A FEW weeks ago I finished writing my forthcoming book, "Accrington Stanley: the Club That Wouldn't Die," and in so doing asked the following question: How exactly have the club managed to go from the 334 people who watched John Coleman's first game in charge at the Crown, to the 4,000 or so who are predicted to watch the first League game?
As things turned out, the attendance at that first league game was some 1,500 short of expectations, and last Saturday's home game against Barnet was much worse.
It's not a problem for the book, as it's merely a record of what I and many others were feeling at the time. But it is a problem for the club, and it's something that only the citizens of Accrington can resolve.
Quite simply, the club cannot survive in the Football League without better support from the town - a point made many times, and not just by the current leadership of the club.
The same message was sounded by those at the helm in the early 1960s, when Stanley sunk to the bottom of the Fourth Division. And it's the reaction of the football world then that gives us reason to reflect now.
When Stanley went out of the league in 1962, did the football world mourn our passing? One or two did, but the overwhelming reaction of the football commentators of the day was quite different.
Typical was this, from David Miller of the Daily Telegraph: "It is ridiculous that our international club and national fortunes should be jeopardised by the deadweight of a domestic league loaded with near bankrupts."
Or this, from the Charles Buchan's Football Monthly: "Worldwide soccer has left far behind the tram tracks of Accrington... Accrington Stanley must go and must be followed by all the other lagging clubs."
The tabloids were no better. The Daily Herald ran its story under the headline, 'Don't Weep for Accrington' and while Desmond Hackett of the Daily Express tried to sound more sympathetic, he arrived at the same conclusion with an overdose of unbearable condescension: "For too many seasons, League football has been geared to the Accrington Stanleys and, bless their honest Lancashire hearts, Accrington did their best. But they were the brake on any progress to a European league..."
Does that not get your blood pressure rising - that our town's club, Accrington Stanley, are just an impediment, a pointless irritant preventing the big boys of the game from fulfilling their potential? These words were written in 1962, but nothing has changed.
Since those days, the football authorities have tried everything to accelerate the process: The Premiership and its selfish and skewed television deals, the 'Champions' League (full of non-champions) and the relentless hype machine designed to sucker our kids into thinking that there's only 20 teams worth supporting.
Even what remains of the Football League community has gone the same way, with the bigger 'Championship' clubs demanding, and receiving, 80 per cent of the television money on offer.
And who was not angered by the short TV piece on last Sunday's highlights programme in which a group of small Accrington kids on the Peel Park pitch were told to (and duly did) mimic the milk advert?
The point is this: Stanley's glorious fight back into the Football League has been achieved in the face of all these forces that are deliberately designed to make life difficult for the smaller clubs.
Just like it was in 1962, there's nothing that the big city clubs would prefer more than for the likes of Accrington Stanley to push off and leave them to hog all the resources that the game can provide.
George Santayana once famously remarked that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. We have no such excuse.
We know from experience that to abandon or ignore Accrington Stanley is to imperil it, and that to merely wish the club well is neither here nor there in the carnivorous world of football.
As we saw on Sunday, the music hall jokes might remain, but John Coleman's team has given the town the opportunity to have the last, defiant laugh at those who watched Stanley go under in 1962 and reasoned that it was a good thing for English football.
We must, as a town, have the courage and self-respect to take that opportunity, to defy the narrow-minded arrogance of those who think that towns like Accrington have no place in the scheme of things.
It's not difficult to do. Simply make your way to the Crown Ground and support those lads in red. They have achieved great things in our name; our wholehearted support would make the achievement even more special.