Rugby Union: Ashton's Fylde of dreams

David Llewellyn finds a once-grand club hoping that history will repeat itself today

LIFE at the foot of Allied Dunbar Premiership Two is a long way removed from the heady days of the 1960s and 1970s, when Fylde were a force to be respected.

A generation ago the club, which is situated a competitive par four from the ninth hole at Royal Lytham and St Anne's, was a springboard to representative honours for county and country; these days it is more likely to be a launch pad for wannabes seeking their fortunes with rugby's upper crust further south or north-east.

This afternoon's visit to Loftus Road, where Fylde tackleWasps in the fifth round of the Tetley's Bitter Cup, will revive a host of memories for many of the club's former players, including the Ireland coach, Brian Ashton, who played for them from 1966 to 1973. "The last time I went to Wasps with Fylde, in about 1972 I think," recalled Ashton, "we beat them. The reason I remember that is because I scored a try and I think the final score was 12-9. In those days we looked upon Wasps as one of the big fixtures of the season."

The scrum-half Ashton finished up captaining Fylde and remembers the first-team debut of the sixth XV full-back, one William Blackledge Beaumont, in the position in which he would carve out a distinguished career - lock. "It was in 1971 or 1972," said Ashton, who won 56 caps for Lancashire. "I was impressed with him from the start. It was a remarkable transition from sixth-team full-back to first-team lock in a short space of time.

"But Bill was a natural footballer. For someone with his bulk he possessed a surprising turn of speed and was a remarkably adept ball player. Of the Lancashire front five Bill and Fran Cotton would have fitted easily into the modern game in terms of the ball-playing requirements of the forwards."

Fylde are no strangers to relegation - a descent into Jewson National One would mean their third demotion in seven years, having achieved promotion a similar number of times. And their famous son, Beaumont,readily acknowledged that consolidation is not their forte.

"Since the advent of the leagues we have been a real yo-yo side," he said. "But I think these days Fylde are up against it. They can't afford full-time professionalism and against a lot of sides with massive budgets, such as Bedford, they cannot compete.

"But then I don't think Fylde would ever envisage getting into the top flight. They might talk about it and dream a bit, but the finances are such that clubs like Fylde could not do it. Unless you have a massive budget you are not going to get there."

They have just two full-time professionals, Matt Filipo, a prop from Auckland, and the Canadian international lock Barry McCarthy, who when they are not training, travel around local schools promoting the game and the club.

But, while it could be argued clubs such as Fylde have been left behind, there is not a hint of bitterness; indeed Beaumont positively welcomes what has happened. "I think a lot of the benefactors who have come into the game have improved the standard," he said. "Certainly some of the First Division games are tremendous. I'm only slightly disappointed there are not more Englishmen playing in it."

Unlike Ashton and another Fylde old boy, Tony Swift, the chief executive of Bath, Beaumont has eschewed any opportunity to remain in the sport in a professional capacity. The RFU committee and his textile business occupy too much time.

But he still watches them when he can and while some things may be different, the essentials are still in place. Beaumont explained: "The club itself has not changed that much since my playing days. There are still the same people knocking around there, it is still a friendly place. Fylde was never that glamorous, although we still had a pretty strong fixture list and we would do reasonably well against the likes of Gloucester, Leicester, Wasps, Moseley and so on."

Ashton agreed, and added: "Even now I always look out for Fylde's result." He will not be the only one today, just in case there is a repeat of his last visit as a Fylde player to Wasps.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
footballA colourful discussion on tactics, the merits of the English footballer and rebuilding Manchester United
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Travel
The shipping news: a typical Snoozebox construction
travelSpending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz