Accrington Stanley, Who Are They?
I’m sure Accrington fans get sick of hearing that phrase from the old milk advert, but it’s a good question and we went to check out “exactly!” who Accrington Stanley are this weekend.
Situated between Blackburn (4 miles west) and Burnley (6 miles east), Accrington is a former cotton and textile industry town in Lancashire.
Colloquially known as ‘Accy’, the town is famous for hosting the largest collection of Tiffany glass in Europe. This collection is housed in the Haworth Art Gallery.
It also boasts the hardest and densest building bricks in the world.
The famous ‘NORI’ bricks are iron-hard and were used in buildings worldwide. Places such as the Empire State Building, the foundations of Blackpool Tower, Sellafield Nuclear Plant and Battersea Power Station, among others.
After being closed down in 2008, it’s good to see that the brickworks was reopened in 2015.
The current Accrington Stanley home shirts have a brickwork inlay. I love it when clubs celebrate their local heritage.
The town of Accrington had a population of 35,456 at the 2011 census. The wider urban area lifts that number to 125,000.
So, let’s go and take a look…
With a long journey ahead of us, our day started at the nightmarish time of 05:15!
After forcing myself from bed to shower, I even found the energy to run the clippers over my head.
Feeling very spruce and dapper… and tired, we made our way to the bus station to catch the 06:36 X1 bus to Newcastle.
We had determined that the train journey was cheaper from Newcastle than it would be from Durham. This, despite it being a longer journey.
Yeah, I have no idea how these train companies operate either.
We arrived in Newcastle around 07:25 in a light mist and headed towards the station.
In a break from tradition, we swerved Greggs and headed to Maccy D’s for breakfast.
At over £11 for a couple of bacon and egg baps and two hashbrowns, it may be a while before we desert our pastries again!
The 08:06 Northern train pulled onto Platform 7 on schedule and we started the next leg of our journey.
Carlisle and Beyond
We alighted at Carlisle at 09:34 and had a fifteen-minute wait before joining our 09:49 Avanti West Coast train.
As we journeyed south, the conditions outside belied the weather forecasts of a scorching day.
Wet, foggy mist hugged the hills all the way from Newcastle to Preston.
The following photographs, snapped from our moving train, will give you some idea.
Having sat down, we found ourselves next to a lovely couple who were travelling from Glasgow to Tunbridge Wells for a wedding. They were playing cards with each other and I have to say the girl was thrashing her poor partner into submission.
We said goodbye to them at Preston and got off the train at 10:53.
Having already purchased train tickets to Wigan, the nearest available match was Accrington and for an extra tenner on the train, it saved our day.
From Preston, we joined another Northern train. An old train that felt more like a rickety old Blackpool tram, we chugged our way to Accy, arriving at midday.
Having asked on social media for pub recommendations, we headed into the town centre.
We walked down the steep path from the station onto Paxton Road before turning right onto Blackburn Road. This took us past the Town Hall and quite a few pubs, including one called The Stanley.
We cut off the end of Blackburn Road by turning left into Bank Street and then via Tasker Street and Queen Street, we came to our destination.
The Crazy Fox
An unassuming little establishment surrounded by shuttered shops, the Crafty Fox reminded me more of a cafe than a traditional pub.
A couple of tables sat outside, while inside was similar. Little tables set up for food and a bar at one end of the quite narrow room.
Mrs Hopper ordered an IPA, while I was intrigued by one of the draught beers… Fox P**s.
At £9.50 for the two beers, everywhere is getting so expensive now and I don’t know how people afford to go out on the lash all the time.
Incidentally, if this is the by-product of a real fox, they are going to have to watch out because it was lovely.
Music is a central theme to this bar and the walls are plastered with music-related posters and pictures. This is especially true of the upstairs where the toilets are.
Climbing the stairs and beyond, musical pictures are everywhere, along with more dining tables and chairs.
A good choice of music was also playing while we were there. It seemed very focused on the Manchester scene and punk rock, both of which I heartily approve of.
Having started our drinks inside, we quickly retreated to one of the outdoor tables. The weather had turned from the misty, foggy conditions of the morning, to another hot day and it was nice to sit in the open air.
Walk to the Stadium
Having finished our drinks, we headed off back north towards the Wham Stadium.
From the Crafty Fox, it is a simple journey. Situated on Whalley Road, you simply follow it until you come to the Crown pub which sits on the corner of the Wham Stadium.
