This end of season report for my beloved Stockport County is as painful to write as the thought of travelling to Barrow-in-Furness...
The ‘I f*cking love this game’ highlight of the season?
We've lost our football league status for the first time in 106 years. I really can't think of any moment where I've felt genuine euphoria. Most goals have met with muted celebration, followed by acute resignation that it won't last. I suppose beating Bury home and away was a highlight. The overwhelming emotion at the end of the season was one of relief. It's over. No more need to turn up and watch a team lose every week. Time will tell if that changes in the summer.
The season ticket shredding moment?
Where do you want me to start? Really, I could name so many moments where this would apply. The numerous, early season capitulations felt bad at the time. Paul Simpson's team was hastily put together in the summer following our exit from administration. It was nowhere near good enough. The rot set in and we never recovered.
Moment that just about summed it all up?
Making the last minute decision to jump on the train to see Stockport County v Rotherham. The game was played at the Don Valley stadium in Sheffield and it was the single worst experience I've had watching my team in years. And I've seen some s**t, believe me. It wasn't just the abject performance and 4-0 defeat. It wasn't even the goal scored and celebrated by our former youth teamer Adam Le Fondre. It was everything. Their fans. Goal music. A weird ground with only one side occupied. Terrible view. Getting lost post match in the dark. Just missing the tram and having to wait ages talking to an oddball. The list could go on forever. Even our own fans made me want to drink battery acid and end it all that day, with their wacky "The Football League is upside down" chants. So in the worst season in our history, that stands out.
We'll need a proper non-league know-how type next season. Either that or Jim Gannon. The manager is the least of our worries right now
Got the right manager?
Pfft. We don't even have a manager. We started off choosing someone with a decent track record. He kept making us lose 5-0 though, so we replaced him with a club legend who never turned it around. Then in came a third boss who at least turned the 5-0's into 2-0s. We'll need a proper non-league know-how type next season. Either that or Jim Gannon. The manager is the least of our worries right now.
Player of the season?
Greg Tansey scored 11 from midfield. Paul Turnbull and Jordan Rose seemed to give a s**t visibly more than others at times. In a team full of youngsters though I felt too many were forced to bear the burden of responsibility and in turn got unwarranted stick. There were numerous underachievers, don't get me wrong, but Turnbull turned down a transfer to Chelsea and has been with us since primary school. I'd go for him but I'm quite sure plenty of our fans will do a massive LOL at that. If Everton loanee James Wallace had been with us for longer he'd have absolutely walked it. Him aside though, it's not been the kind of season for awards. Well, unless the award is a big custard pie in the face.
Muppet of the season?
Where do I begin? The current targets are our owners whose level of cluelessness appears to know no bounds. Because we were 'rescued' by them last summer, they seem to be getting cut a bit of slack but their decision making has been an absolute embarrassment. Our temporary Chairman (who is actually the vice Chairman...sorry Chairwoman) has made numerous bumbling appearances on TV and radio, adding to our laughing stock status measurably. If she's the figurehead to the board of directors then we're b******d. Really b******d.
What would you change next term if you were the gaffer?
I'd have carte blance. We have four pros whose contracts run beyond 1st July. I'd get the spine of the team sorted, especially at the back. Last time we were really s**t and nearly went out of the league, we rebuilt from the back. We need players with character, not promising kids. Stability is the order of the day. There's no way we'll bounce straight back. Discipline is needed too.
Which player would you like to sign?
Erm? Anyone? Can I have Messi please? I'm sure he'd love Braintree Town away. Actually, whisper it but I reckon trips to places like that as opposed to boring old league grounds we've all been to loads will actually be the silver lining. Check out Barrow's ground. It's like a football ground out of TV's Heartbeat. Lionel would love it.
Stability is the order of the day. There's no way we'll bounce straight back. Discipline is needed too.
Greg Tansey vs Northampton on Easter Monday. As we battled to prolong the agony and put off the inevitable, Tansey scored a proper mental goal. From dead far out, last couple of minutes and it just flew in the top corner. At 2-1 down we were officially relegated. At 2-2 it at least put it off for another game. He went agonisingly close with the last kick of the game too, and promptly burst into tears as the final whistle went. We might not have accrued that dreaded 'R' next to our name but we were down. He knew it and so did we. He'd been with us since he was 8 years old.
Aside from our dithering owners? How about the people who own our ground? The people who separated it from the football club in 2003, kickstarting this horrible decline. The last game of the season saw a pitch invasion delay the end of the game by around ten minutes. The target? Edgeley Park and Sale Sharks rugby club owner Brian Kennedy. While the current owners need to be replaced or reorganised sharpish, the wider problem that has led to this sees our collective finger pointed squarely at Brian Kennedy's head.
Player’s tweet of the season?
There's only about half a dozen of them on there and as League 2 players their egos are relative to the amount of followers they have. There have been plenty of "shout outs" to the fans but following them mostly means we get to see their banal banter. James Wallace, recently on loan from Everton seemed marginally more clued up. I might spend the summer being nasty to them. Just...just because.
Most inspired chant?
Another bugbear of mine this. Sorry if I'm coming across as a misery guts here. But everyone seems to copy each other now don't they? I've even seen Bury and Wolves fans copying that cringey 'Poznan' thing which Man City in turn stole off erm...Poznan, having originally sang "What the fugginell is that?" to them. Football fans are d***s, I've decided this. 99% of them anyway. That's harsh and based almost entirely on how fed up I am with football. If we'd won the league not fallen out of it, I'd no doubt be talking of a renaissance in terrace culture and humorous originality. To be fair we do have a huge back catalogue which serves us (and others who nick them) well, but in terms of new songs, there was one recently to the tune of 'This is how it feels' by the Inspiral Carpets that struck a chord. "This is how it feels to be County. We would rather be in the pub. This is how it feels when rugby's ruined your club". And it has you know. Rugby has ruined Stockport County.
I've even seen Bury and Wolves fans copying that cringey 'Poznan' thing which Man City in turn stole off erm...Poznan
Best laugh you had all season?
I'm sitting here drumming my fingers on the desk. I'm honestly trying to think of something that warrants being described as the best laugh. 'Best reluctant smirk' might have been a better question. Nope. I've answered the other questions and come back to this and there haven't really been too many laughs never mind a 'best laugh'. Oh how I wish you'd asked me this in 96/97, when we got to the League Cup semi final as a lowly (but dead good) League 1 side under Dave Jones. Or when our pioneering Uruguayan manager Danny Bergara dragged us out of the old fourth division in 1991. Or....I could go on. Plenty of 'best laughs' then. This season has been about watching us concede a dead soft goal then kicking the (empty) chair in front, going "f**Koff**koff**koff")
How do you plan to get through the summer without football?
You know that 'best laugh' question? Well, I reckon I've just had it. Getting through the summer without football? Haha. I couldn't wait for the season to end. I've had this horrible compulsion to attend pretty much every game I could get to and as the season went on and we got s*****r and s*****r, that compulsion grew and grew. Glutton for punishment? Or maybe I've got some deep-seated faith that by putting myself through such abject horror, it'll feel so much better if we actually get good again in a few years. But getting through the summer without watching that shower will be a breeze. A b****y breeze. I'll go to the park and have an ice cream. I might even have a 'best laugh'.
Any other news?
I reckon I've summed it up. Sorry for being such a miserable swine but in the words of New Order, "you've caught me at a bad time so why don't you p**s off". Not you, them. The owners. Kennedy. Everyone. THE WORLD. They should p**s off. Football, that can p**s off. Well at least until the fixtures are out and I can start mapping the train journey to Barrow-in-Furness.
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