Football-The start

young Darren with footballGrowing up in a northern English Town in England during the 1970’s following football did not seem an option, it was mandatory!

My first game played was in 1980 for Peel Park Primary School on the adjoining playing field, which had been the site of Accrington Stanley’s Peel Park ground until their demise in 1962.

My hometown club was the reformed club Accrington Stanley, but at that stage they were playing in low tier of non-league football and although an occasional visitor to matches, a crowd of 2-300 people did not really excite a football-mad youngster. However I was fortunate enough to have a Dad who took me to games, usually at Burnley, but all over the North West including Blackburn Rovers and the two Manchester clubs.

I continued to play football throughout my youth for the School and Altham Athletic where lifelong friendships were formed with the likes of Paul Todd and Dave Render and by the late 1980’s, had become a regular supporting Stanley at the Crown Ground.

In-between playing other sports, notably Golf and Cricket, I also developed a passion (bordering on obsession) for the statistics and history of the game and collecting memorabilia and still have the programmes I have from those first games over 40 years ago-which given the fact, I’ve lived in around ten houses during this period, it’s been quite an achievement!

The History

Darren in Accrington Stanley shirtQuite how and why I started writing my first book ‘The Long Road Back-The Complete History of Accrington Stanley’ back in 2002 still baffles me, but that’s what I did, piecing the memorabilia, photographs and statistics to cover the then Unibond League club. Once on that road it took me on a journey of a further four books.

During the research for the first book I had the pleasure of meeting Accrington’s most renowned photographer and we joined forces to publish two further books-Garth Dawson’s Accrington and Accrington Life in 2003 and 2004 looking back nostalgically at Accrington’s past.

A fourth book, possibly my favourite was another local history book about the area I had grown up in titled ‘Baxenden, Rising Bridge & Stonefold’ in 2005, before another Stanley book in 2006 titled Accrington Stanley-The Complete A-Z.

At this point, I thought I had completed everything I set out to achieve in terms of books and settled back into watching games as a season-ticket holder with my Dad and children Liam and Chelsea.

I wrote occasional magazine Articles on Stanley, before an idea in 2016 set me on another path when I started the Accrington Stanley Memories Facebook Group.

Initially it was to upload and share my memorabilia and thought there may be others out there with a love for all things Stanley, however the response has been breath-taking, with over 1,400 members across 50 countries and still growing.

The group has evolved into all things Stanley-related and I have also had the pleasure of meeting people who I now class as friends like Gary De-Maine, David Davis and Tony Robinson.

Away from football, I have spent 30 years working in the Aerospace Industry and this has enabled me to travel and see new countries and experiences and spent a year living in Paris in the early 90’s and had the pleasure of watching Paris St. Germain, long before the Middle East investment into the club.

One More Book!

Darren celebrating Accrington winning League Two championshipA couple of years ago I started get the urge to start compiling a book to celebrate fifty years since the club re-formed and the result is ‘50 Years of Accrington Stanley at the Crown Ground’.

Financing a book is difficult however with a subscription scheme taken up by over 200 Stanley fans and the generous help of a couple of friends and the patience of my wife, the book has been possible and is due for release in July-I’m sure it will be my last, but I have said that before!

The Future

Following a couple of enjoyable Podcasts speaking to the Across the Pitch guys, Phil asked me to join the team writing features on football in England, helping with guest selection and joining the occasional Podcasts and so begins my next exciting football journey.

Favorite Team - Accrington Stanley F.C.

Read Articles By Darren Woodhead