I’VE known John Coleman longer than I’ve known my wife. In fact, I’d credit him for bringing us together in the first place.
If Accrington Stanley hadn’t been doing so well under his leadership I wouldn’t have gone to a UniBond away game at Runcorn and bumped into Freda, who was watching the game with her dad.
It’s not the only way he has changed my life.
Promotion back into the Football League meant I was in the Radio Lancashire studio quite a lot, doing bits for the sports programmes, and now I’ve got my own show!
Of all my possessions the best one I have is John Coleman’s shirt from the President’s Cup final (non-league’s equivalent of the Charity Shield) at Burton.
It’s about 11 years old and still has his blood stains on it from getting an elbow when he scored.
Maybe I could take the DNA and make another Coley?!
It’s an absolute body blow to be losing him. I thought he might have gone to someone like Bradford or Preston. I didn’t think Rochdale would be on his radar.
The sad thing is we’ve become a little bit like every other club. We’ll have a manager who won’t know the fans’. John knows 95 per cent of their names and stops to chat with anyone.
We’ve been on such a long journey together. It feels like I’m losing two brothers, with Jimmy Bell as well.
I don’t think anyone will begrudge them the move, but now someone will have to come in and start all over again.
The only exception would be if it was someone who already had an affinity or links to the club, like Paul Cook or Jamie Speare or Ashley Hoskin.
Going forward, John has pretty much secured our safety in the league for another season so there is no need to rush.
There is time to make the right decision for the club.
Now, I propose that we start the John Coleman statue fund!