Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Accrington Stanley - The Crown Ground

Accrington Stanley FC
The Crown Ground
Livingstone Road

0871 434 1968

Ground Number: 122
Saturday 30th September 2006
Accrington Stanley 2-1 Wycombe Wanderers
Coca Cola League 2


Accrington Stanley were formed in 1968, though a previous club of the same name was in the Football League until the mid 1960's when they were disbanded. They are most famous for a television advert broadcast in the late 1980's for the milk marketing board. 2 young Liverpool fans were arguing about how horrible milk was. The advert was orignally meant to mock Tottenham Hotspur, but was changed to Accrington Stanley after the North London club objected to their name being used. Despite this Accrington's trophy haul has been far greater than their Premiership counterparts in the ensuing years.

Boy 1: "Do you want a drink?"
Boy 2: "Got any lemonade?"
Boy 1: "If you want!" (He takes a bottle of milk from the fridge).
Boy 2: "Milk … Ugh!"
Boy 1: "It's what Ian Rush drinks."
Boy 2: "Ian Rush?"
Boy 1: "Yeah, an' he says if I don't drink lots of milk, when I grow up I'm only gonna be good enough to play for Accrington Stanley!"
Boy 2: "Accrington Stanley? Who are they?"
Boy 1: "Exactly!"
Boy 2: "Gimmie some!

Boy 1: "Gerroff!"

At the time of this advert Accrington Stanley were playing in the Northern Premier League Division 1, which at time was the thrid tier of non league, a level that they had been at since 1986 following their promotion from the North West Counties League. Prior to that they competed in the Lancashire Combination & Cheshire League. After a series of decent finishes around the time of the ad they won promotion into the NPL Premier in 1991. Despite being releagted back into Division 1 at the turn of the century they bounced back after a single season and by 2003 they Northern Premier League champions. Now playing in the Conference they spent 3 seasons here before progressing to the Football League. They have remained in League 2 ever since, generally fighting against relegation but in 2011 they had their best ever finish so far - 5th, losing in the playoffs to Stevenage Borough in a 2 legged semi final.
In the FA Cup Accrington reached the 4th Round in 2010 before a 3-1 defeat at home to Fulham. In the League Cup they have reached the 2nd Round on 3 occasions with probably their most famous victory when they won 1-0 at Middlesbrough in 2013. They've also reached the FA Trophy 3rd Round on a number of occasions as well as the Football League Trophy area semi final in 2010 where they lost to Leeds United. 

VISIT 1: ACCRINGTON 2-1 WYCOMBE (L2, 30/09/06)

My first visit to Accrington came in the September of 2006. I travelled on the official supporters club for this one and it came during the 7 year period where I didn't miss a single Wycombe game at home or away. This game sums up why I stopped this run less than a year later with playoff chasing Wycombe falling to defeat against lowly opponents. It wasn't the defeat that bothered me so much, more the overly negative defensive  tactics. In the end the home side deserved their victory, even if we were not helped by some strange refereeing decisions.

VISIT 2: ACCRINGTON 0-2 WYCOMBE (L2, 02/02/08)

It was a fairly early start for the crew on this morning, depleted by absences and numbering just 3 in my car. We set off at 7, with the possibility still on that the game would be postponed due to the bad weather. Conditions were fine as we set off, but it was looking decidedly dicey as we got up to Stafford so we stopped for a short break at Stafford Services to wait for news of the 9am pitch inspection. Talk of where we could go if the match was off ensued, fortunately the alternative was not needed as we got the good news that the game could go ahead.

The taking pictures of grounds continued, but the bad conditions dictated that we couldn’t get to our first stop at Ramsbottom as all the surrounding roads were closed. Things didn’t look much better at Rossendale and Bacup, but were clearing up as we got further up – Burnley, Nelson, Colne, Padiham and our eventual destination Accrington all looked a lot more playable.

We got to Accrington about 1ish and welcomed the team off the coach, including new signing Neil Lennon. It was then to the chippy for a pre match meal of steak pudding, curry sauce and chips which was excellent. Last year the chippy closed at 1.30, just as nearly 2000 football fans were arriving. Not brilliant business sense, but they’ve thankfully sorted it now.

After a quick pint we made our way to the ground for the game. Wycombe were brilliant, they should have had many more but in the end it was just 2-0. Scott McGleish continuing his rich vein of form with another goal, but also missing a penalty. Leon Knight got the second as he chased down a poor backpass by Accrington to make the game safe for Wycombe. Wycombe dominated the game from start to finish with Sergio Torres running our hosts ragged, much to the chagrin of the home fans. Scott McGleish In particular missed chances to make the scoreline embarrassing for Accrington but with the amount of goals he has put away this season he can be forgiven.
The journey home was uneventful. A stop near Aston Villa was taken for a Curry at the local Indian Restaurant, and very nice it was too, the food no doubt tasting a lot better after a good victory for Wycombe


Fresh from a relegation from League 1, Wycombe had started the season in fairly mundane form under Gary Waddock. At least the football was better, with us playing better football under Gary Waddock than we had under previous manager Peter Taylor.

I can't remember how I got up there this time, but once again  it was frustration at the local chip shop for closing at 1.30PM with 1200 football supporters on their doorstep. Instead I made my way to the local pub, where I had a burger and a pint for £4.50. There was more frustration on the pitch too. Wycombe had developed a knack of conceding late equalisers and this game was no exception.After taking the lead on 65 minutes through a rare Matt Bloomfield goal we missed chances to seal the win. The inevitable happened in the last minute when Rory Boulding grabbed an equaliser after Wycombe lost posession in midfield.


