Sligo Rovers play Accrington on October 12
A commitment by former Sligo Rovers Management team of John Coleman and Jimmy Bell has been quickly honoured with the news that their new club Accrington Stanley will visit the Showgrounds for a friendly against Rovers on Sunday October 12th, kick-off 5pm. The match will be preceded at 4pm with the official opening of the all-weather facility by Minister for Sport Michael Ring and Myra Fallon, widow of Rovers and Celtic legend Sean Fallon.
Sligo Rovers Chairman Dermot Kelly said he was delighted the friendly was confirmed so quickly. ‘We had an agreement with Accrington Stanley to travel to Sligo, and the International break offered an early opportunity to bring these plans to fruition. With the official opening of the all-weather facility on the same day, this is an important occasion for the club and I hope our supporters come out and enjoy the evening.’
Rovers’ links with Accrington Stanley go back a few years, with Paul Cook leaving Sligo to take over at the English Club. John Coleman’s second spell in charge at Accrington started in remarkable fashion in their first game away to Northampton Town which they won 5-4 aided by a goal from former Rovers loan player Sean Maguire. In their first home league game they recorded a 1-0 victory over Plymouth Argyle to move away from the bottom end of the table.
Among the players familiar to League of Ireland fans who have played for the Club in recent years are ex-Rovers players are Padraig Amond and Romuald Boco. Karl Sheppard also spent some time on loan from Reading during Paul Cook’s time in charge.
Official opening of new all-weather facility
The new all-weather facility is the latest development in Sligo Rovers’ ongoing ambition to make the Showgrounds the finest League of Ireland venue in the country. In the last fifteen years the ground improvements have included the Treacy Avenue Stand, 114 bay car-park, new boundary wall, office facilities, VW Bank End, tarmacadam fore-court and a series of other ground improvements carried out under the FAI Licensing process and UEFA regulations.
One of the reasons Sligo Rovers has benefitted from significant grant assistance over the years is its reputation it has earned in terms of high standard projects and value for money for each element of the programme.
The new suite of developments includes all-weather pitch (The Sean Fallon Centre), a full-size grass pitch and two five a side grass training pitches. The new facilities are located alongside the pitch and facilities used by Sligo Rovers FC to compete in the League of Ireland’s Premier Division.
The development cost in the region of half a million euro. In 2012 the Department of Sport very generously allocated €295,000 towards the project under the Sports Capital Programme.
Two sponsors are associated with the development – the Irish League of Credit Unions and Stifel, a GSK company with a long history of employment in the North West. The remaining cost is financed by club resources and borrowings.
The new carpet of the all-weather facility, installed by main contractors Pride Sports, is a FIFA 2 Star Astro pitch measuring 100m x 70m. It is identical to the surface fitted in recent times by Saracens Rugby club, and is widely acknowledged as the highest standard playing surface available.
It was manufactured in the Carlisle factory of Sligoman, George Mullen, whose company SIS Ltd, has installed grass and all weather pitches all over the world.
Sean Fallon Park
The All Weather Centre is called after Sean Fallon, a Sligo-born footballer who played for Sligo Rovers and went on to captain Celtic FC and to play for the Republic of Ireland. He was assistant manager to Jock Stein when Celtic won the European Cup in 1967 and he later managed Celtic. He was a legendary figure in the game, known for his courage and his integrity. Sir Alex Ferguson gave the eulogy at his funeral in Glasgow, following his death in January 2013.
As well as the Sean Fallon connection, Sligo has another special link with Celtic FC. The club was founded by a Marist Brother, Andrew Kerins, Brother Walfrid, a native of Ballymote Co Sligo. It was established to provide an outlet for the poor of Glasgow, many of whom were migrant workers from Ireland and has always prided itself on its community values.
This tradition of community involvement, common to Sligo Rovers FC, Sean Fallon, the Credit Union movement and Stiefel is an important factor in the sponsorship arrangements for the new facilities at Sligo Showgrounds.
Planning for the future
Sligo Rovers has capitalised on the most successful era in its history by delivering major infrastructure developments at the Showgrounds, a permanent legacy that will provide a firm foundation for the future. The new facilities will allow the ongoing development of the ground, and in keeping with a long-standing club tradition, they will also be available to clubs and community organisations in the North-West.
Accrington Stanley - A brief guide
Based in Accrington, Lancashire the football club was first formed in 1891 playing in the Football League between 1926 and 1962. The original town team Accrington were one of the original members of the Football League in 1888, before resigning from the League 5 years later. A team called Stanley Villa already existed at the time, named as such because they were based at the Stanley Arms pub in the town. With the demise of Accrington Stanley Villa took the town name to become Accrington Stanley.
The club reformed after World War 1 and entered the League in 1921 with the formation of the old Third Division North along with other top northern non-league clubs.
In four decades of league football they never achieved promotion from the third division. Their best ever league position was finishing second in that division in the 1954/55 season and again in 1957/58.
In 1960 due mainly to financial difficulties the Club were relegated to the newly formed fourth division. However, they only managed one season to complete one full season in this division as bankruptcy followed shortly afterwards. They were accepted into the Lancashire Combination League and were promoted in their first season but their financial problems returned and they were relegated the following year. In 1966 the club resigned from the Lancashire Combination League and disbanded.
Reformed in 1968 Accrington Stanley moved to its present home – the Crown Ground in 1970. Since then Staley have climbed the non- league pyramid to reach the Football League. John Coleman was appointed Manager in 1999 and over the years progress was made on and off the pitch. In 2005/06 Stanley won the Football Conference and were promoted to League Two- switching places with Oxford United in a reversal of fortune as Oxford were the team elected to the League to replace Stanley in 1962. The early years back in the football League was primarily one of struggle to avoid a return to the Conference. Their attendance figures (average in 2014 of 1693) are consistently one of the lowest in the English leagues. In 2010/11 the club reached the Division Two play-offs losing to Stevenage in the semi-finals. In January 2012 John Coleman and assistant Jimmy Bell departed for Rochdale to be replaced as everyone associated with Sligo Rovers knows – Paul Cook.
After only eight months at the Club after consolidating their place in the league where they finished 14th Paul Cook was headhunted by Chesterfield in October 2012 where he has been very successful. On Paul Cook’s departure his assistant Liam Richardson was appointed Manager of Accrington Stanley but he also departed to Chesterfield early in 2013.
Former England striker James Beattie was appointed as the new Manager in May of 2013 and after a very difficult start to last season in which the club were adrift at the bottom he guided them to safety. However after 16 months in charge Beattie left the Club by “mutual consent” in September leaving the way open for John Coleman and Jimmy Bell to return as the Management Team after being given consent by Sligo Rovers.