John Coleman knows the Emirates FA Cup has played a big part in Stanley’s history – and hopes it can boost the future of the Reds.
Stanley face League Two promotion-chasers Crewe Alexandra at the Wham Stadium on Saturday in the first round of the historic cup competition.
In 1992, the Reds were the non-league team facing then league side Crewe in the second round and the game was in such big demand it was switched to Ewood Park, Stanley losing 6-1.
In 2003-4 season, Stanley’s cup run, beating Huddersfield and Bournemouth, helped to finance the club going full-time and ultimately returning to the EFL in 2006.
Now he knows the financial side of an FA Cup run could lead to the chance to boost the Stanley squad and bring future glory, with victory in the first round worth £36,000.
“My favourite FA Cup moment is Goucky’s goal (Andy Gouck) against Huddersfield,” said Coleman. “In fact, I watched it on YouTube a few weeks ago and it gets better every time you see it. It was a fantastic atmosphere, it was on television and it helped us go full-time.
“Before we arrived in 1999, Stanley played Crewe in the FA Cup and I am sure the older fans will remember that game. If you had told them 20 years on, we would be playing Crewe and be in the higher division, they would have bitten your hands off.
“Crewe were a miles bigger club than us in the 1990s, then we had the run in the early 2000s and the exposure from live TV, that’s when things started to grow.
“For non-league clubs, if you get on TV a few times, it lifts your profile and people start to notice you. When you have a name like Accrington Stanley, it’s a known brand and the TV exposure is a Godsend.
“For lower league clubs, the FA Cup is massive. A couple of hundred thousand might not mean anything to your Manchester United’s and City’s but to us it can make a massive difference on a day-to-day basis.
“The players accept the situation of the importance attached to it financially. Our players don’t get paid a lot compared to others, so our bonus system for them in the FA Cup is good as well as them being driven by the prospect of progressing to round three and getting a big club on TV.”
Crewe, managed by former Morecambe defender Dave Artell, are currently fourth in League Two, with a strong start to their campaign. They also have former Red Nicky Hunt among their number. Stanley are 19th in League One, so there are eight places between the sides.
“It’s similar to last season when we played Colchester. They were flying high in League Two and Crewe are the same. Crewe are a good side who are used to winning games and, if we are not at our best, they will beat us.”
Swansea loan striker Courtney Baker-Richardson is a doubt with a recurrence of his groin injury, Zaine Francis-Angol is still out while defender Ross Sykes returns after a three-game ban.
“Aji Alese and Mark Hughes have done well so Ross will have his work cut out to get his place back,” added Coleman.