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CCF Rebooted 54: Ian Craney
CCF Rebooted 54: Ian Craney
Wednesday, 6th Sep 2023 10:04 by AtThePeake

Ian Craney was the final and arguably most damning of John Coleman's signings and is today's featured CCF player. You'll never guess where he was born and who he used to play for.

Position: Attacking midfielder

Appearances: 6

Goals: 0

Arrived from: Accrington Stanley

Left for: Telford United

It had almost become a joke just how many ex-Accrington players John Coleman had turned to in an attempt to revive his ailing Dale outfit by the time the clearly unfit Ian Craney arrived in August 2012.

Having been on Everton's books for six years as a young player, Craney's first foray into men's football came in the Conference National with Altrincham, who he joined in 2001 and who he developed into a key player for during a three year spell, banging in 32 goals in 132 appearances before making a 2004 switch to John Coleman's Accrington, who were in the same division at the time.

And if Craney was a fans' favourite at Moss Lane, he was a certified legend at Accrington Stanley. Over three years in his first spell with the Reds, Craney orchestrated the team's attacking play, scoring 28 goals and laying on several more in 94 appearances, winning the Conference National title in his second year and also featuring for the England C side made up of non-league players during this campaign. His first season in the Football League wasn't a bad one either and he'd done enough to convince Swansea City to part with £150,000 to secure his services after an initial eight game loan spell at the start of the following season.

“No disrespect to Accrington, but I left there to join a club I thought would be a Premier League club of the future and so it proved" Craney later said of his move to the Liberty Stadium, but after Kenny Jackett, the manager who'd signed him, moved on five weeks later, Craney saw his chances in the first-team limited in South Wales and although he would make 20 more appearances for the Swans in the following twelve months as they eventually won promotion to the Championship, they were mostly as a holding player at the base of midfield rather than as the more attack-minded player he had been at Stanley.

As a result, it came as little surprise when Craney returned to the club where he'd made his name in the Football League, moving back to the Crown Ground for a 13 game loan spell before joining Stanley permanently again, making another 23 appearances and scoring six goals before again moving into League One, this time to join Huddersfield Town.

Craney scored five times in 34 appearances for the Terriers in his only full season with the club and in the second year of his two year deal he joined Morecambe, who had twice previously attempted to sign him on a permanent deal, for a season-long loan. He played 16 times for the Shrimps and scored twice but the campaign was cut short by injury and as the fitness issues continue to rack up he found himself unsurprisingly released by Huddersfield.

A year at Fleetwood Town followed, where Craney scored three times in 19 appearances and found himself on loan at - you guessed it - Accrington Stanley for three games, before he eventually returned to the Crown Ground for a third and final permanent spell. He scored an impressive eight times in 39 appearances but the previous injuries were starting to limit his movement somewhat and he was released at the end of the campaign, bringing his total of Accrington appearances to 172 - in which he scored 45 goals.

The injuries from the previous season appeared to be tormenting Craney by the time he signed for Rochdale on non-contract terms in August 2012, having been training with the club throughout the summer. However, it's fair to say that in none of his nine appearances for the club in all competitions did he look like the player that had been a constant thorn in our side during previous meetings with Accrington Stanley,

His battle for fitness was a futile one at this point and what's worse is that his connection with Coleman made his signing look very much like a case of 'jobs for the boys' when he was offering very little during his brief appearances. His six league appearances all came from the bench and totalled just 71 minutes altogether and it came as no surprise whatsoever when he was allowed to leave the club in January alongside fellow ex-Stanley man Ray Putterill.

Craney dropped into non-league after leaving Dale, joining Telford United where he made 11 appearances and scored once before the end of the 2012/2013 season. He spent the following term at Stockport County but played just seven games and spent time on loan at Stafford Rangers. Finally, the Liverpudlian moved to Welsh side Conwy Borough for the 2014/2015 season and retired at the end of that campaign.

Since retiring, Craney had been working for his family's bread company and been a season ticket older at Anfield, until he reappeared on the football scene as Wigan Athletic's kitman under his former Accrington manager Paul Cook. He joined Cook at Ipswich Town in 2021 as part of the first-team coaching staff, but left in December of the same year following the manager's departure from Portman Road.

Photo: Action Images

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