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West Ham United v Accrington Stanley

Filed: Tuesday, 20th September 2016
By: Preview Percy

If you're an Accrington Stanley supporter paying your first visit to our site, welcome. We have this chap called Preview Percy who, as his name suggests, writes previews. We wish he didn't but he is very cheap......

Next up we play host to Accrington Stanley in the 3rd round of the League Cup – I will carry on calling it that as they are bound to change it back eventually. They always do. Kick-off is 7:45pm and the match will be played to a conclusion, with extra time and penalties being available if required.

Well this is uncharted territory for us all. According to the work experience girl wearing an Icicle Works t-shirt without knowing who they are this match will represent the first meeting of the clubs that she can find. Ever. And none of us here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered can ever recall having met an Accrington Stanley fan, though given out advancing years and the medication they keep us on, most of us struggle to remember last Thursday so that’s not the most reliable of guides. Matron commented that cricket commentator David “Bumble” Lloyd might be a Stanley fan but he doesn’t like to mention it much so I guess we’ll never know.

The record books will tell you that the current club was formed in 1968. The name, however, goes back a lot further than that, though they are not to be confused with the similarly named Accrington FC who were founder members of the Football League. Stanley were formed in 1891, that’s four years before Thames Ironworks and about 112 years before Chelsea. The club had what by any standards was a pretty nondescript career in the league having joined in 1921 (by which time the other Accrington had long since disappeared), bumping around the nether regions until 1962 when they added up the bills and realised that they owed the Inland Revenue £4,000, the same in unpaid transfer fees and various others even more. Now £4,000 back then is, I am reliably informed, worth something like £80,000 today and, adding in all the other stuff it’s probably not much of an exaggeration to suggest that the club owed something like £1.25m in today’s money. Which is fine if you are a top flight mob with today’s tv deals to take into account. If you’re a 1962 club in Lancashire – which is not a county that is exactly short of clubs – that’s not the sort of money to be found down back of t’sofa. In March 1962 with things looking bleak the club did a Captain Oates and dropped a line to Football League HQ which read “we’re just nipping out for a while – we may be some time” and they disappeared into the night with a couple of months of the season still left to play. To this day resigning from the league before it had finished is still probably the most memorable thing the club has done. Oxford United replaced them for the following season whilst Stanley moped about in the local leagues for a couple of seasons before quietly dying in 1966.

Few attended the funeral but one of those who did was Stanley (no relation) Wortherington, which is precisely the good sort of down to earth northern name one would expect of somebody who actually missed Accrington Stanley. He got the ball rolling and in 1968 a new club was formed which quietly set about the business of playing local football until the pyramid system was finally set up in 1979. Up to then, getting yourself into the Football League rather depended on you winning the Southern League or Northern Premier League then hoping that the Football League would vote for you to replace one of the bottom few teams. This rarely happened. However, the establishment of a pyramid system established a hierarchy between the Football League and the various “non” Leagues so that, assuming ground criteria could be met at each stage, it was possible for a club to work its way up from the county leagues all the way to the top. At this point Stanley looked up from its copy of the East Lancs Gazette, cast a glance five miles down the road at Blackburn, another glance 7 miles in the opposite direction at Burnley, sucked on a thoughtful tooth and said “hmmmmm”, before quietly setting about the business of moving quietly up the leagues.

It wasn’t an overnight success job, far from it. However, they made a reasonable fist of things and their push for league status started in earnest with the appointment of John Coleman as manager in 1999. Coleman oversaw promotion after promotion and the club’s cause was further helped by the transfer of Brett Ormerod (first name sounds like the sort of person who puts gel in his hair, surname the good sort of down to earth northern name one would expect of somebody who actually missed Accrington Stanley) from Blackpool to Southampton. Having failed to make the grade at Blackburn, Ormerod resurrected his career with Stanley, doing well enough to earn himself a £50,000 transfer to Blackpool, who weren’t quite the basket case then that they are these days. Stanley cannily negotiated a sell-on clause believed to have been worth 25% of any profit Blackpool made on any deal, which came to a tidy sum for a non-league club given that Ormerod fetched a rumoured £1.75m when he moved to Southampton. Stanley won the 2002-03 Northern Premier League and followed that up with the 2005-06 Conference title which led to their return to the League, replacing (in one of those neat coincidences that you get in football from time to time) Oxford United in the process. Funny old world innit. They’ve remained in League 2 (or Division 4 as I still like to call it) ever since, a play-off semi-final defeat to Stevenage in 2010-11 being the closest they’ve come to promotion. John Coleman is still at the helm today though this is now his second spell at the club, his original 12 year run ending when he left for Rochdale in 2012. After a few appointments elsewhere he returned in 2014.

