WE’RE HAPPY HATTERS AGAIN!
County back on the rise
IT hasn’t exactly been a barrel of laughs for Stockport County supporters recently.
The Hatters are no doubt sick of reading about the cautionary tale of their demise. ‘They were playing Manchester City less than 15 years ago, you know?’ As if any longserving County fan has forgotten.
Administration, relegation after relegation, more financial problems, bad managers, blah, blah, blah – all while football has enjoyed a good old rubber neck at their woes.
But, whisper it very quietly, the noises coming out of Edgeley Park seem to be a bit more positive these days.
Gates are still impressive – they have a season high of 3,830 and average close to 2,800 – and Jim Gannon’s side are within touching distance of the National League North playoffs.
Stockport County have a fair bit to do to get there, but at least they’re putting themselves in the conversation.
Winger Danny Lloyd, who has been a big part of their season so far, arrived from AFC Fylde in the summer. He’s impressed with what he sees and he wants it to get even better.
“The team as a whole is not where we want to be, but we’re in touch with the play-offs,” he says. “We’re a couple of wins over Christmas from being right among it. I personally think we are good enough to sneak in there.
“We’ve got a good team spirit. Nobody thinks they are above anybody else and that shows when we play. We haven’t had a suspension or red card this year – we all work hard for each other.” The former AFC Fylde attacker scored twice in the comeback FA Trophy win against Marine last weekend to take his goal tally to 13. He’s also chipped in with 14 assists and is fast backing up the promise he made when he signed to make an instant impact.
The club, he says, have reinvigorated his career. Despite scoring 64 goals in three seasons for the Coasters, he was a bit-part player last season as they missed out on promotion through the play-offs. A new start is exactly what he needed.
“In all honesty I wasn’t really looking to play football this season,” he says. “I was just really disheartened with the way Fylde had gone. I don’t want to go into it, but it wasn’t the best.
“I lost that buzz completely. But, literally the day after the play-off final, Stockport called me. I didn’t really expect to have a call from Stockport County. You never think anybody is interested in you when you’re not doing well.
“I went and had a chat with the gaffer and he re-energised me. The rest is history and I’m absolutely loving it.
“There’s nothing better than being at work now and looking forward to going to training. I love every session. That’s down to the club, the gaffer and the lads. We’ve got a great set, I couldn’t speak highly enough of them.
“We’ve got to convert some of these tight draws or defeats into three points, but the more we do that, the higher we will go.”
That’s all the fans want. Since relegation into NonLeague in 2011, they’ve only been able to look up with envy.
Lloyd believes he’s part of a squad that can finally reverse the trend – with the fans’ help.
“The club will tell you itself the last few years haven’t been amazing,” he says. “They’ve been in the higher echelons of the Football League for many years. The club aren’t happy with where they are and they want to be higher. “You hear people say, ‘Why should I support the club while they’re down in this division?’ Well, it’s your club. “What Stockport as a town, fans, and a club have got to get their head around is they’re a National League North club at the minute, with a squad of National League North players. That’s where we’re at. “If the club as a whole doesn’t pull in the same direction, that’s where we’ll be for the foreseeable future. “I know it’s up to us as players on the pitch. But, in terms of financial stability, the club needs people through the gate. The support is amazing – home and away, it’s the best I’ve played for. Different class. “There is a buzz around the club at the moment. We had a run of games near the start of the season, we didn’t win but the fans stayed behind us. Since then you can feel things turning around. Everyone realised this group of players can do something special.”
ON THE UP! Danny Lloyd and his Stockport County team-mates are on a high right now under manager Jim Gannon, inset right