Magpies skipper up against familiar face
Chorley captain Andrew Teague admitted there will be a knowing grin and a nod of acknowledgement when he lines up in the tunnel at Victory Park on Monday night.
Standing proud at the head of his team as he prepares to lead the Magpies into the first round proper of the FA Cup for the first time in 27 years, Teague is likely to cast a glance to his side.
And when he does he is almost certainly set to see childhood friend and Fleetwood Town skipper Nathan Pond.
The pair grew up together in Plungington and went to the same school, Eldon Primary.
Kicking a football around the playground all those years ago, it is hard to imagine that the pair thought that around a quarter-of-a-century later they would be doing likewise, but this time in front of a national TV audience on BT Sport.
“Me and Pondy, we are both Plungington lads,” said 31-year-old Teague.
“We grew up in the same area of Preston and went to the same school.
“I am sure there will be few lads from Plungington going to the game.
“Pondy is actually a year older than me – I thought I’d get that in!
“We obviously played in the school teams and we were at Preston North End together as kids.
“I’ve known him for a long time so it’s going to be interesting coming up against him in the cup.”
Remarkably the pair, who are both central defenders, have followed similar career paths – although in reverse.
Teague began his career in the Football League with Macclesfield, before a horrific broken leg ended his time in the professional game after 50-odd appearances for the Silkmen.
After more than a year out, he regained his fitness and joined Lancaster City in the NPL First Division North.
Garry Flitcroft swooped for him in 2011 and he has since become an integral part of Chorley’s success over the last six years, helping them achieve two promotions to their current position in the National League North.
By contrast, Pond dropped into non-league football upon leaving school, joining Fleetwood – then of the North West Counties League – in 2003.
In a remarkable run of success, Pond has helped the Cod Army secure a staggering six promotions and they currently ply their trade in the Football League as a League One club.
The big defender is the club’s all-time leading appearance-record holder and is approaching 250 games in the Football League.
He is also the proud owner of a world record – the player who has featured in the most divisions for just one club.
“It’s weird how it’s worked out,” said Teague.
“I started out in the Football League and dropped into non-league and he’s done it the other way around.
“He’s worked his way up through the leagues, started out in the North West Counties and now he’s playing in League One.
“It’s an unbelievable achievement what he has done – he’s even in the Guinness Book of Records.”
Down at level eight in the football pyramid when Teague arrived at Victory Park, Chorley have moved up two levels in the intervening years.
They have also been within a whisker – as two play-off final failures testify – of reaching the National League and being just one step from the Football League.
Teague admitted the Cod Army are a beacon for clubs like the Magpies, showing what can be achieved.
“I think every non-league team looks to Fleetwood and what they have achieved over the years,” he said.
“They have gone from the North West Counties to being a stable League One club.
“I think it shows to clubs like ourselves of what can be done.”
Despite his admiration for the Cod Army – and his old mate Pond – Teague is determined to help his club dump their North West neighbours out of the cup.
There should be a capacity crowd at Victory Park and a perfect opportunity for the club to earn a big scalp, even if they are going to be without loan men and key individuals Matt Urwin and Nick Haughton.
The pair – on loan from Town – are contractually barred from playing against their parent club.
“I have been at Chorley a long time and I’ve never been to the FA Cup first round proper while I’ve been here,” Teague said.
“The club have always wanted to have a good cup run but unfortunately it’s never quite happened.
“We’ve managed to have good run this season and it’s a great draw for us.
“It’s going to be difficult against Fleetwood
“We are going to be without our goalkeeper Matt Urwin and Nick Haughton, which is a blow.
“But it’s a chance for somebody else to come in and prove that they deserve a place in the side.”