Is this pub the reason the unsponsored name for the stadium is the Crown Ground?
I’m not sure, so please drop a comment if you know.
One thing I haven’t mentioned is that most of this walk is uphill. It’s not steep, like Dundee but it is a constant rise, so be prepared.
Accrington Stanley – The Wham Stadium Exterior
Mansfield fans and Accrington fans were happily mixing in the Crown’s car park, which I always like to see.
We walked down some steps and found ourselves in a car park at the west corner of the ground.
To the left of the car park is the club shop. Something we only realised after it was too late to visit. Doh!
A wrought iron fence with turnstiles built-in backs onto the Farleys Solicitors Stand. This is a terrace populated by the home support.
To the northern end of this stand, the path around it is blocked off by the fence. Although, once inside, you would be able to carry on around.
For us, this was the end of the line in this direction, so we headed back along the fence and turned left past the main stand.
The outer length of the main stand is made up of hospitality lounges and club bars.
I will come back to that later but for now, that was all there was to see here.
The eastern side of the Wham Stadium is taken up by the away fans. Another car park lies behind this end of the ground and a fence prevents any further walking around it unless you have tickets for the away section.
So, back to the club bar I alluded to.
After heading to the door to Coley’s Bar, we were asked to show our match tickets and also if we were home or away fans.
It always seems to confuse people when we say “Neither!” 😂
Also confusing once we were inside, was why we had been asked which team we supported. It made sense until we walked inside and saw fans of both teams mingling and chatting.
Maybe they only allow a limited number of away fans in? I’m not sure.
The bar itself is huge and has windows looking out onto the pitch. You could if you wanted to, sit inside and watch the game. Especially if the home team is having a bad day…
Incidentally, Coley’s is named after the current Stanley manager, John Coleman, who is a hero in these parts.
Accrington Stanley Supporters Trust
While Mrs Hopper went to the bar to get us a drink, I went over to the table at the other end of the room to buy a pin badge.
This table is run by the Accrington Stanley Supporters Trust.
They sell two kinds of pin badges here: the usual club crest variety and a half-and-half badge showing both teams’ crests.
After recognising my Hoppers Guide shirt, the guy introduced himself as someone I’d had a brief interaction with on social media and it was good to say hello.
I sincerely hope their efforts are appreciated, as they put in a lot of dedicated work on behalf of their football team.
After having a chat with Peter Leatham, the chairman of the Supporter’s Trust, I went back to where Mrs Hopper was waiting at a table with our drinks. Two pints of Madri, costing £9.00.
We managed to obtain a teamsheet from another Trust member who was walking around the bar handing them out.
Several Stanley fans in Coley’s were wearing the club’s ‘third shirt’ and Mrs Hopper was very taken by it. It is a nod to the Tiffany Glass collection I mentioned earlier and is a multi-coloured design that has a very tropical feel to it.
Unfortunately, they were sold out of these, otherwise, Mrs Hopper would have been straight in there to get one.
I liked the designs of both the home and away shirts on show and all credit to Macron and the club for these.
Having enjoyed our time in Coley’s, it was time to get inside the stadium and take our seats.
Accrington Stanley – The Wham Stadium Interior
We had already shown our tickets to get into Coley’s Bar and it does act as a type of turnstile. We had to show our tickets again at the door leading into the stand but it’s a very relaxed way to do it.
Our main stand tickets were purchased online via the Accrington Stanley ticketing website and cost £20.00 each.
Once inside the main stand, we made our way to our seats and took a few photographs.
To our right, was the open terrace that houses the away fans.
It can hold 1,800 spectators but is open to the elements (which was blazing sunshine today).
A good number of Stags fans had made the journey from Nottinghamshire and were making themselves heard even before the game started.
The players’ tunnel is at this end of the ground and an electronic scoreboard is located in the far corner.
The dressing rooms are located in the brick building that juts out into the car park at the away end of the ground.
Eric Whalley Stand
Opposite us, the Eric Whalley Stand houses both home and away supporters.
The allocation depends on demand and occasionally, the whole stand is given over to visiting supporters.
Today, Mansfield fans were given half of this stand and although the noisiest supporters were behind the goal, the fans in the seats did their bit to add to the atmosphere, too.
This stand is all-seated and covered. It runs most of the length of the pitch.
