Andy Procter always joked that Leam Richardson would be the next manager of Stanley – but he did think he would be alongside him.
Captain Procter, after 10 years at the Reds, left to join Preston North End last week and John Coleman and Jimmy Bell followed him days later into League One.
The 28-year-old, who apart from Great Harwood hadn’t played for anyone else, admitted it was hard for him to leave the Crown Ground and was shocked that the management duo have gone too.
"It’s the end of an era at Stanley and it is sad," said Procter, who finished on 416 appearances for the Reds, just 49 outside Paul Mullin’s club record. "When I heard John and Jimmy had gone to Rochdale I genuinely felt shocked and upset as they had been such a big part of the club.
"I am glad Leam has taken over though. I roomed with Leam and we always said that we would be the next management duo at the club. One of us has fulfilled that and I have spoke to Leam and know he is excited about the challenge. He has his coaching badges, the lads respect him and I really think he can do well."
For Procter, Preston was too good a move to turn down. The fee is undisclosed.
"They came in for me last week and Accrington turned it down and I must admit I felt a bit gutted.
"But I got on the bus to Aldershot on Friday and then I was suddenly told a bid had been accepted and I had to get off in Cheshire, grab the gaffer’s car and drive to Preston for talks. It has all happened quickly but, at this stage of my career, it was too good to turn down.
"It was a real wrench to leave Accrington especially as it was my testimonial year but I have been loyal – I turned down a move to Stevenage in the summer – but I just felt the time was right and, with living in Read, Preston isn’t too far away. Graham Westley is a positive person and he is instilling confidence into the team.
"It is a bit surreal running out at Deepdale in front of 11,000 people but it’s a good step for me and hopefully I can prove myself at League One level .It is exciting with teams like Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton in the league so it is a new challenge in my career.
"But I keep in touch with the lads at Accy and I wish Leam all the best – I think he will be a success."