A WAR veteran who came to Accrington Stanley's rescue 35 years ago has spoken of his delight after seeing his team make it to the third round of the FA Cup.
Thrilled Jack Barrett, 79, who served in the Royal Navy for nine years around the Second World War, was one of more than 2,500 jubilant fans to watch the Reds beat Second Division Bourne-mouth at the Interlink Express Stadium last Monday.
But victory tasted even sweeter for Jack as he is famed for throwing the club a vital lifeline six years after the club's departure from the Football League in 1962.
He said: "It was like a death knell for the town and nobody could understand it. But nobody could come up with an answer either."
A series of crisis meetings was held in 1968 in a bid to come up with an action plan to revive the club.
Jack, of West Crescent, Acc-rington, said: "Nothing was really being done. They were having these meetings and I went along out of curiosity. The Mayor at the time was James Madden and he said: 'What are we going to do?' You could have heard a pin drop.
"What alarmed me most, and inspired me at the same time, was that none of the original four people who organised these meetings spoke up. An air of despondency fell over us."
But Jack, who worked as a postman at the time, leaped to his feet just as the meeting looked doomed to failure.
He said: "We were within seconds of finishing the meeting. I said this wasn't right, we had to do something. They asked me how and I told them we had to start where every other club had started - at the rock bottom."
After an appeal to townsfolk Accrington Stanley 1968 was formed and began to work its way up the non-leagye pyramid.
Jack served for 10 years as secretary of the committee and was made a life member of Stanley in 1978 following the team's victory over Durham City in a cup clash.
He is now a familiar face at Stanley's home and away games and he even jetted down to watch them play Bournemouth in the first cup game.
Jack, who has three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, said: "In a way, I've never left this club. I've seen the good, the bad and the evil.
"But Eric Whalley and John Coleman have made it what it is today. They have come up with every success imaginable. You couldn't find a better combination."
He fancies Stanley's chances against Second Division Colchester in the third round, saying: "We are playing at home and the players have every inch of that ground mapped out. It is their territory.
"They will fight to the bitter end. They are sharp and all help each other. There's a fantastic team spirit at the club."
- EXPATS Bryan and Phyllis Pemberton contacted the Observer via the exiles section of our Internet site to congratulate Stanley on their historic victory. Bryan, a former Accrington Tech student, also played for Stanley and was a Great Harwood player in the 1960s. The couple have lived in Canada since 1974.