IT is exactly 60 years since Accrington Stanley welcomed a record attendance of 17,634 for a friendly against Blackburn Rovers, and chairman Peter Marsden hopes a promotion push can help to bring the crowds back this season.

It was on November 15, 1954 that Stanley took on Rovers at their old Peel Park ground. It was a Monday night but the game was one of the first floodlit friendlies in a post-war era that saw bumper crowds across the country.

Rovers, then the leaders of Division Two and with Ronnie Clayton in their side, came from 2-0 down to claim a draw in the friendly.

Stanley, who would secure their highest ever league finish at the end of that season as they took second place in Division Three North under Walter Galbraith, had gone in front thanks to Bert Scott and George Stewart on what was described as ‘a gluepot’ of a pitch.

But Rovers hit back through Eddie Quigley and Tommy Briggs in a match that also saw record gate receipts of £1,750.

That record has since been surpassed, but the attendance milestone may never be broken.

The capacity at Stanley’s Store First Stadium stands at only 5,070 and just 947 were present for last month’s League Two match at home to Hartlepool United – the first time since 2002 that any Football League fixture had been watched by less than 1,000 people.

Dipping crowds, perhaps affected in part by an increase in matchday admission prices this season, have been in stark contrast to Stanley’s resurgence on the pitch under John Coleman.

The Reds travel to Carlisle United this afternoon sitting only two points off the play-off places, having taken 16 points from eight games since Coleman’s return for a second spell as manager. Stanley have battled relegation in each of the past two seasons.

Reds chairman Peter Marsden, who hails from London, first got the Stanley bug after reading a book about the great Galbraith team of the 1950s and the subsequent resignation from the Football League.

He has always wanted to revive the spirit of that era and hopes that success on the field will help crowds to at least increase again.

“When I first got involved it was the era of the 50s that really interested me,” he said.

“I think then gates were two or three times higher for all clubs.

“Obviously Blackburn were big opposition and still are, and playing a game under floodlights was a real novelty at the time.

“I said I wanted to try to get the club back to that era and I still do, but also in recent times I’ve looked more closely at the last 10 or 20 years in non-league too. Everyone at the club was in it together.

“I want us to find that blend of the real professionalism of the 1950s and the togetherness of the non-league years.

“What we’ve tried to do is have a team that people want to come and see, a team that is winning games.

“In eight league games we’ve won five, drawn one and lost two and that’s automatic promotion form. We’re looking up rather than down now.

“I’ve worked with a few managers now, and John is head and shoulders the best I’ve worked with.

“His attitude is better than any manager I’ve come across. I love the man.

“I really think this can be a great year for Stanley and I’d urge people not to just come for the last month or two, but to come for six months as we’re rocket propelled towards promotion.”