When told the Accrington Stanley fans still sing about Ian Craney’s ‘cracker at Morecambe Bay’ the midfielder admitted ‘that’s really nice.’
The now 37-year-old Wigan Athletic kitman admitted that goal, at the old Christie Park in a Conference clash in August 2004, was a bit special.
“I remember, I had just signed for the club from Altrincham for money and I hadn’t played that well in our opening game against Burton.
“It was my first goal for Accrington, against their rivals, and I got the ball on the edge of the centre circle and hit it. It was an important goal for me at the time and, yes, it was one of my best!”
He admitted that the move to Stanley – a club he returned to four times – almost didn’t come off.
“I had been working for Littlewoods catalogue, sat behind a desk all day, and was playing for Altrincham part-time.
“I gave Littlewoods up after about a year when Altrincham offered me a better contract and then I was meant to sign for Macclesfield who were a league club.
“They were offering more money to Altrincham and me but I was good friends with Cav (Peter Cavanagh) and he had mentioned me to John (Coleman) and Jimmy (Bell) and they had seen me play.
“I met them in a pub, as you do, and we clicked.”
He scored 11 goals that season, including the ‘cracker at Morecambe Bay’ and then 13 the next season as Stanley won the Conference title.
“Everyone says it but we weren’t expected to win the league. We were a bunch of lads, thrown together, but we were young and hungry.
“We never expected to be as good as we were but as the season went on we started to believe.
“I remember we didn’t start well, we beat Canvey Island in the opening game but we had been battered by them, then we got some momentum and it didn’t stop.”
He remembers victories over title rivals Grays and Exeter but there is one game John Coleman doesn’t let him forget!
“We had won 10 league games on the bounce and I think we were going for a Conference record of 11 and we went to Southport.
“I missed a penalty and Rocky (Robbie Williams’) slipped and their lad ran clean through and they won 2-0. Coley will never let me forget that game! He reminds me every time I see him.
“I also remember Tamworth at home where we lifted the trophy, that was special.
“I am with Anthony Barry, Gary Roberts, Paul Cook, Leam Richardson and Andy Procter at Wigan and we talk about our time at Accrington a lot.
“It was an unbelievable time for all of us, it’s good to reminisce. It’s fantastic to play a part in Accrington Stanley’s history.”
Ian was sold to Swansea in November 2006 before returning to Stanley on loan from the Swans and then signing permanently again in January 2008.
He was then sold to Stan Ternent’s Huddersfield, having a loan spell at Morecambe, before signing for Fleetwood and then returning to Accrington on loan in 2010 and signing permanently again in 2011.
“We got to the Play-Offs that season but, looking back, I probably shouldn’t have gone back for the fourth time. It didn’t really work out as I would have wanted.”
He then went onto Rochdale, under Coleman, before dropping into non-league.
He was working for his family bakery before he linked up with Cook at Wigan a year ago.
“I absolutely love my job. You get the banter with the players and staff, working with people you have played with and keeping involved on the football side. I started my coaching badges but a kitman suits me better."