STOCKPORT COUNTY enter the final month of the regular season tomorrow with manager Jim Gannon looking to create another piece of history.
Gannon was always going to be remembered as a legendary County player having made over 450 appearances for the club, winning 2 promotions. He’s now in his 3rd spell as County boss and not only did last Saturday’s 2-1 home win against Tamworth send the Hatters into the National League North play-off places, it also saw Gannon reach another managerial milestone.
The 48-year-old Irishman is now the club’s second longest-serving boss of all-time, in terms of total games managed, having surpassed the late Danny Bergara, the man who signed him for County in 1990.
Gannon is now on 322 games and has set his sights on breaking Fred Stewart’s record of 373 from 1894-1911. First, though, he wants to win a 4th promotion with County having led them out of League Two during his 1st spell as boss in 2008 (pictured above).
“I have never wanted to leave the club and I’ve always wanted to come back at the right time, with the right people,” said Gannon. “I’ve always lived in Stockport (since joining the club). I enjoy the town, my family are very settled here, and whether I’m in the school playground or walking down the road, I meet County fans and the club is so important to the town and to me. I just want to go on and be the highest.
“But there’s been only 5 managers in the history who have achieved honours here and we’re desperate for promotion, we’re desperate to be successful this year, and hopefully that’ll be the measure, rather than the amount of games or the length of time served. It’s all about being successful. The board are backing me, there’s great energy about the place and the fans are back onside. Everything’s alive and kicking and it’s great to be a part of.”
Darlington won their game in hand in midweek to nudge County back down to 6th but the Hatters are at home again tomorrow against Nuneaton Town. Despite being 14th, Nuneaton won 3-1 at Altrincham last week before upsetting leaders AFC Fylde 4-1 on Saturday.
Although County did have a better away record for most of the season, they finally have more wins at home than on the road and there is a sense of anticipation building around Edgeley Park.
“It’ a massive turnaround,” said Gannon. “People think this is Wembley for other teams (at this level) and it’s their Cup final, but it is for our lads too. Our lads are treating this like a special place to play football.
“Don’t get me wrong, we had some tired performances on Saturday. The lads had to drag a performance out of themselves, but that’s when you need people to energise and be positive. I love Edgeley Park, there’s a lot of history here, but for us, that was probably the biggest performance of the season, to dig a result out at this stage, against a team that was right on our tails.”
After losing to Nuneaton, rock-bottom ALTRINCHAM were beaten 2-1 at Bradford Park Avenue last Saturday and their relegation will be confirmed if they fail to win tomorrow’s derby at SALFORD CITY.
The Ammies also lost last Saturday, 2-0 at Boston after having Brad Barnes sent off, and they have slipped to 4th after winning just 1 of their last 5, so joint-manager Bernard Morley has warned against any more complacency.
“We need to believe that every game that’s left will be as tough as each other,” he said. “People will say that we’re playing 3 teams in the bottom 6 but it means nothing.
“Like we saw on Saturday, Boston were fighting relegation. They probably can’t go down now. We need to approach every game the same but we’ve been letting our guard down in certain games.”
STALYBRIDGE CELTIC also look doomed to go down but have games in hand as they prepare for tomorrow’s derby at FC UNITED. The Reds won 2-1 at CURZON ASHTON on Monday night to go back within a point of the Nash in mid-table, although Curzon host 9th-placed Gloucester tomorrow.
After booking their place in the FA Trophy final, MACCLESFIELD TOWN seem to have at least one eye on Wembley after losing at home to Aldershot (Saturday) and York (Tuesday) over the last week. The Silkmen visit Boreham Wood tomorrow and are now 9th in the National League, 9 points off the team immediately above them, Dover.