Home of the Official Accrington Stanley Supporters' Trust

Members’ Newsletter – March 2023

“12th Man” needed more than ever before!

Two rare home TV appearances, but with disappointing results, for Stanley so far in 2023. Both the fifth round of the FA Cup and a trip to Wembley continue to elude Accrington Stanley.

But as we tackle the final dozen or so fixtures of the 22-23 season, only one vital goal remains: to stay in League One. Many of us will remember the excitement when we made it into League Two, back in 2006, but none of us are ready to go back there just yet.

Now, more than ever, John and Jimmy need the support and encouragement of the 12th man. Continue to provide that vital support for the team at home by attending as many games as you can, and, if at all possible, join us at the away fixtures, by travelling on the Trust’s bus. Check the Stanley Away Travel arrangements here.

Meanwhile, please enjoy reading the latest edition of the OASST Newsletter, I hope you will find some items of interest. If you would like to comment on anything included here, or, even better, would like to contribute to future editions, please contact editor@onstanleyon.com

Mike Procter, editor.


Trust statement and invitation to fans

After discussions with the club, the Accrington Stanley Supporters’ Trust are holding a Q&A with Chairman, Andy Holt and Managing Director, David Burgess on

Monday 13th March in Coley’s at 7pm.

As part of the session, Andy and David will review the protocols employed by the club for the Papa Johns Semi-Final Tie against Bolton Wanderers and give the attendees the opportunity to air their views and explore opportunities to improve the match day experiences at The Wham Stadium.

The Trust would also like to extend the discussions to include any suggestions from fans that are worth exploring as to how the club may sustainably grow its core fanbase.

All supporters are welcome and the bar will be open.

New Board Members

The Trust Board is very pleased to have welcomed two new co-opted members recently, Gary Jones-Boast and Eugene Carroll. We asked them to introduce themselves to the members, here’s what Eugene said:

“I’ve been following Stanley for the best part of 30 years going back to the NPL days and have been a season ticket holder for the past 10 years or so.  I took early retirement in November last year, and have a little more time on my hands and getting involved more in the OASST is one of the things on my list.

“Chatting to Peter L and Pete W about how I can support, we decided the best way was for me to initially be co-opted onto the Trust Board to give me a chance to see how things operate and work out how I can make a contribution and continue in maintaining the strong tie between the club and the OASST.

“I’ve been married for 30+ years, have 2 adult daughters, and am still active enough to keep fit by running a couple of times a week and playing football with Clitheroe Lads United.”

And here’s why Gary wanted to be part of the board of the Supporters’ Trust…

I’ve supported Accrington Stanley all my life of 52 years; and back in the 80’s my Dad was a Director under the Alty era, my Mum used to look after the match day catering, and both my Sisters where involved either working on the gate or selling match day programmes.

We had a family full-on connection, with everyone having a role to fill on match days: my most-loved memory was presenting David Hargreaves with his 300 goals shield in the centre circle before the game.

Now I’ve been given the opportunity to serve this wonderful club as a board member for the supporters trust, and I’m very honoured to be part of it .

#HerGameToo

By Jodie Boast, HerGameToo ambassador for Accrington Stanley Football Club

Me

HerGameToo is a campaign aiming to eradicate sexism in football and encourage females to come to football games and share their opinion on football without fear of sexist abuse. Football is a game for all and we want everyone to feel comfortable coming to a football game, striving for a positive change. At Accrington Stanley, we are one big family and we are known for being so welcoming, we want to continue that and want everyone to feel comfortable coming to support Stanley. 

I am sure most of you have seen me walking around the ground on match days, recently with a huge frame! I have been a Stanley fan for around 5 years. Following a break-up I decided to start coming to the football with my Grandpa and Nana and instantly fell in love with the atmosphere, the club, the sport and never looked back.

