Great news for County as Jim Gannon has extended his contract and record-breakers at Edgeley Park are making headlines for Stockport right across the world this season.
Articles have been published as far afield as Italy and Scandinavia, whilst a fan club has been launched in Japan as the Hatters’ eye-catching campaign has brought Stockport County into the spotlight.
The team remain on course for a double this season, with the Hatters just ninety minutes away from a possible Wembley final and sitting second in the National League North table.
With just eight league games to go, County are hot on the heels of table-topping Chorley, and the pair are set to meet in a mouth-watering clash at Victory Park next month.
‘Everywhere our fans go this season they’ve been a credit to our town’
With County on a remarkable run of form under their talismanic manager, records have been tumbling. This season, Jim Gannon’s side equalled a record which has stood for 82 years: 16 league games in a single season without defeat.
But it’s not just on the pitch where the records are being set – in the stands, the fans have been flocking back to Edgeley Park in their droves to witness something special at Edgeley Park.
In the recent home win over Spennymoor Town, the Hatters set a new attendance record for a league game in the sixth tier of English football, as more than 6,300 packed into the ground to see Sam Walker’s goal hand the Hatters a vital three points against one of the their nearest rivals. That’s more than turned out to see County win promotion from the old Division Four in 1991!
Last Saturday, the Hatters travelled to AFC Fylde in the first leg of the FA Trophy semi-final – the away section was a 1350 sell-out with County fans making up more than half the gate. And they could have sold that section twice over, as County came away with a goalless draw.
Whilst a Wembley final in May would be a glorious way to end the season, the club’s main ambition remains to return to the top flight of non-league football, before mapping out a pathway back to the Football League.
But this weekend the manager and his players can focus on getting past AFC Fylde in the second leg in front of a massive crowd again at Edgeley Park.
And Jim Gannon is hoping that one of his players can make a name for himself on Saturday:
“We’re looking forward to a one-off tie at Edgeley to see the winners go to Wembley,” he said. “When you start a season you want big moments, and I think this game will rank amongst them because there could be real good memories built here and if somebody can make themselves a hero that would be fantastic.
“There’s a lot of work to be done, but the adrenaline and atmosphere will make it a fantastic occasion. Everywhere our fans go this season they’ve been a credit to our town, our club and a credit to the National League North, as well. It’s a one-off game that will live long in the memory.”
County boss Jim Gannon recently signed an improved and extended contract to remain at Edgeley Park until the summer of 2021.
He said: “I’m really pleased to have signed this extension but I’m more pleased that the board believes in what we are trying to achieve at the club.
“We’ve been working tirelessly to professionalise every aspect of the football club and I’m fully committed to continuing that work.
“We’re in the middle of our most successful season since I returned to Edgeley Park and I have great faith in the direction of travel which the club is taking, so I was very happy to commit to this new deal.”
County Chairman Richard Park said:
“We’re delighted to have got Jim’s contract extension agreed, because we feel it’s important for everyone to have that additional security going forward. We’ve been working hard to create a stable and sustainable future for our club and Jim is a huge part of that commitment.
“Jim shares our ambition to return the club to the Football League, and it makes sense to offer a contract to someone who has the club at heart and is responsible for a marked improvement in results.”
Jim, 50, is in his third stint as manager of County having returned to the club in January 2016. He won the Cheshire Senior Cup in his first season back and guided County to the Play Offs last season.
He is also the club’s longest-serving manager of all-time, having overtaken Fred Stewart for the number of games in charge – more than 430 and still counting.
(Article by Jon Keighren; Pictures by Mike Petch)