It’s been a mixed bag this season so far for them. The highlights have definitely come in this competition. They played out a goalless draw with Bradford City at home, eventually prevailing 11-10 on penalties. This set up a home tie against the lot from 7 miles up the road. If there are any still around from the early 60’s they will recall that the then Burnley chairman Bob Lord (think stereotypical northern businessman – self-made and not afraid to mention the fact very loudly every few seconds) had been the one to suggest throwing in the towel when the size of the debt became known in 1962. However, it is also said that other advice had been obtained that suggested they could get themselves out of the hole they were in and that they had asked for their resignation letter to be withdrawn. League boss Alan Hardaker (equally stereotypically northern and ran the League as a dictatorship) refused to withdraw the letter. Whether or not skulduggery was involved it’s fair to say that the name of Bob Lord is not held in the highest of regard in Accrington and, by extension, they are not especially fond of the Clarets. So Matty Pearson’s 120th minute winner must have been even sweeter than one might have expected, even allowing for the geographical proximity of the two clubs.

In the league a sparse August saw them pick up four points from their first five games. The turn of the month has seen things improve with two win and a draw leaving them in 11th place with 11 points, the last three coming courtesy of a 1-0 victory over a Portsmouth side containing no fewer than 5 former Stanley players in its squad. The victory came at the Crown Ground that has been their home since 1968. Normally I refuse to acknowledge sponsor names when there is a traditional alternative, but on this occasion I’ll make an exception to explain that the official name of the ground is the Wham Stadium. Disappointingly this is not due to the largesse of a pop duo consisting of a pot head and a spare part, but is thanks to a local plastics firm. Probably just as well – they’d have had to give the sponsor a special padded car-park had Michael been involved.

There are a couple of players worthy of mention. Probably the most familiar name in the squad is that of former Watford, Man Utd and, amongst others, Burnley midfielder Chris Eagles. Stanley are Eagles’ fifth club in as many years. He left Bolton in 2014 and went over to Blackpool who, as I have mentioned, ae a bit of a “special needs” case at the moment. So he went to Charlton who are scarcely much better. So he returned north to Bury. With 7 league appearances for Blackpool and 8 for Charlton he would probably have preferred to have gotten more than 4 appearances for Bury under his belt for Bury last term. He’s already matched that for Stanley this term so maybe he’s beginning to settle down a bit after a nomadic few years.

Top scorer at the moment is Billy Kee, who has 3 goals this season so far. Kee has a proper football name – his middle name is Rodney for pete’s sake – and he is also what you might call well-travelled. He started his career at Leicester, though first team selection proved beyond him. This period was punctuated by a loan spell with Stanley before taking in Torquay, Burton, Scunthorpe and Mansfield (loan). He returned to Stanley last season. He was capped by Northern Ireland at age levels and actually made the full squad back in 2009. However, he failed to get any game time and remains uncapped as a result.

And what of us? “Oh dear” just about sums it up. After the Watford debacle the rest home arranged a trip over to our sister establishment in Malta, the theory being that a week in the sun at the Dom Mintoff Facility For The Frankly Quite Bonkers would help banish all the waking up screaming in the middle of the night as we relived the Collins-Adrian comedy moment. And it did. To a degree. However, the problems started on our arrival back at Gatwick. I sailed through the automatic terminal thing only to be subjected to a further check on the grounds that since the machine had positively identified me I must look sufficiently like my passport photo to cause great doubt as to my identity on the grounds that nobody actually looks like their passport photo. By the time the carbon dating results had come through we were one down to a daft penalty. By the time we had reached the “Happy Bus” in the long stay car park we were two down and the third went in just after we hung matron out of the window holding a wire coat hanger to help reception on the radio.

