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Congratulations from around the world

STANLEY fans from around the world send in their congratulations ...

Sir - As a former chairman of Accrington Stanley in the early 1970s, I have watched them progress over the many years since I emigrated to South Africa in 1976 and I think the Stanley supporters of today would like to know how it all began.

A group of fanatical supporters whose names escape me, but I am sure you will have them somewhere in your archives, refused to see the town of Accrington without a football team and so came about the renaissance of Accrington Stanley.

I think it is fair to say that without the dedication of these people the club would not be where it is today.

One name springs to mind - Jimmy Hinksman, the player-manager who persuaded me to join the club and later to be elected chairman.

I also remember us winning the league and the cup, I think it was the Lancashire Combination, in the same season and we almost made it to the first round of the FA Cup, losing 1-0 away to Runcorn.

When I left, a member by the name of Starkie took over as chairman and I think that he probably deserves most credit for getting the club to where it is today.

To Eric Whalley, the directors and players past and present, you have almost made a dream come true.

Just one more hurdle to overcome and the dream will become a reality. On Stanley On!

To the public of Accrington, the club now needs your help more than ever so get down to the Crown ground, the Football League may now only be one season away.

I am beginning to think that dreams sometimes do come true - Yours etc.

ALAN COTTON, Johannesburg, South Africa

Sir - I am writing to you from Hong Kong in order to express my absolute delight at the promotion of Accrington Stanley to the Conference.

Sitting here, thousands of miles away, I have spent all season watching the exploits of the team and keeping in touch in whatever way possible.

The club's website and the Observer website are two of the most obvious ways but nothing can really compare to being there of course.

In any event, whether it be by website, phone call or radio report, the season culminated with the win over Altrincham and I wish to add my small voice to the thousands who are no doubt celebrating back home.

Well done Eric too. I know that he has given his all to the club. At the end of the day, actions speak louder than words, and Eric deserves all the success he is getting on that measure.

With warmest regards to all in Accrington and at the Crown ground - Yours etc.


Sir - Well done Stanley on a magnificent promotion season.

I felt I had to write about how delighted my late father, Bill Palmer, would have been to see his beloved Reds move just one step from a return to the League.

A fan from boyhood, he covered Stanley as a journalist, both pre and post-war, for the Observer and the Telegraph until the age of 80.

He died aged 87 four years ago in September 1999 and his obituary referred to him as Stanley's most faithful supporter.

My mum, wife, sister and I proudly scattered his ashes on the Crown pitch and Stanley's fortunes have not looked back since! - Yours etc.

LESLIE PALMER, Gardner Road, Formby

Sir - Without doubt the only result that mattered a week ago last Saturday was Accrington Stanley's.

Congratulations to everyone connected with the club from boardroom to backroom. Immense credit to John Coleman and Jimmy Bell for having welded together a truly impressive squad.

From the depths of despair only four years ago to the heady heights of the Nationwide Conference. Something tells me the club will continue to prosper.

Surely the people who have just reason to be delighted more than anyone else are those dedicated supporters who, 35 years ago, took the first historic steps to bring Accrington Stanley back to life. To those committed and determined people, my grateful thanks - Yours etc.

GERARD PARKE-HATTON, Woodplumpton Lane, Preston.

Sir - Having been born in Accrington, started my journalistic career as an apprentice on the Observer and been a one-time regular at Peel Park, may I say how uplifting it was for me to read that Accrington Stanley - still one of the best-known names in football - are champions of the Unibond League, and are now hopefully, on the way back.

I well remember the days when Accrington were a force in the old Third Division North, and eulogies were pouring from the pen of Frank Kitchener (Jason) in the Observer.

And I shared in the misery of so many supporters when the team was eventually forced to drop out of the league.

Since those days I have maintained my interest by following the team's progress among the non-league "minnows'', always hopeful, but never optimistic, about its return, one day, to league football.

And so I mingle my delight with that of well over 2,000 fans who turned out on Saturday to cheer their side to victory, and a place in the Nationwide Conference - which, after all, is virtually the Fourth Division.

Accrington is a vibrant town, and fully deserves a successful football team so I wish Stanley the very best for the future - Yours etc.

MIKE CRESSWELL, Redmire, North Yorkshire.


Stuart Pike
Deputy editor specialising in politics
Alex Bell
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