Every season in England in the lower divisions there always seems to be an unlikely success story that seems to go unnoticed.
That accolade belongs to League Two table-toppers Accrington Stanley who are surprising everyone by leading the way in England’s fourth tier.
It’s remarkable given the fact they have one of League Two’s smallest budgets and smallest wage bills and are a very small town in the north west of England.
The success of Accrington Stanley points to one particular person and that is John Coleman who has the tag of being ‘Mr Accrington Stanley.’
In two spells at the Crown Ground, Coleman has won a remarkable three promotions with Stanley. He has taken them from the Northern Premier League Division to the Football League and he looks set to take the club to a fourth division and with it a fourth promotion.
With every success or near miss, Accrington Stanley has had, Coleman has been at the helm and has overseen it.
Accrington has been in the Football League since 2006 and have remained there ever since and have had scrapes with promotion and with relegation.
Every chance of promotion the club has had has been a huge surprise to many within in England, but every time they have faced a relegation battle it hasn’t been a surprise to many.
The first tussle the club had with promotion within the Football League came in 2011 when they were in the League Two play-offs. After finishing in a record 5th place in the division, they faced Stevenage and were beaten over two legs with an aggregate score of 3-0.
Many years passed before another challenge was mounted this time it was more serious and more heartbreaking for Stanley.
In the 2015-2016 season, Stanley had been in the top seven for most of the season and looked to win an unlikely automatic promotion.
On the last Saturday of the season, Stanley needed just a win over Stevenage or just to better Bristol Rovers result and if they did that they would be promoted to League One for the first time in their entire history.
What proceeded was a chain of unexpected events for Stanley.
Stanley was just minutes away from heading into League One. With Bristol Rovers drawing against Dagenham & Redbridge, the club looked like they were on their way only for a dramatic unexpected twist to hit them hard.
Bristol Rovers scored in injury time of their game and leapfrogged them into third place and denied them automatic promotion on the final day.
The Crown Ground was in stunned silence, with some fans reduced to tears as heartbreak was endured.
It would be the play-offs and that brought no joy and more pain as they were beaten by AFC Wimbledon.
However, this season, Stanley have been relentless and especially 2018. They have been in superb form winning 10 of their last 11 matches and in that time they have gone from being in the play-offs to overtaking longtime leaders Luton Town.
With just seven games left to play of this season for Accrington, they look to be finally on their way out of this division which is staggering given the size of the club.
The line, “Accrington Stanley, who are they?…. Exactly,” is what many associates with Stanley.
Certainly this season everybody knows and has heard of Accrington Stanley.
Are they the surprise of the season? Let us know in the comments below!