A rough guide to... Stockport County

Cod Almighty | Article

by Sam Metcalf

29 August 2021

Like Town, Stockport were in the second flight not so long ago, and now they've got a wealthy owner promising a return. Sam sketches the Hatters

How are you?

I like Stockport a lot - mainly because I like Manchester a lot, and when you get to Stockport on the train, you can happily sup up the last of your train cans safe in the knowledge that in around 10 minutes you'll step off the train into one of Europe's finest cities. But that's not to demean the Hatters or their newly-tarted-up Edgeley Park; the old floodlight pylons may have gone (replaced by those sleek, single pole affairs), but it's still a superb sight as you pull in on the train.

What have you been up to?

Stockport and Town were regular foes during our halcyon period of the late 1980s and early 1990s, regularly crossing paths as the Hatters then-manager Danny Bergara put together a powerful side which eventually reached the second flight. However, things went very wrong after the club was relegated in 2002. By the summer of 2013, the Hatters had been relegated to the Conference North and were a part-time club. A renaissance saw the club win the Conference North 2018-19 title, with a takeover by local businessman Mark Stott who said he'd have the club back in the second division within seven years. It's almost like these people never learn.

What kind of season did you have?

Much-interrupted, like everyone else. However, the Hatters stacked up an impressive 77 points to finish third in the National League, only to lose 1-0 to Hartlepool United in the play-off semi-finals.

How are you feeling?

Bullish. Stockport County have been big-spenders in the close season. Stott has spent big on wages and training facilities - as well as Barrow's Scott Quigley, who has dropped down from Barrow to join the Hatters after finshing as the Cumbrian club's top scorer last season. A three-year deal in the National League is like rocking horse muck. The Hatters go into their match with Town having won one and lost one of their first two games, but they'll be up there by the end of the season, no doubt.

Where are you from?

Sorry to bang on about this, but Edgeley Park not only lies on the rail line to Manchester, but it's also right next to a very impressive signal box (at least it was there last time I took the train to that part of the world; for all I know, the points could now be controlled by a 10-year-old sitting in a creative pod in Soho). The train journey to Stockport from Nottingham is one of my favourites, taking in the Peak District and the moors on the edge of Manchester. While Edgeley Park has lost some of its old-school charm after an upgrade, it remains resolutely Very Football.

Cometh the hour, cometh the student accommodation developer

Stott, who runs the wildly successful Vita student digs brand, has been branded as Stockport's most successful businessman ever. While his company is on another planet to our former majority shareholder's, I always get twitchy when business types wade in and start chucking around wildly ambitious targets. No doubt Stott has the cash to get the Hatters into the Championship, but the recent experiences of the likes of Notts County show that running a football club is completely different to running a successful business.

This aside, I've always had a soft spot for Stockport County, so it'd be good to relive those glory days of 30 years ago when we both had sides playing way above our station.