ACCRINGTON Stanley are expecting to host a bumper crowd at the Wham Stadium when Bradford City come to town tomorrow.

But John Coleman hopes that with a steady increase in support for the Reds they are not outnumbered by travelling fans.

Coleman was enthused by the number of young supporters who attended Tuesday night’s Checkatrade Trophy Northern Group C win over Macclesfield. And with a free weekend for neighbouring sides Blackburn Rovers and Burnley, due to the international break, it is likely some neutrals will feed the curiosity surrounding how the Reds have taken to life in League One.

“I know financially it’s good for us to attract other fans to come and watch us and what we do, but we want to build our own fanbase,” said Coleman.

“We want to get a steady growth, and it was encouraging on Tuesday night the amount of youngsters who were at the game. If we’re going to get the Wham Stadium full it’s going to have to be by people taking the initiative to choose Accrington as their club.

“With the best will in the world people of my age were without a club in Accrington, so when they were going through their formative years there was no club.

“I was born the year that Accrington went out of the league, so there was no club, and then a very low non-league club when you get to the time of its rebirth, which was ‘68. So we’ve skipped a generation. We’ve probably missed two generations really.

“We’re fighting to build it now ourselves, get people who live in the town of Accrington and surrounding areas of Hyndburn and wherever to realise this is a club going forward, this is a club that’s growing, and you can have a really good time coming here.

“The matchday experience is good, you can bring your family down, it’s not going to cost you the earth, and you’re treated to some wonderful football. And, I have to say, some wonderful entertainment in the bar as well.”

Owner Andy Holt gave away shirts to every Year Three pupil in Hyndburn earlier this year, and as the club celebrates 50 years since reforming in 1968, he has written to schools in the area, committing to the giveaway for the next five years, with the next batch handed out next month.

In addition, recipients will receive free tickets for a selection of home games this season.

And Coleman says it fills him with optimism for the club’s future when he sees children in the town sporting Stanley shirts.

“It does. Just driving in you see them, and whenever you see the Football in the Community initiatives there’s always plenty of Accrington shirts, which is good, that was never the case.

“I think targeting the youngsters in the Hyndburn schools is a fantastic idea.

“I remember the days of five years ago when we would have needed one of them tops for the subs, so things have changed a lot!

“So it’s all positive.”

He added: “It’s a long-term project, you’re playing the long game, but everyone’s impatient, including myself - you want the fans through the door now roaring us on.

“Hopefully that will be the case through the coming years.”