Introducing the new home of our weekly column, Paper Talk, as published in the Stockport Express. On this page you find all the articles we publish every Wednesday from 9 July 2014. This will be updated with all previous articles overtime. These articles will be listed in chronological order starting with the latest.
With many thanks to the Stockport Express for publishing our regular column.
Please note these are the UNEDITED articles so may differ slightly to that printed:
26 April 2017:
Word is slowly beginning to spread about what an excellent job the Stockport County Community Foundation do under the watchful eye of Foundation Manager Dave Wardle.
The Foundations work may not be too widely known but it is very much acknowledged and appreciated by the schools in Stockport who benefit from same every year from the services provided.
Additionally , the work of the Foundation and the Stockport County Supporters Cooperative does not immediately strike as being inter connected, but our paths have crossed , however briefly, at such community events as the Hatters Half Marathon ( at which the Foundation did valuable work on the day)and the inaugural `County Carol Concert’ at Edgeley Park, which was such a great success.
The need for a combining of talents therefore , however temporarily, was obvious, and after talks over recent weeks the Foundation and the Cooperative’s newly expanded ( from 2 to 6) Events Team, have been discussing just how such a `coming together’ might usefully happen.
Happily an event has been identified to kick start this excellent cooperation, and it combines the Foundations work with young pupils with the Cooperative’s successful running of 5 A Side Football Tournaments ( which the Foundation won last time out).
So the Cooperative’s expertise at running successful 5 A Side Tournaments for adults, can now be put to good use in collaboration with the Foundation on a 5 A Side Festival for youngsters, which will take place at the Stockport Power League throughout the day on Tuesday 2 November 2017.
This is great news and I for one cannot wait for that one!
Before that , indeed on the notional last day of County’s season( give or take a play off game or two) , Saturday 29 April, the Supporters Cooperative will be in the Cheadle End Cabin from around 1.15 until 2.45 collecting for the Wellspring – the magnificent charity that looks after the homeless people of Stockport so very well!
The Wellspring are short of food items, so if you can come to the rescue by donating any of the following, dropping them off at the Cabin before the game on the 29th, that would be very much appreciated.
The items needed are canned foods…..(meats for sandwiches, fish, beans, fruits etc),tea, coffee, sugar etc.
And….on the following day, Sunday 30 April 2017, we will be holding a Members Meeting in the Spinning Top( next to the Garrick Theatre on the A6) starting at 6pm .
Items on the agenda will include a presentation, by Cooperative Board Member John Giles, on the Guardian Account. The meeting should be an interesting one, and it is open to none members also, and we look forward to welcoming you.
19 April 2017:
These are exciting times at Edgeley Park just now, and busy one’s too for those of us involved with the Supporters Cooperative.
The Club organised a `Fans Forum ‘ on Thursday evening. Now…I am not a great fan of Fans Forums and am aware that others share an element of scepticism with myself on the subject. The perception being that the supporters are fed bromides and platitudes by the top table to keep them sweet and in line.
Times have changed , as I have said before in this column, at County, and so has the attitude of both the Club board and supporters to one and other.
Thursday’s event, was well attended with around 80 County supporters almost filling the room to hear County Directors Steve Bellis and Gary Burton along with Commercial Manager Simon Dawson, explain off field matters prior to James Gannon joining them later to head up discussions on the playing side.
The meeting, chaired by Pure FM’s Chris Ridgway, went off really well. The major issues were all addressed, and the meeting was pleased to hear confirmation that debts were reducing on schedule and that ultimately would be reduced further when time is right for the Club. The commercial side of things was doing exceptionally well, and the incorporation of Alan Lord’s Academy was deemed to be a really positive step that will benefit the Club and its young players for years to come.
A training facility was a big priority for the Club and negotiations were ongoing on this.
James Gannon was asked about the possible need to go full time at some stage, and he noted that just 2 teams in the league above were likely to be part time next season. There was felt to be a need to be full time in the Conference National but not at our current level. This matter is constantly under review, especially as County now have a fantastic opportunity to progress to a higher level.
James gave a good idea of just what was what at the Club and what was needed to progress, and in answer to one question he said firmly that County did not need to be `tougher’ . Our disciplinary record is excellent( top of the fair play table), and that is the way to go- fouls give away free kicks and goals and thus lose matches- it’s not the County way under James’ stewardship.
It was good event well worth putting on, my one criticism would be that the venue was outside Stockport. I am sure this element will be rectified moving forward.
Friday saw the Supporters Cooperative stage a `Recruitment Drive’ at Edgeley Park. Despite bad weather 14 new members were signed up and many more potential recruits contacted- a great result, taking membership ever closer to the 500 milestone!
12 April 2017:
Stockport County have moved to invite County fans to a Fans Forum on Thursday 13th April, at the Village Hotel Cheadle, with the added suggestion that fans ` Arrive 7.30pm for an 8pm start’.
In attendance will be Jim Gannon, Steve Bellis, Jon Keighren, Richard Park and other Directors, so this will give those supporters with unanswered questions the chance to air them, and get those answers.
Through their , 6 weekly, meetings with the Club Board, the Supporters Cooperative have consistently offered our members the opportunity to raise such questions as members deem appropriate, with the Club, over recent times and much value has been gained in the process along with those answers.
Answers received , in the real world, will never 100% satisfy 100% of the people , all of the time, but we have noted a level of satisfaction from members at most answers received.
We are very happy to have , through our website http://www.countysupporterscoop.co.uk offered this regular link with the Cooperative and Club Boards , to our members, and we are always ready to respond . There are a number of contact options open to would be questioners, on the `Contact Us’ section of our web site, depending on the nature of the issue being raised.
It is all about communications and keeping our members abreast of current developments, and in this respect the members meetings remain the paramount link in the members/ board chain, and the next members meeting is scheduled for 30 April, at the Spinning Top.
Less important, but still central to the Cooperatives communications effort, are the weekly, and sometimes more regular, `Newsletters’ sent via email, these are an invaluable contact tool. The Cheadle End Cabin , a recent innovation, is another essential link in the Cooperatives communications chain , allowing members to raise any issue they care to with the (usually two) board members who share the season long rota for cabin duty, and will try their very best to help.
Another recent communication development has been the birth of `Coop Talking’ an occasional series of informal chats involving Cooperative board members on subjects of interest. To date we have aired 3 such offerings covering the Guardian Account , Sponsors & the AGM, and an interview with Mike Swann of the Spinning Top.
We have other editions planned including one on our Events Team and further look at the Guardian Account, so look out for these, and for an idea of what to expect try this link… https://www.dropbox.com/s/uc83vean24ray69/ST%20Interview.MP3?dl=0
To be a success…communications must be a two way process , with all party’s giving due weight to the others input. I would maintain this is the way it is just now with ourselves, but if you think differently please contact us and let us know.
05 April 2017:
I thought that this week , an up to the minute up date of what’s happening at the Stockport County Supporters Cooperative was appropriate.
Responding to members input, the Cooperative have issued a new Membership Card and Share Certificate, which members can pick up on match days from the Cooperative’s Cheadle End Cabin in the Car Park, between new opening times of 1.45 until 2.45, providing the member advises firstname.lastname@example.org by the Friday before match day, of the desire to collect.
Going forward new members and renewals will receive their cards, and share certificates, automatically.
Make Us An Offer Update.
The two iconic County shirts went to Steve O’Connell and John Ford
A members meeting was due, with Sunday 30 April selected as the provisional date for same, possibly at the Spinning Top.
Wellspring Food Appeal.
The Stockport homeless charity is running short on vital food supplies and the Supporters Cooperative are resolved to respond and make an appeal to our members, who have supported the Wellspring so brilliantly in the past, for donations of food.
The intention is to collect from the Cheadle End Cabin ( 1.45/2.45) before County’s game with Gloucester on 29 April, although fans can drop donations off at any home match before that date.
Wellspring are in particularly urgent need of tinned foods, meats ( for sandwiches), soups, fruits, but all foods will be welcomed .
Events in various stages of planning include….
5 A Side Tournaments. We are to support the September tournament for children run by the Community Foundation, and also look to put on another tournament, at the Stockport Power League in the summer for adults.
Hatters Half Marathon- 3 September 2017
Race Director John Giles is well on with his planning, and is currently focussed on publicising this popular event. If you can help leaflet at a race near you, or drop some off in your locality, please email John on email@example.com
If you want to run the race you can find out about it via hattershalf.co.uk
Cheadle End Cabin.
The cabin is currently in the early stages of a refurbishment, but refurbishment or not……..we remain open on match days, the only change( indicated earlier in this piece) is that the cabin will now be open between 1.45 and 2.45 ahead of games.
In support of the Guardian Account we will be selling County shirts at good prices and accepting any donated items you are able to drop off ( scarves, shirts, hats, kids boots, team sheets from Lancashire League games etc.
29 March 2017:
On Thursday 1st June at 5.30pm, the Stockport County Supporters’ Co-operative will open a pub.
No dear reader, the usually sober and hard working fans group, have not lost the thread, and gone all `licensed victualler’ on us, they are in fact ,for one night only, opening said pub within the Stockport Beer & Cider Festival, being held at Edgeley Park on that day
The Supporters Cooperative have long strived to involve themselves in the community, instance the Hatters Half Marathon that offers a boost to community relations in Stockport in September each year, and involvement last Xmas in the `County Community Carol Concert’ at Edgeley Park..
To further this community element, for the third consecutive year, the Supporters Cooperative have been invited by CAMRA to run the Thursday evening session , as a `County Night’, at the phenomenally successful `real ale’ event.
We will be busy on the night with several projects, but the Supporters Cooperative wanted to have a central theme to the evening- essentially a County theme , hence we decided upon a `Name the Pub Competition’
It was essential that the pub had a distinctly County feel about it!
Enter long standing County fan Gordon Cundill, who came up with the distinctly County name of ` The Fourteen Steps’ being the number of steps of the Cheadle End in the days of the old wooden terracing back in the fifties and sixties.
Gordon duly won the competition, and will formally open the pub, together with other County celebrities, at about 5.30pm on Thursday 1st June 2017.
The theme will continue Inside `The Fourteen Steps’, as we mark the 50th anniversary of County winning the 4th Division Championship. All of the music and fashion on the night will be of that era, with prizes for best-dressed pub-goers.
There will also be a series of Stockport County Appearance Number (SCAN) scheme presentations, and County memorabilia to peruse and buy.
We would love to hear from any County Supporters who attended the game at Wrexham that day back in 1967, as we’re keen to retell the story from a supporters’ perspective.
So if you have tales of your day out in Wrexham and what you got up to back in Stockport that evening, please let us know or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
This promises to be a major close-season event for County Supporters, with plenty of special guests anticipated.
Tickets will be on sale soon, at just £2 each, so keep the evening free, for what promises to be a very memorable event.
22 March 2017:
County had just posted an emphatic victory in dispatching Curzon Ashton 3-1 at Edgeley Park, when a goodly number of the 3495 at the game, headed off to the Spinning Top for the latest round of the Supporters Cooperative’s `County Quiz’, in support of the Guardian Account.
The early activity seemed to centre around getting a pint , but it was not long before genial Quizmaster, and Cooperative Board Member, Nick Lee called for order and signalled we were about to start.
Eight teams signed up, which was a really great response.
Early favourites Coop Elite drew booing from the other teams by preparing to make their victory bow before proceedings started. `Hedgies heroes’ were rumoured to have included altitude training in their preparation for the event , whilst the surprise entry came from top band `Mutha Luvin Chimps’ who took time out before their sound check to support the event.
The questions were set at a very reasonable level….hard…but not eye wateringly so, and the end result was an enjoyable experience.
Here is how they finished….
- Coop Elite 98
- Yellowboard 96
- Mutha Luvin Chimps 94
- Hedgies Heroes 93
- We’re Only Here for the Beer 91
- #We Go Again 85
- Last Orders 79
- Who Are We? 77
So…`Coop Elite’ were finally able to make their victory bow.
Later, Supporters Coop Events Manager Dave Marchbank announced the event had raised circa £300 for the Guardian Account, helped by Spinning Top landlord Mike Swann extending the 10% donation beyond the 8pm cut off.
Saturday also saw the entries open for the 3rd Hatters Half Marathon, which is set to go from outside Edgeley Park on Sunday 3rd September at 9-30am.
Entries are t £18 (affiliated ) and £20 (non affiliated runners) – this includes a medal and a free Stockport County ticket!
To enter, runners are asked to please visit www.hattershalf.co.uk and follow the link to the Run Britain website or go to the dedicated Facebook page – www.facebook.com/hattershalf/ and click on “Book Now”.
Last year race was won by James Scott-Buccleuch from Stockport Harriers in 1hr 16mins 24 sec and Sharon Johnstone from Wilmslow in 1hr 28mins 17 sec.
Anyone taking part is sure to enjoy the experience as the race follows the River Mersey along the Trans Pennine Trail to Northenden, before forming a loop and returning to the finish in Alexandra Park in Edgeley.
Robinson’s Brewery have supported the race every year since the event started in 2015, and we are proud to confirm `Robbies’ as Premier Corporate Partner for the event once more!
Finally, the Supporters Cooperative now have an e Bay account in support of the Guardian Account. In this respect we will again be in the Cheadle End Cabin before County’s game with Tamworth, to receive donations of shirts, hats, scarves etc, to boost the Guardian Account as usual, but we also appeal for football cards or team sheets , the older the better in both cases.
15 March 2017:
The actions of Stockport County fans of late have offered up the ideal counterpoint to the churlish anger of the likes of Arsenal fans towards their Manager.
Whilst Arsenal supporters seem in large part to have forgotten their history, particularly the recent bit,for County fans their roots mean something to them and are cherished!
Two recent examples of this come to mind.
In the Bungalow, last Saturday, the SCAN arm of the Supporters Cooperative attracted current and former County players to the Bungalow. The current squad were presented with their SCAN certificates , and mingled with fans and former players including Freddie Goodwin, Eddie Garbett and John Griffiths.
It was a fantastic event and included a neat moment when Ian Lancashire presented County Manager James Gannon with a cheque for £5000 from the Players Fund on behalf of the supporters. Valuable help I am sure, that will be invaluable in the County push for promotion.
Meanwhile, on the same evening ,across Stockport, at the Fingerpost, County Supporters were staging a benefit night in support of the relatives of late County fan Chris Thompson.
The event was a corker and raised a truly amazing £9000+
Just 2 examples, but telling, and by no means untypical of County fans approach to their Club and community.
Input from supporters can be a vital element in ensuring the continued survival and ultimate prospering of clubs like County.
With such great support on tap I think County’s future is in good hands, but it is very important not to forget the Club’s rich history, which SCAN is at the forefront of preserving.
This history, showcased so well by SCAN so often, has also been the focus particularly of Help the Hatters, and last Wednesday and Thursday saw the first preview, for County fans, of the upcoming County Museum, ahead of the launch, by the Club, of same.
The Museum is to be sighted in the Legends Lounge at Edgeley Park, and is the culmination of much hard work by John Fitzpatrick and Help the Hatters. It will be used to attract parties of school children from local schools, and maybe turn them into County fans of the future, but the previews were a way of introducing the Museum, and the rich tradition and history it showcases, to County supporters.
How did the preview go? Well I asked a good few first time visitors to the Museum and they were pleased with what they saw.
With James Gannon at the helm the Clubs future is bright…….but with SCAN and Help the Hatters involved, in tandem with the Supporters Cooperative, County’s rich history will continue to be given the prominence it deserves.
08 March 2017:
The Stockport County Board and Board of Stockport County Supporters Cooperative met this week in the Legends Lounge at Edgeley Park, as promised here is a report from same.
The meeting opened with a presentation by John Giles on the Guardian Account on behalf of the Supporters Cooperative. This was well received and the Club indicated interest in and support for the ideas contained therein.
The Club then responded to questions from the Supporters Cooperative. .
Q What steps are being taken to further reduce liabilities during 2017 / 2018 and move the club closer to a debt free position?
A: The Clubs revised 5 Year Plan document- `Stockport County- Moving Forward’ included the business objective of changing active shareholder loans from debt to equity for 2016/17.This remains the objective and achievable.
Q.Attendances have increased strongly over the last few months, including a record league attendance for FC United. What is the revised projected profit / loss to 30th Jun 2017?
A: The Club is anticipating a small profit for the current year, which compares with a loss of £100k last year. The Club has also supported the Manager’s budget, increasing this during the season when required.
Q: a) What is the club’s view on policing at Edgeley Park on a match days, and why was the FCUM game made all ticket?
A: The Club is working with the Safety Advisory Committee to ensure that, as far as possible, policing costs are kept to a minimum. After the Chorley game there should not be any further costs this season.
The Police response at home games, is influenced by reports from away fixtures, and the Club sees pitch encroachments / flare throwing as unhelpful in combating the argument for extra police at games.
The experience of previous fixtures with FCUM influenced the decision to make the game all ticket. In the event the Club worked with the police nearer match day and made significant late improvements ( sales of tickets on day etc). Not perfect `solutions’ but concessions negotiated non the less.
Q: The ‘free tickets for schools’ is an excellent initiative and is essential for building future generations of support. Can the club consider a strategy to encourage families that attend on a free ticket to return?
A: Yes , the Club would be supportive of such ideas.
Q: For future all ticket games, can we have assurances that late opening hours will be announced earlier next time there is a similar situation, rather than it being in response to people moaning?
For the Salford game, is the game going to be played at their home ground? If so, how many tickets are we getting? Are the club happy with that amount? How will tickets be allocated to fans?
A: Sale of tickets will be to Season Ticket holders commencibg Thursday 9 March. Full details on COWS.
01 March 2017:
Saturday March 4th sees an amazing double header, after the game with Chorley FC.
Immediately after the game, at the Bungalow Club on Hardcastle Road, a presentation of the 2016-17 SCAN certificates will be made to those members of the current County playing squad, who qualified for this rare honour by turning out for the Club in the first round proper of the FA Cup.
The evening will commence at 17.45 and the list of players up to receive certificates from the Supporters Cooperative off shoot( SCAN) includes Josh Amis, Jimmy Ball, Max Cartwright, Michael Clarke, Ben Hinchcliffe, Danny Lloyd, Sam Minihan, Lewis Montrose, Mark Ross, Chris Smalley, John Marsden and Kayodi Odejayi.
