Accrington Stanley, who are they? Ad explained

Word association is a test commonly used by psychologists in which the participant responds to a trigger word with the first word that comes to mind. It is meant to crack your subconscious mind and reveal the depths of trauma in some cases.

So, for example, you might associate yellow with bananas, drink it with juice, and—more commonly—Accrington Stanley with “Who are they?”

English football fans have been associating this question with the northern club since the 1980s, with the phrase popularized by the then-watchable Soccer AM initially. But how and when did Accrington Stanley establish itself in football folklore, and why did the above phrase become so famous?

Origins of Accrington Stanley? who are they?’ It dates back to 1989. The phrase is synonymous with the milk commercial in which two young Liverpool fans rushed into the kitchen after taking a kick.

One of them orders a lemonade while the other opens the fridge and takes out a bottle of milk. “Milk? Shake it up!” The first child cries before the milk drinker proudly claims: “This is what Ian Rush drinks,” in a youthful Scouse tone.

And the child adds: “And he says if I don’t drink so much milk when I’m old, I’ll be good enough to play for Accrington Stanley,” to which his friend replies: “Accrington Stanley? Who are they?”


And there, among those powerful shouts, the infamous phrase was born.

The announcement was made at a time when Rush was among Europe’s elite forwards leading the line of the continent’s dominant power. Liverpool won five league titles in the 1980s and twice won the European Cup in that decade as well.

Thus, the kids in the advert – young Liverpool fans – aspired to be like the Welsh champions and drinking milk was the way to go. Otherwise, little-known Accrington Stanley were the replacement.

However, while the ad satirizes the ‘Owd Reds’, the ad and the catchphrase that came out of it have long been viewed favorably by Stanley fans. In 2012, cricket cult figure David Lloyd said the club earned £10,000 as a result of the advertisement.

Accrington Stanley’s success on the field has coincided with its commercial rise since the club’s re-formation in 1968. The club had to progress through the depths of the footballing hierarchy to get where it is today.

Stanley are currently enjoying one of their longest runs in the FA Cup having reached the third round following victories over Crawley Town and Barnet. Tuesday night win the replay against Boreham Wood and they will progress to the fourth round for only the fourth time in their history.

Again in 2009/10 the club beat Salisbury, Barnet and Gillingham before hosting Premier League side Fulham in the fourth round. Michael Sims equalized for the hosts in the first half after Eric Nevland’s opener, but a second yellow card for Darran Kempson before half-time was too much of a hurdle for Stanley to overcome.

Damien Duff and Zoltan Gera scored in the second period to seal a 3-1 win for the Cougars.

Tuesday night’s game is hugely important for Accrington Stanley, even if you come up against a team playing two divisions below. Boreham Wood, who are currently 12th in the National League, reached the fifth round of the FA Cup last season and are hoping to make more magic in 2023.

The sides drew 1-1 at Meadow Park earlier this month with Boreham Wood’s Lee Ndlovu canceling out Ryan Astley’s early opener.

Unsurprisingly, the hosts are favored and their reward, should they claim victory, is a fourth-round home game against Premier League side Leeds United. It’s a huge cup game for both sides, with the visitors looking to become the first non-league side since Telford United in 1985 to reach the FA Cup fourth round in successive seasons.

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