Since then, I’ve had a season ticket, I’ve encouraged my friends and family to attend, I got an ASFC tattoo and ASFC became my biggest hobby. The club are incredible; every single person does their bit to make you feel so welcome and one big family. Following the passing of my Nana, life-long Stanley supporter, the club did everything they could to help not only my Grandpa, also a life-ling Stanley supporter, but support our whole family. 

Unfortunately, none of my friends follow football, which is sadly quite common in a group of female friends. Many of my friends thought it was strange that I was getting a season ticket for football but I think now, with HerGameToo and the rise of women’s football, we are breaking the stigma.

I was approached by the Accrington Stanley Official Supporters’ Trust to ask whether I would be interested in getting involved with them and be on the Supporters’ Trust Board, I of course said yes. We then soon established that my role on the board would be to drive the HerGameToo campaign for the club. I have really enjoyed being a part of such a fantastic campaign and interacting with fans. 

We have already achieved so much throughout the campaign such as announcing our two player advocates from both the male and female teams, Michael Nottingham and Sanah Mehdi. We also have Rebecca Shaw who is our HerGameToo advocate for ASFC.

We have raised money through HerGameToo badge sales for local charities including Lancashire Women. We had a fantastic dedicated fixture celebrating women in football, which encouraged the free sanitary wear on all match days. We have ASFC X HGT social media accounts, which promote and engage with fans for both ASFC and ASFC Women. 

The whole team in #HGT shirts, provided by the OASST

Looking forward to the future, we have a lot of plans working with the club and the campaign. We are aiming to have an Instagram account, run by advocate Rebecca Shaw, to further communicate with our fans. We are also looking to get a female fans forum/WhatsApp which will enable us to connect with female fans or anyone may attend matches alone, or wants to start coming to matches. 

Thankyou to everyone at ASFC, ASFC Women, OASST, Coleys/1968 and everyone who keeps helping me and supporting the campaign. Football for me is everything and the fact that I can enjoy it and make a difference makes me so proud. 

Rebecca, me and Sanah

1968 Lounge Review

It’s a year since the incredible Stanley hospitality suite – Coley’s and the 1968 Lounge – opened, and recently ‘The Padded Seat‘ – a website which reviews hospitality facilities at football grounds – paid a visit to sample what’s on offer. This is their review:

Chairman’s update

By Peter Leatham, OASST Chairman

Well what a hectic few weeks that has been!

In and amongst our continued indifferent league form, continually hampered by bumps in the road, some of which, I must say, seem to be self inflicted, we had two games on national TV.

The Leeds match saw the BBC in and around Stanley for a good few days and we were invited to supply some fans to be interviewed which formed part of their pre match introductions.

Stanley v Leeds on 28th January

We were a little surprised by the angle they appeared to want to take, wanting to talk more about red / white rose rivalries, nori brick and that milk advert, rather than about football and the actual game itself!

However we all coped and were generally quite pleased with the final piece that went to air nationally and internationally pre match.

The BBC video shown before the FA Cup 4th Round match

This was also supplemented by a short piece I recorded for Talksport which also helps further spread the good name of our club alongside plenty of other media coverage for our club.

The Talksport recording

As the club continues to evolve, it presents many challenges both on and off the pitch. These were well highlighted by the Bolton Wanderers Papa Johns Semi Final game which saw a number of crucial incidents and not just on the pitch.

Whilst Sean McConville’s challenge undoubtedly changed the course of the game many Stanley fans were more concerned about issues on the terraces. Our unfortunate inability to sell out our “home” allocation meant that a number of away fans were prompted to snap them up. Bolton sold their whole allocation in about 7 minutes and obviously many of their supporters were left disappointed.

The Papa John’s Trophy Semi Final on 22nd February

This leads to two questions, why were the good folk of Hyndburn not enthused enough to part with their cash for a momentous game in the club’s history, remembering that we sold our Leeds FA Cup allocation in only a few days for another televised match? Secondly how did a number of away fans manage to circumnavigate the club’s attempts to keep them out of home areas?