SCAN are looking for County fans to present( particularly younger fans) to current players, but will ask for a £10 donation to help cover the cost of the certificates.
Anyone interested should drop us a line to email@example.com
Also on the same evening, County fans get the opportunity to support the family of Chris Thompson , a County fan who sadly passed away recently, as from 6pm onwards, at the Fingerpost Hotel, Offerton, there will be a fundraiser in support of Chris’s family.
The evening will feature a DJ and Karaoke , some quiet rooms for those seeking tranquillity, an auction of some terrific items twixt 8pm and 9pm, and a Grand Raffle.
Raffle Tickets are obtainable via Damian Beaumont or Katye Ebbage.
Further event details can be found on the event facebook page:
On other matters, the anticipated meeting between the respective boards of Stockport County and the Stockport County Supporters Cooperative, has had to be re-scheduled.
This will now take place tomorrow ( 2 March 2017) and a full report will be included in this column next week.
And…..I am reliably informed that crack quizzers `Coop Elite’ fancy their chances of making a comeback, following their third placing behind winners ` Norfolk & Chance’ and the oddly named `Ken Dodd’s Dad’s Dead Dog’, last time out, when the County Quiz went on tour to the New Mills FC Social Club.
This time, on Saturday 11 March 2017, the County Quiz returns to the popular Stockport bar `The Spinning Top’ near the Garrick Theatre, and organiser John Giles tells me that teams are gagging to see that last times `top three’ have competition on the 11th, .
It all starts at 17.30 after County’s game with Curzon Ashton, and entries ( teams or individuals) cost £20 per 5 person team or £4 per person, and should by sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally….do not forget that members of the Supporters Cooperative board will be present in the Cheadle End Car Park Cabin pre-match on 4th and 11th March from 1.30 until 2.30, to answer your questions, take membership sign up’s and renewals, and sell or receive donated items ( County shirts, scarves , shoes, hats) in support of the Guardian Account.
22 February 2017:
With the Supporters Cooperative re-doubling their efforts in support of the Guardian Account, and having enlisted the help of additional help and expertise to ease the burden along the way, it was good that I was able to catch up with events prime movers Dave Marchbank and John Giles at the weekend.
The duo were effusive in their delight at recent happenings.
The Events Team have again secured the agreement of CAMRA to the staging of a `County Night’ at the 2017 Stockport Beer & Cider Festival which will again go ahead at Edgeley Park in June.
The Supporters Cooperative will once more host the evening, and Dave enthused about ideas aimed at attracting supporters to the Thursday night.
A Shirt Exhibition is a possibility , as is a link up to the upcoming `County Museum’, but these remain early thoughts and no more and Dave stressed that he would welcome ideas for the Thursday night from County supporters, who should direct same to email@example.com
Dave and John have been working closely recently with Tim Rowson, one of the new faces enlisted to provide a touch more expertise as we go. Tim has established the Supporters Coop eBay account in support of the Guardian Account and this can be reached at http://www.ebay.co.uk/usr/countyco-op,
Giles meanwhile is well on with the Stockport Hatters Half Marathon, a race he pioneered 2 years ago, and which this year is on Sunday 3 September at 09.30.
The Events Team have enlisted the help of runner Rebecca Sykes in their quest for expertise, and are looking to make the third Hatters Half the best yet!
In this respect Giles indicated that a number of local clubs already had the race in their race calendar, and he expressed to me the hope that Stockport Harriers would soon follow suit!
If you are a runner taking part in a local race expect to see someone handing out a leaflet for the Hatters Half soon , or if you would like to take a few dozen leaflets from us to distribute at a race you are competing in, then please e mail firstname.lastname@example.org
The Half Marathon, now an established, well thought of ,road and trail race, is by far the Supporters Cooperatives largest contributor to the Guardian Account.
In second place as far as Guardian Account sources of income is concerned, is the Cheadle End Cabin, which on match days attracts much interest from County fans, pre- match.
A tidy sum has been raised via the cabin, from where County memorabilia is sold in support of the Guardian Account, between 1.30 and 2.30.
Shirts are by far the most popular line but we also sell and receive donations of hats, scarves and a few badges.
No doubt John and Dave will be around at some point after 1.30, so why not catch their eye and start a conversation!
15 February 2017:
Stockport County have been in existence since 1883, providing structure to supporters Saturdays from season to season, with varying fortunes. From the highs of an eighth place finish in Division One in 1998 to the lows of relegation to the Conference North more recently, the one constant amidst all the ups, downs, victories, draws and defeats is a remarkably loyal fan base.
That loyalty has been tested more than ever in recent seasons, goodness knows we have suffered, and with little in the way of tangible assets it is a small wonder that Stockport County Football Club remain alive to this day.
But where there is life, there is hope and where there is love, there is passion.
We passionately believe that supporters are the greatest asset of any football club and deserve a greater influence over how their club is managed.
Consider this…… had County supporters had £50k available to invest when the 2015 consortium was formed, a 10% stake in Stockport County may have been acquired, and supporters could have played an even greater part in the slow but significant progress towards stability achieved since at the Club.
Hypothetical of course, but with County Supporters help we really can make a difference.
We can leave the past in the past and work towards a better future, in the Football League.
An example of this proactive approach is the Players Fund, set up by County supporters and Co-op member Steve Gibbon to attract donations from fans wanting to help the manager improve his playing squad.
But an improved playing squad doesn’t help address the issue of County not benefiting from owning tangible assets.
This, therefore, inspires the simple aim of the Supporters’ Co-operative Guardian Account: we want to secure a sustainable future for Stockport County and we feel that the way to achieve this is to build up a significant collectively-owned lump sum to invest in the club, in genuine, equal partnership with other like-minded investors. It can, and will, make a major difference, acquiring a stake for supporters in the club and securing assets for the benefit of the club. Only by working together will we become stronger.
In this respect the Supporters Cooperative initiated the Guardian Account, which has now gone beyond £31000, and we have placed it in the forefront of our thoughts and actions in recent years, and discussions with the Club regarding same are expected to take place in the upcoming Supporters Cooperative/ Stockport County Board meeting.
With James Gannon running the show on the park, we are in safe hands, but we are determined to weigh in and give what support we can in the Clubs journey back to where we rightfully belong.
The supporters can and do play a vital role in all this and the Guardian Account is a potent tool to have at our disposal.
You can contribute to the Guardian Account on match days by either buying or donating County shirts, scarves, hats etc at the Cheadle End Car Park, between 1.30 and 2.30.
08 February 2017:
These are busy times for the Stockport County Supporters Cooperative.
On the 16 February we are due to meet with the Stockport County Board to discuss issues of import including questions raised by members. These are invariably useful meetings twixt the two boards, which give both organisations a chance to air views and consult with the other. For ourselves it is an invaluable means whereby we can keep the County Board/ Stockport County Supporter link open, ensuring our members views are known to the Club. It’s a link that I know our members value greatly, and a full report following the meeting will be released as soon as possible.
Cooperative Board member responsible for membership, Billy Byrne, has been particularly busy of late, and is already preparing for a future membership drive, to again boost the Cooperative’s already mighty Blue & White Army of 470 further.
Billy is spearheading a re-branding exercise for the Supporters Cooperative, which will include the introduction of individual membership cards, and a `share certificate’ for all who sign up for membership of the organisation. Further and better information on this will follow in due course.
Meanwhile, if you have a question on membership or any other matter, Cooperative Board members will be present on match days in the Cheadle End Car Park Cabin between 1.30 and 2.30. You can also buy a County shirt from us, donated to us by members to re-sell in support of the Guardian Account or donate an item for re-sale.
As reported in this column last week, the 2017 Hatters Half Marathon is off the drawing board, and Race Director John Giles is well on with his plans. He is currently awaiting certain Stockport Area Committee approvals , before the race can be launched in a blaze of publicity, but these are anticipated to be in hand soon.
Obviously this magnificent race forms the main focus for us in 2017, but we are also well on with the organisation of another `County Quiz’ which is set to go ahead on 11 March at the Spinning Top, next to the Garrick Theatre. The usual…successful…formulae will apply namely loads of fun stoked up by good, none eye wateringly difficult, questions, decent ale, good food, and prizes all hosted expertly by Cooperative Board member Nick Lee.
A further `5 A Side Tournament’ is also in the offing, and we plan a meeting with Stockport County’s brilliant Community Foundation, to discuss same.
Add a possible further edition of our occasional conversation piece `Coop Talking’ ( subjects being sorted right now) which debuted in 2016, and the upcoming launch of the Supporters Cooperative’s ` You Tube Account’ , and 2017 starts to look like a very interesting year indeed for the Cooperative and its members.
01 February 2017:
With pre planning for the third Stockport Hatters Half Marathon just underway, Race Director John Giles and his team of workers were given a major boost ,from Robinsons Brewery .
The popular Stockport Brewer confirmed that they would again place themselves at the head of the massive community effort that is this fast growing, and nationally known road and trail race.
Asked to comment Giles told the Stockport Express ` I am delighted to know that Robinson’s Brewery will again, for the third year in three, be supporting the race as its Premier Corporate Partner. Continuing, Giles offered ` Robinson’s support enables us to get out of the blocks early, organisationally speaking, ensuring the race continues to grow, their input is greatly valued ‘
This year’s race starts outside Edgeley Park at 09.30 on Sunday 3 September 2017.
Entry costs £18 affiliated runners, and £20 for un-affiliated, and anyone willing to join `Team Hatters Half’ and help out ( and earn a race goody bag) on race day, can get information via this facebook page…..
Last weekend saw Stockport County Supporters Cooperative take its popular `County Quiz’ on tour, pitching up at the Social Club at New Mills Football Club.
It was always a massive ask, to stray beyond our notional borders, but with the County fan base reaching far into Cheshire and beyond we felt it a risk worth taking, at least John Giles Dave Marchbank, and Nick Lee did, and great credit is due to them!
Nick Lee was the genial Quiz Master again and did a terrific job, posing some decent questions to an unknown and possibly, to a degree, none County audience.
So…there was some trepidation before the first question was aired, but it all went off swimmingly, with 9 teams packing the New Mills FC Social Club. The New Mills Club were absolutely great hosts and amongst those present supporting the event was the New Mills first team fresh from their league game away at Nelson.
The competition was keen throughout, and despite gnarled and battle hardened `Coop Elite’ pulling out all the stops, they were unable to make it 3 wins in three, finishing third, behind `Ken Dodd’s Dad’s Dead Dog .
The exotically named `Ken Dodd’s Dad’s Dead Dog’ were doughty performers, but were just edged out of the honours by ` Norfolk and Chance’ who won out by just one point!
The evening was a big success and raised almost £200 for the Guardian Account which was boosted to £31200.
Buoyed by the success of this most unlikely of efforts, Giles, Marchbank and Lee have plumped for a repeat closer to home, so…diaries out please, to note that the next `County Quiz’ will be at the Spinning Top, on the A6 near the Garrick Theatre, on Saturday 11 March 2017.
25 January 2017:
I have, unfortunately, not been able to attend the last 3 County games- a rare and unwelcome set of circumstances from my viewpoint.
Fortunately however, on each occasion, I have been able to tune in to Pure FM, and listen to the excellent commentary provided by Jon Keighren via the Stockport broadcaster.
Jon is a terrific commentator but is not averse to assistance along the way, and in this respect, thanks to welcome sponsorship from Sapphire Accounting, he gets it.
The sponsor provides Co-Commentators for a large portion of County’s season, but they have generously allowed the Supporters Cooperative to continue providing cover on a decent number of occasions throughout the season.
This continues the service we have offered to our members for a number of years now, and we are delighted to keep the tradition going, whilst at the same time giving members of the Supporters Cooperative an insight into the media world….and a rather neat experience to boot, with matches at home and away offered!
At Brackley last week, County Historian, and staunch Supporters Cooperative member Marcus Heap took to the microphone, and did a terrific job, and Cooperative Chair Peter Towey is earmarked for an appearance later this season, but mainly it is rank and file members who fill the commentating spots, and we know from the feedback from them that the experience is enjoyed by all.
The above is just one more reason why supporters of Stockport County should seriously consider joining the Stockport County Supporters Cooperative.
There are others of course…..having a say in County’s future from within the largest Stockport County supporters organisation in existence. We have regular contacts with the Board of Stockport County and our members views, and questions that give a voice to those views , regularly form the basis for our discussions with the Club.
Through our small but perfectly organised Events Team, spearheaded by Dave Marchbank and John Giles, we also offer a prodigious number of events, in and out of season. These mostly are fund raisers in support of the Guardian Account, but there is always a requirement to provide entertainment, and in events like the `Xmas Cavort ‘and `County Quiz’ which last week went on tour to New Mills, this is present in shed loads.
That said we also look to involve our members , and others, in community events and in this regard the prestigious `Hatters Half Marathon’ is just that, attracting 700+ entries and doing much to enhance the Club and Town’s reputations.
All reasons to be cheerful, and to join us in these efforts.
We are always taking renewals and new memberships and these can be sorted via our web site https://webcollect.org.uk/mem/index.php?page=login&action=login.sign_in_or_sign_up , by contact with Membership Secretary Billy Byrne at email@example.com or by calling in at the Cheadle End Cabin on match days from 1.30 until 2.30. You can also help boost the Guardian Account further by donating memorabilia at the Cabin ( shirts , hats, scarves etc).
18 January 2017:
I have talked, via this column, about the `County Family’ and there was more evidence for suggesting, this past week, that it not only exists but is positively thriving.
The County Family is not an inward looking entity but has community links, and following the magnificent effort pre-Xmas by County supporters the Supporters Cooperative was able to follow up the previously delivered large amount of donated items to the Wellspring, with a further delivery along with cash donations left with us for the Stockport homeless charity.
After the weekend the focus went even wider as County Historian Marcus Heap travelled all the way to the Isle of Wight to locate ex County star from the 1966/67 season, Keith Allen, ahead of a planned reunion in April of that season’s Championship winning team.
When Marcus asked Keith Allen if he would bring his medal to the reunion, it was clear that Keith was upset, and he explained that he did not receive a medal. Keith left halfway through the season having clocked up 23 league games.
When this news broke, the County Family sprung into action again, and an appeal went out for donations to ensure we could raise £700 to cover the cost of acquiring a Football League exact gold replica. Just 2 and one half days later the fund had reached £800 and Keith would get his medal thanks to the generosity of the County Family.
Moving on to this week-end and the Stockport arm of the County Family are reaching out in the direction of County exiles in High Peak district.
This Saturday, 21 January, the Supporters Cooperative takes its popular Quiz Night on tour, from 6pm, at the New Mills Football Club, with prizes and raffle etc to supplement the well pitched, none eye wateringly difficult, questions devised by Quiz Master Nick Lee.
Things are starting to roll now and along with 2 Stockport teams definitely signed up ( Ken Dodd’s Dad’s Dead Dog and Coop Elite), the YB are likely to put a team together . Red Hatter is putting a High Peak team in, and New Mills FC are putting at least one team in ( possibly as many as 4), and one of these is the New Mills first team – the event being used by the club’s new manager as a team bonding exercise.
As mentioned above…two time winners `Coop Elite ‘are in the mix again, and their belief in being able to retain their title displays a confidence bordering on complacency- how very dare they!
Come on County fans …spoil Coop Elite’s Saturday…enter a team, or as an individual via firstname.lastname@example.org – no team?…… we will sort one for you and at £3 a person what’s not to like?
11 January 2017:
Last weeks Stockport Express carried, via this column, a new year message from Supporters Cooperative Chairman Peter Towey. This week Peter found himself chairing the first meeting of the Cooperative Board of 2017.
The small back room in the Alexandra public house was almost full as the meeting started with the Chair welcoming newly co-opted member Ed Keane to his first board meeting , along with returning co-optee Paul Thompson, who provides invaluable Webmaster services to the group.
John Giles gave a report back on the meeting between the Club and Cooperative boards, where we had advanced sight of the Club accounts. It was agreed we seek a copy of the full accounts from the Club.
Part of the reason that the room was so crowded was the fact that a large monitor took up a fair amount of room space. The purpose of this was to facilitate a Power Point Presentation by Giles, on the future of the Guardian Account. This was splendidly presented and well received, following which it was agreed to give further consideration as to ultimate actions on the Guardian Account at the next meeting.
Catering at Edgeley Park was discussed at length following our observations at the Cheadle End bar at half time during the match with Harrogate. Many complaints have been received about slow to non – existent service and it was agreed that we raise the matter with the Club at the earliest opportunity.
Regarding the upcoming County Museum, consultations were in hand twixt the Cooperative and Help the Hatters on the subject. The Draft Inventory of Museum Exhibits had now been produced, and Help the Hatters were looking for someone to type the exhibit labels for the Museum.
Paul Charnock’s Financial Report indicated that the Cooperative continued to be in rude health financially speaking- the Guardian Account sitting at £ 30.8k and General Fund at £ 5.3k.
Under Events, satisfaction was recorded at the recent events that had done so well, amongst them the 5 A Side Tournament, won by the impressive Stockport County Community Foundation team. This was a resounding success. The Xmas Cavort was less so, but both events raised nice amounts for the Guardian Account, whilst the Christmas Carol Concert proved a great community effort and raised our profile significantly.
Upcoming events include New Mills Quiz Night on 21 January and possibly some Table Top Sales in the winter months, but looking further ahead it was noted that a date ( Sunday 3 September 2017) had been provisionally set for the Hatters Half Marathon, and we were already negotiating with Stockport and Manchester Council’s on the necessary permissions.
In Any Other Business a discussion took place regarding an event in honour of the late Chris Thompson. This was likely to be in March, and the Cooperative agreed to get involved providing, amongst other things, raffle prizes and publicity etc.
The meeting concluded fairly late on, but …all in all a decent amount of work had been sorted.
04 January 2017:
As Chair of the Stockport County Supporters Cooperative, I would like to wish you all a Happy New Year!
