Leam Richardson has called for a carnival atmosphere at the Store First Stadium tomorrow with Stanley having maintained their Football League status for another year.
As predicted, the scrap for League Two survival has gone down to the wire, but the Reds are no longer in it after producing some excellent late-season form.
Stanley have spared themselves from any final-day drama after winning 1-0 at Bristol Rovers last week to go four points clear of the drop zone.
Richardson’s suit was soaked in the post-match celebrations and match-winner Lee Molyneux described the Reds’ coach trip home as the ‘party bus’.
And while the 100 fans that travelled to Bristol have begun celebrating survival, Richardson feels it’s time for the rest of the Accy faithful to join the party when Oxford visit tomorrow.
“Everybody deserves that,” said the Stanley boss. “Let’s hope they come down in their numbers and really get behind the team for one last push. It’s good for everybody involved. I’m made up for the people in the office, the players, the fans and everybody attached with the club.
“We’ve kind of got used to doing it (staying up), but it’s a massive achievement after what the club’s gone through this year.”
Richardson admits Stanley are punching above their weight just to stay in League Two each year, but he agrees this season has probably been the club’s toughest since returning to the Football League in 2006.
A run of one league win in 15 saw the team slip from 14th into the bottom two but the Reds have responded by losing just one of the last eight to climb to safety.
And they’ve produced that form during a period when their wages were paid late, while club legend Jack Barrett and midfielder Amine Linganzi’s brother passed away.
“I think it has been the toughest, what with the financial climate and the revenue coming into the club,” said Richardson.
“It’s been no secret that finances have been very tight, some of the players didn’t get paid for a bit, and on the back of that we were asked to do another big task (staying up).
“For me personally it’s been a good challenge and we’ve come together, embraced it and got through it.
“We are a massive underdog every year but we’ve come to the fore every time because we’ve got lads who’ll dig in when they need to, are honest and will give everything.
“We’ve got the lowest budget in League Two – it’s lower than a lot of Conference teams – but what we have got is pride, application and professionalism to have a good fight and pit ourselves against bigger sides.
“We do that consistently and we do it well.”
And Richardson is proud of the manner in which his side have managed to avoid relegation.
“We’ve not just scraped it, we’ve done it playing some really good football and producing a few players along the way,” he said.
“If you look at the some of teams in and around us, and nine or 10 points above us, they’ll have maybe three times our budget, a bigger infrastructure, bigger support and everything else.
“But we’ve not just competed, sometimes we’ve come off the pitch very comfortable. We’ve expressed ourselves well, we’ve conducted ourselves very professionally and it’s nice we’ve come out in a good position again.”
Accy are safe and 10th-placed Oxford are short of the play-offs but Richardson insists there is still plenty to play for as Stanley bring the curtain down on the 2012/13 campaign.
“Oxford are a good team and they’ll be coming here to give a good account of themselves,” he said.
“I’ll be demanding high standards from the players because the season’s not over till the last kick tomorrow.
“There’s still three points up for grabs, there’s still fans to please and there’s still targets to be reached – individually and collectively.”
There will be a minute’s applause before the game in honour of former manager Dennis Cook, who passed away last weekend.
Dennis was the Reds’ boss for the 1982/83 season and was the father of Stanley’s groundsman Martyn Cook.