Tony Alveston describes his time with Accrington Stanley as ‘a calamity every week’ – but he wouldn’t change those ‘happy days.’
Stanley fan Tony, now 72, was involved with the Reds in the 1970s and 80s, with Stanley moving from the Lancashire Combination to the Cheshire League in that time as they looked for a path back towards the Football League after their resignation in 1962.
“I got involved when David Baron became manager in 1978,” said Tony, as Stanley now celebrate promotion to League One on their 50th year anniversary of being re-formed.
“I had always been a fan. I grew up in Oswaldtwistle and I played for Stanley in the reserves when I was 15 or 16 in the 1950s, before the resignation, but I never made it into the first team.
“I was friends with David and Peter McMillan (Peter is pictured digging a trench on the Crown Ground in one of the iconic photos of the era).
“Peter worked on the ground every Sunday without fail. Money was tight and I had a job as a sales manager for a national company.
“Stanley decided to do a programme to try and advertise the next matches and get some money from advertising and asked me if I would help.
“It was a success as there were corner shops, off-licenses, green grocers and more who all sponsored us or took part in the weekly draw. Peter and I used to go around at night collecting the weekly draw tickets. We would go to anyone but it got the job done.
“I later became a director and I worked with some great characters – John Prescott, Gerry King, Jack Tansey, Stan Spencer and more. We were just a bunch of local people who shared an interest – Accrington Stanley, it had a real community feel.
“I remember it costing me £26 in petrol to go to Consett in an FA Trophy match which we won 1-0 – that was a lot of money in those days – and then Mel Clay came around asking for money to buy the players’ drinks! It kept costing!”
Tony loved watching as Stanley aimed to climb the leagues again – but financial problems continued to plague them.
“We had three ‘big names’ in Dave Hargreaves, Dave Parr and Micky Finn. They were our big earners but they were just local lads playing football. We were a great side, it was enjoyable to watch them playing.
“Saying that, behind the scenes there was a calamity every week, it was a battle but we were just a bunch of guys who came together to try and do our best for Accrington Stanley. In one way it was wonderful to be involved.
“I remember us being in serious trouble and local MP Arthur Davidson got involved but then John Alty came in and saved us, he kept the club afloat and it’s gone on from there.”
With the ‘Cowshed’ being knocked down, Tony remembers it being put together.
“We bought the back wall for the Cowshed from a cricket club in Rochdale in the late 1970s.
“I remember two heavies turning up on my doorstep asking for the money for it, chasing the bill. I had to work hard to get the money for that!”
Tony now works at Clitheroe FC on the commercial side but is a Stanley season ticket holder.
“What Andy Holt has done is absolutely amazing. He has been a Godsend and without him the club wouldn’t be here. From where we were in the 1970s, it’s a true fairytale.”