Over the last few years a tradition has grown up that the County Supporters’ Co-op organises a “Christmas Cavort” at a local pub so that all members can let their hair down and enjoy a festive frolic. This Christmas the cavort was held at the Spinning Top (near the Hat Museum) and was enjoyed by one and all. During the proceedings, we had no less a guest than Father Christmas himself. One of the County fans asked Santa if he could give County promotion as a present this year, and Saint Nick promised he would do his best.
Will that Christmas wish come true?
At the time of writing County are just outside the play-off zone. We have won our last five games. County’s board has issued accounts showing a steady improvement in the financial position. The crowds, already by far the best in our league, are growing. We have a manager whose judgement and understanding of the game is second to none.
The situation is also looking good for the Supporters’ Co-operative. Our creaking and complex membership system has been finally sorted-out and member numbers are growing. The Guardian Account, which exists to acquire fan-owned assets for the club, stands at £30,000+ and it is hoped that in this new year an exciting new initiative for the account will be unveiled (keep tuned for details!) The Co-op organised many successful events in 2016 and many more are planned for 2017.
Our journey back to where we belong, in the Football League, will not be an easy one, and I’m sure there will be disappointments as well as triumphs. But there is definitely a feeling that the journey has begun and, at long last, we are beginning to head in the right direction. We can all play our part in this journey. I would urge all County fans to join the Supporters’ Co-op – it will give you a say in determining our future. The club listen to our views – by joining us you can make sure that your voice is heard.
If we all pull together we can achieve things that we can’t as individuals. Let’s all get behind Jim Gannon and the team. Who knows – perhaps Santa will deliver after all!
Stockport County Supporters Cooeprative.
28 December 2016:
I have been struck by the number of times recently I have heard the term `County Family’ used.
The context is usually a positive one maybe whereby County supporters had combined their wit and energies in a good cause. In this respect there was the Michelle Wheatley Appeal, that touched the hearts of many and was so typical of the `County Family’ responding well to a crisis. There have been other examples , and all of them have seen County fans, at all levels from board level to walk-up fan, involved, moving small mountains in a good cause!
For our part, the Supporters Cooperative has maintained its links with Stockport Homeless Charity-the Wellspring, and it has been a joy to see all sections of the Club respond to our appeals so generously….so often!
So….I think the `County Family’ does exist, and probably at the head of same is the County Club Board, and that board (with the Supporters Cooperative holding a watching brief) is made up of County fans and is making great strides in returning County to long term stability.
They are not alone……the full time staff at Edgeley Park is very small indeed, but they see that the day to day stuff, so vital in keeping the Club alive, is sorted.
Then…there is the army of volunteers , led by Help the Hatters, who play a major role in keeping the stadium in good repair- 52 weeks of the year! The Supporters Cooperative are proud to be associated with Help the Hatters , and to have been involved with them on such ongoing projects as the County Museum, the Bungalow and the Hatters Half Marathon. Another family member is the Stockport County Community Foundation, who do magnificent work with the schools inside and outside the Borough. It has been great to link up with the Community Foundation and we look forward to cooperating further in the future.
So…..it is more than possible to believe that, despite , or perhaps because of past hardships and tribulations for County, the supporters of the Club, do buy into the idea of a `County Family’ and more than that- keep it and the Club , alive with their energies.
The Supporters Cooperative is very much a part of the `County Family’.
To join us contact email@example.com or call in at the cabin in the Cheadle End Car Park on match days between 1.30 and 2.30
21 December 2016:
If I am at all honest ,I will admit that when the Supporters Cooperative first settled on organising their now annual 5 A Side Tournament, there was pretty much only one aim, namely to provide members and others with a fun event when perhaps the wearisome burden of keeping that Xmas smile going is beginning to take its toll.
It’s a no brainer really…..December 27th….a couple of days after a major blow out…what you need is …less jingle bells and some good family fun in the great British out doors! We agreed on the Stockport Powerleague on Craig Road early doors as the multi pitch venue is ideal, and offers a chance to relax twixt games inside when competitors and spectators can unwind and maybe take on much needed liquids.
There was no real thought that we were offering an event that would contribute greatly to the physical well being of those taking part, but really, the event does offer a great opportunity to exercise limbs ill used over the festive season.
Loads of our members agreed and we quickly signed up 7 teams setting us on course to match the 12 team turn out of last season.
To date we have Yellowboard, Urmston Hatters, Rubber Souls, Alz Barberz, Ajax Trees Down, Exeter Quickly and Jimmy Sevilla, lining up on the 27th. Registration is at 12 noon and kick off 12.30, so why not get your team signed up?
It costs £5 per person, and squads are limited to 7 players- entries to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Tournament is very competitive and is taken seriously by all who commit to competing , and a tremendous advert for the Cooperative and its Events Team who work so hard throughout the year.
A token of just how hard was revealed at the weekend , when all the stops were pulled out in support of the Wellsprings `Rucksack Project’. The Cooperative were in the Cheadle End Cabin, before Saturday’s game with Altrincham, taking donations from supporters, and I must say that the response from fans was simply excellent. Much was collected and will be delivered to the Stockport homeless charity soon as possible.
After the game ,in the evening, the Events Team focus switched to the Spinning Top where the Cooperative’s `Christmas Cavort’ took place. This was another splendid event ,one that created just the right level of yuletide conviviality! Everyone enjoyed themselves and a decent amount was raised via the landlords donation and the raffle , to the Guardian Account.
Move on to Sunday and it was back to Edgeley Park where ,in the Conference Centre, Stockport County, in cooperation with the Supporters Cooperative and Stockport Family Church staged the `Christmas Carol Concert’. This was a first timer as events go, but we were pleased to be involved helping it be the success it was.
14 December 2016:
The relationship between football player and football supporter can, at times, be somewhat mercurial. Some players incur the ire of fans from the off and thereafter never find a way into supporters affections. Others gain the respect and even that sought after affection of those that pay their money each week to watch them play. Then there are a small band of players whose extraordinary exploits in County colours propel them to the status of Legend, and Tommy Sword is one such!
Tommy came to County from Non League Bishop Auckland in 1979, and was an instant hit with County fans- scoring twice on his full debut ( away to Hartlepool) securing his team, who had been 1-0 down earlier, a welcome 2-1 win.
When centre half Les Bradd sustained an injury, later that season, Swords was converted to a central defender, where his height and enthusiasm ensured the switch was a great success. Tommy completed the season at the back, and all the following term, still managing to score with reasonable regularity.
A serious injury then kept Tommy sidelined for over 12 months, but Tommy’s fire could not be doused, and he returned to successful action eventually racking up 270 appearances for County for whom he scored a magnificent tally of 55 goals. But it was not Tommy’s statistics that made him stand out from others around him- it was his energy….enthusiasm and unquenchable spirit that made him a star and a total hero to County supporters.
Amazingly……with the visit of Darlington to Edgeley Park on 21 January 2017, Stockport County have pulled off a coup. They have enticed the usually elusive hero to head over from Darlington, where he now resides, and take in the game.
Happily Tommy will also be attending County’s Corporate Hospitality prior to the Darlington game, so County fans will be able to catch up with Tommy and another County idol Osher Williams, and enjoy a fine meal.
Personally I cannot think of a better way of kicking the new year off.
To enjoy hospitality on the 21 January, supporters should contact Simon Dawson on 07469152495 or email@example.com
Before that, on 17 December prior to County’s game with Altrincham, the Supporters Cooperative will be in the Cheadle End Cabin from 1.30 until 2.30 collecting County memorabilia for re-sale in support of the Guardian Account, and donations to the Wellsprings Rucksack Project( which we will also be collecting on Sunday 18th before the Carol Concert at Edgeley Park).
You can also catch us, and join us, after the game on Saturday 17 at the Spinning Top, where the popular Christmas Cavort takes place. Entry is free and a great time guaranteed!
07 December 2016:
I have used before the analogy of the duck serenely drifting on the water whilst its legs feverishly belt away under the surface, to attempt to illustrate the work done behind the scenes at Clubs like Stockport County.
In their 133 year history, Stockport County have had more senior players than any other English Premiership or Football League club (over 1300 players). To celebrate this fact, the Supporters Cooperative decided that every player who has ever played a senior game for the Club , at FL or FA Cup level, would be issued with a unique acknowledgement of this fact in the form of a framed, wax stamped certificate lovingly hand crafted by our Calligrapher Brian Dixon. Thus, with the help and support of the Supporters Cooperative, SCAN was born, and a small team of dedicated individuals set about putting this unique scheme together.
The specially commissioned SCAN certificates are all presented by a Stockport County supporter, to the player ,former player or descendant.
Yours truly enjoyed the honour of being able to present the SCAN certificate to former County player Mike Harold with whom I went to school in the 1950’s, and many other County supporters have enjoyed the same privilege in the 6 years that SCAN has been in existence.
The Scheme was launched at Edgeley Park on Saturday 16th October 2010 when a group of former players and descendents were invited back as guests of Stockport County to attend the County v Barnet game. Immediately after the game a presentation evening took place with the then current playing squad, former players and families, all taking part along with a huge gathering of County supporters eager to present certificates to players and former players. It was a splendidly emotional occasion which included the splendid sight of the oldest surviving former County player George Haigh receiving his SCAN certificate from the youngest- Paul Turnbull.
The scheme is a fans initiative and the Supporters Cooperative is proud to be associated with it and pays full tribute to the SCAN guardians who ensure the scheme survives even though County now find themselves outside the Football League.
But these situations are not permanent, and all at the Club are convinced that James Gannon will see County back in the Football League.
And……the improved form that James has brought to the team, recently resulted in County reaching the first round proper of the FA Cup for the first time for a while- so a fresh batch of SCAN certificates were commissioned, for the current County squad who played against Woking, and I can tell you that these are now being produced to facilitate a SCAN Presentation Evening some time soon!
To find out about SCAN, go to http://gogogocounty.org/scan/scanindex.html
30 November 2016:
We are rapidly heading towards the time of year when things get a touch hectic and very much more expensive, but we thought you would like advance notice of what the Supporters Cooperative has planned over the next couple of months.
There’s a range of events planned by our small but perfectly motivated Events Team.
Starting with 17 December Cabin support for Wellspring Rucksack Appeal.
Board members will be in the Cheadle End Cabin collecting donations in support of the Wellsprings `Rucksack Appeal’ More details closer to the time.
On the same day, when of course County take on Altrincham, we will be staging our popular Christmas Cavort, at the Spinning Top. There will be a raffle, music provided by a top band ,food, and entry will be free. So again look out for further details , this one is not to be missed!
One day later ….18 December we are joining the Stockport County Club, and the Stockport Family Church.org.uk for the Stockport County Christmas Carol Concert, which takes place at 3pm in the Edgeley Park Conference Centre in support of the Wellspring. That one is in a massively good cause and well worth support- and again its free to enter!
On then to 27 December and the 2017 Supporters Cooperative 5 A Side Tournament which again takes place at the Stockport Powerleague . Further and better details will follow soon, but if you cannot wait to get your team accepted, and blow away the affects of Christmas over endulgence, contact firstname.lastname@example.org to enter -£5 per person ( max 7 man squads)
Then….into the New Year and Nick Lee takes the Supporters Cooperative Quiz on Tour on 21 January . The recently revamped event was a big success at the ST ,but to acknowledge the great contribution exiled County fans make to our County family, we have taken the quiz to New Mills FC where a magnificent evening is in prospect
That’s all for now as far as events go, but be aware that, as usual, you can find Cooperative Board members in the Cheadle End Cabin on Saturday match days taking renewals and sign up memberships, answering questions and receiving and selling donated items of memorabilia ( shirts etc) in support of the Guardian Account. The sale of shirts has made a great contribution to the Guardian Account and we again appeal for donations of County memorabilia which can be dropped off in the Cheadle End Cabin on match days.
Also on every home match day, be it Tuesday or Saturday, Mike the landlord of the Spinning Top ( near the Garrick Theatre on the A6) donates 10% of takings (5 until 8pm Saturdays/ until closing Tuesdays) to the Guardian Account. Well worth a visit!
23 November 2016:
The 2016 AGM of the Stockport County Supporters Cooperative , at the Bungalow Club, last Thursday, was a big success. Numbers in attendance were slightly above average for the occasion, but perhaps not as large as anticipated beforehand.
Despite the current board of the Cooperative having performed well over recent years, a challenge was thought a possibility this term as 5 vacancies were up for grabs.
In the event it was a `no show’ as far as any challenge was concerned, and after all the candidates had taken the opportunity to address the meeting and answered questions, current board members Billy Byrne, Dave Marchbank, Pete Towey and Paul Charnock, along with new man Nick Lee, were declared elected.
Before this, Chairman Pete Towey , in his report, spoke with pride of the Cooperatives increase in membership, and improved finances, speaking proudly about the kudos that the Stockport Hatters Half Marathon had brought to the organisation, the Club and the Town!
Further reports were received from Billy Byrne ( Membership), Paul Charnock ( Finance), Ian Brown ( Media & Communications), whilst John Giles and Dave Marchbank shared the task of reporting on Events and Fundraising. All reported a good year’s work.
Paul Charnock’s Treasurers Report was particularly well received as he pointed to the improved financial position. The Hatters Half Marathon took pride of place in the Events and Fundraising Report, but it was just one of a plethora of events that have been and are still being organised – all raising money for the Guardian Account. Some additional and welcome news was that a date had been provisionally set for the 2017 Hatters Half which was pencilled in for Sunday 3 September 2017.
Another top performer this year had been Billy Byrne, who pointed to a massive increase in membership ( currently at 476), and a vastly more efficient membership system that had facilitated this. Billy’s report drew applause from the members present!
The latter part of the meeting took in a discussion, initiated by the Cooperative board, on the Guardian Account. The board sought permission to seek to talk with interested parties on the ultimate future of Edgeley Park, and the possible role of the Guardian Account in this, with a view to bringing back particular formal proposals to a future members meeting. The meeting gave its unanimous approval of this proposal.
The meeting concluded, with applause ringing out, at 9.25.
16 November 2016:
In January 2015, the Stockport County Supporter’s Co-operative launched the Guardian Account, with a view to acquiring an asset on behalf of the football club – which would be owned by our supporters.
The objective of the Guardian Account was initially kept flexible, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, because the Co-op wanted to build up a notable sum to demonstrate credibility and provide a statement of intent, in any discussions with any relevant parties and secondly, because the situation at the football club is subject to change over time.
During this period, the Co-op board have looked to create structures to generate regular income for the Guardian Account – primarily from events and activities. In September, the 2nd Hatters Half Marathon took place, 561 runners participated, nearly £6,000 profit was achieved and the event received fantastic feedback from the running community.
The cabin in the Cheadle End car park sells football shirts and memorabilia donated by our fans, this is on target to raise £1,600 for the season. Other events include quiz nights, junior / senior tournaments at Power League, the Christmas Cavort, promotions at the Stockport Beer Festival and brewery links with Cryptic Ales and the Spinning Top pub.
Initially launched with a transfer from Co-op funds of £10,000 at our AGM, the balance of the Guardian Account now exceeds £30,000 and is well positioned to increase significantly, due to the structures that the Co-op board have put in place.
At the October Co-op board meeting, a clear purpose and objective for the Account was discussed and the board agreed in principal that our ‘preferred option’ is for the funds to be used to purchase a stake in Edgeley Park. This is to safeguard Edgeley Park for future generations and also provide an asset which can be owned by the fans, via the Co-op.
The Co-op would like to seek approval from our members at the forthcoming AGM on 17th November. If support from our members is secured, the Co-op would look to open negotiations with Stockport County Football Club – and then Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council.
The Guardian Account will remain flexible, should circumstances change, but the Co-op board feel that it is very important to have a clear objective for the Guardian Account going forward – and will enable us to appeal directly to our supporters for support with fund raising.
If you would like to donate – please follow this link to our website: www.countysupporterscoop.co.uk/guardian-account/
09 November 2016:
The Guardian Account stormed beyond £30000 at the weekend thanks to a magnificent effort by County supporters at the Spinning Top where the latest County Quiz night took place!
Yes…..the Supporters Cooperatives County Quiz Night was a great success ,and spirits were high at the Spinning Top as six teams took part, and here is how they finished up after Quiz Master Nick Lee had put them through their paces…..
1. Coop Elite 49 points
2. Dossers Oracles 45 points
3. The Groovy Gang 40 points
4. Yellowboard 36 points
5. Dosser is a Dung 33 points
6. Up the Hatters 31 points
Over £350 was raised for the Guardian Account., via the quiz and the day’s cabin effort, which was great stuff.
The fact that the GA has gathered so much momentum recently is down to County supporters, and massive thanks go out to all those who have contributed whether it be via regular s/o donations……support of the Cheadle End Cabin on match days, or any one of the many events the Supporters Cooperative puts on raising moneys for the Guardian Account.
In this respect it is heartening to see members coming up with innovative ideas and ways to boost the Guardian Account , and recently we have seen one such great idea( the `£5 for the Guardian Account threads running on Marionsboard). This was massively inspirational stuff and Ian Lancashire is to be commended for his efforts, and it was entirely fitting that the moneys Ian handed over on Saturday night ,tipped the fund over the £30k mark.
We were due to meet representatives of the Club Board recently but , due to illness and unavoidable business commitments elsewhere on the Clubs part, this scheduled meeting had to be postponed .
To all those who have submitted questions, we apologise for the delay, but we can assure you that as soon as possible after the rearranged meeting takes place , details of the Clubs answers will be published.
Finally….I reported previously that we had decided to offer some tangible support to the Club, by sponsoring the match ball at the Kidderminster home game.
The sponsorship package gave the Cooperative 8 seats at the pre match hospitality and ,prior to our last board meeting a draw was made from our current members list to find 4 members who would enjoy the hospitality package in the company of their +1.
We are delighted to confirm that the following members were drawn, attended the match and thoroughly enjoyed the occasion .
Oh….and back to the County Quiz Nights , and the word is out that it is going on tour.
Yes….County have a large number of fans all over the north west and thus, as an acknowledgement of this fact, we are taking the Quiz to the New Mills Football Club on January 21st, so watch this column for further and better details of that one!
