After a six year absence Jim Gannon's Stockport have finally returned to non-league's top flight having won promotion via the title in a pulsating race to the top with Chorley.
Name: Stockport County Football Club
Nickname: The Hatters
Stadium: Edgeley Park
Manager: Jim Gannon
2018/19 League Position: 1st (Vanarama National League North)
How they got here
County were promoted as champions in April 2019 after battling it out with Chorley throughout the campaign. In a close battle it went down to the final day with Stockport travelling to Nuneaton. A trio of goals from Ash Palmer, Matt Warburton and Adam Thomas secured the Hatters' first league title victory in over half a century. Chorley had led the charge for long spells of the season but County persevered to make it a historic campaign. Highlights of the season included a 5-1 opening day win over FC United of Manchester, 6-0 win over Ashton and the 6-0 mauling of Chester FC in Flintshire.
Manager Jim Gannon has plenty of experience at this level having been taking the hot seat at various clubs since 2004. London born but raised in Ireland, he began his career with Irish side Dundalk before moving back to England in 1989 at Sheffield United. He went on to make his name as a playing legend with Stockport after a decade on the pitch at Edgeley Park. Over those 10 years, he made over 400 appearances winning two promotions. He would go on to retire and move into management heading back to where it began with Dundalk before the first of three spells as County boss. During his first spell, he won promotion to League One in 2008 before moving on to Motherwell, Peterborough and Port Vale. In 2012 he returned for a second albeit unsuccessful stint. After some time away he came back once more in 2016 where his mission to clinch promotion was complete.
Ones to Watch
Forward Darren Stephenson will have the chance to prove his worth in the National League having been an impressive force in the sixth tier. The Jamaican born 26-year old moved on from Chorley to Tranmere Rovers but was unable to break through, he'll be relishing the chance to kick on. Meanwhile 30-year old midfielder Paul Turnbull has County running through his veins having played for the club between 2005 and 2011, and joined from Chester for a second spell last summer.
Haven't We Met Before?
Over the years we've met on a number of occasions in both non-league and the EFL. Our last clash came in January 2015 in an FA Trophy replay, with the Dragons running out comfortable 6-1 winners. It's been 12-years since we faced off in the EFL, a 1-0 win for Stockport at the Racecourse. When we meet in the 2019/20 campaign it'll be the first National League meet up since February 2013 with Joe Clarke, Danny Wright and Rob Ogleby netting for Wrexham before a young Connor Jennings grabbed a consolation.
Edgely Park has been home to County since 1903 and has captured the best and worst moments in Stockport history for over a century. With a capacity of 10,841 the ground sits in the heart of Stockport, with memorable moments including its record crowd of over 27,000 when they played host to Liverpool in the FA Cup in 1950. The ground has been home to Stockport for some time but has also housed international football including England youth sides.