Accrington Stanley F.C.

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Accrington Stanley are a non-league football club from Accrington in Lancashire, in the north-west of England. They played in the Football League between 1921 and 1962. They are not to be confused with Accrington F.C., who were one of the original twelve founder members of the Football League. While Stanley have never been particularly successful, they are generally thought of as a true part of the history of British football, especially that in Lancashire. The team's name is often invoked as a symbol of British sport's legion of plucky but hopeless causes (much like British ski-jumping's 'heroic failure' Eddie 'the Eagle' Edwards).

The club entered the League in 1921 with the formation of the old Third Division (North), along with the other top Northern non-league clubs. In four decades of league football they never managed to achieve promotion from the Third Division. Their best-ever league position was 2nd in that division, in the 1954-55 season. Unfortunately, only the top club was promoted at the time, so they never had the chance to compete in Division Two.

In 1960, amid persistent financial difficulties, Stanley were relegated to the recently-formed Division Four. However, they only managed to complete one full season in this division: bankruptcy followed shortly afterwards, along with their ignominious eviction from the League in February 1962, mid-way through the 1961/62 season.

The role of Burnley F.C. chairman Bob Lord in refusing, in his capacity as administrator of the bankrupt club, to accept a bailout offer that would have permitted his close competitor to remain afloat is still unforgiven by some.

Stanley actually managed to continue playing as a non-league outfit, in the Lancashire Combination, for a few years until 1966, when they finally folded. However, the club was reformed soon afterwards in 1968; since then, Stanley have clawed their way back up the non-league scene to the point where they are now competing in the Nationwide Conference, which is the highest level of football outside the Football League. Each season, the winner of the Conference and the winner of playoffs between the next four top teams in the Conference replace the bottom two teams in the Football League.

The club's recent rise to the Conference level is attributed in part to the windfall of hundreds of thousands of pounds reaped by the sell-on clause in the December 2001 transfer of former Stanley star Brett Ormerod to Southampton F.C., which paid Blackpool F.C. over a million pounds for his contract. Stanley had taken fifty thousand pounds from Blackpool in 1997 with the agreement that Blackpool would pay Accrington a quarter of what they might have received if they in turn transferred Ormerod to another team. The 2002-2003 championship of the Northern Premier League followed quickly on Accrington's getting the cash.

There are various theories relating to the origin of the word Stanley in the club's name. These centre around a merger with another side named Stanley Villa, a pub named the Stanley Arms in Accrington, and the family name of the Earl of Derby. In all probability the true answer will never be known.

They play at the Crown Ground in Accrington. The traditional home of the old club was Peel Park.

The club was name-checked in a celebrated British advert for milk, from the 1980s. The scene was two boys with thick Scouse accents in Liverpool F.C. football shirts in a kitchen, looking for something to drink after a game of football. The dialogue ran as follows:

Boy 1: "Do you want a drink?"
Boy 2: "Got any lemonade?"
Boy 1: "If you want!" (he takes a bottle of milk from the fridge)
Boy 2: "Milk.....Ugh!"
Boy 1: "It's what Ian Rush drinks."
Boy 2: "Ian Rush?"
Boy 1: "Yeah, an' he says if I don't drink lots of milk, when I grow up I'm only gonna be good enough to play for Accrington Stanley!"
Boy 2: "Accrington Stanley? ... Who are they??!"
Boy 1: "Exactly!"
Boy 2: "Gimmie some!"
Boy 1: "Gerroff!"
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