“I’ve got a digital senior citizen’s ticket going free,” I told the Cantankerous Shayman over the phone. It was like all his Christmas’s had come at once, “It’s mine! “He claimed in an instant, “Where shall we meet?” We agreed to congregate in a council car park, not far from Stockport County’s ground. With a plan in mind, I picked up the usual suspects and headed across the wet and sometimes misty Pennines along the M62 for one of the shortest trips of the season.
Around 1.00 pm we arrived at our destination with the tall floodlights of the ground towering above the wet rooftops at the end of the terraced street where we were parked. The phone soon went, and it was our cantankerous friend again “Where are you?” he enquired, “In the car park as agreed,” we explained. “Well, I can’t see you,” he continued. After a few questions about each other’s surroundings, it became apparent that there are two car parks very close to the ground; he was in one, we were in the other. After a short conversation we agreed the easiest thing to do was for him to drive the short distance to our location, so we passed on the postcode SK3 9AR to ensure there were no issues. Fifteen minutes later and, there was still no sign of our friend, so we called again…. “Where are you?” we asked. “I’m back on the M60” was the unexpected reply, “That postcode you gave me may be wrong. It says the destination is 243 miles away and I’m stuck on here for a while now, as there are no junctions ahead…” His festive cheer had vanished!
It’s fair to say the 45 minutes we wasted waiting for him to arrive back in Stockport were the funniest time we’ve had in ages. How does someone manage to get so badly lost in such a short distance? Why would you ever turn back onto the motorway even if you typed SN3 9AR (Swindon area) into the sat nav by mistake? He could see the ground from his original location and so could we. As much as we laughed, the Cantankerous Shayman and his navigator (The Todmorden Postie) weren’t laughing at all, they were sure Tesco Pete had called out the wrong postcode deliberately. It was like one of those pantomimes…
Stockport County’s Edgeley Park ground is situated amongst narrow residential streets and the remains of local heavy industry. The ground is an all seater with a capacity close to 10,000. The main stand, named after a previous manager Danny Bergara, was built in the 1930’s and runs alongside the pitch. Most of the home fans gather in the two-tiered Cheadle End stand which was constructed just before the millennium and dominates the ground. Behind the opposite goal the decaying seats are draped in the sponsor’s tarpaulin, the end is exposed to the elements without a roof and is no longer used for spectators. The travelling 530 Shaymen were seated in the first few blocks of the Popular stand. It’s similar in feel to the Skircoat stand with several pillars obscuring the view from an otherwise good spot to see the game from. With a good number of home fans sharing the rest of the stand, it made for a good atmosphere.
The first half started with Stockport striking the post in the opening seconds, but the game soon settled into a fairly equal but not too exciting 20-minute period. A corner to Stockport led to the opening goal, a Christmas gift of a free header right in front of the 5000 home fans that got them all singing. The Shaymen’s deficit was doubled before half-time with another simple home goal and not even a bargain burger for just £6 could cheer up Tesco Pete during the break.
The second half was cold and gloomy as darkness fell. The roar of passing aircraft, dropping out of the low cloud with their headlights blazing though the mist, on their way to the nearby Manchester Airport provided a welcome distraction. Stockport doubled their lead within 15 minutes of the restart and with a four-goal advantage signalled the start of the away fans drifting home early. The Shaymen grabbed a goal back with lots of time remaining and for a good five minutes we wondered if a Christmas miracle was possible. A fifth Stockport goal soon after sealed the comfortable home win. It was just one of those days where you hold your hands up and say the home team fully deserved the three points. Perhaps that Swindon postcode may have been the better day out….?
As we drove back across the Pennines, the Positive Shayman was reflecting on the ‘curse’ of Boxing Day results. He recalled the 1970-71 season where the team finished a very creditable third in the old Third Division, but even with that great team, the Boxing Day fixture against Rochdale ended up with a 4-1 home defeat in front of a crowd of 5500 at the Shay. He rattled off many other festive fixture nightmares too, but in all honesty, it’s been a good while since we lost the corresponding fixture in recent seasons.
Next up and there are a few exciting home games before we start the New Year with a trip back down the M1 to visit Barnet. We got a good draw there last season and could do the double on them this campaign.
Happy New Year!
Total goals on the road 17, total miles 4722 C’mon Shaymen!
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