TT Opposition Q&A – Stockport County By Jamie Summers

TT OPPOSITION Q&A

It’s a huge coup to get John Rooney in from Barrow – I think his contribution will be important

Hatters supporter Jamie Summers speaks to TT about his team…

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Hi Jamie so are you feeling optimistic for Stockport’s chances heading into this very strange season start?

Hi Dom, yes I’m really looking forward to the start of the new season. I think it’s the strangest any of us can ever remember for obvious reasons, but it’ll be great to have the football back again. There’s a real sense of excitement around County at the moment. We were incredibly lucky that a long-awaited takeover took place a few weeks before the start of the pandemic, which has been a game-changer for us. We’re full-time again after seven years of being either part-time or hybrid, and we’ve got a budget more fitting of a club of our stature rather than having to punch above our weight, so it’s a really fun time to be a County fan. We’ve been made favourites for the title by the bookies. I’m not sure about that, but I definitely think we’re in for a good season.

How’s the team’s pre-season gone?

Can’t complain really! It’s been a strange one because we’ve had such a high turnover of players this summer, so a lot of it’s been about getting back to fitness and gelling as a squad. There are obviously a few rough edges to smooth out, but we look like a strong, well-organised side and we’ve had six wins on the spin going into this game. Pre-season’s nothing like competitive football though, is it!

County have been busy in the transfer market, remind us who has arrived?

Yeah, it’s been a really busy summer for us. Probably the highest turnover of the squad for five or six years. We’ve had new signings in every area of the pitch – Josh Barnes in goal; James Jennings, Mark Kitching, Jamie Stott and Macauley Southam-Hales in defence; John Rooney and Ryan Croasdale in the middle; and Connor Jennings, Alex Reid and Jordan Williams up front. I’ve probably missed someone out!

Who are the key players for County and why?

We’ve kept the spine of the squad that won us the National League North in 18/19 – Ben Hinchliffe, Ash Palmer, Jordan Keane et al. They are all still really important players for us. I think Lois Maynard will really make us tick this season, as will Ryan Croasdale. It’s a huge coup to get John Rooney in from Barrow – I think his contribution will be important. And I think it’ll be a big year for Nyal Bell, who’s been with us for a few years and is a real talent. As the gaffer puts it – ‘Lives in Stockport, Plays for Stockport, Scores for Stockport’.

Who is the gaffer and what tactics does he like to use?

The gaffer is Jim Gannon – he’s got god-like status in these parts. He’s the definition of a club man – his association with Stockport County stretches back more than 30 years now, first as a player and then as manager. He’s into the fifth year of his third spell as gaffer, and here’s hoping he’s around for a long time yet. His teams tend to play attractive football in the right way – we’re consistently at the top of the fair play leagues because he believes strongly in not fouling and emphasising technique over brute force. That said, his sides are always physically strong, well-drilled and organised. We tend to use the flanks a lot too.

How have the Hatters dealt with the difficult situation and have the supporters rallied behind their club?

We were incredibly fortunate that our takeover happened just before the pandemic, so we’ve been okay. We’ve recruited well and all the signs are that we are in a good position to weather the storm, although obviously it’s been a disaster for every club at our level! The supporters have largely been very understanding about the situation. I wouldn’t like to think what state we’d be in had the takeover not happened though – we were essentially run on a shoestring before that.

Are the club ready to stream games for fans?

Yep, they’ve announced this week that all our home games will be streamed. £7.50 each.

Who do you think will be contenders for promotion this season?

Tough question. I think Notts County will be strong challengers this year, and I fancy (Stockport) County to be at the right end of the table too, though I’m not sure the title-favourites tag is quite on the money just yet. I can imagine Yeovil will be strong again and Halifax look a decent bet too. United are a good bet for the play-offs I reckon!

The United v County games last season threw up 2 big wins for the away team, what’s your prediction for Saturday?

Strangely enough, I submitted a question to The Guardian’s ‘The Knowledge’ column after the last game at Plainmoor – I can’t think of another example of two sides thumping each other by a four-goal margin away from home. It’ll be a much closer affair this time I think. We tend to start the season a little slowly, so I’ll go for 1-1.

Cheers Jamie

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I simply live and breathe Football and have supported Torquay United since 1989. I am a season ticket holder on Bristows and a Trust member. I set up TorquayTalk in 2017 to give true supporters a voice and honest opinions on their club.

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