Sean McConville says it’s a huge honour to have amassed 400 appearances for Accrington Stanley – a club he loves.
The 33-year-old made it 400 games over two spells when he came on against Salford in the Papa Johns Trophy on Tuesday night.
The winger is already Stanley’s record league appearance holder – all his games have been while Stanley are a league club – and he is chasing down Paul Mullin’s all-time appearance record of 465 games. This is a mixture of non-league games, non league cups, league games and Lancashire Cup matches. Andy Procter is second with 446 and Sean is third.
“When you look back you think of certain games, certain moments, you think back to some of the lesser moments and disappointments. It does make you proud,” said McConville.
“To make that number of appearances, you have to dedicate yourself to the game, live and breathe it and enjoy it and it’s something I love. I love to play, it’s something I loved doing as a kid and it hasn’t grown out of me. I have seen players grow out of it, players who probably have a lot more ability than me. I am proud to make that many appearances.”
McConville first came to Stanley in 2009-2011 as the Reds got to the League Two Play-Off Finals but lost to Stevenage in the semi-final. He returned in 2015 and has never looked back, suffering another Play-Off heartbreak and then celebrated as the Reds were crowned League Two champions in 2018, against the odds.
“I have seen good and bad times here. When I first arrived, I came into a club that was full time from playing part-time and working, my dreams were made true by the manager and then Chairman Eric Whalley giving me that chance to be a full-time footballer.
“At that stage the club was in a transition, they had to get by to pay the wages and some months we didn’t get paid. The onus was on cup ties to progress to make sure you did get paid at certain stages.
“Although at the time it was tough, especially having a young baby, I look back at it with fond memories. It stood me in good stead to where I am now.
“I played with some unbelievable characters back then, football has changed, they grounded me and made me realise I have to work hard for it. At the time I didn’t like a lot of these players as they demanded so much off you but it made me a better player. I had the likes of Ian Craney and Paul Mullin demanding a lot of me and, as a young lad, I didn’t know if I could do it but it’s character building and it helps you. Without that I don’t think I would have been playing 400 games.
“My whole career would not have been possible without John (Coleman) and Jimmy (Bell) giving me a chance. They did everything for me and made me into a better player.
“There have been tough times, they will let you now when not doing well.
“Jimmy is a great character, fella and coach, he knows football inside out and the gaffer, I have built a relationship with him that goes beyond football.”
He is chasing Mullin’s record and, with a contract until 2024 and hoping he stays clear of injury, he is hopeful of exceeding it.
“I see myself getting to 500, I am only 33. Hopefully I can pass Paul’s record which will be a remarkable achievement to be the all-time appearance holder.
“I am only looking as far as this season though. There are plenty more games and results to get in the bag and we need to build on last week’s win over Cheltenham. We need to put a run together that makes it a bit more comfortable, to make us look up rather than over our shoulders.”
He is friends with Bristol Rovers manager Joey Barton as well as former Stanley midfielder Sam Finley, who the Reds face this weekend in Sean’s 401st game for the Reds.
“Bristol are a good side but hopefully we will get a win there. My dad played football with Joey’s dad for Knowsley United and he is someone I have got a huge amount of respect for.
“I look for their result after ours, I was made up they got promoted but hopefully we will get three points off them tomorrow.
“Back-to-back wins are hard to come by in any league but especially this one. We lost three on bounce and I didn’t feel we deserved that losing run, but now we hope to get on a winning run.
“It was doom and gloom after three defeats, but if we win tomorrow and beat Morecambe in a big local derby next week we could go into the top eight or nine.”
The full pre-match interview with Sean McConville is available to watch on the club's official YouTube channel, CLICK HERE to find out more!