02 November 2016:
With 17 November, the date of the Supporters Cooperative’s AGM, drawing ever nearer, the board of SCSC are hard at work ensuring arrangements are in hand and are 100% in order. With this in mind they have arranged for the amended version of the Co-op Guide to the Elections, to now be uploaded to http://countysupporters coop.co.uk
There would be a full agenda to work through at the Bungalow on Hardcastle Road on November 17, but the board agreed that time would be found to initiate in depth consideration of the Guardian Account, and its purpose going forward.
The board has long tried to encourage wider participation in the Cooperative’s ongoing work, and have again ,pre AGM, endeavoured to give out all available information to encourage this participation to extend to the election process. Four board members are obliged to retire this year, and I understand that all four are standing again, which is excellent news. With 5 vacant positions up for grabs a contested election is therefore a distinct possibility. If this is so, then a hustings will take place on the evening of the AGM , followed by a ballot of the whole SCSC membership( which now totals 450).
The whole election process has been organised by our Independent Secretary Caroline Burt, in conjunction with another independent official Neil le Milliere of Exeter City Trust who is acting as Returning Officer.
Other important matters being dealt with include a meeting between the Supporters Cooperative board and representatives of the board of Stockport County. A full report of this will appear next week in this column.
In addition the following events are in the pipeline-
Christmas Cavort- 17 December. This was to be held at the Spinning Top this year.
Community Carol Service- 18 December. This will be taking place at Edgeley Park at 3pm.
Power League 5 A Side Competition- 28 or 29 December.
Another 5-a-side tournament is planned for the Christmas period. The above dates are provisional and subject to possible change.
Additionally and finally….. the SCSC board is always present pre match in the Cheadle End Car Park Cabin , answering queries, taking membership renewals and sign ups . We have also been very successfully receiving donated County memorabilia ( shirts etc) for re-sale in the Cabin in support of the Guardian Account. We thank County supporters for their magnificent support that has been instrumental in pushing the Guardian Account to almost £30000, and confirm we will be on hand , in the Cabin, to receive any further donations going forward.
26 October 2016:
Football League Club Exeter City threw a party recently to thank volunteers for their help keeping their club alive..
On the night Supporters’ Trust chairman Laurence Overend paid tribute to the volunteering ethos at Exeter City and manager Paul Tisdale also praised their work in his post-match comments. Tisdale likened the situation to an iceberg in which above the waterline was the League team and associated staff, with vastly more going on below the waterline which goes unseen, and keeps their Club going.
Whilst I preferred the analogy of…duck on water…..calm and serene above….legs going like the clappers below the surface, to the somewhat portentous iceberg reference, the words on volunteers rang a distinct bell.
Of course Exeter are not alone in drawing on an army of unpaid helpers to keep going, and Stockport County, from Board level down throughout the organisation you will always be bumping into someone working hard for zero pay sustained by a love of the football club.
Our sister supporters group Help the Hatters typify the ethos that burns ever brighter at Edgeley Park through thick and thin.
This week ,after the Thursday Working Party’s had ceased for the season, Help the Hatters set about turning Monday into a day that as a group they could turn their hand to again helping the Club. Thus the Monday Club was formed and already as this article goes out they have met 3 times ( at 10am ) at Edgeley Park and done excellent work weeding the playing surface or doing a litter pick on the various stands.
Great stuff…. and added to all the other good work Help the Hatters do, it makes you proud to be a Stockport County supporter. For our part , the Supporters Cooperative, through our work organising such huge events as the Hatter Half Marathon, that require a massive body of volunteers, and a multitude of other events, values very much our links with Help the Hatters.
It seems that Stockport is well blessed as far as volunteering is concerned and over the last 2 or 3 years the Cooperative have been aware of just what magnificent work Stockport charity the Wellspring do on behalf of the homeless people of the Borough.
With this in mind we instituted a winter appeal for donations of food , toiletries and warm clothing to see the Wellspring clients through what could be a very cold winter indeed.
The response from Stockport County supporters was truly excellent and , despite very heavy rain throughout Sunday, we were able to deliver 2 van loads of donated items to the charity who were very pleased to receive them.
Finally….back to the duck analogy….and whilst it is clear the volunteer culture at the Club fostered by Help the Hatters and ourselves thrives( and keeps the legs moving)…..the above surface continues to go from good to even better under James Gannon’s leadership….duck type serenity?…possibly not….but getting there…. and the FA Cup game with Woking gives the people of Stockport another chance to get down to EP and see for themselves.
See you there!
19 October 2016:
In the Stockport Express of 5 October, I confirmed that after much hard work, a notable double had been achieved namely the Guardian Account reaching £27000 and Supporters Cooperative membership hitting 400, well I can now update you…the respective figures now stand at £29000 and 436 respectively, which is really excellent news!
Our AGM is almost upon us, and members will already have received a letter from our Independent Secretary along with the formal Call for Nominations. Between now and 17 November, they will be receiving further material relevant to the AGM and we urge them to attend the Bungalow at 7.30pm on the 17 November and play a full part in the decisions taken.
Meanwhile the Supporters Cooperative wanted to do something tangible to help the Club, and with this in mind, have agreed to be match ball sponsors for the Kidderminster game on Saturday 29 October. As part of the sponsorship deal, we get 8 corporate places at the game, and the plan is to do a draw on the 24th October ( at our next board meeting).
We will draw 4 members names and they will each be given 2 tickets to be the Clubs guests on the day, the corporate deal is pre match meal with drinks, seats in the directors box and the signed match ball, winners will be notified on 25th October.
The same Kidderminster fixture also sees the next big Supporters Cooperative event , the Quiz Night , taking place that evening.
This years event is being held at the Spinning Top, near the Garrick Theatre on the A6 , and a terrific night is in prospect.
We have taken note of feedback from last year about the eye watering nature of some of the questions competitors were faced with, and we are assured( by Quiz Master/ Podcaster Nick Lee) that the content this year will have a very definite fun element about it- and food will be available!
Already 4 teams have signed up ( £20 per team/max 5 players per team) …….. Up the Hatters…..Yellowboard……The Groovy Gang ……and…..Coop Board …. So why not join them by contacting email@example.com ?
We can confirm that …thus far there are a substantial number of questions due to be raised with the Club by ourselves when we meet them on 27 October. The cut off date for question submission to us is 19 October, and questions should be directed to
A report from the meeting will be published as soon as possible afterwards.
In other matters…. look out for news of a possible cooperation between the Supporters Cooperative and the Stockport County Community Foundation !
12 October 2016:
Last week’s Stockport Express highlighted how the Stockport County family is coming together in support of Manager James Gannon.
As part of the County family the Supporters Cooperative has happily played its part in this process.
Whilst we have been justifiably engaged in trying to look after the future by consistently boosting the Guardian Account (GA) via a whole host of events and other activities, we have been clear about our objectives going forward which remain to continue to represent diligently the interests of our members.
We have continued to support the efforts of the current board of the Club where appropriate, whilst retaining and using the right to raise issues on behalf of our members when necessary . Part of building a strong Stockport County, in our view, involves ensuring the Supporters Cooperative has a growing….informed membership, and we will continue to ensure this is so! This membership reached 421 last Wednesday !
On membership, we will continue to encourage members to renew and non members join on line or via the Cheadle End Cabin which offers fans without on line access an easy point of contact with the board who can be questioned on any issue. Membership can be renewed and non members recruited via this route!
We, regularly encourage supporters to visit the Bungalow before games and thus boost the Players Fund. The Stockport County Supporter’s Co-operative fully supports this initiative driven by Help the Hatters , and the work of Help the Hatters in this and other areas of the Club are both inspirational and magnificently practical , thus well worthy of support in our opinion!
We cannot be happy with our status as part of Division 6 in the football pyramid, and will give James Gannon and the Club all the support needed to gain promotion out of it as soon as possible. This may not happen this year, but James Gannon is assuredly the right man to see the job done in this respect- given time and support from supporters and Club.
The Supporters Co-op believes that the best way to achieve success is by ensuring the best structures are in place. For this reason, we have placed sustained pressure on the club board to achieve financial stability, write down / write off shareholder debt and secure Edgeley Park (which is now under Council ownership).
Currently we have a Club Board that, is slowly bringing stability and probity back to the Club, thus helping to secure the Club’s future.
The Supporters Cooperative board are delighted to join the rest of the County family in helping to make that future the brightest possible!
05 October 2016:
The Supporters Cooperative clocked up a notable double whammy earlier this week – the culmination of months of hard work by the current Cooperative Board.
First off Race Director John Giles confirmed the returns from this year’s Hatters Half Marathon , and the surplus from that event pushed the Guardian Account beyond £27000- an excellent effort!
Then…. we were pleased to be able to also confirm that fully paid up membership of the Stockport County Supporters Cooperative had now gone beyond 400.The aim is a membership of upwards of 1000, and this increase and the rate of current uptake, gives grounds for reasonable optimism that this goal is achievable!
Members have responded to our appeals and renewed their membership in significant numbers either via our Web Collect web site https://webcollect.org.uk/mem/index.php?page=login&action=login.sign_in_or_sign_up or in person at the cabin in the Cheadle End Car Park on Saturday Match Days.
We have urged members, to visit https://webcollect.org.uk/mem/index.php?page=login&action=login.sign_in_or_sign_up and check out their details correcting any that might be incorrect, and we invite all who have not as yet done so, to please do this. Non members or lapsed members can sign up via the same route and pay on-line by one of a variety of methods!
All members should be receiving occasional e mails from Web Collect , sent on our behalf, and we would urge members to check the spam file in their email system, as it is common for material such as that from either WebCollect or Mailchimp( our alternative method of communication) to be treated as spam. This is highly likely if you are a gmail account user. Incoming mail from WebCollect to gmail users may very well go straight to your gmail `promotions’ folder, so please check this out and make sure you are kept up to date.
Meanwhile …..we are continuing to contact members with no internet access and are making good progress.
In this respect Billy Byrne , along with Damian Beaumont and Treasurer Paul Charnock , are to be congratulated for their efforts dealing with the veritable mountain of admin involved with running the WebCollect system. Their efforts are appreciated….and are most definitely working!
Finally…….Please note that, due to the absence of lighting in the cabin, we will not be present ( until the lighter nights return)in the Cheadle End Cabin on mid week evening games .
We will of course be in the Cabin for the upcoming game with Salford on October 8( 1.15-2.30) taking donations of food ,toiletries and warm clothing for the Wellspring, as well as membership sign up’s and renewals, so we look forward to seeing you . If by chance you miss us, you can leave your Wellspring donation in the Club Shop!
28 September 2016:
Mindful that the hours of darkness are descending upon us ever earlier with the every passing day, and with the weather moving from not very good to very decidedly iffy, the Stockport County Supporters Cooperative has sprung into action in support of the homeless of Stockport.
Experience has shown us that the very best way to do this is to get behind and support the Wellspring- the magnificent Stockport charity that does so much for the homeless of our great town.
With this in mind we are calling on members, and other County supporters to make donations of food ( tinned foods, tea, sugar, coffee etc) toiletries ( shampoo, soap, disposable razors etc) and of course warm clothing items. With winter approaching rapidly the needs of Stockport’s homeless become ever more urgent and we ask for donations to be left before County’s next two Saturday home matches against Salford City ( between 1.15 and 2.30) at the Cabin in the Cheadle End Car Park.
We have always had a magnificent response from previous appeals, and we thank you in advance for your anticipated help and support.
The Cheadle End Cabin is proving a great boon as a point of contact twixt supporters and ourselves, and last Saturdays home game against Hyde United, allowed us to conclude the raffle for a rather excellent signed framed County shirt from season 2004/5. The shirt, which contained the signatures of Ashley Williams( now plying his trade in the Premier League and International arena so successfully) and Joe Corrigan who was County Goalkeeping Coach at the time, was won by Steve Goodwin from New Mills.
The Guardian Account has been well supported via the Cabin, where supporters have rallied round brilliantly both donating shirts and buying shirts from us, with the GA the beneficiary. We are still taking donations of memorabilia and selling same ( 1.15 to 2.30 pre Saturday match days) so please keep the memorabilia coming!
The Supporters Cooperative was happy to join Help the Hatters, this week, in confirming continued support for the Players Fund.
Help the Hatters do sterling work organising and managing the Players Fund , and when they are not putting the pods out at Edgeley Park, they can be found, from 1 o’clock before every home match in the Bungalow where buying a pint clocks up a donation of 50p to the PF.
Its thirsty work being a County fan, so pre match the Bungalow is the place to go to support the Players Fund, whilst after the game those County supporters wishing to support the Guardian Account should head off to the Spinning Top ( near the Garrick Theatre) where from 5 until 8pm every pint drunk attracts a substantial donation to the GA.
Finally…last week we gave details of the last meeting between Stockport County Board and the Supporters Cooperative, and we can now confirm that the next one is on 27 October. Members wishing to submit questions for same, should do so to info@countysupporters coop.co.uk for 19 October.
21 September 2016:
The boards of Stockport County and the Stockport County Supporters Cooperative, set up a new schedule for meetings between the two organisations recently ,and Thursday just passed was the first such meeting.
The first question from the Supporters Cooperative concerned plans for the Booth Street Car Park. The Club Board confirmed that the Stockport Council had plans for a facility on one acre of the site to address issues caused by increased demand on services for the elderly. It was confirmed that parking would still be possible on the remainder of the site.
The Club had been considering plans for usage of the site as a training facility, but have since moved on from this idea and are in negotiations with a college in Stockport to set up a training facility including a 4G pitch.
The question was asked if the Club could approach the Council to ascertain if they would allow concessionary fairs on match days to County ticket holders. The Club agreed to investigate this.
The Supporters Cooperative then referred to the recently updated 5 Year Plan` Moving Forward’ asking what the Clubs ownership vision was post Council ownership, and what role they envisaged supporters playing in it.
The Club said that they were committed to staying at Edgeley Park, and to ( over time) getting the stadium back from Council ownership. The Club stated a determination not to allow the stadium to be used to lumber the Club with debt. For their part the Cooperative indicated that supporters wanted to be involved when stadium purchase becomes a live issue again.
On the issue of outstanding third party debt ,in answer to the Supporters Coop question, the Club said they were working to eliminate this by negotiation as they had successfully done recently with negotiations with 2 other major third party debtors.
The Supporters Cooperative then turned their attention to the question of asbestos in the main and pop side stand roofs. The Club stated that there was no health and safety hazard present, but never the less they were instituting a `Dilapidation Report’ on the stadium via a Surveyor and were working with the local authority to eventually resolve the matter satisfactorily.
The Supporters Cooperative also flagged up the question of acknowledgement of Players Fund donations and asked that this be considered.
Discussion then moved onto possible investment in the Club, and it was confirmed that a link up twixt Kick World Wide and FDGB ( GB based Chinese group) were investing in Manor Farm turning it into an international training facility. This could very well benefit the Club going forward.
On the general question of wider investment in the Club, representatives of the current board outlined their philosophy. They were not against third party’s coming in and taking a 100% stake in the Club, but no investor will be allowed in without being thoroughly vetted, hence the preferred option would be for the incomers to take maybe 25% and work with the existing set up to enable both elements to get to know each other- an avoidance of past mistakes being the yardstick!
A final question concerned the football budget which was confirmed as the same as last season.
Next meeting- 27 October 2016.
14 September 2016:
This week has seen the Supporters Cooperative assessing the impact of and feedback from the recent , highly successful Hatters Half Marathon, which was supported by local firm Robinsons Brewery ,who helped us enormously.
We like to plan things meticulously, and having executed that plan, examine what was done well, and what requires adjustment. This process makes good organisational sense.
At the planning stage of last years inaugural race, I advised caution and proposed taking 12 months to plan the first race that would go ahead 2016.- the Coop Board Dinosaur position if you like. Happily John Giles ignored my advice and went ahead- the results being obvious to all- a magnificent race now in to its second year.
This year’s event attracted 455 runners on the day, a big increase from last year, and should generate a decent sum for the Guardian Account and push it past £27000.
Local homeless charity The Wellspring managed the baggage store and raised much needed moneys towards their work from runners as well as 15 potential runner/ sponsors.
St John’s Ambulance meanwhile, reported just 4 minor injuries and 2 more serious ( runners they wanted to called an ambulance for, but they declined). Runner safety is our number 1 priority, and thankfully a final, after the race assessment revealed that everyone who took part is safe and well.
It was clear that everyone who helped out on the day did a fantastic job, ensuring this magnificent advert for Stockport went off smoothly, and there were the usual clutch of heart warming stories en route, most notably the spontaneous gesture by the proprietor of Big Savings on Northgate Road who gave away bottles of water to runners as they passed- just one of many truly excellent gestures by the people of Stockport!
We asked runners to give us their feedback( see https://www.facebook.com/hattershalf/ ) and it was gratifying to receive this testimonial from one runner ….
This is the first time I’ve ever run in anything like this (I wasn’t ready for last year’s race after a short break of thirty-odd years from running) and for a beginner, the great organisation and stewarding made everything a breeze. Thanks very much for all the hard work you and the team so obviously put into it. Definitely looking forward to knocking a few minutes off my time next year!
Also, you may not always get to hear about the other great things that come out of your hard work. I’ve not quite finished collecting my sponsorship yet, but it looks like I won’t be too far short of £1000 raised for Motor Neurone Disease Association – .https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Des-Greene So thanks also for giving me a vehicle to achieve that. Des.
Encouraging words , and we cannot wait to host Des and anyone else who has the urge to run next years Hatters Half Marathon.
07 September 2016:
The 2nd Hatters Half Marathon took place on Sunday starting at Edgeley Park, home of Stockport County, and finishing in nearby Alexandra Park.
It is fair to say that tension has been mounting in the last few weeks as Race Director John Giles meticulous planning neared its ultimate test, and it was perhaps inevitable that we would wake up on Sunday morning with the sound of rain in our ears from the Stockport streets.
Last year’s inaugural race was a first effort for Giles and the Stockport County Supporters Cooperative, but with great support from local businesses most notably Stockport’s Robinsons Brewery, and despite an almost constant drizzle throughout, this year’s race was a resounding success attracting almost 550 runners to the multi terrain event.
The sun shone last year , but this time around the race day weather matched almost precisely the forecasts before the event, which was not a great prospect when runners came to negotiate the off road sections particularly the loop of Didsbury Golf Club.
