John Coleman and Jimmy Bell celebrate 20 years in charge of Accrington Stanley over two spells tomorrow but they both will treat the Boxing Day fixture against high-flying Rotherham as ‘another game.’
A bumper crowd of more than 4,000 is expected – with half of them Millers – to cheer on their teams with a small presentation before the game to the Reds management duo, who celebrate 20 years in charge of the Reds over two spells on Christmas Day.
Rotherham are top of League One, unbeaten in 16 league games and with a formidable striker in former Reds loanee Michael Smith, who has scored 15 goals this season.
The Covid-testing has so far returned predominantly negative results and, while other games won’t go ahead, Coleman is hopeful there will be football on Boxing Day at the Wham Stadium.
“Hopefully we are able to fulfil the fixture on Boxing Day and it looks positive,” said the Reds boss, who has masterminded four promotions with Stanley, all as champions, from the UniBond First Division in 2000 all the way through to League One in 2018.
“All we can do is get ourselves right and worry about what it happens when it happens.
“It’s another day for me, it’s nice to reach a milestone but it has no bearing on the day. I would like to do a lot more.
“I think the time for reflection is when you finish not when you are still going.
“This is a smashing game to play in, there will be a full house, the atmosphere will be great, our fans will be fantastic like they always are and they do rise to the occasion and hopefully our players will do the same.
“I love Boxing Day games, the crowd a little bit hungover from the day before, they are always vocal, they are just good games. The lads play in a good tempo and it’s an exciting game to play.
“Michael Smith came to us on loan, I signed him and then he didn’t play for me as we left the week after but we also know Dan Barlaser really well, we still speak to him. He did well when he came here on loan and is great lad and great player.
“Paul Warne is a good manager, one of the old ones, you can pick the phone up to and he is on the same wavelength as us. I am really excited about it.”
Coleman is hoping long-term casualty Joe Pritchard will make the squad but captain Seamus Conneely and David Morgan are still out, with Burnley loan striker Joel Mumbongo out for the season.
The full pre-match interview video with John Coleman is available to watch on the club's official YouTube channel, CLICK HERE to find out more!