Clayton End (Farleys Solicitors Stand)
The end of the ground to our left is where Stanley’s more vocal fans congregate and there were flags and banners being waved before kick-off.
We were invited to go and stand in there by one of the club’s supporter groups on Twitter. An account going by the name Forza Accy.
We would have happily taken them up on this offer if we hadn’t already bought our tickets for the main stand.
Main Stand (HML Recycling Stand)
The main stand is where we were located on the southern side of the Wham Stadium.
It is another all-seated stand that runs the length of the pitch, with the hospitality lounges and Coley’s Bar immediately behind it.
As always, the stand we are seated in is the most problematic to get a decent photograph of.
Accrington Stanley Tidbits
The original team in Accrington, known simply as Accrington, was one of the twelve founding members of the Football League. They resigned from the League five years after the League’s formation in 1888.
Stanley Villa was another club in the town at the time, playing on Stanley Street and representing the Stanley Working Men’s Club. With the demise of the original Accrington, Stanley Villa adopted the town’s name and they became Accrington Stanley.
This first club to bear the Accrington Stanley name was founded in 1891 and resigned from the Football League in 1966, before being liquidated.
You can read more about that club here.
The Current Club
The current Accrington Stanley was founded two years later in 1968 and has played at the Crown Ground (Wham Stadium) ever since.
The stadium has a capacity of 5,450 of which 3,100 are seats.
The club won three promotions in seven seasons at the turn of the century and gained Football League status for the first time as a new club.
The manager at the time was John Coleman, the man who is still at the helm. After leaving the club in 2012, he returned in 2014 and remains a cult hero for the Stanley fans.
Having spent twelve years in League Two, Coleman guided them to another promotion in 2017/18 as champions.
The ground’s record attendance was broken three times in the following season.
The current record of 5,397 was set on the 26th of January 2019 against Derby County for an FA Cup Fourth-Round tie.
He and the club suffered their first relegation at the end of the 2022/23 season and will be looking to bounce back this year.
Although a non-league club at the time, Stanley came into the national focus in 1989. The now famous Milk Marketing Board advert was first shown.
Two young Liverpool fans are featured. One of whom is drinking milk. He tells the other that prolific Liverpool striker, Ian Rush says that if you don’t drink milk, you will only be good enough to play for Accrington Stanley.
The other kid replies “Accrington Stanley, who are they?”
The first kid replies “Exactly!” and a legendary advert was born.
The two kids who took part in the advert have had very different life paths, with one recently given a life sentence for murder.
The other has been invited to the Wham Stadium on a couple of occasions as a guest of the club.
Accrington Stanley – The Wham Stadium Gallery
Accrington Stanley – Pre-Game View of the Wham Stadium
Accrington Stanley v Mansfield Town – The Game
Coming into today’s game Accrington were sitting in mid-table with ten points.
Three wins, a draw and two defeats, including a 3-0 opening-day win against Newport County at the Wham, preceded today.
They were knocked out of this season’s League Cup by Bradford City after losing a penalty shootout.
In Accrington and other parts of Lancashire, ‘Clough’ is a term used to describe a steep-sided, wooded valley or ravine.
In Mansfield, it means the son of Brian.
Nigel Clough is entering his fourth season as the Stags manager and there is a real belief that this season, he could steer them to promotion.
They have made a good start on that promise and have begun the season unbeaten.
Two wins and four draws have been accompanied by two League Cup wins that put them into the third round. They will face League One’s Peterborough United at Field Mill in the next round.
A win today would potentially see them enter the automatic promotion spots.
My pre-match prediction was a 1-1 draw. 🙄
From the off, Mansfield Town looked like they were going to be a tough nut to crack and so it proved.
It took them half an hour to find the opening goal, though it was worth waiting for.
The ball was played into the box and was superbly dispatched by Davis Keillor-Dunn. As the ball came to him, he chested the ball above himself before launching into an acrobatic overhead kick that beat the home keeper.
Great goal but not the best one of the day…
One became two when George Maris completed an excellent team goal. A move down the right-hand side ended with the ball being played low into the area, where Maris was on hand to coolly apply the finish.
Accy had their chances but failed to put the finishing touch to any of them and Mansfield made them pay with an outrageous goal from Aaron Lewis.
The ‘Owd Red’s keeper, Toby Savin cleared the ball on the outer edge of his six-yard box. The ball flew straight to Lewis about forty yards from the goal. He volleyed the ball goalwards and watched it curl into the far corner of the net with Savin stranded.
