After making a return to the Football League in 2022, there was no second straight promotion for Stockport County to reflect upon. The Hatters were defeated in the League Two playoff final; the result of which meant staying down while we went up. The 2022-3 season had been the first for some time in which we would play them. In fact, the last time we were promoted to League One was the season in which they were relegated to the Conference! And things would get worse from them in 2013 when they plunged into Conference North.
Us defeating Stockport County in the 2003-4 FA Cup was a bone fide upset. But the Hatters’ demise during the early part of the 2010s flipped that on its head. It took until 2019 for them to return out from the regional division. And it acted as encouragement for them as explained above. Indeed, their long-awaited return to the Football League had been greeted with them being tipped for the promotion they so nearly earned. Mind you, odds count for little when all’s said and done. We were 66/1 to be promoted in 2023 and made that look silly.
Stockport County: The Facts
Hardcastle Road, Edgeley, Stockport, Cheshire, SK3 9DD
For the Hatters, it all started in 1883 under the name Heaton Norris Rovers. But the name only stuck for seven years; the club adopting the current Stockport County moniker in 1890. Their early days saw them play in The Combination (1891) and the Lancashire League (1894), with title success coming in the latter in 1900. It could be coincidence or it could be direct cause-and-effect – but 1900 was the year the Hatters were elected into the Football League.
It didn’t last long to start with. The club failed in its re-election bid in 1904, so had to slum it in the Midland League. It was a short-lived torment, thankfully; being hauled back into the Football League family one year later. And, from this moment on, they became part of the furniture. Of course, that wasn’t without the standard yo-yoing you might want to see from a provincial side with no great resources or track record of success. Up and down between Division Two and Division Three North they went frequently enough before World War Two.
In the postwar era, the 1958 league reorganisation saw them placed in the third tier – a chance they promptly tossed away with relegation the following summer to Division Four. There would be another brief three-year spell in Division Three at the end of the 1960s, but the basement division became their home into the 1990s. Moving back up to the third tier in 1991, the Hatters almost made it ‘back’ to the second tier in 1992. Alas, they failed in their playoff final at Wembley; losing to Peterborough United. And there would be further playoff heartache in the next two seasons too.
Why do we know the Hatters?
But wait! They did crack it in 1997; winning promotion as Division Two (League One) runners-up and still finding time to reach the League Cup semis. They fell back into Division Two (League One) in 2002, which is more or less where we come into the equation. The Hatters had struggled in their first season back in the third tier; finishing the 2002-3 campaign in 14th. The next season was going even worse when they were ordered, by virtue of the FA Cup draw, to come to Broadhall Way. For us, a notable result and a first real cup scalp since the 1997-8 season?
How to get to Stockport County – Travel Information – Distance: 177 miles
Stockport is on the southern side of Manchester, so the best route would be to head north on the M1 and M6. Continue until the exit for the A556, turning onto the Manchester/M56-bound carriageway. After more than four miles, take the third exit at the roundabout and continue towards the M56. In another half a mile, join the M56.
Next, join the M60 – before exiting at Junction 2 for Cheadle/A560. Continue towards the roundabout and take the second exit for the A560 towards the town centre. Go right after half a mile at Edgeley Road, before a quick left keeps you on the same road (B5465). After a mile, there will be a right turn for Caroline Street; the ground is down here.
You can’t park at the stadium itself. So, you might want to try one of the many Pay and Display car parks nearby. If you want a complete list, the local council website can help with this. And you’ll find plenty within no more than 10 minutes’ walk from the ground.
A lot of the streets around Edgeley Park have resident schemes in place, which means bad news for you should Council Civil Enforcement Officers catch you. We reckon that your best bet is to simply avoid parking on local side streets to be on the safe side.
Services to: LONDON EUSTON
Go north on Station Road from Stockport’s railway station, before a sharp right to stay on that same road. At Railway Road, turn left for about 100 yards; turning right for Wellington Road soon after. Turn right onto Greek Street and continue to the roundabout.
At the roundabout, take the third exit (think of it as if you were driving). You should now be in Mercian Way. After 0.3 miles, turn left into Caroline Street, before arriving on Hardcastle Road. If you can’t see the ground from here, you’ve gone wrong somewhere.
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