Accrington Stanley face Woking this Sunday in the Emirates FA Cup – and as soon as John Coleman walks into the Kingfield Stadium it will evoke memories of 2006.
It was there that a Paul Mullin goal and a double penalty save by current Newcastle goalkeeper Rob Elliot secured Stanley promotion to the Football League after a 44-year absence.
Stanley legend Mullin remembers the day well after he turned in Mark Boyd’s first half shot to open the scoring.
“I almost didn’t celebrate as I didn’t over celebrate most of my goals in my career really,” said Mullin. ” I ran off and it started to dawn on me that this could be a really important goal. I saw the pictures of me celebrating afterwards and I look like a mad man.
“It was pure relief really. That was my overriding memory of that day. The relief and the sheer physical exertion of it. We were dead on our feet towards the end of that game.
“I remember the goal. It was a Mark Boyd shot that was a bit of a daisy cutter. There wasn’t a cat in hell’s chance that it was going in, though Boydy will probably tell you different, but I just deflected it and the keeper had committed himself.
“It just went mental when the final whistle went – people running onto the pitch. It was a really great day.”
Of that history-making team, Mullin said: “We were all hungry and wanted to play in the league. We knew about the history and how good the story was but immediately for the players it was about that chance to play in the Football League. A lot of those lads went on to have really good careers and are still having them now.”
For Elliot, it was his first trophy with the stopper – who is currently recovering from a cruciate ligament injury – now playing in the Premier League and for the Republc of Ireland. He pulled off a double penalty save from Justin Richards at Woking 10 years ago.
“Winning that trophy was probably career defining for me,” said Elliot, who was at Charlton at the time. “I don’t think I’d be where I am now if I hadn’t gone on loan to Accrington. That set my stall out and introduced me to men’s professional football
“The ref gave the penalty, the lad took it and I saved it,” he remembered. “He then scored the rebound but I think there was encroachment or something and the ref asked for it to be retaken. He took it again, I saved it again and I remember being on the floor as he looked to get the rebound. I managed to get up off the floor and I think it just hit me really. It was more luck than judgement.
“We played brilliant football at times but we didn’t always win pretty. We pulled together and sometimes just ground it out and got the results. I don’t think my career would have gone the way it had if it hadn’t been for that Conference-winning season at Accrington.”