Solihull Moors, which resulted in a 0-0 draw on the seventh of March 2020, just weeks before society went into lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On match days, the shirt is paired with white shorts and socks while black names and numbers are stuck onto the reverse. Of note is that players wear the exact same type of shirt as those sold by AFC Fylde’s online store and Mill Farm fanshop; no fleecing of fans with ‘authentic’ and ‘replica’ versions – just one shirt with one price. Lovely.
This should be standard practice around the leagues, but sadly enough more and more teams seem to forego giving supporters a good deal in favour of peddling different types of shirts with different pricetags. The fact that Fylde have resisted this temptation can only be applauded.
(Image courtesy of the club’s Twitter account)
If we have to appraise the overall look of the kit, we can’t help but be pleased; the club’s trademark minimalism still shines through, but the added colour on the shoulders and cuffs really helps to elevate this effort beyond being ‘just a white shirt’. The quality’s excellent as well and Fylde have really done their fans a solid by making these shirts available at just 35 GBP – the lowest pricetag on any National League shirt as far as we know.
Launched with the strapline ‘Make More History’ (a reference to AFC Fylde having just won the FA Trophy, beating Leyton Orient at Wembley to become the only side to have won both the FA Vase and FA Trophy), the club have really stepped up their game with these shirts – something we hope they and Under Armour will build on in the coming years. For now though, if you fancy getting your own the online shop can help you out.
That’s two thumbs up from us, then – not bad at all. As for results on the pitch, AFC Fylde have had a bit of a form dip this season, resulting in the club and manager Dave Challinor parting ways. Challinor had masterminded the Coasters to a couple of promotions and a play-off final appearance, and had been the second-longest serving manager in the top five divisions of English football at the time of his departure.
Ironically, Fylde then brought in the only manager to have held down a post for longer than Challinor, namely Jim Bentley from Morecambe. Having worked at the Shrimps since 2002, first as player and later as gaffer, Bentley knows the area remarkably well and has been responsible for Morecambe’s promotion to the Football League, together with his assistant manager Ken McKenna who was also brought into the Fylde fold. As such, we honestly wouldn’t be surprised to see this club go up before long – ahead of 2022 even – as Bentley’s pedigree and the financial backing of the board should prove to be a winning combination. AFC Fylde are definitely a club to keep your eye on, especially if they keep producing shirts as good as the 2019/2020 top.
(Much of the hopeful attitude this article espoused has been proven dearly wrong, as the Points Per Game scoring method forced onto the league by the COVID-19 pandemic saw AFC Fylde relegated in 23rd place, two points behind Maidenhead United but with a game in hand. This article has not been edited to take this dramatic turn of events into account, for posterity’s sake)
That’s just about all you need from us for now, but as always, we would like to remind you that Club 25 is a weekly publication – expect a brand new article from us next week, so keep checking back for when we have a new shirt going live. Additionally, keep up to date with us on our Twitter page and flick through the site’s Shirt Archive to see what shirts we’ve covered in the past.