Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Stockport County - Edgeley Park



Stockport County FC
Edgeley Park
Hardcastle Road
Stockport
Cheshire
SK3 9DD

0161 286 8888








Matchday Number: 27
Saturday 26th April 1997
Stockport County 2-1 Wycombe Wanderers
Nationwide League Division 2





Wycombe Wanderers have an utterly dismal record at Edgeley Park. It reads

Played 12
Won 0
Drawn 3
Lost 9

For 11
Against 29


I have been to 9 of these, missing a 4-1 defeat when lanky striker Kevin Francis tore our defence apart, and 1-1 and 0-0 draws.

My first visit was in the April of 1997. Wycombe could guarantee staying up that day if results went for them, even if they lost. Which was just as well, as Stockport were league leaders that day, and deservedly so. Packed full of great players like Paul Jones, Alun Armstrong, Chris Marsden and the like, most of which would go on to play at a higher level. I'd say they were the best team I have seen league wise in all my time of watching Wycombe.

That day, I made my way up on the Independent Supporters coach, which by now were offering a stop at a fairly decent pub on the way up. As the motorway had been well behaved for once, we arrived well in advance and as a consequence had a lot of time to drink. Being younger, I used to drink a lot faster. I think I must have got through 6 or 7 pints. When I've had a few, I either get romantic, or sleepy. Looking at the Wycombe following that day, there was not a lot to get romantic about, so I spent most of the game nodding off in the stand. Maybe it was a good thing, as per usual we didn't play that well and spent a lot of the game under pressure. 2-0 down at half time, was not the result we needed, but other matches were still goal less. County's goals were scored by the blond haired Armstrong, who would later go on to play for Middlesbrough and by an own goal from Wycombe's Michael Forsyth.

The second half continued in pretty much the same fashion, though Wycombe were starting to make some chances at last. They got a goal back through a Dave Carroll penalty on 70 minutes and Stockport faced a nervy final 20 minutes as Wycombe pressed for an equaliser. Great news for Wycombe came through from elsewhere while all this was happening. Preston were winning at Shrewsbury, the Shrews being one of Wycombe's rivals for relegation. So if the results stayed as they were, Stockport would be champions and Wycombe would be safe. This is how it turned out to be. At the final whistle the Stockport players came and applauded the away fans and shook hands with us. Whether this was intentional I never will be sure, as the away fans had a different area to usual, to allow more space for the Stockport promotion party. Whatever, it was a nice touch. I was still feeling a bit groggy then, but still enjoyed the occasion, we were staying up after all.

Subsequent visits proved less happy. A 6-0 defeat in the driving rain in 2007 was no fun, the manager's head was even called for by some fans, despite us reaching the Carling Cup Semi-Final less than a year earlier! Another notable visit was in the playoffs the next year. A couple of Swedish girls decided to go completely loopy and play "chicken" with the traffic on the M6. This resulted in the delay of most of our fans until half time. I was sitting smugly in the local pub at the time, watching the FA Cup Final and reading all the irate text messages and Facebook statuses about being stuck. It made a rare change, usually I would have been in the traffic jam with the rest of them, I just got lucky that day.

EDGELEY PARK is a pretty decent ground. By far the most impressive stand is the huge Cheadle End, behind one of the goals, which towers above the rest of the stadium. The Main Stand and The Popular Side are the 2 stands along the side. Away fans are allocated part of the PopSide, unless it's a large following, in which case they get the Railway End. This used to be a terrace but is now uncovered seating. Behind it is an electronic scoreboard, which has spelt out many messages of doom for the Wycombe followers over the years. On the whole the Stockport fans are very friendly, save for a few idiots that turn up for the big games. The area round the ground has plenty of pubs and takeways, which means, whatever the result, at least you can have a decent time pre-match.





















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