Come the appointed time( 09.30) and the race was in motion heading off through Alexandra Park to the Trans Pennine Trail via Northgate Road and Brinksway. It was an awesome sight to see the massive column of runners skirt the mighty River Mersey heading for Northenden before tracking back on the same route to the finish.
There was a great battle going on at the head of the field almost from the gun, and by half way Stockport Harrier James Scott –Buccleuch, and Rob Downs of Wilmslow Running Club were locked in a tense struggle for supremacy. This continued for a while, but by the time he had turned left into Alexandra Park, Scott-Buccleuch had the race sewn up striding away to a fine victory( see photo taken by Talib Rehman with half a mile to go) , with Rob Downs second and another Stockport Harrier, Paul Brooks taking the third spot. The race was in the Stockport Harrier Race Series, and SHAC men did particularly well taking 7 of the first 15 finishing positions.
The ladies race was a different story , as Wilmslow’s Sharon Johnstone took a grip on proceedings early on, never to let it go ,coming home alone, ahead of Glossopdale’s Kirsty Johnson with Carol Paxton an unattached runner in third. The highest placed Stockport Harrier was Samantha Jones in fifth.
In the highly competitive field of the veteran runners , Wilmslow pretty much ran away with the prizes ,in the mens categories…Barry Archbold, Andrew Whittingham, Mike Hilland Peter Stock taking V40, 45, 50 and 60, leaving only V65 to Stockport’s David Chatterton , with V55 going to unattached runner Alan Cole.
The lady vet prizes were spread around , Sarah Kirham and Jill Tavini, two unattached runners, took FV35 and 45 respectively, with the other prizes going the way of Kirsty Read of Hyde Village Striders( FV40) Lesley Sinclair of SHAC ( V50), with Nicky Mowatt( Wilmslow) and Belle Vue Racers Annie Hirsch taking FV 55 AND 60.
All in all …a great race and I await next year’s re-run with anticipation.
31 August 2016:
Mention Thursday 17 November 2016 to anyone, and I am guessing that, unless by some amazing coincidence that happens to be the birthday of the person you are talking to, there will be little or no reaction ,other than perhaps puzzlement.
For members of the Stockport County Supporters Cooperative, a similar response, on average might be expected, excepting for the minority within the organisation who are active….do the work required to keep County’s most popular and populous supporter’s organisation going. This set of individuals knows full well that the above date is the date of the SCSC Annual General Meeting- the time when pulses race and temperatures soar with the prospect of elections and some such!
Co-operative Board members are either elected onto the board for a period of 3 years by the Supporters’ Co-operative membership during the annual elections or co-opted / invited onto the Board by the Supporters’ Co-operative Board should a need arise.
The current Co-operative Board Members are a hard working bunch, then…as one of their number I would perhaps say that wouldn’t I? But they are and their varied skill sets dovetail nicely to produce a working body that is distinctly fit for purpose in my view!
The board is made up as follows….
Pete Towey – Chair (re-election year: 2016) § Dave Marchbank – Fundraising / Events & Vice-Chair (re-election year: 2016) § Paul Charnock – Treasurer (re-election year: 2016) § Billy Byrne – Membership Secretary (re-election year: 2016) § Christine Robinson (re-election year: 2017) § Ian Brown – Media / Communications (re-election year: 2018) § John Giles – Fundraising / Events (re-election year: 2018) § Damian Beaumont (re-election year: 2018) Co-opted Board Members are: § Nick Lees – Engaging Young People (co-opted until the 2016 AGM) , and Paul Thompson ( Web site), with Andy Plant offering valuable assistance with the important matter of event management.
As recommended by Supporters’ Direct, Caroline Burt is the Independent Secretary, and it Caroline’s lot to ensure that the board operates lawfully and within the rules of the organisation.
At AGM time Caroline’s role is of crucial importance in ensuring the election process not only goes off smoothly , but is managed fairly and democratically.
The Cooperative movement as a whole and the Supporters Cooperative in particular has historically been grounded in democratic principles, and each year, despite the nagging possibility that the incumbent board member might loose his/her seat, invariably, and perhaps perversely, without exception I find these same board members , who are up for election, wishing there would be a real contest each year.
Quite often this is a vain hope , and this is pretty much the case in democratic organisations the length and breadth of the UK….the average member is happy, barring real crisis, to take the line of least resistance and allow incumbents through `on the nod’.
Once more however we will be inviting nominations soon ,and looking again to a contest or two, and we are not leaving it at that either, because the next edition of our occasional podcast type audio offering `Coop Talking’ will give details of how members can get themselves nominated for office within the Supporters Cooperative.
Here’s hoping for a lively AGM.
24 August 2016:
This week saw the Prestigious Stockport Road & Trail Race, Hatters Half Marathon pass the 450 mark for entries to this years race.
The race is fast acquiring a reputation for excellence and a growing national profile, with athletes from all over Britain signed up to run on Sunday 4 September.
Stockport County’s busy Club Secretary Mark Lockyear was delighted to step out into the sun and show his support for the race which starts outside Edgeley Park and finishes in tree lined Alexander Park.
Last year the inaugural event raised circa £4,000 for the Stockport County Supporters Cooperative Guardian Account, with runners raising a similar amount for various charities – including our Charity Partner, the Wellspring homeless charity and resource centre. With the GA now at £20600, this year’s race should push this important fund beyond £25000.
With just over 10 days to race day , Race Director John Giles has organised two briefing sessions, to take place after the home matches , in the Bungalow Club ( next to the Railway End, Edgeley Park).
The first of these went ahead on Saturday 20th August after the match against Brackley Town, and was a most useful session, whilst the remaining session will be on Monday 29th August, immediately following County’s game with Worcester City. Starting at 5pm, this again will be a useful exercise to undertake, and will take no more than an hour of participants time.
If you have already volunteered and would like more information or you would like to volunteer, please feel free to attend on the 29th.
For those wondering about the course and where they might best be of use, we can advise that the course is divided up into 5 sections:
– Hardcastle Road / Northgate Road
– Woolpack bridge (Woolpack pub – near to Pyramid) to Waterside Hotel
– Waterside Hotel section on Wilmslow Road
– Waterside Hotel to Simon Bridge (near Didsbury Golf club)
– Simon Bridge, Ford Lane, Boat Lane
A course map can be viewed at – http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=679916 , and every volunteer will receive a race goodie bag, which includes a free Stockport County ticket!
We hope to meet you in the Bungalow, but if you cannot make it on either day, and want to help out on 4 September, please email Johngiles20@hotmail.com
If however, you want to run, and have not yet entered…. there is still time , but please remember that whilst entries will be accepted on the day there will be increased race entry fee involved so it makes sense to sign up now, and you can do this via
Meanwhile we can confirm that our new , 4 page folding( credit card style) fixture list has now been produced and these will be distributed from the Cheadle End Cabin on match days, where supporters can also make donations of food ( Coffee, Tea, Sugar, Canned Foods) for our Wellspring Food Appeal, or purchase or donate iconic County memorabilia in support of the Guardian Account.
17 August 2016:
I have said much via this column about the number, and excellence, of the events organised and promoted by the Supporters Cooperative Events Team.
One thing that people may not be aware of however is the fact that every event we organise , if there is a fund raising element attached to it, those funds will be used in support of the Guardian Account which is well past £20000 as this article goes out. With the upcoming Hatters Half just a few short weeks away the GA is due for a substantial boost!
The Guardian Account is central to the Supporters Cooperative’s eye to the future of Stockport County. Being set up as a means of raising a significant , collectively owned, sum to invest in the Club, or acquire a stake therein, the GA could prove crucial in providing County Supporters with a voice and input if/when Edgeley Park future ownership becomes an issue again. In this respect the actions of the Supporters Cooperative in securing Asset of Community Value for Edgeley Park has proved a massively good move and the GA , if it continues to grow as we anticipate it will, is well worthy of support if supporters want a voice when push comes to pull eventually over the stadiums future.
We have been acutely aware of the need to impart as much information as possible, about the Guardian Account, to supporters of the Club, thus the board of the Cooperative launched a fresh initiative entitled `Coop Talking’ . This was to be an occasional `podcast’ type event involving Coop Board members informally discussing issues of interest.
This went ahead, and although all your questions may not be answered within the 23 minute audio, we are sure you will find it of interest.
The audio can be found at http://www.countysupporterscoop.co.uk/news-events/
10 August 2016:
If any questions on the subject occur to you then please seek us out in the Cheadle End Cabin on match days( Saturdays 1.30 until 2.30….Tuesdays 6.15 to 7.15).
The cabin is also open, at the above times, to receive County memorabilia for re-sale for the GA , and also to take donations to the Supporters Cooperative Wellspring Food Appeal. Already, thanks to the generosity of County fans, we have been able to make delivery to the Wellspring of a significant quantity of food ( coffee, tea, sugar, canned foods etc) and we thank you for this magnificent response! Please keep it going.
Other news of note…..the Hatters Half Marathon is close to 450 runners , a figure that is well past last years total with weeks to go until race day on 4 September. Further news soon, but please contact Race Director John Giles on firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help out on the day.
Also…..building on the success of last years Supporters Cooperative 5 A Side Tournament, Andy Plant who has kindly agreed to assist the Coop Board with events, is thinking of staging multiple 5 A Side Tournaments. For dates and details keep reading this column.
10 August 2016:
For years now….County supporters have taken part in one of those original and distinctively heart warming events, that just screams `Only at Stockport County’.
The last Friday before the first match of every season …organised by Ian Lancashire….County supporters meet up at the Royal Scot in Marple Bridge to honour all supporters who are sadly no longer able to don the blue and white and cheer their team on.
The itinerary is a simple one…meet at the pub from around 12.00…….toast the deceased fans( circa 2.30) with the uniquely challenging mix of Rum and whisky…..head off to the graveside of John Hall ( The Captain) in the nearby church yard to lay a wreath…..and salute not only John but all County supporters ,players and officials no longer with us !
Last Friday was no exception and the first arrivals were seated outside the pub well before noon.
Not long after this Caz Burt, Independent Secretary to the Stockport County Supporters Cooperative turned up with the wreath from the supporters organisation, as slowly the numbers started to build.
Amongst the numbers on the day was, County Mascot Peggy the piglet, who made headlines in last weeks Stockport Express upon debuting as County’s mascot. Peggy was accompanied by Steve Bellis County’s Special Adviser to the Club Board, and it was great to see them both again.
All the 90 who turned out were required to sign the book of condolence, and Mr Bellis made every effort to ensure that the diminutive porker conformed to this County tradition!
Circa 2.30 and the annual salute to those passed took place inside the Royal Scot with glasses being raised to the accompaniment of a rousing rendition of the County Anthem.
Job done……every one set to go home? ……Not a bit of it as the whole party set off up the nearby hill to the graveside of The Captain.
It was quite a slog but no one ducked the challenge, although some chose the easier gate entrance rather than climbing the wall, but nuff said of that!
Arrival at John’s graveside was a suitably solemn occasion. A few moments of contemplation were followed by some suitable words in tribute from Pete Towey from the Supporters Cooperative , Steve Bellis and Ged Gibbons.
Then a candle was lit , followed by a minutes silence nicely observed by all!
It was time to drift on back to the Royal Scot around 3 o’clock and for the proceedings to continue, but I drifted off to pen this article, with a really good feeling having again been part of a truly memorable…..County occasion!
03 August 2016:
Have you noticed how troubles seem to park themselves on you in bundles?
For sure the last few weeks have been a touch testing in the Brown household. You know the score….cellar floods…….computer goes on the blink at your busiest time….. I break my camera…and….woe upon woe…..my knees do what knees are apt to do and render it impossible for me to run and keep fit.
None of these are life threatening situations and all of us have experienced similar, and know the problems.
The last decade or so for Stockport County has been a similar rocky ride…..off the field discord……relegation ……..administration……relegation, then more relegation- a constant nightmare situation for supporters of our great Club to bear.
Thankfully there’s usually light at the end of most tunnels, and for myself the morning of 28 July was particularly rewarding having sneaked out, ignoring dire weather forecasts for my first `run’ for a month….just 1 mile and a half but relatively trouble free, and an additional bonus was that the rain held off until 5 minutes after I finished!
Deep joy then….and some of that happiness factor is returning to the Club also with Richard Park at the helm, as the Club Board works to make County a stable…debt free entity. The Supporters Cooperative have been happy to work with the current board of the Club to this end, for the benefit of both supporters and the Club. Our policy of `Constructive Engagement’ incorporates a resolve to ensure that questions raised by supporters are made known to the Club Board, where appropriate, and answers obtained.
In response the Club has been happy to keep good links with the Supporters Cooperative, and we are due to meet fairly soon to raise and discuss issues raised by supporters recently.
So… the outlook is getting better off the park and on it at County, but there is always a need for good communications twixt the Club and its loyal supporters, and in this respect tomorrow evening , Thursday 4 August , sees the Club host a Fans Forum from 7pm in the Unicorn Bar at Robinson’s Brewery. Despite the good feeling induced by the return of James Gannon and the displays of his team thus far, I am sure supporters have questions to ask the Manager or members of the Club Board, so this is definitely an opportunity not to be missed!
And…..if you have questions for the Supporters Cooperative, why not catch us at the Cheadle End Cabin between 1.30 and 2.30 on Saturday match days? Drop off some County memorabilia in support of the Guardian Account….renew your membership….join if you are not already with us…..or just have a chat…ask that question that’s been bugging you!
27 July 2016:
The meeting of the Supporters Cooperative members at the Armoury Public House was a fairly sedate affair but much business was done never the less..
Amongst the first items discussed was the fact that due to a combination of factors the Club, whilst anxious to maintain the closest contacts with the Supporters Coop as the largest supporters grouping around, have been looking at ways to streamline existing arrangements.
In this respect future formal contacts will be a mix of……
Attendance at Club Board Meetings and Six Weekly Meetings at which questions flagged up in advance can be discussed and hopefully set on the way to being sorted.
The Chairman indicated that questions submitted by members will be thus aired via one or other of the above channels.
Moving on….. the meeting discussed the fact that the arrangement whereby shares ( 1 share for every £2 donated to Players Fund) was to be discontinued, having been intended to run for 12 months and actually run for 2years.
The Chairman said that share donor Mr Bramhall should be thanked for the gesture that had thus far benefited both the Club and the Supporters Cooperative which now held shares in the Club on behalf of Supporters.
He also advised that the Supporters Cooperative is in the process of initiating talks with the Club on the issue.
It was noted that agreement had been reached with the Cryptic Brewery to donate 50p per pint of The Ghost, the award winning beer produced in cooperation between Cryptic and the Supporters Cooperative, at the Spinning Top, on County match day evenings until 8pm.
The Chairman appealed for members to please help the Events Team. They were working very hard and were producing great results, but needed extra hands to help out. Any volunteer can commit to as much or as little involvement as they wish but they would be giving valuable support with events that raise significant sums for the Guardian Account. Following the meeting Andy Plant stepped forward to help but we still need probably another 2 volunteers who should email email@example.com
The meeting’s attention was drawn to the fact that this important event was being held this year on 5 August at the Royal Scot on Marple Bridge from midday onwards.
Members were urged to support this unique occasion to which the Supporters Cooperative would again be sending a suitable wreath.
Moving Forward Document.
Clarification was sought as to what the position was in respect of this. The Chairman indicated that a Fans Forum was pending, and since the meeting the Club agreed a Fans Forum on Thursday 4 August at Robinsons Brewery( 7 pm for 7.30).
Edgeley Park & Booth Street Car Park.
It was agreed that clarification be sought as to the future plans were for Edgeley Park & Booth Street Car Park
A date of Thursday 17 November has been agreed upon for the AGM, to be held at the Bungalow.
20 July 2016:
With news that the Guardian Account had soared to £20300 this week, the board of the Stockport County Supporters Cooperative busied themselves filling their diaries with events largely designed to boost that figure even further.
So…..if you have your diary handy here goes……
Saturday 20 August – Marshals Meeting/ Quiz Night
With just 2 weeks to go at this stage to the Hatters Half Marathon on Sunday 4 September, this is a vital meeting that ensures we can provide the same level of excellence in terms of race organisation as last year.
The business meeting, at the Bungalow on Hardcastle Road, will be followed by a `Quiz Night’, the second such venture we have undertaken in recent times.
Sunday 21 & 28th August – Shrubbery Working Party on Marathon Route.
The majority of the Half Marathon route is off road on good quality tracks along the Trans Pennine Trail that skirts the mighty River Mersey.
Parts of the greenery on the route needs a trim . These arrangements are to be confirmed but are pencilled firmly in.
Sunday 4 September- Hatters Half Marathon- & Post Event `Do’ for all Volunteers
This is the big one and the culmination of months of meticulous planning by Race Director John Giles and Coop Events king pin Dave Marchbank. It is not too late to volunteer to help out on the day ….so email John on firstname.lastname@example.org if you are able to help. Along with an invite to the above named after race `do’ all volunteers will get a race goody bag which includes a match ticket to a Stockport County game.
Saturday 10 September – Members Meeting- Post Match in the Bungalow.
Whilst the venue has to be confirmed for this one, holding another meeting so close to the one held 16 July fits our policy of maintaining maximum contact with members.
Sunday 11 September- WoodStock(Port) from 2pm at the Spinning Top
This `all day ‘event – staged in support of the Guardian Account will feature live bands from 2 pm onwards and should be an absolute cracker!
Saturday 17 December – Christmas Cavort
The venue for this is yet to be confirmed, but previous years have seen an enjoyable event raise decent money for the GA as well as bringing enjoyment to our members.
Other dates were discussed and the most important of these was the AGM of the Supporters Cooperative and provisionally this was set to go on Thursday 17 November at the Bungalow.
In addition it was agreed that the Cooperative would again purchase a wreath for presentation at the Annual Memorial Day on 5 August, to honour all deceased County Supporters.
The first week in August will also see the Cooperative embark on a podcast type event- working title ` Coop Talking’ in which Coop Board Members will record a lively conversation to be posted to the website countysupporterscoop.co.uk
And finally…we will be present every County home game in the Cheadle End Cabin, so please keep the County Memorabilia coming in. You can drop items off between 1.30 and 2.30 before every game, and the money raised will boost the Guardian Account.
