Who Are These Jobbers?
After the euphoria of Wembley, there are not many places that could return us to the humdrum life of League One than the WHAM (WHAM!) Stadium. The hazy recollection of scoffing cheesy chips on Wembley Way are now just sweet memories as Andy Holt is here to tell us how proud he is to call Accrington “tinpot”.
No matter what happens on our trip to Lancashire, surely nothing will compare to December’s visit. For those that were in attendance, it is a day that will become part of Sunderland supporter folklore for years. You can top any away day story simply by dropping in that you were stood on the Coppice Terrace as Accrington was engulfed by a cyclone tended to be reserved for Caribbean islands.
In a strange way, it felt almost like a day we needed. This is the League One experience, it blows away any lingering heirs and graces that Sunderland supporters may have harboured from years of being a Premier League club. The team was slipping and sliding on an actual swamp of a pitch against a team whose only notable contribution to football was being bodied by a milk advert.
It was Wigan ‘88, Manchester City ‘91, Newcastle ‘99, Luton ‘07, it was the moment you’re going to wheel out in the pub in decades to come. While Accrington ‘18 the day we all caught a collective cold and had the nearest experience to trenchfoot many people will, Accrington ‘19 could be the start to Sunderland’s charge for promotion.
Don’t forget to bring a coat.
What’s The Ground Like?
What incredible juxtaposition it is going from a showcase cup final at Wembley to standing on an open terrace below gloomy skies in the middle of Lancashire. Anyone that experienced the WHAM Stadium back in December are probably still wringing out every item of clothing they were wearing that day.
For a club that revels in its “tinpot” status, it’s ground is the real leveller for any club that think they are “better than this”. Stanley have installed a fancy new stand, the Eric Whalley Stand, which will house a number of away fans that don’t have the stones to brave the elements. Most likely you’ll be looking up from the Coppice Terrace wondering when the next monsoon will hit.
If you’re really lucky, you’ll get to experience that famous ‘Accrington Lurgy’ that everyone who attended in December developed in the week following.
How Do I Get There?
You all remember this route don’tcha? If you are hitting the fine British asphalt then take the A19 to Thirsk before moving on to the A168 and leaving a junction 49 for Dishforth Road heading towards Ripon. Take a left onto the A61 before joining the A59 just outside of Harrogate and this will lead to pure Lancashire goodness.
Leave at the roundabout for the A671 follow the signs for Accrington. The Crown Ground (or WHAM Stadium) is well signposted and you, if you’re lucky, you will nick a space in the small car park outside the ground. Alternatively, there is a plenty of street parking in the immediate vicinity.
Should you somehow manage to get lost, carefully type BB5 5BX into your sat nav.
If you are the kind of person that enjoys a midweek train journey to homely Lancashire towns, Accrington railway station is around a mile away from the ground. There are plenty of pubs close to the station making your walk up even more leisurely, provided it’s not pouring down with rain.
A Love Supreme buses leave the Stadium of Light at 1.30pm with return fares priced at £25. Book your place here.
Where Can I Get The Sesh Started?
Among the fine establishments such as Bluntzilla and The Canine Club that occupy Accrington’s high street, there are a number of decent options to quench your aching thirst. The Grants Bar on Manchester Road serves possibly the cheapest craft beer I’ve ever purchased while The Castle on Whalley Road is a good stop off as you walk up to the ground.
Leading up to the WHAM Stadium is the The Grey Horse Hotel and The Crown both on Whalley Road. Accrington also put on a fanzone type arrangement at Redz Bar where there is a live music, food and £2 pints before kick-off. And should Sunderland succumb to the might of Stanley then there is a ‘Winners Hour’ where you can slurp on a malty beverage for a quid.
I’m Stayin’ Owa, Is There Owt To Do?
Ooooooh, a midweek night in Accrington. Yeah, no thanks. It’s not that I have anything specifically against Accrington but, just, well, no.