“We can go from the sublime to the ridiculous, and we’re consistently inconsistent”
The match preview Q&A series continues, as Jamie Summers discusses ‘The Hatters’ of Stockport County:
Hi Jamie nice to speak to you again – so have you been happy with the Hatters season so far and how would you summarise it up to this point?
Hello again! It’s definitely been an interesting first half of the season for us. I think we’ve largely settled back into life at National League level well after a long time away, and we are about where I would expect us to be. We can go from the sublime to the ridiculous, and we’re consistently inconsistent – annoyingly, we’re facing the Gulls on the back of a heavy defeat, like last time. But aside from a poor result at home on Tuesday night, we’ve been in decent form and sometimes show flashes of brilliance. Overall, we’re mid-table, a long way off the relegation zone and finding our feet again, so we can’t grumble.
What’s been the highlights so far?
I’d say the highlight has been some very positive away performances and results – most recently at Barnet. We’ve also come away with strong results from Wrexham, Bromley and Notts County to name a few. It’s nice to just be playing National level football again. We yearn to be back in the Football League, but this is a step on that journey.
How’s your recent form been heading into the game at Plainmoor?
Overall, our form has been good recently. When you embarrassed us on our own turf last time we met, that brought an end to a horrendous run of form, and we’ve been largely solid since. That came to a pretty abrupt halt on Tuesday with a comprehensive home defeat by Solihull Moors – but that aside, we’ve been looking more like the side that were Champions of the National North not too many months ago, and we’ve looked confident about it too. Plus, we’re generally solid on the road.
We asked you before, but we’ll ask you again! Which players hold the key for Stockport on Saturday and why?
There’s been a lot of change to the side in the last few months, with quite a few fresh faces coming in. The key for us will be whether we have a full-strength team. Not many people know we’re still a part-time side – one of not many at all at this level any more – and Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday schedules take their toll. Ash Palmer is our rock at the back. Jordan Keane is probably our brightest and most dependable spark in the number 8 role, and upfront there are a few options, but Frank Mulhern occasionally has something special in his locker (take a look at our 1-0 away win at Dover for evidence of that…).
How does the team set up tactically?
We’re at our best when we try to get the ball down on the deck and play good football. That tends to be our greatest strength. Generally we play with one upfront and make full use of the wings, with four clear lines. As with everyone at this level though, it all depends who we’re up against and how our strengths can best exploit their weaknesses.
What’s County’s away following like and will many make the trip down to Devon?
We tend to travel well and we’re very well supported for a non-league club, which I guess is the legacy of having spent most of our history in the league, despite a barren decade in the wilderness now. County fans have always seen a trip to Plainmoor as a special opportunity for a proper day out, and it’s been a long time since we had the chance to pay you a visit, so I’d expect us to bring a fair few.
What’s your favourite County away day terrace chants?
Hmm. There are a few County staples away from home. One that comes to mind straight away is ‘Arthur Brownlow’, about a knobbly-kneed, buck-toothed, fictitious County fan. And ‘The Scarf My Father Wore’, which is considered our club ‘anthem’ and follows us everywhere. When things aren’t going so well, we usually resort to gallows humour. No need for that on Saturday, I hope!!
Do you fancy your chances for a promotion push this season?
Realistically, no. We have perhaps started to get a little bit excited in recent weeks, because we’ve put in some good performances and picked up some great results, but we are still very much a work in progress. Generally, when we win, we win by a goal or two; but when we lose, we have a nasty habit of getting leathered. It’s all part of the growing process, and we’re not expecting miracles. It’d be a ridiculous ask for a part-time side to gain back-to-back promotions.
That said, Jim Gannon’s sides tend to finish the season with a flourish, and we’re in a strong position from the first half of the campaign, so if we have a decent second half of the season, we could possibly scrape into the top seven. He also has an incredible record of finishing every season in a higher position than the previous one. Rumours abound of an imminent takeover, which would at least allow us to go full-time again and really compete on an even playing field. So while I expect us to be no more than upper mid-table this season, with Gannon at the helm, the future looks bright for us.
Which opposition teams and players have impressed you most and why?
I was hugely impressed with Bromley – they’re a compact, well-organised, adventurous side that play nice football. Not the biggest club at this level, but certainly one of the best teams. Solihull are also a cut above pretty much everyone in this division. They will win the title, probably by some distance.
And finally we blitzed you at Edgeley Park but have struggled in recent weeks, give us a match prediction for Saturday afternoon?
Let’s not talk about the last time we met, shall we? It was a horrendous day for us, but probably did us a favour as it was a wake-up call to get new personnel in to the squad.
Despite a hiccup on Tuesday, we’re in decent form and look solid on the road. I’ll go for 1-1.
LAST TIME OUT