13 July 2016:
First off I would like to add my good wishes and congratulations, along with those of the Supporters Cooperative, to Richard Park on taking on the Chairmanship of Stockport County.
It is no secret that Richard has been doing the job for some time now, but it definitely helps the Club to have a figurehead seen to be at the helm, and this move will be welcomed by supporters. Richard Park has played a major part in County’s climb in recent years towards prosperity, and the Supporters Cooperative look forward to working with Mr Park and the County Board to the greater good of the Club and its supporters.
Saturday of this week, 16 July, sees the Supporters Cooperative stage a members meeting at 5.30pm at the Armoury Public House at the junction of Greek Street and Shaw Heath.
The Board of the Cooperative will be able to present updates on matters of concern to supporters, whilst there will also be a `Question & Answers’ session included on the agenda to enable supporters to air any outstanding issues.
Meanwhile, we had a presence at County’s first friendly of the current pre-season against Linotype Cheadle Heath Nomads, on Saturday 9 July, thanks to County’s hosts who kindly extended an invitation to the Supporters Cooperative.
It turned out really well , and was an excellent opportunity for the Cooperative Board to meet members and non members ahead of this weekend’s meeting……and it was cracking game as well!
On 29 June I reported that the Stockport Hatters Half Marathon had reached 280 entries, and I am pleased to advise that the 300 mark has now been breached , with 2 months still to go before race day on 4 September.
Runners get not only the opportunity to line up outside Edgeley Park , but…before they head back to the picturesque finish at Alexandra Park, they will have sampled the delights of being cheered on by Stockport residents along with having run the Trans Pennine Trail besides vast stretches of the mighty River Mersey!
The race goody bag this year includes a magnificent medal ( last year’s design was acclaimed for its originality and style, and I can tell you that this years is no less brilliant!) Other items include a ticket to a Stockport County game which again proved popular last year. Entries are priced at £17 for affiliated runners and £19 for those not affiliated.
To join this great road/ trail race go https://www.runbritain.com/race/stockport-hatters-half-marathon/
Or if you can help out on the day please e mail Race Director John Giles on email@example.com
Lots happening then…and lots more about to happen, so keep an eye on this column for all you need to know!
06 July 2016:
Saturday 9 July sees Stockport County start their pre-season with a friendly at Linotype Cheadle Heath Nomads- an annual encounter which always serves up a high octane affair.
There is great excitement amongst County supporters as James Gannon completes his squad up for the coming season, with a raft of signings.
Mark Ross was Gannon’s first summer signing. Twenty seven year Matt was a popular player for former club Chorley, for whom he played every minute of every game last term.
Known to favour the sound logic of `building the teams spine first ‘ ,Gannon’s next signings were excellent….first off the experienced keeper Ben Hincliffe was snapped up ,ensuring that County now had 2 good keepers in Hinchliffe and Ian Ormson .
In front of his keepers Gannon then brought in Michael Clarke a central defender from Northwich Victoria he knew well, adding another pivot in Courtney Meppen-Walter for good measure. Courtney’s off the field history has been well reported and I do not intend to add anything to that other than to say that at 6 foot 3 inches he offers the promise of a dominating presence at the back for the blues, when the season commences.
The welcome return of Scott Duxbury to County ranks, added to Chris Smalley and Ryan Ellison, and County’s defensive line up ,with the late inclusion of the massively experienced Sam Minihan from Worcester City, looked pretty well settled.
County already had Lewis Montrose and Glenn Rule in midfield, and it is hard to see any club bettering this classy duo this term, and when Gannon added Gary Stopforth from Salford City we really were motoring. Stopforth brings experience by the bucket load and much of it has been in successive promotions with the big spending Lancashire outfit.
Jim’s hardest task, in common with every other manager in the land, was probably sorting out attacking options. He had already secured the services of promising youngsters Adam Etches and George West, and the popular striker John Marsden was in the mix again after a fine run in to the end of season 2015/16, but the arrival of Adam Thomas at Edgeley Park from Hednesford, looked more good business for County- the 6 foot 4 inch 24 year old set to provide width as County push on in 2016/17.
The return of ex County lad Josh Amiss to County was interesting, but the signing that excited me most however, was that of Danny Lloyd who joined us from big spenders AFC Fylde. Lloyd is a top player, one with energy to burn, and he always struck me as being a cut or two above Division 6 standard when he played against ourselves! Danny has promised us goals and I believe him!
Finally …..it was immensely pleasing to hear that Kayode Odejayi , who enjoyed a new lease of life last season under Jim’s wing, had signed up for the Club again . Here is another man capable of playing higher up the football pyramid, so we are well set, in my view, for a good campaign in the coming season.
The friendly at Cheadle Nomads kicks off at 3 pm ,and the Supporters Cooperative will have a presence at the fixture- why not join us !
29 June 2016:
Paul Charnock, Treasurer of the Stockport County Supporters Cooperative, was a happy man this week, as the news surfaced that the Cooperative’s Guardian Account had hit £20000 to the great joy of everyone connected with it.
Recent events organised by the Supporters Cooperative, including the Grand Raffle jointly run with Bramhall charity Beacon Counselling, had previously boosted the GA to £19300. Last weeks meeting of the Cooperative Board agreed a donation of £700 to take it to its current heady 20k figure, in the hope of encouraging more County supporters to donate to the GA and help safeguard the future of our Club.
This was massively pleasing and followed on from a significant increase in membership.
Regular readers of this column ,will have picked up on the fact that the Supporters Cooperative have, amongst other things, been engaged in a membership drive recently, and thanks are due to Board Member Billy Byrne and his team, for their efforts which have seen membership rise substantially. Patience and much hard work saw long standing issues with the membership systems happily resolved, and a big effort has been made to contact and hopefully involve those supporters who either do not have internet access ,or we do not have correct email addresses for. The result has been a forest of letters heading out from Billy Byrne via the post, with a veritable blizzard of replies heading back, and we thank all who have responded for their support.
If you have not had a letter or are just interested in joining us, we can advise that we have agreed to hold a members meeting on the Saturday of the pre-season friendly against Rochdale. The date of this is Saturday 16 July, and the venue is yet to be decided , so please read this column next week for precise details in this respect.
Still talking numbers….we can report that we now have 280 runners signed up for the 2nd Stockport Hatters Half Marathon on Sunday 4 September 2016.
As reported previously arrangements are well advanced for this year’s race which you can enter via https://www.runbritain.com/race/stockport-hatters-half-marathon/
We also require help on the day, particularly as this year we are likely to have circa 700 starters. So…if you can help out on 4 September please contact Race Director John Giles on firstname.lastname@example.org
One thing that has become apparent is that the scenic portion of the race, that part taking in the Trans Pennine Trail is slightly in need of a bit of grooming, therefore nearer the race date we will be seeking volunteers to help us trim the foliage where required.
Elsewhere I hear that there is a likelihood of a meeting this week between representatives of the Supporters Cooperative and Help the Hatters to discuss the way forward on matters included the future of the Bung.
Again , I will update on all the above next week.
22 June 2016:
I thought that this week I would pen something that would provide a contrast to some of the material we have had to read in the last couple of weeks, emanating from the Euro’s in France.
Much of the coverage featuring supporters at the football festival has been negative, and to the neutral , supporters….particularly those of England and Russia have come out of it all with reputations sullied.
Arguments rage backwards and forwards as to who is to blame, but the bottom line is that there is a real public order problem when England supporters travel abroad in support of their team.
As a County supporter who follows his team wherever they play I feel the need to seek to balance the negativity with some positives, albeit from a domestic angle .
County are blessed with two strong supporters organisations in the Supporters Cooperative and Help the Hatters , both of whom have good support from large…..loyal memberships.
No negative vibes abounded last Thursday as I went to Edgeley Park for the latest Help the Hatters Working Party. Many supporters of Help the Hatters are also members of the Cooperative and it was good to see this mix of motivations gelling so well in the cause of helping the Club.
The dedication was impressive, and I was even more impressed when I encountered Kip Akram . Kip was supervising a group of young fans who were tasked with clearing litter from the Cheadle End Stand after the recent Beer Festival. It emerged that Kip had been busy painting the corridors in the main stand during the day as well , something he had been doing for some time.
Under the roof of the Danny Bergara Stand I found John Gaskin who was the brains behind the Working Party planning. John’s plans were working well as he divided his time between main stand and Railway End where a group of supporters were applying yellow paint with gusto to gangways and railings. But Gaskin is not afraid of rolling his sleeves up and in the days that followed Thursday’s Working Party I found him, alone under the same roof, painting gangways and walkways !
It goes without saying that all this dedications is given freely and without charge , as an expression of love for their Club, and this generosity of spirit can be found the length and breadth of the land – think AFC Fylde whose supporters cycled from Fylde to Stockport on match day to raise money for a Cancer Charity this season, but visit any club in the land and this magnificent selflessness you will see replicated.
As a Supporters Cooperative we have always been aware of our community responsibilities hence our involvement with Stockport homeless charity The Wellspring, and other charities such as Beacon Counselling of Greek Street and Bramhall.
All the above is but small beer, when viewed alongside the happenings in France, but nevertheless grounds for optimism perhaps in trying times.
15 June 2016:
There were more than one or two tense expressions on the faces of Stockport County Supporters Cooperative Board members …..it was Thursday 2 June ….and the culmination of weeks and weeks of patient negotiations , followed by a prolonged media focus publicising what was another bold move into largely uncharted territory by Events Manager Dave Marchbank and his team.
For the first time the Cooperative engaged in a three pronged link up with nationally famous CAMRA….Stockport charity Beacon Counselling and local brewers Cryptic Ales ,in a move designed to boost the Guardian Account which is steadily heading towards £20000 as I write this article.
The link up with CAMRA was a bold move on our part …another leap into the dark …. agreement being reached some months ago for the Thursday evening session at the truly massive Stockport Beer & Cider Festival to be `County Night’.
CAMRA were most helpful throughout offering loads of good advice as we prepared for the event, but notwithstanding this, come Thursday and tensions were high…..would the event fly or come a cropper?
Bumping into Alan Lord in the car park going in helped with the morale issue and it proved a good omen too as the event was a brilliant success….numbers up 6% overall.
The Cooperatives evening started circa 5.15 when representatives of the Club and Cryptic Ales linked up to choreograph the ceremonial pulling of the first pint of County themed beer `The Ghost’ by competition winner Ken Scott. Cryptic had worked really well with the Supporters Cooperative to launch this beer, and we urge County fans to give it a try!
The rest of the County orientated content went really well also…..Alan Ogley….legend and hero from County’s past, set the tone with a riveting address to a packed room prior to the England game that was shown on the giant screen. Alan overran by a minute or so but no one minded this at all and he got a great reception.
Next off, as the game ran its course Alan headed for the County Podcast which was recording edition 17 live from the County Night. How did it go? Well I asked Podcaster Nick Lees who enthused he would ` love to have Alan on every week..a great guy to talk to!’
As stated above the event was aimed at boosting the Guardian Account , but the Cooperative were also mindful that CAMRA had a charity partner namely Stockport ‘s Beacon Counselling who do important work, helping young Stockport people and adults, operating from their offices in Bramhall and Greek Street in Stockport. The aim on Thursday however was to push a Grand Raffle which offered a range of good prizes, but crucially also allowed Beacon and ourselves to share the proceeds 50/50.
I was really impressed with Beacon who had 10 volunteers at the Festival all working their socks off. Contact Beacon via email@example.com
That was a great night….here’s to next year!
08 June 2016:
There were more than one or two tense expressions on the faces of Stockport County Supporters Cooperative Board members …..it was Thursday 2 June ….and the culmination of weeks and weeks of patient negotiations , followed by a prolonged media focus publicising what was another bold move into largely uncharted territory by Events Manager Dave Marchbank and his team.
For the first time the Cooperative engaged in a three pronged link up with nationally famous CAMRA….Stockport charity Beacon Counselling and local brewers Cryptic Ales ,in a move designed to boost the Guardian Account which is steadily heading towards £20000 as I write this article.
The link up with CAMRA was a bold move on our part …another leap into the dark …. agreement being reached some months ago for the Thursday evening session at the truly massive Stockport Beer & Cider Festival to be `County Night’.
CAMRA were most helpful throughout offering loads of good advice as we prepared for the event, but notwithstanding this, come Thursday and tensions were high…..would the event fly or come a cropper?
Bumping into Alan Lord in the car park going in helped with the morale issue and it proved a good omen too as the event was a brilliant success….numbers up 6% overall.
The Cooperatives evening started circa 5.15 when representatives of the Club and Cryptic Ales linked up to choreograph the ceremonial pulling of the first pint of County themed beer `The Ghost’ by competition winner Ken Scott. Cryptic had worked really well with the Supporters Cooperative to launch this beer, and we urge County fans to give it a try!
The rest of the County orientated content went really well also…..Alan Ogley….legend and hero from County’s past, set the tone with a riveting address to a packed room prior to the England game that was shown on the giant screen. Alan overran by a minute or so but no one minded this at all and he got a great reception.
Next off, as the game ran its course Alan headed for the County Podcast which was recording edition 17 live from the County Night. How did it go? Well I asked Podcaster Nick Lees who enthused he would ` love to have Alan on every week..a great guy to talk to!’
As stated above the event was aimed at boosting the Guardian Account , but the Cooperative were also mindful that CAMRA had a charity partner namely Stockport ‘s Beacon Counselling who do important work, helping young Stockport people and adults, operating from their offices in Bramhall and Greek Street in Stockport. The aim on Thursday however was to push a Grand Raffle which offered a range of good prizes, but crucially also allowed Beacon and ourselves to share the proceeds 50/50.
I was really impressed with Beacon who had 10 volunteers at the Festival all working their socks off. Contact Beacon via firstname.lastname@example.org
That was a great night….here’s to next year!
01 June 2016:
The Stockport Express of 11 May contained my interview with John Giles the Race Director of the prestigious Stockport Hatters Half Marathon.
I was impressed by the attention to detail contained in the Giles approach to event organisation, especially one as complex and difficult to organise as a road race using 13.1 miles of Stockport roads and trails.
News broke last week confirming that entries for the race, a much valued show piece event for the Supporters Cooperative, had surged beyond 200 – a figure which is approximately 200 more than we had signed up at the same point last year, and it was with some pride that the board of the Cooperative took stock this week of where things stood regarding the race organisation.
We were relieved to hear things were generally ahead of schedule, notwithstanding complex negotiations that have been necessary with both Stockport and Manchester Councils.
Last year the Supporters Cooperative board took the organisation of what was after all an inaugural race, as well as Giles and everyone else’s `first try’ at a race of any size at all, very seriously indeed. Each board member elected to take responsibility for an area of the course and undertook to act as the head of a team of marshals around the course. This worked magnificently well, thus the same system will operate this year.
It is fair to say that apart from depending on a great deal of hard work from volunteers, a fund of goodwill needs to be established with the communities through which the race travels and last year, marshals were able to recount numerous accounts of the excellent support given to the race including the actions of one trader on Northgate Road who …unsolicited….brought out water to give away to runners! That sort of response inspires both runners and volunteers alike.
A leaflet is currently being produced to give residents an idea of what to expect this year- we hope they will give the runners a cheer and enjoy the occasion on 4 September!
There remains much to do …..the recruitment of marshals ( going well I hear)…..a litter pic around the Woolpack area near the start of the Trans Pennine Trail and much more. , but the board were happy to give the Race Director the green light to carry on .
In a separate discussion, and with the Clubs recent `Moving Forward’ statement in mind, the Supporters Cooperative board agreed to call a members meeting. Saturday 16 July, immediately after the pre season game against Rochdale, was the date agreed upon, whilst the venue of same is still to be decided. Non –members will be able to attend the meeting.
Meanwhile….tomorrow…..Thursday 2 June sees `County Night at the Stockport Beer Festival’ in full swing at Edgeley Park, from 5 pm, and County fans are urged to not miss this one, and at £2 a head what is not to like?
25 May 2016:
Way back in the sixties, and for a long period afterwards, Friday night was always known as County Night, as County bucked the trend of all other FL clubs and opted to play their matches on Friday evening. It was a master stroke from the then Chairman Vic Bernard and kept County in the forefront publicity wise not to mention also contributing hugely to keeping the Club afloat.
Fast forward to 2016 and thanks to the Stockport County Supporters Cooperative …for one night only….Thursday 2 June 2016…..` Thursday Night is County Night’ as the Supporters Coop link up with CAMRA who have dedicated that night at the Stockport Beer & Cider Festival to the Club enabling us to organise some County orientated activity in support of the Guardian Account.
The agreement with CAMRA, is the product of a prodigious amount of hard work by Coop Board member Dave Marchbank, and means that the GA will benefit thus…. if supporters not only buy tickets but also attend the beer festival, the GA gets the £2.00. If however supporters buy a ticket but do not attend …..only £1.00 accrues. The tickets have to be bought from the Supporters Cooperative for this to happen!
The Supporters Co-operative has invited some former County players, including the legendary goalkeeper Alan Ogley, who will be talking about his time at our club and those memorable victories against West Ham and Crystal Palace, and supporters will be able to watch England’s Euro warm up friendly whilst enjoying some fine ales thanks to this innovative cooperation with CAMRA!
Also, as part of County Night, the Supporters Co-operative will be holding a ‘Grand Raffle’ and we have teamed up with CAMRA’s official charity partner; Bramhall based Beacon Counselling. Beacon exists to improve the lives of adults, young people, and children who experience mental and emotional distress. They tackle a wide range of problems from depression, anxiety and stress through to relationships, bereavement and family breakdown. The proceeds of our ‘Grand Raffle’ will be split 50 / 50 between Beacon Counselling and the Co-op’s Guardian Account.
Raffle prizes so far include a pub meal , a framed print of Edgeley Park, 21 bottles of the new beer brewed by Cryptic Ales which is being launched at the beer festival, 12 for one prize 6 and a 3 for the final. We also have a Bottle of Teachers Whiskey, a nice bottle of Saleri Sambuca and some wine, but we would like to make an appeal to County fans and businesses for prizes which we can include in our ‘Grand Raffle’. If anyone can help, please contact Dave Marchbank via email – email@example.com.
