Accrington Stanley – A tale with many chapters

HITC Sport 92

As part of our HITC Sport 92 series, Vincent Ralph takes a closer look at Accrington Stanley.

It might not go down well among Accrington Stanley fans but I, like many others, grew up with a certain perception of the club. And yes…it was all down to that advert.

I watched it again on YouTube today – an advert for milk back when such things were advertised – those two young boys fighting over a glass of the white stuff, all because Ian Rush said without it they wouldn’t be good enough to play for a club that disappeared back in the ‘60s.

For those who don’t know, the club have had many guises – from the Accrington who were one of the founder members of the Football League, through to the club who now play in League Two.

In a sense, Accrington Stanley has many defining chapters within one defining story.

When Stanley resigned from the then-Division Four midway through the 1961-62 season, they became a warning sign for those clubs for whom financial worries were merely an itch easily scratched or a fate to watch rather than to suffer.

Today’s fans desperate for change would do well to note that having spent every season from 1921 to 1960 in Division Three, the club then slipped first into Division Four, then the Lancashire Combination Division Two, before the temporary ray of light that was promotion was forgotten when the club folded just two years later.

That could have been the end of them for ever. But such is the power of football fans and the game in general that just four years after the apparent final full-stop on their story, another chapter began.

Between 1970 and 2006, the Minnows made their way back from non-league football, climbing the pyramid until promotion to League Two saw them return to a peak that had for so long seemed beyond them.

And the fact that they are about to embark on their seventh successive season in the fourth tier should be applauded by all.

Because while football is and should be about aspiring to greater things, sometimes the greatest of things are simply being in existence and competing at a level that once seemed an impossible dream.

In fact it might still be a dream were it not for Brett Ormerod, a man whose career may not have hit the heights of some, and yet one whose departure from Stanley was the catalyst for their own final few steps back to the Football League.

Sell-on clauses are now commonplace, and in an age of ever-increasing transfer fees, £250,000 may not sound like much to many of today’s fans.

But when Ormerod was sold by Blackpool to Southampton for £1million in 2001, the clause entitling Stanley to 25% of any future fee saw them £250,000 richer.

Suddenly they had the funds to build a new stand – a stand that would ultimately prove their golden ticket back to league football.

So whatever Ormerod did on the pitch during his long and on-going career, for one club at least, he had a considerable and never-to-be-forgotten influence off it.

Just another chapter, another moment, in a collection that defines Accrington Stanley as a club like few others.

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image: © yellowbookltd

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