Stockport County’s final game at Nuneaton saw them raise the league trophy as league winners for the first time in over 50 years and promotion to the National League North.
A record number of fans travelled to Nuneaton to see their heroes finish the season with an impressive 3-0 victory.
Stockport County are back in the National League after a six-year absence as the Hatters secured the National League North title on Saturday with a comfortable 3-0 win at already-relegated Nuneaton Borough.
Around 3,500 County fans were there to witness the incredible scenes as the Hatters claimed their first league title in more than 50 years.
Goals from Ash Palmer, top scorer Matty Warburton and Adam Thomas were enough to clinch the title, leaving County a point clear of closest rivals Chorley who beat Bradford Park Avenue on the final day of the season.
It means Jim Gannon is the first manager ever to lead County to promotion, having achieved it at Wembley in 2008 in the League Two Play Offs.
Jim, now County’s most successful manager of all-time, was full of praise for the travelling supporters:
“For 50 years they have been waiting for this, and now that wait is over,” he said. “This club has won promotions – I’ve won promotions – but to win a league is something that we’ve all been waiting for.
“It’s emotional, it’s something we can’t really put into words, but we are champions and we’ve deserved it. It is a special day for this football club.”
He added: “I cannot imagine a better way to end the season than this. We’ve put a lot of hard work in over the last season to get into this position.
“Our fans have shown us all season how much this means to them. I’m glad we’ve given them something to celebrate.”
The party continued back in Stockport long into the night, with more than 400 people attending the club’s Player of the Year awards. Matty Warburton was named Player of the Year, Sam Walker was the Players’ Player of the Year, Jamie Stott won the Young Player of the Year prize and Frank Mulhern picked up the trophy for the Goal of the Season.
Match photographer Mike Petch has followed the Hatters every kick of the way:
“What a fantastic occasion. I don’t think it’s sunk in totally yet, it was just such a whirlwind of a day. In front of what might as well have been a home crowd, 3500 of the 4000 there were County fans, it was a party atmosphere right from the start. Three goals made it comfortable in the day and it meant everyone could get on with partying.
“It’s fantastic that the club is finally on the up again, this means so much to County fans, and I hope to the rest of Stockport no matter who they support.
“I bet there’s some beaming smiles in offices all over the borough today. It’s fantastic for a Town that already has so much going on in it currently that it’s Football Club is progressing too.
“I can’t wait to carry on the good feeling around the place in to next season now.”
Images: MPhotographic – Mike Petch