Tickets for the Thursday 2 June evening session are available for £2 from any Co-op Board member or via our on-line shop. Please follow this link – http://countysupporterscoop.bigcartel.com/product/thursday-2-june-2016-evening-session-beer-festival-ticket
See you all on the 2nd June then, but do not forget…..buy that ticket from us before you go!
18 May 2016:
The Stockport County Supporters Co-operatives Hatters Half Marathon is just a few short months away, so I thought I would seek out Race Director John Giles and find out how things were going, for this year’s second running of the 13.1 miler.
The race is set to go on Sunday 4th September at 9-30 am, so my first question to Giles was `Will the course be the same as the inaugural race?’.
`Yes’ was the response ` it will be the same picturesque mix of road and trails as last year, starting outside Edgeley Park, before joining the Trans Pennine Trail at Woolpack Bridge. After that the course follows the River Mersey through to Northenden, forming a loop at Didsbury Golf Club and returning to the finish in Alexandra Park in Edgeley’.
Last year’s event was won by Damian Nicholls in a time of 1:15:36 and Annette Bowden in 1:26:29sec and I was anxious to know from John how entries were going this year.
`We have 170 runners signed up , and there is a healthy mix of club runners and unattached within those numbers. Local running clubs have backed the Hatters Half, fantastically well….. Bramhall Runners, Wilmslow Running Club, Belle Vue Racers, Marple Runners and East Cheshire Harriers & Tameside AC have all included the event in their Race Championships for 2016, which should boost race numbers significantly’
Last year’s race saw the trialling of a Chip Timing system for the race, and I was pleased to hear that Poynton based, Crazy Legs Events will be providing the race management and chip timing for this year’s event.
The inaugural Hatters Half did great things for the Stockport Community and raised a nice sum for the Supporters Cooperative’s Guardian Account, and Giles was quick to confirm that the Hatters Half will again benefit the Guardian Account, the objective being to purchase an asset for the supporters, enabling long-term sustainability and security for the Club.
I was wanting to know about the race’s charity partner which last year was Stockport homeless charity The Wellspring on Harvey Street in the town centre, ` Yes….the Wellspring will again be the charity we recommend runners to support, and I urge anyone interested to go to the charity’s website . www.thewellspring.co.uk ‘
Remembering the wonderful sight of the Robinson’s shire horses at last year’s race I asked the obvious question and got the happiest of replies from the Race Director who confirmed that Robinson’s Brewery is supporting the race once again, and will be sending their shire horses and vintage dray to the event` Robinsons provide us with significant financial support – which enables the event to proceed.’ was John’s parting comment.
Entries are now open for the Hatters Half and are competitively priced at £17 for affiliated runners and £19 for non-affiliated – sign up at www.hattershalf.co.uk. The race goodie bag includes a ticket to a Stockport County match.
The Co-operative will need marshals, so if you can help or can provide any other type of assistance, please contact Race Director, John Giles – firstname.lastname@example.org
11 May 2016:
The past week has been a busy one for the Stockport County Supporters cooperative.
On Saturday the Supporters Cooperative board members were out in force in the Cheadle End Cabin as County prepared for their final match of the 2015/16 season.
The reason for the large turnout was the `End of Season Sale’ which was attracting supporters attention. Each sale added to the burgeoning coffers of the Guardian Account, and once again the fans made the board members efforts worthwhile by purchasing quite a quantity of good quality items. In addition a dozen new members were signed up and tickets for the `County Night at the Stockport Beer Festival’ were sold as well, so all in all that was a good start to Saturday- shame about the game!
Less than 24 hours later and another decent turnout defied the worst that Stockport’s weather gods could throw at them, defying incessant rain and high winds at the 2016 Supporters Cooperative 5 A Side Tournament.
The event was a resounding success , and attracted a record entry of 10 teams to the Stockport Power League.
The weather was dismal to obnoxious , but the teams were in good spirits as the games got underway around noon with the teams split into 2 groups, which resulted in Edgeley Villa A & B topping the groups after all the games were played.
This set Edgeley Villa A against Piccadilly Depot in Semi Final 1 whilst the Villa B team took on HLab
The Edgeley Villa teams triumphed setting up the derby of derbies for the final, in which the B team ran out convincing 4-1 winners to become the third name on the Supporters Cooperative Shield!
Well done everyone, and congrats to Andy Plant for organising the event so well and raising in the region of £200 in the process for the Guardian Account.
On then to Friday and County’s ` End of Season Annual Awards Dinner’ in Edgeley Park’s Insider Suite.
It is the occasion when gongs are handed out for the seasons high achievers, and the Supporters Cooperative’s focus was on the George Haigh Young Players of the Year Award, donated by 100 year old County Legend George Haigh and given into the Cooperative’s care to administer.
It was the high point of the evening for me and others, and a magnificent sight to see Danny Morton receive his trophy from George, and so good to again see George back in Stockport .
04 May 2016:
The Supporters Cooperative Board met recently to review and progress various matters.
First we received notification from the Club that another substantial shareholder had agreed to write off the debt owed to them by the Club. We agreed that this was more good news and potentially moved the Club closer to resolving the debt issue, but would keep the situation under review as matters progressed..
On the issue of Catering at Edgeley Park, a meeting had taken place between the Co-op Board and the Caterers, to raise issues of concern on behalf of supporters regarding EP Catering. Since the meeting at which we were assured that arrangements were in hand to address our concerns, it was noted with satisfaction that some improvement had been apparent, we would continue to liase with the Caterers on an ongoing basis, next season
The possibility of organising an open/ members meeting was discussed and we agreed to delay a decision until the dates of the pre-season friendlies were known .
The Supporters Cooperative, as announced in the Stockport Express last week, has embarked on a membership drive recently and we can report that great interest is already being shown and membership numbers are increasing nicely.
Any member wishing to review their membership details or subscriptions, or any non member wanting to join should do so via this link….
On Finance it was noted with satisfaction that the Guardian Account now stood at £18300, whilst regarding events and fund raising, it was reported that there were now 123 runners registered to compete in the second Stockport Hatters Half Marathon, which is again supported by Robinson’s Brewery.
It was agreed to keep leafleting the Park Runs, which are a steady source of entries, whilst local clubs and those in the North of England generally would be contacted to stimulate additional interest. It was noted that arrangements were in advance of those at a comparable stage last year and we are confident of attracting between 600 and 700 athletes of varying abilities this year.
The race is on Sunday 4 September from Hardcastle Road Edgeley , and the starting pistol will fire at 9.30pm- enter via hattershalf.co.uk
Tickets are going well for the Beer Festival and there is considerable interest being shown in the `County Night at the Beer Festival’ which has been arranged for Thursday 2 June 2016. Lots of County related activities are planned and we will be showing ( live) England’s Euro 2016 warm up match that will be on that night. So …for one night only `Thursday Night will be County Night’ and at £2 a ticket it’s a snip!
And finally…. We are advised that 100 y.o County Legend George Haigh will make an appearance at County’s End of Season Awards Evening on Friday of this week( May 6) , and he will be presenting the magnificent trophy he donated to the Club, to the Young Player of the Season.
Sounds like a not to be missed evening to me!
27 April 2016:
Friday 15 April 2016 was a red letter day for the Stockport County Supporters Cooperative as, after many months of trying to resolve a seemingly insoluble set of issues concerning the in house membership system, last Friday saw us launch our new membership system via Web Collect.
The system is now up and running , and we are inviting members to seek it out , update their details where appropriate, and renew membership if that is necessary ,via
Supporters with no access to the internet , who pay offline, can continue to do so, renewing via any Coop Board Member or at the Cabin in the Cheadle End Car Park prior to the Curzon Ashton game.
We are also inviting supporters who have not yet decided to join us to consider doing so.
Consider…..the Supporters Cooperative has in a few short years has
# obtained Asset of Community Value status for Edgeley Park that prevents, and has prevented ,the stadium being sold without the community, in the shape of the Club and the Supporters Cooperative, being consulted.
# through our regular contact with the Board of Stockport County , and our presence at Club Board Meetings we are able to voice the concerns of supporters on a regular basis. In this respect we have recently met and discussed with the Club, fans concerns on issues including Catering and Stewarding , and the results of our contacts with the Club are regularly passed on to our membership.
# we were able to work closely with the Club and support their successful negotiations to secure the transfer of ownership of Edgeley Park from its previous owners to the Stockport Council.
# We have worked with Help the Hatters and by so doing ,for the first time, been able to gain a shareholding in the Club via the Players Fund, whilst at the same time supporting the Club Board in their efforts to reduce shareholder debt, efforts which are making significant progress!
We see it as vital to ensure the Club attains a situation where it is debt free in the future, and that the Supporters via the Supporters Cooperative play a real role in that future in which Edgeley Park is never again used as collateral for deals that ultimately saddle us with debt!
To this end we have established the Guardian Account in order to provide supporters with the means to build up a significant collectively owned sum to empower supporters and give them a real influence in the Clubs future.
As a consequence we run many events, and you can be assured that whether it is a Quiz…..or a Half Marathon with a growing reputation for excellence, any moneys raised in these events will be used to boost the Guardian Account , which recently topped £18000 for the first time.
Much important work to be done then….but the bright future we all desire for Stockport County and its supporters, can only come about if we stick together and work hard to achieve this.
The Supporters Cooperative is resolved to do just that- please join us….help us make it so!
20 April 2016:
As the season draws to a close most of us are probably left wondering what went wrong (again) this year was meant to be different, promotion or nothing, that was the slogan wasn’t it? Neil Young looked a good appointment and he brought in a complete new squad with a good mix of experience and the first month looked like we’d at last turned the corner but we’ve been there before only to find another dead end.
Another big disappointment for me is the number of County fans who have still not joined the Co-op, I just don’t get why anyone would not want to be part of a strong supporters group working with the club and pushing the fans agenda. We regularly sit down with the club and go through everything from the playing budget to the number of stewards at games and even the cost and quality of refreshments on sale in the ground. Some think we’re a protest group, others have accused us of not protesting enough, it’s a difficult balance but what we’re trying to achieve is a meaningful working relationship with the club, we want to influence the thinking behind the decision making at our club, we want to be part of it.
Enough of the disappointments, there are plenty of positives to shout about, the Co-op have built up a substantial fund in the shape of the Guardian Account, which will only be used when the majority of our members say so, we’re also shareholders in our club so if you join you’ll be a part owner. We’ve put on some really successful fund raising events, the biggest event and the one that has become our flagship event is the Hatters Half Marathon which was a huge success last September and this year it looks like it will be even better. We’ve also got the annual 5 a side tournament taking place in May at Power league and we’ve managed to make the Thursday night at the Stockport Beer festival `County night’ so we’ve got a lot going on. We’ve come a long way but we want to take this organisation a lot further and we can do it if we all get involved, so please join up it’s just £12 a year, just check out or website at www.countysupporterscoop.co.uk.
On a personal note the biggest positive for me this season came about through disappointment and that’s the return of Jim Gannon, I’m absolutely convinced that given time he’ll finish the job he started previously.
13 April 2016:
Ex County Player George Haigh is a one off….at 100 years old the oldest surviving former professional footballer certainly in the UK probably the world!
George had in fact played at Edgeley Park in the Stockport Schools Final in 1929, and even today can describe in detail the changing rooms from the stand that perished in the fire of 1935. He had been at County since he was 17 and had played in the A, B and Reserve teams. He had attended games (most notably the famous 1935 FA Cup 5th round tie v West Bromwich at Edgeley Park and the Championship winning game against Lincoln in 1937).In short George is one unique person!
George’s career, interrupted by WW2, saw him at Edgeley Park until 1939, but he has been back a time or two since most notably being when he was guest of honour on New Year’s Day 2002, as County officially started their celebration of 100 years at Edgeley Park. The second occasion was the inaugural SCAN presentation evening when we were all able to witness George being presented with his certificate by County’s youngest ever player Paul Turnbull. Since then George has seen County play when he could, usually once or twice a season, and has amazed everyone with his zest and verve which he still maintains!
George was 100 on 29 June 2015, and to celebrate that, in a typically generous gesture, George insisted on donating a magnificent trophy along with a cheque for £1000 to the Supporters Cooperative which was intended to last for a decade (£100 year) to be used to encourage promising young County players. The cheque was given to the Supporters Cooperative as the keeper of the money, so that this could be administered in a transparent way.
Consequently the Supporters Co-operative in association with the SCAN scheme guardians, have decided to institute a ` George Haigh Young Player of the Year’ award , and all County supporters are invited to take part. Any player 23 or under , is eligible for nomination provided that they have turned out for a County team in season 2015/16.
In this respect nominations should be sent in via email to email@example.com or by post to the Co-op secretary at, 21 Hurst Street, Reddish, Stockport, Cheshire SK5 7BA, or can be handed in to the Supporters Coop Cabin in the Cheadle End Car Park prior to the Corby home game on 16 April.
An online nomination form can also be obtained via https://eSurv.org?u=ghypya and the closing date for nominations is 23rd April 2016.
06 April 2016:
We are nearing the end of season 2015/16, but the work of the Stockport County Supporters Cooperative never stops.
The Guardian Account total went beyond £18000 this week . We are constantly working to boost this important fund and all our upcoming events are geared to raise money for the GA.
Firstly the Supporters Cooperative 5 A Side Tournament , at the Powerleague on Sunday 1 May 2016. There is much interest being shown in the event – a really good afternoon out for the family , with the added attraction of a licensed bar on site. You can watch the games free, but the cost to play is £5 per person, and teams should be of a max of 8 players.
So if you fancy this challenge then please get your entry in via Andy Plant at Andrew.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Arrangements are going apace also for the `County Night at the 2016 Stockport Beer Festival’ on Thursday 2nd June at Edgeley Park. The Supporters Co-operative has invited some former County players, including the legendary goalkeeper Alan Ogley.
Also ….as part of County Night, the Co-operative will be holding a ‘Grand Raffle’ and have teamed up with CAMRA’s official charity partner; Bramhall based Beacon Counselling. Beacon exists to improve the lives of adults, young people, and children who experience mental and emotional distress. They tackle a wide range of problems from depression, anxiety and stress through to relationships, bereavement and family breakdown. The proceeds of our ‘Grand Raffle’ will be split 50 / 50 between Beacon Counselling and the Co-op’s Guardian Account.
We would like to make an appeal to County fans and businesses for prizes which we can include in our ‘Grand Raffle’. If anyone can help, please contact Dave Marchbank via email – email@example.com.
Tickets are also available for £2 from the Co-op Cabin in the Cheadle End car park on a match day or via our on-line shop.
We have arranged a deal with CAMRA, thus….if the tickets are purchased via the Co-op then the £2 entry fee goes directly to the Co-op and will benefit our Guardian Account. Please remember to buy tickets from the Co-op, rather than paying on the door.
We announced recently that we were anxious to pursue, with the Club, the idea of establishing a County Museum’ at Edgeley Park. Well….having since sketched out our plan to the Club, we can now advise you of the situation following a meeting of the Supporters Cooperative Board and interested party’s.
The Supporters Cooperative is well on with arrangements to apply for Heritage Lottery funding for the Museum, and we are hopeful of enlisting the valued help of Help the Hatters, SCAN and our magnificent Community Foundation in the process.
Whilst the grant application is put together we have agreed with John Fitzpatrick, that he would act as conduit twixt the Club and ourselves on the matter, and in this respect John will seek now to make a presentation to the Club Board regarding the Museum . We will keep you informed as we go!
Meanwhile we would be interested to hear from any County supporters with expertise in the area of Shopfitting and Designing- Specialising in Multi-Purpose Displays.
Anyone interested please email info@countysupporters coop.co.uk
30 March 2016:
The history of Stockport County and the difficulties that successive administrations have had in squaring an almost impossible circle whilst trying to keep the Club alive, are well known.
The current board of the Club have been in place for a relatively short period of time, and the same is also true of the board of the Stockport County Supporters Cooperative.
The real world situation that both boards operate in, has inevitably meant that there would be much contact twixt the two. Each would necessarily approach issues from a somewhat different angle, but that would be no bad thing if County’s future was to be secured.
Early doors saw the Coop Board opt for a policy of engagement with the Club Board…..`Constructive Engagement’ if you like, by which we meant that we would constructively meet and engage with the Club Board in an attempt to work towards getting County out of the mire the Club has descended into in the recent past. The caveat to this was of course that we would constantly need to raise issues, on an ongoing basis, on behalf of our members, which we have done.
Any other approach ( to opt say for a siege mentality and lob criticism and abuse at the Club Board from a distance) we deemed not to be on, despite a minority view that that is precisely what we should have done.
The last few days has revealed just how wise the Coop Board’s policy was, with the announcement, by the Club, of the ground breaking agreement with Mr Spencer Fearn on the question of debt.
The announcement confirmed that agreement had been reached with Mr Fearn to clear his outstanding loans to the football club- a brilliant result- the culmination of a period of long hard negotiations between Mr Fearn and the Club, and this will make a considerable contribution towards improving the attractiveness of County to interested third parties looking to invest in the Club.
There remains still some steps needed to be taken before the balance sheet is where most people want it to be, but the Club appears to be moving in the right direction, which is a massive relief after years of uncertainty.
We will obviously be monitoring progress in this matter, but the Board of the Stockport County Supporters Cooperative, on behalf of Stockport County Supporters, have warmly welcomed the above announcement, and congratulated all concerned, and will redouble their efforts to assist the Club back to being a stable….financially sound member of the Football League.
It will be an exciting journey, and no doubt one with as many troughs as peaks along the way, but we will ensure that the Clubs magnificent supporters continue to be represented as we go, and their voices heard.
23 March 2016:
The Events Team of the Supporters Cooperative are firing on all cylinders just now…. and well and truly buzzing with the news that the Supporters Cooperative `Big County Quiz’ at the Bungalow, raised over £300 for the Guardian Account.
It was a fantastic event that built to a tie breaking crescendo with teams Mc Fox and Coop Elite each finishing top of the pile with 63 points. A nerve tingling tie breaker saw Mc Fox pip the Elitists to carry off the medals and the prizes- what a way to ring the curtain down on a Saturday that included a 3-0 County victory as well!
