by Daisy Cutter and Kieran Mather

In the first of a new weekly series the Cutter concentrates its attention on one of the most intriguing fixtures for each weekend.

First time out its league newbies Fleetwood Town v Torquay United.

The back-story

This season’s newcomers in the English Football League pyramid are not just new to League 2, they are relatively new to the world of football. Fleetwood Town, briefly Fleetwood Warriors then Fleetwood Freeport, were formed in 1997 after their previous incarnation folded and their rise through the English non league tiers has been the biggest success story in football in recent years however undocumented.

Last season in the Conference the Trawlermen rolled over the line with 103 points gained with 31 wins and 102 goals. 31 of these were scored by Jamie Vardy who has since departed to Leicester City for up to £1.7million (the initial fee being £1million). They also boasted the biggest away win in the division, a 0-6 thumping dished out at Southport.

Although they held one of the smaller grounds in the division, Highbury, as its known could be argued to be the nicest in the division and will be a credit to the league. Newly promoted or not such a buzz is around the club that manager Micky Mellon is targeting promotion. To this end they’ve bought shrewdly in the summer bringing in

Jon Parkin, Steven Gillespie and Everton youth product Gerard Kinsela on frees, bolstering their defence with experienced Youl Mawene whilst ex-Manchester City striker David Ball will find goals at this level.

Torqauy United will be Fleetwood’s first ever opponents in the league and they represent something of a baptism of fire for the newly promoted Lancashire outfit. Torquay United are one of the favoured teams in the division, having contested the play offs in the last 2 seasons and the addition of Billy Bodon from Swindon strengthens a strong squad further still. The Gulls have offloaded a few players to the higher divisions granted but manager Martin Ling is confident he has made the “perfect signing” in Craig Easton. The former Dundee United and Leyton Orient man Easton will be able to control games from the centre and could possibly prove Ling right. The Torqauy squad, although lighter than last season, will more than likely be added to before the window is shut and again in January so Fleetwood Town may be hosting the Gulls at the right time.

The setting

It may be a 600-mile round trip for the travelling Gulls but Fleetwood is always a cracking awayday. Located in the northernly corner of the Flyde, the coastal plains that also contains Blackpool and Lytham St Annes, the town was the UK’s first Victorian built community. This throws up some stunning architecture and gives the place a traditional seaside resort scene.

Have a pint in town with the Cod Army beforehand, treat yourself to some cockles then feel revived by the bracing sea wind before making your way to the tight but pristine Highbury.

Fleetwood are a club very much on the up and their newly built Parkside Stand reflects this. The days of a standing area known as the ‘scratching shed’ are long gone.

The game

We asked Steve Taylor from Fleetwood forum IFTFF and James Bennett from the Torquay United Room forum how they viewsthe game playing out.

Steve Taylor (Fleetwood)

What will Saturday mean to you?

Saturday will feel quite strange in a way, as we’ll be playing our very first Football League match. I think it will be an emotional day, and one full of pride seeing the lads competing in the Football League. It’s been a long summer waiting for Saturday to arrive, but I can’t wait!!!

Is there a danger that the significance of the day might ‘get’ to the players?

I’m pretty sure the players won’t be affected at all. They just play their usual game.

Which player should Torquay fear the most?

We’ve quite a few players who’ll trouble the opposition, but I’d probably have to say Jon Parkin could cause the most damage.

Looking forward to seeing the new signings?

Definitely. We got to see most of them in action in the League Cup match against Forest on Monday, but hopefully we’ll get to see Damien Johnson too.

What’s your prediction for the game?

2-1 home win.

James Bennett (Torquay)

How many do you expect will make the long journey up on Sat?

Not too many. We’ve always had good away support, often one of the highest percentages of home support in the division, but Fleetwood’s quite difficult to get to from Devon, so I’d be surprised if it was more than 2-300.

Will the fact that this is Fleetwood’s first league game – with all the hype and atmosphere that brings – perhaps work in your favour?

Well, we’ve been in this position before – we lost at Kidderminster Harriers in their first game in 2000 (Barry Horne scored with a thunderbolt), so I’m not confident. Momentum is often with the new team, and they’ll probably attract a good crowd, so they’re deserving favourites here.

Which player should the opposition fear?

Rene Howe, likely to be the lone front man, is one of the best strikers in the division on his day – quick, powerful and a great finisher.

Looking forward to seeing the new signings in action?
It’s funny because three of our “new” signings have played for the club already: Michael Poke, Ryan Jarvis and Billy Bodin. I’m intrigued to see how we’ll line up in midfield – as a Welshman, I’m excited to see the much-hyped Nathan Craig in action, so I hope he gets to play a part.

What is your prediction for the game?

2-1 to Fleetwood.

The Cutter’s prediction

We’re with the lads on this one. A tightly fought encounter but the passion and atmosphere of the day sees the Trawlermen home. 2-1.

The match details

Fleetwood Town v Torquay United k/o 3pm Saturday August 18th

Tickets are still available. £12.50 for adults, just a fiver for under 16s.