The men and boys who founded Stock­port County

Stockport Express - - Front Page - KATHER­INE BAINBRIDGE kather­ine,bainbridge@men­­bridgeMEN

ONE hun­dred and thirty four years ago a group of teenagers sat down in a cafe and de­cided to form a foot­ball club – to­day we know that club as Stock­port County.

Thanks to the ef­forts of lo­cal his­to­rian and au­thor Si­mon My­ers and fam­ily his­tory ex­pert Elaine John­son, the de­tails of the lives of 10 of those found­ing mem­bers can now be re­vealed for the first time.

In Au­gust this year the Ex­press pub­lished a let­ter from Si­mon ap­peal­ing for de­scen­dents of the found­ing mem­bers to get in touch. While none came for­ward, Elaine did con­tact him and to­gether the pair have un­earthed the sto­ries be­hind those who kicked off more than 100 years of rich foot­balling his­tory.

The club was formed in 1883 at McLaugh­lins Cafe on the cor­ner of Heaton Lane and Welling­ton Road South by a group of young men aged be­tween 14 and 19-years-old who were pupils at Stock­port Sun­day School and also at­tended Wy­cliffe Sun­day School.

It was orig­i­nally named Heaton Nor­ris Rovers, play­ing at Heaton Nor­ris Re­cre­ation Ground, where the bowl­ing greens are now. The name was changed to Stock­port County seven years later in 1890 to re­flect the town gain­ing county bor­ough sta­tus.

County gained ad­mit­tance to the Foot­ball League in 1900 af­ter win­ning the Lan­cashire League and the play­ers drew their first match 2-2 away to Le­ices­ter Fosse – now Le­ices­ter City.

Hav­ing out­grown its ground be­hind the Nurs­ery Inn on Green Lane, Heaton Nor­ris, the club moved to Edge­ley Park in 1902 and has played there ever since.

It also gained the nick­name ‘The Hat­ters’ as Stock­port was known in the early 1900s for its hat-mak­ing trade. The name stuck and is syn­ony­mous with the club to this day.

County played con­tin­u­ously in the Foot­ball League from 1905 to 2011, reach­ing the first di­vi­sion for five sea­sons in the 1990s.

To­day it plays in the Na­tional League North di­vi­sion and is man­aged by for­mer player Jim Gan­non in his third stint as man­ager.

Here, a pot­ted bi­og­ra­phy of each of the founders is pub­lished for the first time:

Tom Richards. Born in 1864 and, at 19, the old­est mem­ber of the team. He mar­ried El­iza Kelly in Bre­bury in 1886 and worked as a self-em­ployed butcher and fur­ni­ture re­mover. El­iza died in 1898 and the fol­low­ing year Tom mar­ried Ethel McLaugh­lin, daugh­ter of Wil­liam McLaugh­lin, the owner of the cafe on Heaton Lane where the first meet­ing to form Stock­port County took place in 1883. Tom died in 1927.

Jack He­witt. Born in 1865, a cot­ton weaver who lived on Brunswick Street in Heaton Nor­ris. He mar­ried Ju­lia Mol­loy in 1891 and they had nine chil­dren, liv­ing on Alpine Road off St Mary’s Way. He died in 1945 while liv­ing with his son Wil­fred on Hun­st­man’s Brow.

Sa­muel Ri­ley. Born in 1869, he was the youngest founder at only 14 years old. He worked as a clerk to a rail­way in­spec­tor and mar­ried Fanny Cheshire in 1904. They had one son and Sa­muel died in 1932.

Wil­liam Ri­ley. Brother of Sa­muel, born in 1867. He suf­fered from epilepsy, but ex­celled as a young man at cricket and foot­ball. He was one of the orig­i­nal mem­bers of the Christ Church (Heaton Nor­ris) cricket and foot­ball clubs and Heaton Nor­ris Rovers. He was granted life mem­ber­ship of Stock­port County and died in 1933 while liv­ing in Heaton Nor­ris.

Tom Machin. Born in 1867. He mar­ried Edith Cookson at St Ge­orges in 1899 and started in busi­ness as a cy­cle dealer on Welling­ton Road South – one of the first in Stock­port. He was also one of the ear­li­est mem­bers of Stock­port Golf Club and built Shaw Heath Laun­dry in 1902. He died in 1950 aged 83.

Stan Hock­en­hull. Born in 1868, he worked as a felt hat planker and mar­ried Clara Mark­land in 1897. He was the first founder to die, aged just 44, in 1912.

Ted Whit­tle. Born in 1866, he started his work­ing life as a hat­ter ar Royle’s in Adswood and mar­ried El­iz­a­beth Robin­son in 1893. Once his play­ing days were over he be­came a league lines­man and spent 20 years in charge of the gate at Edge­ley Park. Ted pro­posed that Stock­port County be­come a lim­ited com­pany and be­came a director. He died in 1950.

Wil­liam Ridg­way. Born in 1866, he worked in a cot­ton mill and mar­ried Martha El­lam in 1891. He left the club to help form the Stock­port & District League. He was the last re­main­ing founder to die in 1961 at the age of 95.

Ted Simp­son. Born in 1897, he lived in Heaton Nor­ris with his wife Har­riet and their four chil­dren. Sadly in 1911 he was ad­mit­ted to the County Lu­natic Asy­lum in Mac­cles­field, where he died in 1913.

Ben Kelly. Born in 1868 and worked for 47 years at Stock­port rope and twine mak­ers Han­son & Scott. In 1937 he was made a life mem­ber of Stock­port County and he died in 1950 while liv­ing with his youngest daugh­ter Edna in Not­ting­ham.

●●Stock­port County FC pic­tured in Oc­to­ber 1914

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