Seamus Conneely says if he can help to save Accrington Stanley from relegation this season it will be a bigger achievement than lifting the League Two title in 2018.
Against the odds, Stanley celebrated top spot in League Two five years ago – going up ahead of Luton, Wycombe and Coventry who have all enjoyed spells in the Championship since then with the Hatters aiming for the Premier League in the current campaign.
Now it’s a real battle to stay in League One, with the 23rd placed Reds three points adrift of safety with three games to go.
They travel to Play-Off chasing Bolton Wanderers tomorrow night, who can all but secure their place in the top six with a win.
“It’s been a tough season, I don’t think there is any getting away from that,” said Conneely, who is back after missing the last nine games through injury.
“We have been in and around the relegation spots since early October and have never been able to pull away, never been able to put two or three results together and, if you can’t do that, that will keep you in and around the relegation spots.
“Whether you have been in the team, in and around the team, coaching or a fan of Accrington Stanley it’s not been an enjoyable season but it’s not over yet. We have three games to go.
“You have got to believe. When you are out of the team you get a lot of time to examine things, you watch the games, training, other teams play and the performances haven’t been good enough, we have had injuries and suspensions and things have gone against us and we are still not dead.
“That’s the way I look at it. Any other season, if you are on 38 points with three games to play you are probably dead and buried and can’t mathematically do it, but I am clinging to the fact there is something else out there keeping us alive for some reason and we have three games to make the most of that chance we have been given.
“To have great moments in life you need to go through adversity. I would rather be 12th and petering out the season with nothing to play for but, if we were to turn this around, it would be a fantastic achievement. This would be better than winning the league for me if we were to stay up. It would top that.
“I have spoken to lads who have been here in the past and it’s hurting them. Lads who have moved on but have played their part in getting the club where it is, you feel a responsibility to not just the lads in the dressing room, the coaching staff, the fans but the other players and people who have played their part in getting the club to punching well above their weight in League One where we want to be.”
Fifth-placed Bolton will prove tough opposition with ex-Reds striker Dion Charles on 22 goals this season.
“There are no easy games at this stage of the season, no matter where you are, there is pressure from all sides," continued Conneely.
“There is pressure on Bolton tomorrow night, they are expected to win and solidify themselves in the Play-Off spots like there is pressure on us.
“We have played them twice this year, we have competed well with them, we have shown we can match them for large parts of the 90 minute game, they have just been more clinical in both games. Maybe tomorrow it’s our turn to have a little bit of luck.
“Your belief does get knocked when you lose games, that’s why teams go on good or bad runs because of confidence.
“If you expect to win games, more often than not you will win games. If you expect to get beat, then you will lose.
“The difficult thing is getting belief and confidence into a team that has not won since Good Friday but that’s the job of senior players and coaching staff.
“It gets to a point where it’s pretty simple - it’s win or you are doomed and we need to win.”
The full pre-match interview with Seamus Conneely is available to watch on the club's official YouTube channel, CLICK HERE to find out more!