Steve Harris – @steveharris84
Match details: Stockport County versus Torquay United
Venue: Edgeley Park, Stockport
Date: Wednesday 11th May 2022
Current Form (last six):
Stockport: L, W, L, L, W, L
Torquay: W, D, L, D, D, W
Stockport: Paddy Madden (22)
Torquay: Armani Little (15)
Stockport fact file:
Year founded: 1883
Nickname: The Hatters
Last season’s league finish: 4th in National League
Stockport notable honours:
Division Three North:
Winners: 1921-22, 1935-36
Division Three/ Division Two/League One:
Division Four/ Division Three/League Two:
Associate Members’ Cup/ Football League Trophy:
Runners-up: 1991-92, 1992-93
National League North:
Manager: Dave Challinor
Dave Challinor was appointed as Hartlepool United manager in November 2019, succeeding Craig Hignett in the dugout at Victoria Park.
He arrived at Victoria Park on the back of a long and hugely successful spell as boss at AFC Fylde, during which he oversaw The Coasters’ impressive elevation through the footballing pyramid, which saw them rise from the Northern Premier League Division One North to the National League.
Challinor began his playing career with Tranmere Rovers where he came through the ranks to develop into a hugely popular centre-back at Prenton Park. While with Tranmere, he caught the eye due to his enormous throw-in – in 1998 he claimed the world record for the longest throw-in when he hurled a ball 46.34 metres to beat the record held by Andy Legg. Challinor enjoyed success with Tranmere, helping them to upset the odds to reach the 2000 League Cup Final – where they lost to Leicester City, before Stockport County paid £120,000 to take him to Edgeley Park in January 2002.
After a couple of seasons with the Hatters he was allowed to join Bury on loan in January 2004 and he made that move to Gigg Lane a permanent one in the following summer. He was installed as club captain at Bury and spent four years there before a knee injury forced him to retire from professional football at the end of the 2007-08 campaign.
Challinor was able to play part-time and became skipper of Colwyn Bay with whom he reached the play-offs with two seasons in succession and secured promotion in 2010. He was then appointed as player-manager of the club.
His first season as manager saw the Bay finish as runners-up in the Northern Premier League Premier Division and they triumphed in the play-offs to win promotion to National League North.
It was in November 2011 that Challinor was tempted away to join AFC Fylde as boss and his magic touch continued as they were promoted from Northern Premier League Division One North as champions in his season in charge.
The Coasters reached the play-offs in his first season in charge, while also making it through to the first round of the FA Cup. They went one better in the 2013-14 campaign when Fylde won the play-offs to take their place in National League North. In 2016-17 there was more joy for Challinor and the Fylde supporters as they clinched another promotion as Champions of National League North and he led the club in to the fifth tier for the first time in their history.
He then led them a third-place finish in the National League in the 2017-18 season, only to fall in the play-offs. In the subsequent 2018-19 season, he led the Coasters to Wembley twice where they won the FA Trophy and lost to Salford City in the National League play-off final.
After leaving the Coasters, Challinor was appointed as manager of Hartlepool United in November 2019 and in his first full season in charge – the 2020-21 campaign – he led them to the Play-offs, where they won promotion by beating the Gulls on penalties – after drawing 1-1 in normal time.
In November 2021, he returned to Edgeley Park as manager and is aiming for a second successive promotion from the National League.
Player to watch: Paddy Madden
Before Gary Johnson’s transformation of Jamie Reid between 2018 and 2020, the United boss also had a similar effect on the career of Stockport County striker Paddy Madden during his second spell as Yeovil Town manager.
Madden initially joined the Glovers on loan from Carlisle United in October 2012 and later signed for the Glovers on a permanent basis for £15,000. He had found the back of the net twice in 32 league appearances for the Cumbrians after joining from League of Ireland side Bohemians. However, under Johnson at Huish Park Madden’s form couldn’t have been more different from his displays at Brunton Park; he found the back of the net 23 times in 39 appearances for the Glovers in all competitions as Yeovil won promotion to the Championship for the first time in their history after beating Brentford in the 2013 League One play-off final. He was later called up to the Republic of Ireland squad by Giovanni Trappatoni for a friendly against Wales in August 2013.
Since leaving Huish Park in January 2014, Madden has since gone on to appear for Scunthorpe United and Fleetwood Town before joining the Hatters in March 2021.
He is currently Stockport’s top scorer with 22 goals.