Originally Accrington wasn't a ground I was planning to visit again, with me now more into my groundhopping and not fussed about returning to a venue I had visited on 3 previous occasions. The game was originally scheduled for a Saturday afternoon in December. However there were plenty of games being called off all over the place. However Wycombe was initially not one of them, with the referee giving the go ahead at 11 &12 before eventually calling it off at 1.30 with fans already arrived. Thankfully I was not a victim as I was at an entertaining FA Vase game between Tadley Calleva and Newport IOW whuch ended 2-2.The game was rather strangeley arranged for a Wednesday night, meaning I would be free. After fruitless attempts to persude other people to come and help pay petrol, I booked on the official supporters club coach, meaning I could at least have a sleep on the way back if I was tired.

The day of the game was a surprisingly easy day at work with me finishing at 11.30. I was planning on going straight to meet the coach but with nearly 2 hours spare I decided to go home for a bit. After grabbing some drinks and cakes for the journey I drove home. I chilled for an hour and had a brief play with my new Pure Sensia DAB & Internet Radio that had been delivered that morning. I only had around 50 minutes to play with though, so there wasn't much chance to do anything. I packed up all I thought I would need including the weekly football fixtures magazine 'Football Traveller'. Annoyingly I forgot my highlighter pen though, and the local shop didn't have one although I did get a samosa for lunch.

The coach was there and waiting so I got on and bagged a nice double seat to myself. The cost was £26, even as a non member which was pretty good value. The coach made slow but steady progress up the M40 with me keeping myself entertained by reading Danny Baker's book and listening to the Two Mikes podcast. I eat my way through a whole box of fondant fancies before we'd even got to Birmingham as they were so moreish. We stopped at Stafford services which was as dull as ditchwater but the driver needed his 45 minute break. I pulled out Sam Wood in the sweepstake and it's a shame he is way out of form at the moment as I could do with the money. There were the inevitable rush hour delays through the long running roadworks and I was hoping that they'd not spoil my evening. One nice bonus on the coach was picking up a ticket for a tenner as a bloke had a spare one as his son couldn't attend.

The coach eventually got to Accrington at 6.45 and I wax out of the exit like Daley Thompson, albeit the old man he is now, rather than the champion athlete. I ran down town, all though ginnels like on Coronation Street. I got to the Wetherspoons, the Commercial Hotel at 7. I was straight up the bar, ordering a Piri Piri fillet meal with spicy chips and a fried buttermilk fillet on the side. To wash it all down I had a couple of pints -Thatchers Cheddar Valley and Strongbow Dark Fruits. All that lot cost me little over a tenner and suitably filled up I made my way to the ground. Or at least the taxi rank which was now closed. Fortunately the number worked but even though they said 4 minutes it took 15. At the last minute an Accrington fan called Phil joined me and paid the fare, very generous even though it was only £3. We shook hands and wished each other well. After stopping at the club shop to buy a pen for £1 I went in the ground, joining the other Wycombe fans as the teams came out.

For once Accrington were doing very well, in the playoffs and still just about within reach of the automatic places. This made a change from being down the wrong end of the table. I was really pleased to see a smaller team punching above their weight. All sentimentality had to be put aside tonight, as if Wycombe won this game in hand, they themselves could enter the playoff fray.

It was a great first half from Wycombe and they were very unlucky to be behind to a very offside looking goal. We were really up against it at the start of the second half and it looked as if Accrington might extend their lead. Step forward an unlikely hero. Gozie Ugwu was dire when he first joined, though lately he has knuckled down. Tonight was his coming of age. He came on and completely changed the game, setting up Garry Thompson's equaliser and from then on either side could have won it. But a hard fought, honest and entertaining game ended level. It was a bit chilly by then and I was glad to get back to a warm coach. We were on our way soon enough and the man of the match vote on the coach was deservedly won by Ugwu. I slept some of the journey home though it wasn't easy to drop off. We got back at around 1.45 with me getting in just after 2am. It took me another hour to drop off even in my comfortable bed, so with only an hours sleep I was pretty tired starting work at 4am. I did catch up with a 4 hour sleep the following afternoon and felt a lot better for it, and all that putting myself out was worth it for a good night out.

THE CROWN GROUND is one of the more basic but charminge venues in the league with a real 'non league feel about it. There are a few things aroound the ground including the club owned pub 'The Crown' a few corner shops selling booze and a decent chip shop with unreliable opening hours - at least if you are wanting a pre match meal anyway. Futher afield the town has a good range of outlets including a good Wetherspoons 'The Commercial Hotel' which is just over a mile walk away. There is a bar at the ground, though I've not visited. Food inside the ground has the usual mark up that you'd expect, so you'd be better off eating outside, and there a can and bottle bar in the away end.  There is also a club shop with all the usual souvenirs. 

 The MAIN STAND looks fairly modern but has not changed since my first visit. It holds around 1200 home supporters.

The CLAYTON STAND is the main singing area for home fans. This former uncovered terrace now has a roof and  seats at the front, similar to Macclesfield

THE WHINNEY HILL STAND is my favourite part of the ground. This former covered terrace is now sadly seated, but still has charm. There is also a small area of uncovered terracing beside it. Visitors seating is  located here

The COPPICE STAND is an uncovered terrace allocated to away supporters that was recently expanded to accommodate around 1500 fans.

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