The Stags fans celebrated joyously as this third goal confirmed the three points for them.
In fact, if I was that way inclined, I might suggest it was a Stag party.
A Sour Ending
A sour note to the day occurred with about ten minutes remaining. The ball was kicked into the crowd with force and it unfortunately struck a gentleman in the head, knocking him straight to the ground.
I witnessed it happen and the man went down like he’d been hit by Mike Tyson.
It was gratifying to see many people immediately run to his aid and I’m happy to have read a post on social media that he is now doing fine after a seven-and-a-half-hour stay in hospital.
He has clearly retained a sense of humour as he was quoted as saying “I was trying to buy Stanley a bit more time”.
Unfortunately, the delay meant we would have to miss the end of the game because of catching our train.
Full-time – Accrington Stanley 0 – Mansfield Town 3
Attendance – 3,094
Entrance Fee – £20.00
Programme – N/A (Teamsheet only)
Accrington Stanley v Mansfield Town – Match Highlights
Revised League Table After Today’s Game
The Red’s next game will be a quick return to the Wham Stadium as they host Sutton United on September 16th.
This will be followed by a trip to Tranmere Rovers the following Saturday.
They will close out September with another home game against Stockport County.
Mansfield’s next game will be a trip to Colchester United on 16th September.
They then host Barrow AFC the following weekend before that League Cup game against Peterborough.
On September 30th, the Stags will face a tough trip to the current league leaders, Gillingham.
A friendly reception was apparent for the visiting Stags fans, who seemed to enjoy their day out in Lancashire.
The club shop could have been better highlighted, although, in retrospect, it wasn’t hard to find.
The Wham Stadium has all the amenities of a bigger stadium while retaining the feel of a lower league club and I was impressed with the overall feel of it.
Mrs Hopper was also impressed and liked the fact that we were on top of the action and didn’t feel detached from it.
Although, she did wonder if they could have maybe built it at the bottom of the hill, instead of the top… 😂
The home fans were quiet from where we were sitting, even when the game was level. A little more singing early on would perhaps have helped drive the players on against tough opposition.
Meanwhile, the Mansfield fans never stopped singing with a decent drummer driving the tempo of their chants.
Overall, Accy is a great place to go and watch football and I’d very much recommend paying a visit if you haven’t already.
Be sure to visit Coley’s Bar and support the Supporters Trust by buying a pin badge.
Accrington – After the Game
With the gentleman still laid low in the Main Stand and the action on the pitch delayed while first aiders worked on him, we took our leave of the Wham Stadium.
With a twenty-minute walk back to the train station and a 17:12 train to catch, there was no time to lose.
We made our way back down Whalley Road before turning right onto Milnshaw Road.
At the roundabout, I stopped to quickly take a photo of the Accrington Viaduct.
Run Hoppers, Run
Arriving at the steep path leading up to the station, I thought I could hear the faint rumble of a train in the distance.
Knowing we needed to be on the other side, we put a little arthritic jog on.
We ran up the bridge as the train pulled onto the platform, just as our legs failed us on the second flight of steps.
Luckily, we had done enough to get there in time and we boarded the 17:12 train looking like we were fresh out of an hour’s session in a sauna, eating vindaloo.
After using up Mrs Hopper’s supply of tissues to mop our brows, we finally started to cool down.
We arrived in Preston in perfect time to board the 17:54 train to Carlisle with a couple of sandwiches bought from a shop on the platform.
It was important that we had caught that train because the one we had originally intended to catch at 18:41, was cancelled. Phew!
We arrived in Carlisle at 19:05 and had a long wait for the 20:09 train to Newcastle.
The train pulled into the Toon around 21:45, giving us enough time to catch the 10:05 bus home.
Our long day was completed as we got through the HG HQ front door around 23:10.
Next Up for Hoppers Guide
Next week we will be going to a ground I have wanted to visit ever since we started our groundhopping adventures.
The Shay, home of FC Halifax Town.
This is another phoenix club that replaced the original Halifax Town following their going into administration in the 2007/08 season.
The club were saddled with huge tax debts and failed to find a way out of the dilemma.
It’s good to see they have risen back up the leagues and are now within one promotion of finding themselves back in the Football League.
Can’t wait for this one, onto the next!