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This plan will work, says Stanley chairman

ERIC Whalley had a five year plan to get Stanley into the Conference - it took seven years but he is more hopeful with his next aim.

ERIC Whalley
ERIC Whalley

ERIC Whalley had a five year plan to get Stanley into the Conference - it took seven years but he is more hopeful with his next aim.

The Accrington chairman wants the Reds in the Football League in three seasons - and believes this is achieveable.

"I am always optimistic. People scoffed when we said we would get in the Conference. Now we have wiped the smirks off a few people's faces. I am determined and I can see no reason why not. The main problem might be our fitness levels because we are now just one of seven clubs who aren't full-time.

"I think we have done a hard enough pre-season but only time will tell if it is enough. If we have to go full-time during the season, then we will. The players ability won't be in question or their attitude - it could just be the fitness."

He thinks the signings of Paul Cook and Gordon Armstrong will go a long way to making their first season in the top tier of non-League football a good one.

"I spoke to the Burton chairman and last year, they went out and bought a load of youngsters released from league clubs and it didn't help them.That is why we have gone for experience, we had an essentially young squad anyway so we hope they can play a big part for us."

Stanley smashed their crowd record with the 3,035 in the pre-season friendly against Burnley last Wednesday. However, the chairman can see the record going again before the end of this season - especially with Shrewsbury being at the Interlink Express Stadium for the first Saturday home game.

"The ex-league clubs bring a lot of fans and I can see the record going again - I hope it does. Shrewsbury are said to bring 800 and there will be segregation for that game. They will get one part of the ground. It won't happen in all games but will happen in some. We want to be known as a friendly, family club."

And, he is hoping that more fans get the Stanley bug. "We are in a unique position in that we can attract both Burnley and Blackburn fans and when either of the sides are away, we are hopeful the fans will come and watch us. We don't mind being people's second clubs as long as they come.

"The first Saturday home game against Shrewbsury should be a big game but it will be a lot better if we have picked up some points against Aldershot and Leigh in the previous two! It is great times for the club. We want to go further and we have never had a better chance. The interest has been absolutely brilliant. We have phone calls, people wanting shirts and souvenirs. It has gone crazy but long may it carry on."

Stanley have sold 300 season tickets - they have doubled from last season - and 300 replica shirts with another delivery of the home ones expected soon.

"When the players run out onto the pitch at Aldershot I will realise that the first part of the three- year plan has been achieved. I want us to do ourselves justice in this league and soon be running out as a Football League club," he added.


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