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This sleeping giant is only just waking

JUBILANT Stanley chiefs have vowed to move heaven and earth to bring league football back to Accrington.

CHAIRMAN Eric Whalley
CHAIRMAN Eric Whalley

JUBILANT Stanley chiefs have vowed to move heaven and earth to bring League football back to Accrington.

The dream team of chairman Eric Whalley and manager John Coleman have done the town proud by guiding the Reds into the Conference next season.

But the two men at the helm already have their sights set on achieving their next step in their blueprint for success.

Boss Coleman, who masterminded the stunning Unibond League romp, warned: "This sleeping giant is only just waking!

"Accrington Stanley is a name synonymous with the game worldwide and a true footballing town in every sense of the word.

"My job here has been to get people taking about us again in every pub, club and playground.

"We will always be famous for THAT milk advert on TV and for being a founder member of the Football League - but now we are just one step away from getting back there again.

"It would be beyond even our wildest dreams to do that, but anything can happen and we are going straight into a league where the incentive is a play-off for finishing in the top five.

"I realise it's a difficult league and somewhere you have to find your feet very quickly or you can sink.

"But I can assure everyone who has the club's interests at heart that we won't be going in there to lose games."

Stalwart Whalley, who has served the club as player, manager, director and now owner, added: "Consolidation is a word I don't like using.

"If you say that's what you want, then you are sending a signal out a signal to supporters that you are happy to finish below half-way or even just outside the relegation places.

"We are not going into the Conference just to hold our own - we will set our stall out from day one to finish in a play-off position if it's at all possible."

Stanley's achievement caps a remarkable rise through the non-league world since the club dramatically resigned from the Football League through debts in 1962.

Forty years on, fans of what has been dubbed "the biggest little football club in the world'' can look forward to the highest level of football seen in the town since that fateful day.

And for Whalley, whose own involvement has coincided with the most turbulent spell in the club's entire history, that day has come not a moment too soon.

He declared: "I'm no historian - I'm more for the future!

"I feel like I've been at this club since the dawn of time and I remember, a few years ago, being barracked and telling some fans that we would get into the Conference.

"I was laughed at back then, but ultimately I was proved right and what has happened is the culmination of a dream.

"It has always been part of that dream to get as high as possible and now, if I can take this fabulous club one step further, I will be happy with my lot!"


Stuart Pike
Deputy editor specialising in politics
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Jon Macpherson
Kate Watkins
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