After 45 games, several miles on the road and a few goals here and there along the way, we still needed to pack our calculators for the final league game of the season. Who’d have thought when the season started that we’d be in with the chance of a top three finish in the league on the final day! It was our nearest away game too, just under an hour away and with around a thousand travelling Shaymen making the trip. We weren’t hanging about either, with limited parking opportunities we decided to give lunch a miss and take our chances with an early start.
With a full house expected, security on the turnstiles was polite but incredibly thorough. Jackets and bags were scrutinised, then trouser pockets checked, arms out, legs spread, and patted down. Once we had explained the reason for wearing odd socks and having a Scottish fiver in our possession we finally got the nod from the supervisor we were through.
Stockport County’s Edgeley Park is one of the biggest grounds in the National League. It has an all-seater capacity of around 10,000. The main stand was opened in 1936 and houses the changing rooms and offices. There’s a really big two-tiered stand behind the far goal which opened in 1996. This stand really dominates the ground and provides a great view of the pitch. Opposite the main stand is the Popular Side, covered seating under a 1930’s roof. The travelling Shaymen were given the open terrace behind the goal which sits in front of a newish giant scoreboard, and provides a good view of the aircraft taking off from Manchester Airport.
The atmosphere was rocking long before kick-off, with the County fans displaying colourful cards in tribute to their team’s success across the big stand behind their goal. The drum was banging and noise was being generated from all sides. Try as they might, there was little chance of anyone hearing the away support on the open terrace, even with our trusty drum.
The first half was dominated by the home team, and an early goal settled any nerves the team may have had; the noise was terrific. News of Wrexham conceding in their game filtered around the home support and it was celebrated like Stockport had scored. With Solihull leading by a couple of goals in their game, the outcome of our game soon became insignificant in terms of league position.
The second half was similar, Stockport looked assured with only the occasional threat from the Shaymen as they attacked towards our end. They scored a second and it was pretty much game over. With time running out, it was clear the home fans were going to enjoy their well earned success with an impromptu party on the pitch as soon as the final whistle sounded. The place was bouncing, regardless of the result it was good to witness a game played with a full house. What a difference fans can make to a game of football.
Driving back and with the confirmation that the team had confirmed a really impressive fourth placed finish, we reflected on just how much our expectations had changed. We’d gone from travelling to most away games with the expectation of losing to being disappointed not to come away with a result. The team and the club have done us proud this season, against the financial odds too, we’ve had some really memorable trips on the road.
With a play-off place secured, we’re now in with a decent shout with an eliminator game at the Shay. Anything can happen in the play-offs, but with a good crowd behind the team I’m sure we can book ourselves another grand day out or two this season. Who knows where we may end up?
Goals on the road 27, miles 8634, c’mon Shaymen!
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