Phil Yelland dips in to the archives to study our previous meetings with tonight's visitors.
Tuesday night’s visit from Accrington Stanley will bring back a lot of memories for older fans. The last time we met Stanley in a competitive fixture was 2002/03 when they won the Unibond Northern Premier League Premier Division title by 16 points from us as we finished as runners-up. They then moved up to the National League and on in to the Football League. In the interim we have played Stanley in a number of pre-season games.
That season, we lost 2-1 at the Crown Ground in September but, here at Holker Street at the start of November, we shocked them by winning 1-0 thanks to a goal from Mark Hume. It was one of only four defeats they suffered in the league that season and one of only two league games in which they failed to score. Ultimately, they were the most consistent side in the division that season by some distance.
A few weeks after that we played Stanley here in the Unibond Northern Premier League Cup and, in a game where both sides fielded what would nowadays be seen as weakened teams, we won 3-2. Our side included six players who had never before played in the First Team and the three scorers were all local players – Mike Bee, Brian Dawson ad Dave Swarbrick. I am sure we would like a similar result on Tuesday
It must be almost unique to report that Stanley’s Manager now was also their Manager back in 2002 when the clubs last met. John Coleman, who as a striker played against us on numerous occasions when he was at Morecambe, has been at Stanley since 1999 as boss, with the exception of short spells at Rochdale, Southport and Sligo Rovers.
Like us, Stanley have had their challenges and dropped out of the Football League in 1962 before reforming in 1968. In those days Stanley played at Peel Park and, before meeting in Division Three North and Division Four, our first meetings came as long ago as 1905 in the Lancashire Combination. Our first game against them in March 1905 was our last ever outing at Ainslie Street and the game finished 0-0. The following week we moved to Little Park, Roose.
In that initial era the clubs met 83 times; we won 33, 14 games were drawn and Stanley won on 36 occasions.
The non-league era started between the clubs in the 1973/74 season in the FA Cup First Qualifying Round when Stanley, then in the Lancashire Combination, came to Holker Street and defeated us 4-0.
Over the non-league era the teams met 28 times – we won 13 of the meetings, there were three draws and Stanley won 12.
A number of players featured for both clubs – Ashley Hoskin, Peter Smith, Paul Robertson, John Armfield and Ian Senior, to name just five. One member of the current Stanley squad, Sean McConville, spent the 2012/13 season with us, scoring one goal in 33 appearances during a disappointing season that saw us relegated.
For those interested in the cup tie head to head between the clubs, there have been 11 meetings in various competitions. We have won three times, there has been one draw and Stanley have seven wins. Now would be a good time to improve that record!