John Coleman looks back fondly at Accrington Stanley’s Conference winning campaign every time he’s reminded of it.
A decade ago this week Coleman’s Reds won 1-0 at Woking to secure the title and the club’s return to the Football League after an absence of 44 years.
The Stanley manager is now plotting another promotion but takes a good deal of inspiration from the class of 2006.
“Everyone was expecting us to blow up, pretty akin to what they are doing this season to be honest,” he said. “I remember reading various articles about us and there was one reporter who was very staunch in his support for us. I remember him telling the world and his wife that we weren’t going to blow up and that people should back us to win every game. That was just past January.
“There was always a danger the Woking game was going to be a bit of an anti-climax because if we didn’t do it then we were certainly going to do it in the next game or the one after that. We had plenty of time to do it but it was nice to get over the line and it was probably fitting that Paul Mullin got the goal to get us there.
“I remember losing to Southport a few weeks before and thinking we’d blown it. If you look back at the season there were three or four really defining moments. Obviously going to Exeter and winning but I also think going to Tamworth, facing an onslaught and nicking a win and going to York and winning having lost at Southport and Hereford losing the same day. That was like picking up six points. After that York game I think we knew we’d do it.
“I was very nervous at Woking. I remember sitting with Danny Ventre, who was a sub, and we counted it down. 15 minutes to champions… 14 minutes to champions… 13 minutes to champions. I remember Leam Richardson missing an absolute sitter that would’ve put us on easy street too.
“Once they missed the penalty I think we knew that ultimately it was going to be our day.
“I remember Ian Craney being dressed in his full kit even though he was suspended because he wanted to run on and feel part of it!
“It got quite emotional to be honest. I got very emotional after the game. One of the things we’d used as a driving force to galvanise the lads and bring them together was Peter Cavanagh’s brother dying. It was such a sad thing to happen but I think it certainly brought the lads closer together. That was at the forefront of my mind when the final whistle went.
“The players showed how close they were by how well they supported Peter through what was an absolutely terrible time for him. Sometimes adversity brings out the best in people and it certainly did in that group of players.”