Friday, 21 May 2010

End of term report - Stockport County

The next time a Manchester United or Liverpool fan tells you that their club is in crisis, spare a thought for the clubs out there in real dire straits. Stockport County fan Tim Rickard takes you through the bleakest of seasons

1. If you could sum up your clubs season in one word, what would it be?

I genuinely cannot think of the right word. It has been utterly terrible of course. But by about March, I had become almost resistant to our demise. Sanitised. It had all become just too predictable. Shite after shite. Week after week. With no happy ending in sight.

Perhaps ‘mournful’. Mournful being the sentiment felt after a season that has all but left this football club dead and buried. But hope exists that something may be simmering to rise from the ashes remaining from this dreadful burned out shell of a football club. And with Jesus Christ like comparisons, it is hoped that the 2015 consortium’s takeover is soon to be completed to perform a timely resurrection.

2. Everyone knows exams are getting easier today (that’s a fact - I read it in the Daily Mail) but how would you grade your team’s performance in 2009/10? Please show your workings out (i.e. tell us why you’ve given them that grade!)

Let me throw you a few statistics. This has been our worst ever points total since you could get 3 points for a win. Just 25 points all season. Only Cambridge and Doncaster have ever got lower. Even Luton got 26 points last season and they had been deducted 30. Almost a hundred goals shipped in too. Only two home wins. Dwindling crowds. The shackles of administration for an entire season. And of course, it has culminated in relegation back to the lowest tier once again. It has all gone full circle.

3. Happy with the teacher (gaffer)?

Ablett will take a lot of stick for all of this. And whilst he is undoubtedly, at least statistically, the worst manager in our history (based on this first season in charge), it arguably makes him the first one to have had to work in such unworkable circumstances. The first to have had to work within the constraints of administration. The first to have to go cap in hand to the football league to allow us to sign a player on loan. The first to have been sold the dream to end up in a nightmare.

But despite this, there are times when the above cannot act as a justification. Occasions such as recently losing 6-0 at home to Huddersfield. All fans ask for is a bit of effort and pride in the jersey. Pardon the cliché, but it’s true. None of this was on show. And that is simply unacceptable. Despite the constraints, Ablett must go. The pertinent question is: who should replace him? There are murmurings that the messiah may be ready to enter the fold once again. Whisper it quietly: Jim Gannon. If he does not, then I fear that this season could just prove to be a warm-up for the next couple.

4. Who should go to the top of the class as your team’s star pupil(s)?

Right back Johnny Mullins got voted player of the season. He’s been alright

5. And who should sit themselves in the corner as the school dunce(s)?

Just about everybody else. Case in point: Owain Fon Williams. Last season, under Gannon he established himself as an expert keeper. This was reflected in his selection as Wales’ number two behind ex-County loanee Wayne Hennessy, in nets. Since Jim and also goalkeeping coach Dave Felgate have left, he hasn’t even been a shadow of his former self. A real liability and a real shame. He may not ever recover.

Special mention too to loanee journeyman Jemal Johnson, who despite not showing he was capable of doing anything positive on the pitch, was more than prepared to raise his middle finger to sections of the County support for bringing this point to his attention. He must now sink into oblivion.

Once said to be promising players like Greg Tansey have been utterly ineffectual too. And shit. I feel guilty for saying it, as he is still so young. But I’m beyond caring.

6. What are the moments this season that made you want to break out in a ‘Mourinhoesque’ charge across a pitch?

The nil nil away at Oldham on the first day of the season was a highlight. Also the surprisingly emphatic 4-2 win away at Brighton provided me with one of the few Saturday evenings where I could actually smile. Although this was against 9 men!

7. And what are the moments that made you want to grab a dumbbell and shout “die! die! die!”

Just about every other Saturday. Especially losing 3-0 at home to Yeovil fucking Town to seal our relegation. Also losing 4-0 at home to Torquay United in the FA cup. At home being at Macclesfield Town because our pitch had been ruined by the egg chasers rolling around on its surface. Torquay United having travelled all the way from, err Torquay, on a Tuesday night. Bottom of the division below us. Comically bad.

One thing I have learnt is that as long as Stockport County continue to exist, things can ALWAYS get worse.

8. If your club could make one acquisition this summer, who would it be?

Can I have a picture?

9. This is not all about you! There are 91 other football league teams out there, who are the best and worst players your clubs come up against?

Not surprisingly, most players in league one looked decent against us this season. Of course the likes of Beckford, Neil Harris, Grant Holt had field days against us. Even Darren bloody Byfield of Walsall looked like a potent attacking force when we played them.

Tooting and Mitcham didn’t offer much in the FA cup earlier in the season. But then again, they are in the Ryman Premier division. Which tells you all you really need to know.

10. Finally, who were the best and worst opposition fans at your place this year?

Credit to anyone that came and swelled the coffers. Leeds, Tranmere and Huddersfield all brought decent followings. On the contrary you could count the number of Brentford fans on two hands in the Railway End.


  1. I feel a lot of your pain my friend, I really do. From firsthand experience, being in administration is a horrible feeling but you’ve had it far worse than we have. Fingers crossed the new consortium can get you back on an even keel and stabilise you before you risk further heartache. Moaning Liverpool fans don’t know how lucky they are sometimes.

  2. Utterly, utterly bleak. I feel so much sympathy for you Tank, although I'm sure a whole load of pity isn't what you're looking for. All that can be said, however pathetic it sounds, is that I hope some sort of positive takeover occurs.

    It absolutely does put things in perspective, although self-interest is all conquering for football fans. Supporters, understandably, will always be totally consumed by the activity at their own club. And I don't think they can be blamed for this.

  3. Agree Plattster. It's totally natural for fans of their own teams to be pre-occupied by the interests of their own clubs. But i do think there should be a bit more togetherness amongst fans in football, generally speaking.

    Chants ridiculing teams in administration or facing financial woes are nowadays pretty short-sighted. I've noticed quite a bit of that sort of thing in the last couple of seasons. Finance has overtaken the game itself, and all clubs face a threat in the future.
    A bit more of a "brothers in arms" type approach is needed at times.

  4. Totally agree my friend. All football fans are routinely abused by those that control the game yet tribal rivalries and also some being utter morons means that fans can never truly unite to be a force for change. A bit more camaraderie could make a huge amount of difference

  5. Absolutely - if fans were able to unite a bit more they would actually wield some genuine power. After all, for all that finance dominates the game (and it does) if there are no fans in stadiums or watching on Sky, the whole thing doesn't really work.

    Unfortunately most fans are far too blinkered to see this, and will instead gleefully partake in cheap laughs at opposition teams' expense. What can you do....

  6. if Gannon comes back then the opportunity is there to build again, and see what happens. at least it appears the worst is behind us.

    this season has been a write off in so many ways. i think the 0-3 defeat to tranmere summed up our season quite nicely, absolutely pathetic.