Stockport County
Edgeley Park

Ground No. 5 (return visit)
Visited - Saturday 17th May 2008
Result - Stockport County 1-0 Wycombe Wanderers (2-1 on aggregate)
Competition - League 2 Play-Off Semi-Final, second leg
Attendance - 9245

After completing the 92 at Bury in April, it was my intention to try and get back to a few of the grounds that I hadn’t seen for a while. I’d done/revisited 89 of them within the space of 5 seasons, but Edgeley Park was one that had passed me by for a while, with the last of two visits having been nearly a decade ago in January 1999, so I was looking forward to going back, and having made the play-offs, the home leg of Stockport’s tie with Wycombe was a perfect time to visit, especially with an evening kick-off meaning I’d been able to revisit Spotland earlier in the day, to see Rochdale triumph over Darlington and be the first side to make the following weeks final at Wembley.

With the Rochdale game having gone to extra-time and penalties, then it was a bit of a rush back across Manchester and on down to Stockport, but the trains were good and with hardly any waiting, I made it in good time, briefly going into the town before making my way down to the ground.

Outside was more or less exactly as I remembered it. The classic brick exterior to the Main Stand dominates the small terraced street that the ground fronts on to, and with the clubs name emblazoned across the front in blue and white, then it is a great sight that is as traditional as any in football. The more modern Cheadle End is the other main point of focus, with the club shop and ticket office located here. The other two sides are hidden from view, so after taking a few pictures, I made my way into the ground, having bought tickets from Wycombe to sit in the away end, although I was starting to regret this with the sky clouding over and rain starting to fall as I went in.

Terracing on my last two visits, the Railway End had since had seats installed, but was still the same basic structure, with the facilities in the corner next to the turnstiles, and access via steps up to a walkway at the rear of the seating, which led round to the Popular Side, which had the nearest couple of blocks reserved for away fans. Part of my reason for concern at the weather was that this end was uncovered, and the stewards didn’t seem to be letting fans into the covered Popular Side, but despite a brief shower, the clouds passed over, and we were lucky for the rest of the evening. Looking around the rest of the ground, to our left was the aforementioned Popular Side, split between home and away fans. This used to be a large terrace holding more than the entire grounds current capacity with 16,000 once cramming in, but it had literally been cut in half in 1978, a fact evident by the high roof, which once extended further backwards in line with the old terracing. Nowadays, as with the rest of the ground it is all-seated, but despite its name, the real popular side for Stockport fans seemed to be the far end where the only modern structure at the ground stood in the form of the Cheadle End. A large two tiered stand, it holds 5000 and was the site of a card display before the game with the date of the clubs formation (1883) displayed by fans in the lower tier. Finally, completing the scene is the Main Stand, a single tiered stand dating back to 1936 that doesn’t quite run the full length of the pitch, finishing in line with the penalty box at each end.

Having taken a few pictures, I waited for the game to start. The home ends had sold out, and Wycombe had filled the Railway End with a few fans dotted around in the Popular Side, although after an accident on the M6 then a lot of fans were delayed in arriving (some not getting there until half time), but with Sky covering the match, then there was no delay to kick-off and almost immediately Stockport made their intentions clear, driving forward and forcing a corner within the first 30 seconds. Whilst that resulted in an effort being skied over the bar, the home side were soon 1-0 up when Liam Dickinson won the ball on the halfway line, and on the break sprinted up the pitch before coolly finishing to make it 2-1 on aggregate just seven minutes into the game. After that, County sat back and soaked up pressure from the visitors, and they were almost made to pay in the 24th minute when Mike Williamson headed a corner against the bar, but despite pretty much dominating possession, that was as close as Wycombe came in the first half, never really being able to break down the 10 man Stockport defence.

The second half was much the same story. Wycombe had the lions share of possession, but could never really cut it up front, with the home goal rarely looking in real danger of being breached, so when Andy D’urso blew his whistle after 6 minutes of injury time, then the pitch invasion from the Cheadle End indicated that it was County going to Wembley the following week, and not the visitors from Buckinghamshire.

Throughout the game there had been a good atmosphere from the home fans, but with no roof covering the away end, then the Wycombe fans had never really seemed to get going, despite some gallant attempts led by the drummer who had buoyed the crowd on my visit to Adams Park a couple of years before, the tension in the air and open stand weren’t conducive to the visiting supporters, and most were as miserable as expected when leaving the ground, doing their best to get away from the celebrations on the pitch. After leaving, I made my way back to the station with most fans, and eventually got a train home, arriving back in good time, glad to have gone.

Overall it had been a pretty good day, nice to see two grounds that I’d wanted to get back to, but this one especially. Growing up watching Championship football in the mid-late 90s then, perhaps falsely, I’ve always seen Stockport more a club of that level as opposed to League 2, where they’ve been playing for the last few years (and for most of their history really). The ground perhaps reflects a lower league side, with little investment having been put in other than to the Cheadle End, but it is still a very classic, tidy venue, and a good traditional one to visit. If they were to put a roof on the away end, then without doubt it would probably end up being listed amongst most peoples favourites, but that is its real downside, with the home fans, as noisy as they were, seeming a long way away and not being able to generate much noise, then it does slightly let it down as an away fan, but overall, I’d still recommend it to anyone thinking of visiting, and will be glad to go back there myself one of the days.

Welcome to Edgeley Park

Rear of the Cheadle End

The Club Shop

Rear of the Main Stand

Rear of the Main Stand

Rear of the Popular Side

The Railway End

The Main Stand

The Cheadle End

The Popular Side

Card display before kick off

The Popular Side

The Cheadle End

The Main Stand

Fans celebrate on the pitch

Edgeley Park Panoramic 1

Edgeley Park Panoramic 2


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