Stockport County one win from redemption
Background photo: Ceaton89, CC BY-SA 3.0
Up and down the country there is a host of teams who have been through hard times in recent decades. The one that has been through more than most, Stockport County, are on the verge of taking a huge step towards redemption. One game left and one win needed for promotion.
Stockport County is a club that has played high up in the English game and everything about The Hatters is that of a Football League side. As recently as 2002 they played in the second tier, now the Championship. However, in 2011 they dropped out of the Football League for the first time in over 100 years.
In 2013 they further dropped a division as they fell into the National North where they have stayed ever since. Since playing in this division County have struggled, with last season being the first time that they made the play-offs, but Stockport were unable to earn promotion.
It was not looking good for manager Jim Gannon early on in the campaign, as despite being one of the pre-season promotion favourites, Stockport languished in mid-table. Thankfully for County they put together an incredible run which saw them go unbeaten from November to early March which took them into automatic promotion contention.
Going into the final two months it was a three horse race before Spennymoor fell away, leaving County and Chorley going head-to-head for one automatic promotion spot.
Throughout the run-in, Stockport has always been in control of their own destiny, having games in hand for the majority of it. However, the last week has been as dramatic as any title race. With three matches to go they led Chorley by a point, with the two meeting each other on Saturday. In front of a huge crowd Chorley came out on top 2-0 to regain control of the title.
On Bank Holiday Monday Stockport completed a routine victory over Curzon Ashton 2-0, whilst Chorley travelled to Spennymoor who are currently fourth. A point would have kept Chorley top of the table on goal difference, but they had a chance to take all three from the penalty spot inside the final ten minutes. It was missed though and Chorley suffered a sucker punch as the leagues' top-scorer Glen Taylor headed home in stoppage time to give Spennymoor a dramatic 1-0 victory.
The scenes at the Brewery Field were nothing in comparison to those at County’s Edgeley Park where the news of Spennymoor’s late goal was met with wild celebrations. It leaves Stockport one point ahead with one game to go.
The Final Day
On paper at least, they could not have asked for a much better final game when they travel to bottom of the table Nuneaton Borough, a side who have been stranded almost the entire campaign.
Chorley’s final fixture is at home to playoff hopefuls Bradford Park Avenue, but County won’t care. It is in their hands.
They have already sold out their initial occasion for Saturday of 1,000 tickets, but it is likely a further allocation will be given. On numerous occasions this season Stockport has attracted over 6,000 for their home games so any tickets they get could easily have been sold twice over.
If Stockport can get the job done it would be huge for all concerned not least for club legend and manager Gannon. In his latest spell at the club, he hasn’t had an easy riding coming under severe criticism on many occasions.
For the fans though who have stuck with them through their darkest times, it will be a huge reward. Yes, it is only one step back to where they want to be but a lot of teams in recent years who have won the National North have challenged straight away for promotion again. It may not be too long before we see Stockport County back in the Football League. Saturday is the first step.