Mick Finn admitted he joined Stanley at a time when ‘they really started to try to do something again.’
The popular goalkeeper, now 64, was part of a team which included the record goalscorer Dave Hargreaves and Dave Parr alongside Alan Davies, Ian Wilcox and Jack Brydon, who all played a part in Stanley’s climb back up the leagues following their resignation in 1962.
In October, the Reds will celebrate 50 years since their reformation and it will be a historic season after promotion to SkyBet League One for the first time in their history.
Mick remembers with fondness the late 1970s as Stanley were in non-league, looking to climb back towards league status.
“I was originally from Manchester but I joined Burnley, which was a great time, and made four appearances. I then left and signed for Padiham for a season,” said Mick, who still lives locally. “I worked with Ian Wilcox, who had joined Accrington and was their captain, and I signed up in 1977.
“There was a lot of local lads in the team, I think the furthest was Preston, and we had some great times. It was probably the time that Accrington really tried to start to do something again.
“A few of us signed professional deals, there were a couple of non league clubs interested in us, but we signed contracts at Stanley. We didn’t want to go full-time because we had decent jobs but we got paid around £15 a week, plus bonuses, for playing for Accrington, which was ok when you worked as well.
“We won the Lancashire Combination in my first season and then we switched to the Cheshire League Two, because the Cheshire League was a route back to the Football League.
“We won that but couldn’t go up because of the Crown Ground facilities but we won it again the year after fortunately.
“I remember a feeling of everyone in it together, from the top to the bottom. I, along with others, dug up the pitch in the summer. We just came in with our families and helped – it’s what we did and what type of club Accrington was and is. Everyone mucked in.
“We used to get crowds of anywhere between 300-500 depending on who we were playing which was great support at that time and we enjoyed success.
“I went onto become player-manager for a season and brought Billy Ingham, who I had been at Burnley with, to the club. I soon found out I wasn’t cut out for management though!
“But it was great memories and I made a lot of friends. I still swim with Harry Stevenson and Ian Wilcox every week.”
Mick knows a lot has changed from 1962 to the present day – but some things haven’t!
“When you think back, Accrington went out of the Football League for £62,000, it’s hardly anything to clubs nowadays – some clubs have a tax bill today a lot, lot bigger than that!
“The pitch is a lot better, that’s a definite improvement, and it will be interesting to see the new stand when Sunderland bring 16,000 fans!
“One thing that hasn’t changed is the dressing rooms. We used to get changed in shifts in our day so I have no idea what it’s like now for clubs who bring a lot of staff!
“Also the people haven’t changed, they are still down-to-earth. I look back on my time at Burnley and Accrington and it was an amazing time. I was fortunate to play at a good level and I made a lot of friends – who are still my friends.”
And he is proud of where the club is now.
“When you look at how Burnley, Blackburn and Accrington did this season – it’s fantastic for East Lancashire. John Alty and John Prescott, directors and chairmen from my day, would be so proud to see Accrington where they are now.
“I have watched a few games over the years and Andy Holt has done a fantastic job and it’s amazing what has happened.
“They are one of the first results I look for.”