WE’RE HAPPY HAT­TERS AGAIN!

County back on the rise

The Non-League Football Paper - - NEWS - By Matt Bad­cock

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.

Im­pact

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.

Sta­bil­ity

“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.”

PIC­TURE: Mike Petch

ON THE UP! Danny Lloyd and his Stock­port County team-mates are on a high right now un­der man­ager Jim Gan­non, inset right

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