Accrington Stanley-Sunderland Who are You? ‘Get over Pompey, win those games in hand’

Ian: our Stanley interviewee

Monsieur Salut says: Ian Reynolds-Young* was there for the washed-out first attempt to play this match. He missed Accrington Stanley’s impressive visit to the Stadium of Light but will be there again on Saturday. I hope he is right to think we will win 2-0.

Ian is the editor of the Offical Accrington Stanley Supporters’ Club (OASSC) monthly newsletter and webmaster of Read on: his replies are a treat …

Salut! Sunderland: Having given us such a scare at the Stadium of Light, Stanley have at time of writing had a bad run (one win and four defeats) and are too close for comfort to the relegation zone. How were you able to raise your game against us but disappoint when playing so many others?

Ian Reynolds-Young: the game at the SoL was very much a one-off, both for the team and the fans.

Sky’s decision to move the game to Friday evening for broadcast was met with some consternation in Accrington as many fans had taken advantage of early-bird rates to book travel and accommodation. The move meant some of them would be hit in the wallet.

Aware of this, Andy Holt made the fabulous gesture of donating the club’s Sky fee – around £10k – to provide free transport to the game. It meant Stanley fans filled 8 or 9 coaches instead of the usual 2-3. The atmosphere was predicted in the story Coach Party on our web site. As for the players, it’s not every day that they get to turn out on a Prem-quality ground in front of a Prem-sized crowd and with the increased noise from our end, it’s no wonder they treated the match like a cup-final and turned in one of their best performances of the season.

Elsewhere, we’ve had more than our fair share of bad luck, exemplified by shots on goal that narrowly missed and refereeing decisions that were wide of the mark…

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How important is to the club and maybe the community to avoid relegation – and will you do it?

Try as we might, we can’t get our home support much further north than around 2,200. That means our ‘big’ crowds are at those fixtures when the likes of Barnsley, Pompey; The Tangerines and The Black Cats are in town.

If we go down, the big gates will come with the visits of local rivals such as Oldham. There are more Burnley fans in Accrington than Stanley fans and despite the club’s efforts – and they’ve been innovative and eye-catching – our core home support hadn’t increased as much as we had hoped.

Your owner Andy Holt has been lamenting the “disastrous” state of football finances outside the Premier League. Your view of that?

My view is that sometimes, I wish he’d keep his opinions on other clubs to himself. I think he’s right about Stanley, mind you: I think his control of the club is wise, innovative and prudent. So, why he chooses to wind-up the likes of Salford City’s Gary Neville (a man who’s forgotten more about football than Andy will ever know), is beyond me. And as for poking with a sharpened stick the venomous snake that is Joey Barton… ‘Oops’ doesn’t cover it.

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Overall, are you happy with Holt and your manager John Coleman?

Yes, with the aforementioned caveat. Andy has been a breath of fresh air.

Coley’s track record of success with the club is irrefutable but I do wish he’d curtail his high-octane effing and blinding, especially when it’s aimed at his own coaching staff and is delivered in earshot of the fans. His rant about John Moss after the Derby cup exit was lamentable and whilst I was pleased he apologised promptly, I had numerous contacts from fans of other League One outfits consequently.

Listening to them laugh their socks off at our expense was no fun at all. You might say it spoiled our week-end…

Billy Kee and Paul Smyth got your goals at Sunderland. Who has been doing good things for you and where do you need serious strengthening?

Our issue this year is that the loanees who returned to their parent clubs after Christmas, such as Anderton, (Blackpool), Ripley, (Borough sold him to PNE), Connor Hall (Bolton) and Ihiekwe (Rotherham) left a massive hole. Sam Finlay who joined us from non-league Fylde is a class act; Callum Johnson is developing nicely; home-grown Ross Sykes looks a player and Smyth is already a crowd favourite.

Stalwarts Jordan Clark, Sean McConville and Billy Kee are also dangerous, but perhaps they’ve lost some of the consistency that took the club to glory last season.

What have been your happiest moments – and least happy – as a fan?

Watching Billy’s winner beat Luton at Kenilworth Road last year: that was the point we started to believe not just in promotion but also in winning the league, sealing promotion and being awarded the League 2 trophy: three great nights!

And then the celebration dinner, which was a real blast. Least happy? The game against Fleetwood. Pre and post match, it got personal between Andy Holt and Joey Barton. Barton’s local radio tirade against us after the game has ensured that there’ll bad blood between the two clubs for the foreseeable future. That, together with a poor game on (what you’re about to discover is) an awful surface, made for a thoroughly depressing afternoon.

Best players you have seen in your colours – and anyone who should have been allowed nowhere near them?

Mattie Pearson was the real McCoy for us, Connor Ripley was a great keeper. I’d rather not mention the bad ’uns.

What memories do you have of the club’s dark days and its revival?

I’m a born again Stanley fan. I chose to support the club when my wife and I moved to the area from East Lothian three years ago. I grew up in the red half of Manchester. To be fair, until the past few games, I’ve only experienced Stanley as a team on the up and up.

Were you at either the abandoned home game against us or the draw on Wearside?

I was at the rained-off game but work prevents me from travelling on a Friday, so I was gutted to miss my day out on Wearside.

What did you make of our own strengths and weaknesses. Did our sharp decline surprise you?

Yes it did. I thought you’d be nailed on for a top-two and automatic promotion. I hope you can get over the disappointment of losing on pens to Pompey and win those games in hand. Failing to beat Barnsley at Oakwell has put The Colliers in the box-seat behind The Hatters, but I think that if you don’t get top two, you’ll succeed in the play-offs.

Hand on heart, where will our two clubs finish this season?

Sunderland to go up, Stanley to survive – but it’ll be by the skin of our teeth. The match versus Rochdale next Tuesday is crucial…

Will you be at the game and what will be the score?

I’ll be there. We’ll need to show a massive improvement if we’re to get anything out of the game. The great unknown is ‘how will Sunderland adjust to an awful playing surface?’ Hate to say it, but Sunderland to win 2-0.

Ian Reynolds-Young on himself: I’m the editor of the OASSC monthly newsletter and web
master of I’m here to support the club in anyway I can to help ensure it has a long-term future. The town and the area need Stanley to thrive – whether they realise that or not!

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