I believe (and witnessed) that fans purchasing from the club were asked for a number of details that only home fans should know as well as cross checks with Bolton’s own fan database. Despite these measures tickets still found their way into the “wrong” hands with many, as yet, unsubstantiated stories circulating on social media.

These are real challenges to the Club administration and a very steep learning curve as they strive to balance financial sustainability against the safety of our fans and we plan to discuss these issues further in the coming days with the football club. We are also hoping to stage a fans’ meeting for concerns to be aired first hand with our owner and Managing Director.

However, I believe that fans need to understand these challenges will continue to arise as the club continues on its journey and the “good old days” are long gone. These were the “good old days” where the club constantly battled against financial hardships and administration and came perilously close to repeating the dark days of March 1962.

The days of pitching up at 2.55 and wandering into the ground are gone. We are firmly in the realms of purchasing tickets in advance, either online or in person at the club, then arriving in good time for a chat and a pre-match beer in the wonderful new Coley’s bar.

We have to welcome away fans into our bars as they add much needed income that we can’t seem to generate from our modest home fanbase. In general the majority of visitors have been great and any that haven’t may well not be welcomed next time around. The authorities have been happy to accommodate the club’s “unusual “ stance and support our open to all policy and, whilst it remains peaceful, will carry on supporting the club.

Bolton Supporters pack the Wham Stadium

On the pitch, the team need us all, loud and proud, as they strive to pull away from the dreaded bottom four, every game will be a big game until safety is mathematically assured.

On a different subject, I was delighted to see the government finally published its white paper detailing its plans for the implementation of a new football regulator as recommended by the Fan-Lead Review.

To read the government documents on the Fan-Led Review, click here to be taken to the GOV.UK website.

This is our once in a lifetime opportunity to ensure stability throughout our football pyramid and should be embraced by the football family. This is not the end but hopefully the start of a new beginning for football. Accrington was there at the beginning in 1888 and it’s our job to ensure we are playing our part in ensuring a prosperous future for our club.

Club 1968

Started in late 2020, building on the runaway success of the lockdown on-line 50/50 draw, Club 1968 has been a remarkable accomplishment of fund-raising for the club, and prizes for people you know. To date, there has been over £40,000 given back in prizes, with a similar amount raised for the club.

To make it even easier for fans to join in, Club 1968 has set up a new method of signing up, to read more about Club 1968, and to be in with a chance every month of winning £1000, please visit the Club 1968 page by following this link.

Recent Winners:

January 2023

February 2023

All winners can be seen by visiting the Club 1968 page

No excuses for not seeing Big Ste!

The trust are delighted to supply a new matchday jacket for our top 50/50 draw ticket seller Big Ste Davies.

Annual Golf Day

The trust will once again be staging the annual football club golf day on Tuesday 4th July at Accrington Golf Club.

This popular event sees teams of three joined by a member of the playing or management staff to make up their four ball, all for just £299 per team.

We are indebted to our joint main sponsors CSM and brsk as well as our prize sponsors Hindle Jepson & Jennings and Haworths Financial Services.

Further details can be obtained from Peter Warburton at Finance@onstanleyon.com but it’s first come first served and is nearly sold out!

Chaplaincy News

By Deb Phillips, Supporters’ Chaplain

Since my last article, Christmas has been and gone!

On the 3rd December last year at our home match against Oxford Utd, we had some very special guests and you may have noticed them as they moved around the ground.

The Stanhill Community Posada joined us. A Posada is a Spanish/Mexican tradition focussed on the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem. Throughout the time of Advent – Mary, Joseph and their donkey travelled around Stanhill in Oswaldtwistle and stayed at places and homes in the local community. Kate Prescott from Stanhill Methodist Church and some of you will remember her Dad, former Chairman and President of Accrington Stanley – John Prescott, brought Mary, Joseph and their donkey to the match. They visited Coley’s, the Supporters’ Trust stand in Coley’s, the media desk, the Memorial Garden, they even went through the turnstile into the Fanzone, before watching the players warm up (my favourite pic below). And also Mary having her photo taken with our Her Game Too ambassador, Jodie, and her photo frame!

