At least you get a good view at Accy – Carl Marston’s Travels with Town
PUBLISHED: 18:56 17 October 2019
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Football writer Carl Marston has visited 120 Football League grounds, many of them reporting on Ipswich Town. Here he spotlight’s Crown Ground, the home of Accrington Stanley
Crown Ground, the humble home of Accrington Stanley, has more of a non-league feel than any other stadium in League One, and probably the whole Football League.
Ipswich Town fans have already had a taste of Crown Ground, from the start of this year, when the Suffolk club's first-ever competitive match against the current-day Accrington Stanley (formed in October, 1968 - I can remember this date because it coincides with my wife's birth, which was also October, 1968 - useless information) ended in a humiliating 1-0 defeat.
On that occasion, Town were still a Championship club, albeit one plagued by fears of relegation), while Stanley were enjoying their debut season in the third tier of the Football League pyramid.
My experiences of Crown Ground are even grimmer than that of Town's one solitary visit.
Punishing 500-mile round trips to and from Lancashire, into the town of Accy, a former hubbub of cotton and textile manufacturing activity that has seen better days; heavy defeats; wet weather; no press lounge; no press food, squeezed into a tight press box …. proper football, proper non-league (slip of the tongue, I mean 'League').
I have never seen an away win at Accrington Stanley, whether it be with Town or Colchester United.
Stanley were a non-league club when I first visited in the FA Cup, back in January, 2004, with the U's.
It was one of those dour goalless draws that you find difficult to forget, however much you try.
I have no need to jog my memory by consulting any match report.
It was very, very cold and damp and the U's, with Phil Parkinson in his early days as manager, were lucky to escape with a 0-0. Former Ipswich Town midfielder Gavin Johnson was in the side that day.
There was another visit to Crown Ground, on the opening day of the 2017-18 season, when strikers Kayden Jackson (now on Town's books) and Billy Kee were among the scorers in a 3-1 demolition of the U's.
All that pre-season promise, and early season dreams, quashed inside the first 90 minutes!
And of course Kee was the marksman on Town's fateful visit of nine months ago, although the 28-year-old has sadly not played at all this season while he undergoes treatment for depression, anxiety and bulimia.
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So what can Town fans expect from this weekend's first visit for a league encounter?
Good views of the surrounding hills, an end (the Coppice Terrace) all to themselves which is completely open to the Lancashire elements, and hopefully an away victory on the pitch!
On the plus side, the view from Coppice Terrace looking onto the pitch, as opposed to looking behind at the hills, is excellent, and you can easily accommodate 1,800 fans behind that goal.
On the negative, having no roof means that the chants tend to dissipate into thin air, and if it rains, well, you get wet.
The original Accrington was one of only 12 founder members of the Football League, in 1888, but resigned from the League just five years later and folded in 1896.
Stanley Villa, who were based on Stanley Street in Accrington, adopted the name of the town, Accrington Stanley, which eventually went into liquidation in the spring of 1966.
The old Accrington Stanley played at Peel Park, but the current club (formed in 1968) have always played their home games at Crown Ground.
Promoted to the Football League in 2006, Stanley remain one of the 'smallest' clubs in the League.
Crown Ground is not even in the top 110 biggest capacity stadiums in the country, behind the likes of Basingstoke, Dover, Telford and Southport.
It really is an intimate experience.
The bookies made Accrington Stanley the favourites, for the visit of out-of-sorts Town on January 5, 2019, even though this was Accy's first season in the third tier, and they had also recently suffered back-to-back heavy defeats.
As so often happens, the bookies were proved correct as Billy Kee nodded home the winner from point blank range from a free-kick routine. It was the ninth successive season that Town had been dumped out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle.
Thank goodness this weekend is a league match.