STANLEY began the 1961-62 season with a small but committed squad of 17 players, which included proven performers such as striker George Hudson and goalkeeper Alex Smith. Player-manager Jimmy Harrower had decided to retire, but his new defensive signings, Garbutt Richardson and Bob Wilson, were considered to be good, solid defenders. Up front, Stanley relied on the prowess of Hudson.
Although Stanley's season would end prematurely, the early signs were good. After eight games, Stanley held a comfortable position just above midway in the table. The defence was looking solid, but manager Harrower was concerned at Stanley's reliance on George Hudson to score the goals. Using the last of the resources available to him, he signed inside-forward Harry Milner to provide Hudson with some support.
That careful planning was blown apart when the directors decided to accept Peterborough's offer of £3,500 for George Hudson in September 1961. The decision to sell Hudson still baffles many Stanley fans. He was the only forward player with the ability to find the net on a regular basis. A serious injury to defender Garbutt Richardson served to highlight the lack of depth in Stanley's squad.
Without Hudson, Stanley could not score goals, and they sank to the bottom of the Fourth Division. By the end of the year attendees at Peel Park had shrunk to a core of around 1,500. For these loyal supporters it was heartbreaking to see their club in such a sorry state and an incident in November further alienated the board from the fans. Stanley travelled to Hartlepool in the FA Cup but no director went to the match or even bothered to send a traditional "good luck'' telegram.
The following month, a crisis meeting was held at Accrington Town Hall to find new ways of raising cash, and though several suggestions were carried, the supporters could not refrain from expressing their disgust at the inaction of the board.
Further upheaval immediately followed in December with the resignation of manager Jimmy Harrower. The board had insisted that Harrower try to regain match fitness so he could reprise his role as player-manager. Harrower reluctantly agreed, but when the board pressured him to play before he was ready it was the last straw for the popular Scot and he tendered his resignation. The team soldiered on, but with minimal gates and a board bereft of ideas the arrival of a letter from the Football League was no surprise. What people were not expecting was that this letter would herald the end of Accrington Stanley as a League club.