The memorial garden is looking excellent with oak trees planted by Stephen Lowe and Smith’s garden maintenance services. My personal thanks also to all those who give their time freely for the upkeep of the garden. It provides a peaceful place for those families who wish to have a quiet moment to reflect on loved ones who are no longer with us.

At the time of writing we have had 2 televised matches at the Wham Stadium. We welcomed Leeds Utd at the end of January in the 4th round of the F.A. Cup. Unfortunately we lost 1 – 3 but it was a pleasure to speak with some of the Leeds fans who emphasised how much they had enjoyed themselves at our club. However just over a week later Leeds Utd sacked their manager Jesse Marsch – funny old game sometimes.

Our 10 men against Bolton Wanderers did themselves proud by holding onto 0-0 right up until the 83rd minute in the semi-final of the Papa John’s trophy. Many of us were gutted by the outcome when the full-time whistle blew sending our local rivals through by winning 0-2. 

On the day of the Bolton match I noticed that it was 3 years since Rotherham fan Andrew Wilson-Storey died following our match. I messaged our contact at Rotherham to say that we at Accrington Stanley are thinking of his family and friends. I also sent a couple of pictures which appeared on my Facebook memories which showed the Clayton End holding a banner “RIP Andrew”. Mick replied and wished us good luck against Bolton and If we managed to get to Wembley a group of “Millers fans” were going to travel to Wembley to support us. I witnessed first hand how different fans can be in football that Wednesday night and it would have been good to have had some of the Rotherham fans joining us at Wembley, but maybe next time.

We all should be proud of the lads and what they have achieved in the cup runs but now is the time to get behind them along with John & Jimmy and the rest of the staff to stay in League 1 next season. We all can play our part and be that 12th critical person on matchdays.

I’m also in awe of the many fans who travel the length and breadth of our country to support our team. Some even travel hundreds of miles for our home matches! In this time of the cost of living crisis it is commendable that some fans support in this way – amazing.

And finally if anybody becomes aware that a fan is ill, perhaps in hospital, and would like me to visit them then I will always endeavour to go and have a chat about our beloved Stanley and give them a cheery smile. I can be contacted by emailing chaplain@onstanleyon.com or stop and have a chat with me on matchdays (look out for me with my rainbow shoulder bag with a cross on it). Also please don’t forget about the helplines below if you are in need of a particular service and as I always say – let’s look after one another at the Wham!

Keep the faith

Debra

Is there a North/South divide in the lower echelons of the Football League?

By John Schofield, lifelong Stanley fan

I present the evidence and leave you to decide.

It is interesting to compare the teams currently in the EFL, or rather not in the EFL, with those of the 1957/8 season – the final season of the old Third Divisions North and South.

Generally, the Third Division South teams have suffered relatively minimal impact. 

Only three teams from that 1957/8 season are currently out of the EFL – Torquay, Aldershot, and Southend; whilst Exeter and Colchester have also had periods in the National League/Conference etc.

By contrast the old Third Division North teams have been decimated.

Some THIRTEEN teams from that division are currently out of the EFL, they are Scunthorpe (champions in that year), Bury, Halifax, Chesterfield, Wrexham, York, Gateshead, Oldham, Workington, Darlington, Chester, Bradford Park Avenue and Southport. Additionally, Accrington Stanley, Mansfield, Stockport, Tranmere, Carlisle, Hartlepool and Barrow have had lengthy periods out of the league.

Making twenty in total from the class of 57/8 who have endured hard times.

April 1955: Bradford Park Avenue FC play Wrexham FC at the Park Avenue ground. (Photo by George W. Hales)

If you look at the Second Division of that season, some four Northern teams and one Southern team have endured periods outside the league: Lincoln, Doncaster, Grimsby, Leyton Orient and Notts County (who are still in the National League) have had a spell out in the cold.