Ok so we won the second half but the last time I looked matches lasted 90 minutes plus however long it takes Man Utd to equalise, and if you don’t do a decent job over the majority of that time you stand about as much chance as a beetle in a blast furnace of emerging through the period unscathed. Yes injuries, yes match fitness but the bottom line is that the players must cut out all the mind-bogglingly stupid errors that they are making at the moment. At times they made the aforementioned beetle’s decision to enter a blast-furnace look positively sensible. It’s too early to talk about the “R” word, unless you are Stoke of course, but I don’t want to be sat here in a few weeks’ time having to look at other teams’ results.

A mixture of injuries (no return dates for Byram and Reid, October for Carroll, Sakho and Cresswell and November for Ayew ) and restings will probably mean that there will be changes for this – it is the League Cup after all. If I were me I’d tell the side that messed-up so badly on Saturday to get out there and not come back in until they have won. But I suppose with several struggling to last 90 minutes at the moment we’ll have to see the changes rung. It will be an ideal match in which to introduce Alvaro Arbeola who has been working on his fitness since his arrival as the window shut. Whoever plays right back will need some sort of protection over on that side where those playing in front of the right back position haven’t always been the most diligent in tracking back when we have lost the ball – which has been far too often.

Up front, neither Zaza or Calleri have really done much – Calleri has got into good positions occasionally but his finishing has been lacking whilst Zaza has tended to fade out of games rather alarmingly. There is a case therefore for young Fletcher to chance his arm. Especially as he was playing one level above Stanley and doing well last season

Prediction? Oh ok. Let’s be positive. Even though we have a propensity to lose to lesser teams in cup matches we ought to have enough to win on Wednesday oughtn’t we? So more in hope than expectation I will plump for a home win. The £2.50 I was going to spend on a new passport photo, or possibly plastic surgery, will be placed at Winstone’s the Turf Accountants on a nervy 2-1 win – possibly AET – as I watch the match through my fingers.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met: We haven’t. Ever. I checked. Twice.

Referee: Stephen Martin Apparently too many referees were being caught out for the incompetent buffoons they are. Those in the select group were ok – the whole purpose of that gang being to protect their own interests at all costs. However, those outside the select group were open to more scrutiny. So they set up the “select group 2” this summer so that more referees could get away with murder. Martin is a member of this mob. We haven’t had him before as far as I can recall so let’s hope his induction into the murky “freemason-cum-mafia” world of PGMOL hasn’t corrupted him yet.

Danger Man: Billy Kee Top scorer at the moment with 3.

Percy’s Poser: Last Week we asked you what West Brom defender John Trewick’s reaction had been to the question “What did you think of the Great Wall Of China”. The first correct answer drawn out of the digital had from those submitted via the red button came from Mrs Ida Ligament of South Ockendon who told us that Trewick had commented “once you’ve seen one wall you’ve seen them all” Well done Ida! Unfortunately we won’t be able to send you a prize as the offer of a 22 year-old Escort courtesy of Mr K Vaz MP of Leicester turned out to be not to be the classic car we thought it was. Incidentally Trewick maintains to this day that his comment was a joke and that the tv documentary had been edited to make it look like he was being serious. Yeah, right.

For this week’s poser we return to Accrington to ask: which progressive rock singer, noted for his often very odd lyrics and singing in a high pitched voice in an accent pitched somewhere between New York and East Lancs, is said to have been turned down by Stanley on the grounds that, at a mere 5’5” “tall”, he was considered too frail to make the grade. The first correct answer drawn out of the digital hat will win a trip to whatever planet the subject of this week’s poser thought he was on when he wrote the lyrics to “Close To The Edge”.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

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