Michael Welch admits he is still dining out on THAT goal for Accrington Stanley – despite scoring one from further out for Altrincham later in his career.
It was at Edgeley Park, August 18, 2006, and defender ‘Welchy’ got the ball 40 yards out and half-volleyed it into the Stockport net in Stanley’s first season back in the Football League.
‘The best goal I have ever seen live’ is the general consensus from most Stanley fans who were there that day.
He did score a stunning 70 yarder for Altrincham against Crawley in 2009 which he says was his ‘most satisfying’ but he insists Stanley was his best!
“The one for Alty was good because I had tried it a few times and it had never come off. I don’t know if anyone remembers but I tried it for Accrington against Torquay and hit the bar,” said the 38-year-old who was with the Reds from 2005-7.
“It was just about quick thinking after the ref has given off-side or something and trying to catch the keeper out and for Alty it actually came off so that was the most satisfying.
“Accrington was the best though because it was a half volley and I have been dining out on it ever since. That was the first time I had tried that.
“I still get messages from Accrington fans saying it’s the best goal they have seen live and it does pop up every now and then. I love it!”
Michael admitted he had a shock on Christmas Day 2006 when watching television.
“Everyone was having a drink and I was sober so I flicked on tv and the best goals of the year was on.
“There was Henry and Zidane and I was casually taking an interest and then up I popped at number two. I had to call all the family in quickly! The Argentine national team won it for a 40-pass goal.”
The defender was popular with the fans and a big part of the 2005/6 squad which won the Conference title.
“I remember, I had been released by Macclesfield and I didn’t expect it. I had played the majority of games and we had reached the Play-Offs.
“I was floating around that summer with interest from Stockport, Chester and Morecambe and then I got a phone call on Thursday morning to come and play for Accrington against Wigan.
“I did and the next day I was offered a six month contract.
“We had a slow start to that season, I remember games at Altrincham and Canvey Island where we didn’t particularly play well but won and I think we lost to Cambridge but we knew once we clicked, we were going to be some team.
“The game against Grays Athletic in November was the day I knew we would do it. It was a Saturday lunch-time, live on Sky, they were unbeaten at home for a long time and they had players like Craig Mackail-Smith, Aaron McLean and Gary Hooper who went on to have great careers.
“Gary Roberts and Jags (Steve Jagielka) scored in a 2-1 win and we celebrated on the bus back like we had won the league and I think we knew we would go on and win it.
“It was unbelievable for me as I had gone from not having a club in July to being part of a superb and talented group of players and having the best season of my life.”
Michael moved into non-league from Stanley before packing up football early – something which hurt him.
“I finished my career at 30/31 with an ankle injury. It still annoys me as I finished with 299 appearances in the professional football so if anyone needs to sign me for one game, I will be there!
“I became totally disillusioned with football, I distanced myself from it. I didn’t kick a ball for three years and didn’t watch any games live.
“Then my mate was managing a team in the Cheshire League Middlewich and he asked me to come down and be involved. I got the bug back.
“I was meant to be doing my UEFA B licence this summer but the coronavirus has stopped that for now but I want to get back involved. I have too much experience not to give something back.”
He currently works as a project manager for a construction company but he, along with his dad Ernie who became a friend of the Stanley fans, still in contact with the pals he made from Accrington.
“Only the other night I ended up chatting to Gary Roberts and Rob Elliot through social media about our time at Accrington. I still talk to Leam Richardson and quite a few others – a great team and a great time.”