Since the introduction of automatic promotion from the Conference/National League many of the above have been relegated on merit (or rather lack of). Back in the 70s, however, the old boys re-election network didn’t extend to the far-flung outposts of Barrow and Workington. Nor did Gateshead, Bradford Park Avenue and Southport fare any better, with the general re-election picture being Northern club out, Southern club in:

  • Out Gateshead/In Peterborough.
  • Out Bradford Park Avenue/In Cambridge.
  • Out Barrow/In Hereford.            
  • Out Workington/InWimbledon.

Southport were replaced by nearby Wigan who had been knocking on the door for years.

Finally, Accrington Stanley (runners up in Third Division North 1957/8) were kicked through the trap door in 1962, despite withdrawing their resignation letter, to be replaced by Oxford.

Accrington Stanley skipper Bob Wilson reads the bill for a match that was never to take place, the club being forced to resign from the league because of financial difficulties.

To give a balanced view, it is fair to say that many of the incoming Southern teams are from towns with a large, often affluent, population and little competition from other league teams in the immediate catchment area. As such they can easily justify having an EFL team. 

The Northern clubs on the other hand often have a number of large successful clubs on the doorstep, which is reflected in reduced numbers through the turnstiles. It is also fair to say that they are often in a less affluent catchment area. Support is often limited to indigenous population of the town, whilst the glory hunters support the big clubs (if only on TV in many cases).

This raises the question: “Should the lower divisions revert to a north/south split?” 

More local derbies and therefore bigger gates, generating much more interest. Supporters able to attend more away matches at lower cost in terms of both money and time. Lower travelling and accommodation expenses for clubs – many clubs have been crippled by escalating costs. The benefits seem obvious. The draw backs are less clear.

I leave you to decide.

Memorial Garden

Two replacement oak trees have been planted, and the surroundings re-barked, in the Memorial Garden, thanks to Stephen Lowe, and Simon, of Smith’s garden maintenance services.


The tragic story of the boy who asked, “Accrington Stanley, who are they?”

Actor Kevin Spaine, the boy who asked the famous question off-screen in the iconic milk advert, grew up to be a lifelong criminal and, eventually, a murderer.

Click here to read the disturbing story, as printed in The Liverpool Echo

Boy who asked ‘Accrington Stanley, who are they?’ grew up to be a murderer

by Adam Everett, Liverpool Echo 22.2.23

A murderer who battered a man to death previously starred in the iconic “Accrington Stanley, who are they?” advert as a child, the ECHO can reveal.

Kevin Spaine was yesterday found guilty of the murder of Learoy Venner, who was repeatedly punched and kicked in a brutal assault at a flat on Belmont Drive in Anfield. The 43-year-old today returned to Liverpool Crown Court to be sentenced, where he was jailed for life with a minimum term of 18 years.

John Harrison KC, appearing on behalf of the killer, told the court during his sentencing that his client was formerly a “very promising young footballer” and even starred in the famous television ad for the Milk Marketing Board in 1989. Spaine was one of two boys seen in the clip, clad in Liverpool FC kits.

He himself is only briefly sighted on camera, walking through the shot before it focusses on his co-star Carl Rice besides a fridge in the kitchen. The defendant is heard to ask “have you got any lemonade?”, to which the other junior footballer replies: “If you want.”

As he then pours himself a glass of milk, Spaine reacts by saying: “Milk? Eurgh.”

His friend tells him: “It’s what Ian Rush drinks. He said if I don’t drink lots of milk, when I grow up I’ll only be good enough to play for Accrington Stanley.”

Spaine then delivers the familiar line “Accrington Stanley, who are they?” before a young Mr Rice, who has gone to a successful career on screen including roles in Coronation Street and Brassic, responds with “exactly”. His role in the TV advert had until now been incorrectly credited to “Kevin Staine”.

