JOHN Coleman craved Coventry’s infamous chocolate brown away kit as a child.

It was top of his Christmas list as a teenager in 1978 when City were a top-10 top flight side. Coleman, who celebrated his 55th birthday yesterday, is still waiting for his dream present but tomorrow he will lead his Accrington Stanley side out against Coventry when the two meet in a League Two top of the table clash.

Mark Robins’ men are among the big fish in the fourth tier, 30 years ago they were FA Cup holders after a thrilling 3-2 final victory over Tottenham in front of nearly 100,000 fans at Wembley. The same season Stanley finished second in the North West Counties League First Division, beaten to the title by Stalybridge Celtic.

A lot has changed in the intervening years since nine divisions separated the pair and tomorrow they will step out onto the Wham Stadium pitch as equals for the first time since 1959-1960.

“I was laughing with (former Stanley player) Paul Mullin the other day saying when you were playing against the likes of Frickley did you ever think Accrington would be playing against Coventry in a league game and you wouldn’t,” said the Reds boss.

“We are competing with them in our own right.

“It could be seen as pride for us or dismay if you are a Coventry fan that they are only playing ‘little Accrington.’

“You are where you are for a reason. I remember seeing Bradford playing in the top flight and we have played against them.”

The two clubs may not have met for nearly 60 years but in 2004 only a third round FA Cup replay defeat to Colchester United prevented the Reds from facing then second-tier Coventry in what would, at the time, have been a money spinning fourth round clash.

Coleman would like to see Coventry back among the big boys of English football, but he sees a bright future for his side as well.

He added: “It would be nice to see them get back to where they were but we want to go up and progress through the leagues as well.

“Every game is a big game for me, Coventry is a big club with a massive stadium that has competed in the top flight.

“They were the first team to have a chocolate brown kit which I cried for when I was a kid but never got, in the end I got a Leeds yellow away kit which was probably better, so I could pretend to be Allan Clarke on Christmas morning.”