Jim Gannon is bringing the crowds and the good times back to Stockport Countyby Chloe Beresford / 26 March 2019, 11:21Tweet
You could be forgiven for thinking the year was 2008 as 6,064 people watched Stockport County play for the chance to appear in a Wembley final last Saturday. It was back then that current boss Jim Gannon led his side to a memorable 3-2 win versus Rochdale to reach League One, a day that will go down in history among the Edgeley Park faithful.
Instead, they saw a last-gasp winner as AFC Fylde – a team that play in the league above – took a 3-2 win after it seemed as though County had done enough to secure extra-time FA Trophy semi-final.
Stockport will have no time to lick their wounds though as, currently sitting second in National League North and desperate to win one of their two games in hand over top-of-the-table Chorley, face Ashton United on Tuesday night.
Much has happened in SK3 since that play-off triumph a decade ago, including no less than two sackings – and subsequent re-appointments – for former County defender Gannon, administration, and an exit from the Football League for the first time in the club’s 106 year history back in 2011.
Those years of mismanagement and carelessness with this historic club have been a constant source of pain for Stockport fans, but those long-awaited good times are now back under Gannon’s measured and expert guidance.
Last week’s high attendance was nothing new, as County have continued to smash their own records for the highest ever crowds in the sixth tier of English football. The latest was 6,311 as the Hatters beat Spennymoor on March 2nd, the people of Stockport enjoying the success shown by this most professional of part-time teams.
Much of the credit for this belongs to the work of Gannon. Now with a stable ownership that finally has the team’s best interests at heart, the boss has been able to slowly but surely construct a side that is capable of achieving promotion. Discipline, fitness and tactical awareness are central to his ethos, but this man is so much more than his impressive UEFA Pro Licence qualification.
Having made 383 appearances for Stockport at centre-back between 1990 and 2000, Jim Gannon knows this club both inside out and backwards. He, more than anyone, understands what is important to supporters of this side, and it is this that has brought more than 6,000 fans flocking to watch a team play two divisions below the Football League.
Bumped into the one and only Jim Gannon before the game ....best manager by far in the lower leagues....time to take the club where it belongs.....after todays diversion when we are 90 mins to Wembley #FATrophy pic.twitter.com/0MFMSKc6qo— rob hyde ???? (@robjhyde) March 23, 2019
As those supporters queued for tickets last Saturday morning, Gannon was standing beside them, making himself available to chat to them about the task ahead. He not only equips his team with the kind of tactical acumen that would be envied several leagues above, but inspires them to take to the field with the kind of “heart-on-the-sleeve” displays that allows them to feel at one with the fans.
“The last four months, everyone's been enjoying this climb and we're looking to carry on this climb over the next five or six weeks,” Gannon told the club’s official website after the FA Trophy exit. “While they were celebrating at their end, our fans showed their respect for our work and themselves, they appreciate the work and spirit within the club and the town now.
“There'll be so many bigger and better games in the next five or six weeks at Edgeley Park than the one that would've been at Wembley."
Everything about Stockport County, from the way that it is run to the stadium itself, is set up for league football. Now, spearheaded by Gannon, it feels like all its individual elements are pulling in the same direction in order to put them back there.