But his life spiralled into one of crime and drugs in the coming year, leading to around 40 appearances before the court for nearly 100 offences and ultimately culminating in Mr Venner’s murder. Since 1999, his criminal record includes convictions for dealing heroin and crack cocaine, wounding and assault with intent to rob.

Kevin Spaine was found guilty of murder Learoy Venner (Image: Merseyside Police)

Mr Harrison said in his mitigation: “This defendant’s life has been ruined and dominated by the abuse of illegal drugs. He has a very long history of criminal offending.

“We know he’s been in this situation for 20 years or more, but he wasn’t always like that. Mr Spaine was a very promising young footballer, and he appeared in a very famous advertisement on the television – an advert for milk involving Accrington Stanley.

“He played a part in that advertisement. At an age of 10 or 12, or however old he was, he had a promising future.

“Shortly afterwards, he sinks into a life of criminality. Twenty years later, he is convicted of murder.

“It’s not an unfamiliar spiral to the court, but it is a tragic one. Of course, he respects the jury’s verdict.”

A trial previously heard that Mr Venner had been living at the address temporarily at the time of the incident on July 27 2022, sleeping on a camp bed in the lounge. Alan Kent KC, prosecuting, described how the apartment was “being used as a drug den”, with Spaine among its frequent visitors.

But the 43-year-old was refused entry by the victim shortly after midday on the day in question. He was eventually let in by returning tenant Mark Kelly, who then left again in order to top up the electricity meter.

It was at this point that Mr Venner was fatally assaulted, with Spaine leaving him lying unconscious and going to his mum’s house to change his clothes afterwards. He was arrested on suspicion of murder on Edge Lane that evening, at which point he responded: “That’s a big charge, what do you mean murder?”

Under interview with detectives, Spaine later stated that Mr Venner – from Toxteth – had “taken two swings at him” and he had returned four or five blows “in self-defence”. A post-mortem investigation revealed that he had suffered “multiple forceful blows”, causing a brain injury – “the sort of trauma usually associated with a car crash or a fall from height”.

Learoy Venner (Image: Merseyside Police)

Sentencing this morning, Judge Brian Cummings KC said: “Only you will know the detail of what happened in the flat at that time. You have shown yourself to be a shocking liar.

“I am sure there was no element of self-defence in anything you did to Leroy Venner. What possible threat could he have presented to you?

“I am sure you struck him multiple heavy punches to the face and then finished your attack by kicking him, probably more than once and with force. What precisely caused you to want to do all of this will never be known to anyone other than yourself.

“You were very insistent of wanting to get into the flat. I am sure your interest in gaining entry to the flat was because you hoped to get either drugs or money – probably, you were disappointed in that hope.

“I do not find this was a murder for gain. However I am sure when you gained access to the flat, having been kept hanging around, those things led you to launch a ferocious attack upon him.

“He had no chance of escaping you or fighting you off. You attacked and killed a man whom you knew to be weak and in poor health.”I accept that the eruption of violence occurred spontaneously, albeit you were in an agitated state having regard to the fact you’d been kept waiting outside. You left him unconscious on his back and breathing in his own blood for something like half an hour before he actually died.”

HELP

Useful numbers of some organizations:

Lancashiremind Local Mental Health Support 0800 953 0110

Samaritans Call 116 123 24hrs

Papyrus (Suicide prevention for under 35s) Hopeline UK 0800 068 4141 Mon-Fri 10am-10pm Sat-Sun 12 noon-12 midnight

Childline 0800 1111

Carers helpline (run by people with experience in care for people with MH issues) 0333 103 9747

Maundy Relief Counselling Service 01254 233 457 counselling@maundyrelief.org.uk

Freephone National Domestic Abuse Helpline-Refuge 0808 2000 247 (24hrs)

To contact Debra, the Supporters’ Chaplain,
please email chaplain@onstanleyon.com