Great though this was, it was only a start as there are exciting events in the Events Teams locker that are upcoming soon too….
For starters on Sunday 1 May Andy Plant is organising the annual Supporters Cooperative 5 A Side Tournament at the Power League.
Teams should arrive 11:30am for 12:00 noon start
5 a side. Max 8 players per team- £5 per player
The Tournament format will be determined on the day once all teams have arrived. The aim is a several group round robin start, followed by QF, SF, F . and Powerleague league rules will be adhered to.
Each team should get a minimum of 45 minutes in the group stage, and …….there’s a licensed bar on site , so what’s not to like?
All the proceeds again go to the Guardian Account, and team entries should be sent to Andrew.Plant@enwl.co.uk
Next up , tickets are now available for the `County Night’ at the 2016 Stockport Beer Festival on Thursday 2 June from 5.30pm until 11.00.
This popular event is again being staged at Edgeley Park, so it is entirely appropriate that the Supporters Cooperative have negotiated this evening session dedicated to our great Club.
Yes……for one night only Thursday night is County Night.
Tickets cost £2 each , and once more every penny from ticket sales will go towards boosting the Guardian Account!
Already Alan Ogley has agreed to attend and help give the evening a real County flavour, and there’s loads more in the offing too, so please support this event….and the Guardian Account …..by buying a ticket for the Thursday evening session …in advance….from the Supporters Cooperative. This way ensures the GA gets the income….pay on the night and the GA gets NOWT!
So …..where can you get a ticket?
From any Supporters Cooperative Board member
Pre match at the cabin in the Cheadle End car park ( 1.30- 2.30)
16 March 2016:
Stockport County is a Club steeped in a rich history that stretches way back into the nineteenth century. Even then….County were a club that had to `sell to survive’, a tradition forged by necessity, that has still been an ever present factor as the Club traversed the 20th and headed off into the 21 st century.
One thing that has consistently been a feature of County’s existence is their ability `to punch above their weight’- a factor that seemingly superior teams have neglected to take account of to their cost over the centuries.
Football League Division 3 Championships in seasons 1921/22 and 36/37 together with the magnificent Division Four gong collected in 1966/67, probably rank as peak achievements over the years, but records in league ledgers do not by any means tell the whole story.
Unfortunately however the fire that gutted the Hardcastle Road Main Stand in July 1935 took with it all the Clubs historic records, and it has been a Herculean effort by a host of dedicated individuals to ensure records were maintained subsequently, as far as possible, but much remains lost to us.
So……County 13-0 win against Halifax Town in January 1934 , which still stands as a Football League Record…….the epic `Longest Game’ between County and Doncaster Rovers watched by over 12500 at Edgeley Park on 30 March 1946, that went on for 203 minutes……..County’s League Cup run that took them to the Semi- Finals in season 1996/97 …….the Wembley Play Off win of 2007-8 along with the 9 game / 9 wins with 9 clean sheets of the same season( another FL Record), have all been captured by one or other of the Clubs historians over the years.
There has not however been somewhere central where County fans can go to acquaint themselves with the Clubs rich history…..or maybe catch a glimpse of Harry Hardy’s England Cap.That is why the Supporters Cooperative has approached the Club to suggest that the time is right to establish a Stockport County Museum at Edgeley Park.
The Clubs response was immediate and welcoming to the idea ,which the Supporters Cooperative will now move to bring to fruition, utilising their links with Supporters Direct to explore the possibilities of utilising a Lottery Heritage Grant for the project, which is really good news for County fans.
We will keep you posted as to progress in this matter, and will happily talk to anyone willing to donate material to the Museum ,when it materialises.
The Supporters Cooperative have also discussed encouraging research into County in the period around the 1914-18 War. This was thought of as a much neglected period in terms of County history and maybe one suitable for cooperation with a local college in conjunction with the Museum, which would have a continually updated, and refreshed, displays.
09 March 2016:
The Supporters Cooperative Events team of Dave Marchbank and John Giles , were cock-a hoop this week ahead of a busy programme of events the duo are organising on behalf of the supporters group.
John Giles was particularly buoyed having overcome a series of bureaucratic hurdles to finally be able to announce that the second Stockport Hatters Half Marathon will go ahead on Sunday 4 September 2016.
The race again starts outside Edgeley Park, heads off via Stockport streets to the Tameside Trail where its scenic route skirts the mighty River Mersey before heading back to the tree lined race finish in Alexandra Park, and we are expecting 700 runners to line up and face the challenge, an increase of 300 on the inaugural race numbers.
Hard on the heels of the above confirmation having been negotiated, Giles moved on to more talks which again resulted in the happiest of conclusions, namely that Stockport’s own Robinson’s Brewery…..Brewers of fine ales for 175 years …..announced their welcome support for the event.” We are really pleased to have Robinson’s on board again. Last year’s race was greatly enhanced by having them as our Primary Corporate Partner, and we look forward to another successful partnership this year” Giles told the Stockport Express.
We understand that Robinsons intend to enter a team of `Dizzy Blondes’ again this year, and they will be dressed in their pink County tops.
In addition we can confirm that Robinsons supporting our `Big County Quiz’ and have donated brewery tour tickets, which will be presented to each winning member of the Quiz, which takes place at the Bungalow at 5.30pm this Saturday, after County’s game with Gloucester City.
Our lucky winners will receive a tour of their award winning Visitors Centre on Apsley Street, and discover the heritage of this proudly independent family brewery and uncover the secrets behind their award winning brewing process, whilst also meeting up with fabulous shire horses Hopnik and Wizard…..oh…and maybe sample some Robbies ale at the end of the tour!
If you have not entered yourself or a team yet, for the `Big County Quiz’, there’s still time, the price is £4 per player or £20 per team, with a maximum of 5 players per team and every player receives a free pie! We also have a number of excellent spot prizes for successfully answering questions throughout the quiz.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to book your place and enjoy a great evening hosted by Quiz Master – Ben Walker.
02 March 2016:
Readers will be aware of the close relationship between the Supporters Cooperative and Supporters Direct who provide so much valuable assistance to Supporters groups around the UK. SD have been most helpful over the years in providing advice and much more that has enabled us to establish ourselves firmly as the `go to’ supporters group when it comes to matters Stockport County.
The Supporters Cooperative now has well established communication links with the Directors of Stockport County FC, with whom we meet on a fairly regular basis to discuss issues of importance to Club and Supporters.
Elsewhere within the UK, it is interesting to note that things are beginning to move on the issue of supporters participation and ownership of clubs, indeed I was amazed to see the current UK Government, not one known for progressive legislation, move to establish an Expert Working Group to identify the changes perceived to be necessary to improve football in England and Wales.
A month has now passed since the Working Group on football supporter ownership and engagement report was published, and I was interested to note some of the recommendations……..
Instituting a Structures Dialogue at local level, on Supporter Involvement at football clubs.
For season 2016/17 clubs playing in the Premier League, Championship, FL1 and FL2 must:
- Meet with a Supporters Trust as part of a representative group of supporters at least twice a year to discuss major issues
- Put forward suitable senior representatives from clubs such as owners, directors, senior executives for the meeting
- Share a minimum level of information at the meetings (to still be determined by the football authorities)
Structured dialogue at a national level
- The football authorities commit to meet with supporters groups who have concerns over the governance standards of the way their club is run
More resource for supporter ownership bids
- A new fund will be created for Supporters Trusts to apply for professional fees to prepare a bid to own the club if the owner consents to listen to a bid or if the club is in crisis
Changes to FL insolvency rules to encourage supporter ownership
- For season 2016/17 if a FL club is in administration the administrator must meet with a supporters trust within 21 days of their appointment and provide it with an opportunity to bid for the club
Support for tax incentives for a supporter owned clubs
- EWG support for SD’s COSC proposal which would see recognition for supporter owned clubs benefiting from rate relief, gift aid and corporation tax breaks
. Supporters Direct intend to lobby for implementation of the recommended changes as well as trying for improvements in same, and are currently consulting Trusts and Coops seeking views on the way forward , and I can only say` more power to the SD elbow!’.
With County currently languishing way down the football pyramid, all the above may sound a touch unconnected, but we are aiming to be a FL outfit again…..soon….and one in which supporters play a central role, so it is very relevant indeed!
24 February 2016:
The last few days have been busy one’s for the Supporters Cooperative.
First up….. we are pleased to announce the arrival of our Guardian Account Online Shop, which is offering decent quality County memorabilia for sale at reasonable prices. All proceeds go to the Guardian Account, and the shop can be reached via http://www.countysupporterscoop.co.uk
Then…as mentioned in this column last week, on Saturday 12 March, after the Gloucester game, we are hosting `The Big County Quiz Night’. The event starts at 5.30 pm in the Bungalow and costs £4 per person/£20 for a 5 person team.
Entries please to email@example.com
Meanwhile however…… whilst we look like hitting the buffers with our plans to stage an 11 A Side Tournament at Edgeley Park, ….undaunted and with massive thanks to Andy Plant, we are again hosting our annual ` 5 A Side Tournament ‘ at the Power League on Sunday 1 May. Further details will be released soon but be aware that the cost to play is £5 per player. Teams of 5 / max squad of 8 per team. Entries should be sent to Andy at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday 2 June sees us host a `County Night’ at the Stockport Beer and Cider Festival, which you will know takes place at Edgeley Park. We are currently working on County style events to take place within the Thursday session, and CAMRA have agreed that the Supporters Cooperative retain the moneys from the sale of tickets on that day….so….please get your ticket before hand, when they become available, and help boost the Guardian Account. Tickets can be obtained via dave.marchbank@ gmail.com or from any Coop Board Member.
Regarding the Players Fund…in concert with Help the Hatters the Supporters Cooperative agreed to contribute £500 to the recent `Boost the Budget’ effort, and ,In addition, a sum of £100 was donated to the Stockport to Bradford Walkers in support of Michelle Wheatley. Jack Leeming and Chris Hester deserve everyone’s congratulations for their selfless efforts organising this!
On line trials are almost complete now as far as the new Membership system is concerned- launch is imminent, and the system looks to be 100% user friendly.
In January we welcomed Nick Lees to the Board of the Supporters Cooperative. Nick was co-opted to help us cater better for the needs of our younger membership. Nick is already involved with our Quiz Night, and has now identified another area where a simple solution is possibly at hand. Visit the Bung pre match and you might see upwards of a dozen youngsters about the place. Are they adequately catered for pre match? Possibly…..possibly not….so Nick has suggested a FIFA X Box Tournament for the youngsters in the Bung. So….watch this space ….and seek Nick out if you are at all interested.
17 February 2016:
Buoyed by the excitement created by the return of Jin Gannon to Edgeley Park, the Stockport County Supporters Cooperative have been hard at work.
We announced in the Stockport Express of 3 February, the news that on Saturday 12 March, immediately after County’s game against Gloucester City, the Supporters Cooperative are staging a County Quiz Night , in the Bungalow Club, Hardcastle Road from 5.30 pm.
With County fan Ben Walker sorting the questions out(mainly of a County nature, but music and general knowledge also) attention has focused on the competing teams.
Confirmed so far are `the Spinning Tops’,` Pressure’, `Marionsboard’, `Yellowboard’ and Offerton Cricket Club are probable starters on the 12th.As far as we can ascertain Help the Hatters are likely to respond positively to the challenge from sister fan group the Supporters Cooperative,and enter a team but this is yet to be finally confirmed. Meanwhile the Coop has their team more or less sorted….with Chair Pete Towey stepping forward , along with Billy Byrne, John Giles, Damian Beaumont and hedgegrower who was so determined to grab a team spot, that he has put back the publication date of his County v Gloucester match report on the 12th until early Sunday 13th!
A reminder then….the cost per person is £4 or £20 per team (5 players per team), and one of Help the Hatters famous pies will be included in the fee, with a prize for every member of the winning team, as well as a raffle with fantastic County related prizes on offer, and the whole shebang is in support of the Guardian Account.
Individuals or whole teams can take part, and should book a place via email to email@example.com .
The next first team home game at Edgeley Park will be on 27 February when County take on Gainsborough Trinity. The Supporters Cooperative will, as usual, have a presence in the Cheadle End Car Park Cabin pre match twixt 1.30 and 2.40. So….if you have any County memorabilia to spare, you can help us boost the Guardian Account by dropping your items off at the cabin.
You can also pick up a membership form from the Cabin and either join us or renew your membership there, if you have not already done so via our website http://www.countysupporterscoop.co.uk/join-us/
Finally many congratulations to Coop Events Manager and Vice Chair Dave Marchbank who received rave reports for his excellent presentation at the recent Supporters Direct Regional Meeting. Dave concentrated on fund raising in his time at the lectern, and the SD delegates expressed admiration for his efforts which included David Wright’s excellent video of the Stockport Hatters Half Marathon. With discussion moving on after this to grant availability for Supporters Trusts, interest was high, and the subject will clearly be one that the Supporters Cooperative will revisit in the near future.
10 February 2016:
The Stockport County Supporters Cooperative are linked to and receive valuable support from Supporters Direct.
Supporters Direct has been working since 2000 to help supporters gain influence in the running and/or ownership of their clubs. In the past 15 years SD have helped establish Supporters Trusts at over 180 clubs, whilst providing valuable support for 750,000 members of supporters’ trusts in the UK.
Supporters Trusts have now brought well over £40 million of new finance into football and rugby league, and 39 clubs in the UK are now in ownership or in control by supporters’ trusts, including Football League clubs Portsmouth FC, AFC Wimbledon, Exeter City and Wycombe Wanderers.
In addition over 100 supporters’ trusts now have shareholding in their club, and upwards of 70 supporters’ trusts have directors at their clubs
Supporters Direct will be holding their first regional meeting of 2016 at FC United of Manchester’s Broadhurst Park facility in Moston, Manchester this evening( Wednesday 10th February).
Delegates are welcome to attend from 6:00pm for a tour of the newly opened Broadhurst Park facility, refreshments will be served from 6:30pm with business beginning at 7:00pm and closing by 9:30pm.
This North West regional meeting will have the overarching theme of fundraising and is aimed at giving trusts and clubs ideas on how to raise capital for projects, provide information on available grant funding as well as talk about long term, consistent, sustainable fundraising schemes.
The evening will consist of a headline speaker from Heritage Lottery Grant Funding who will discuss current grant opportunities open to Community Benefit Societies as well as how to successfully apply for funding. The evening will also feature a panel of guest speakers from across the trust network who will talk about recent projects they have undertaken and how the funding required for these was achieved.
Stockport County Supporters Cooperative were delighted to send one of their number to speak at this important gathering, and the SD meeting will provide Supporters Cooperative Events Manager Dave Marchbank with an ideal opportunity to address the meeting on the fund raising issue. Dave will be highlighting whilst on the subject, the tremendous organisational triumph we pulled off last year with the first Stockport Hatters Half Marathon.
The evening is an excellent chance to get ideas for projects and research possible funding for Supporters Trusts or Community Owned Clubs, as well as a great opportunity to share ideas and network with likeminded groups.
Attendance is free to any members of Stockport County Supporters Cooperative.( Non members £10)
Details on how to get to Broadhurst Park can be found on the FC United of Manchester travel hub .
Great stuff…and we look forward to Dave’s report in due course.
Be aware meanwhile that we are still on the lookout for County Memorabilia, and anything you can root out and hand to us in the Cabin before any home game, will help us build up the Guardian Account.
03 February 2016:
Now….we all , from time to time fancy ourselves as being knowledgeable on one subject or other, but we do not always , in this harsh world, get the opportunity to showcase our talents and bring them to the attention of the outside world.
Well…. I happen to know that County fans are no exception to this rule, so…… through the columns of the Stockport Express I am very pleased to announce to them that opportunity is at hand….their talent can receive its just reward!
“OK…..how?” I hear you reasonably respond, and I can tell you that on Saturday 12 March, immediately after County’s game against Gloucester City, the Supporters Cooperative are staging a County Quiz Night , in the Bungalow Club, Hardcastle Road from 5.30 pm.
County fan Ben Walker has been enlisted as Quiz Master for the evening and he has assured us that the questions….mainly of a County nature, but music and general knowledge also……. will test the mightiest of minds!
The cost per person is £4 or £20 per team (5 players per team),and one of Help the Hatters famous pies will be included in the fee.
We are advised that there will be a prize for every member of the winning team, as well as a raffle with fantastic County related prizes on offer, and the whole shebang is in support of the Guardian Account.
Individuals or whole teams can take part, and should book a place via email to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Thus far we have some likely lads and lasses down to have a go on March 12 including `the Spinning Tops’,` Pressure’ a suitably stressed out outfit, and Offerton Cricket Club we hear are getting a team together. Grudge matches abound as well, with rival County Message boards ( Marions and Yellow Board) going head to head, and The Supporters Coop Board ponders a possible challenge from buddies Help the Hatters . Incidentally……we hear that Marionsboard are entering more than one team…..over to you YB!
So…..it looks all set, so do not be tempted to miss this one, get your entries in today!
Before then though, there will again be a Supporters Cooperative presence in the Cabin in the Cheadle End Car Park, from 1.30 to 2.40 before County’s game with Hednesford on 6 February. So….if you have any County memorabilia to spare , you can help us boost the Guardian Account by dropping your items off at the cabin, or arranging with us there to pick up.
You can also pick up a membership form from the Cabin and either join us or renew your membership there, if you have not already done so via our website http://www.countysupporterscoop.co.uk/join-us/
27 January 2016:
Supporters of Stockport County were energised, this week, by the news that Jim Gannon had been appointed Manager of the Club for the third time.
Jim is a massively popular figure with County’s Blue & White Army, and everyone at the Supporters Cooperative is delighted to see him back where he belongs. We will be 100% behind Jim as he sets about the gargantuan task of halting the Club’s spiral of decline. A tall order, that has proved to be beyond many before him, but we believe Jim Gannon is the man for the job!
The previous County Manager benefited from the efforts of County fans, who via an energetic campaign on social media and message boards ,raised in excess of £6000 in barely 24 hours. Well….I have used the word `energised’ earlier and that’s just what County fan Lee Worrall has been ,as a result of Jim’s appointment, and the result has been another big push , aimed at supporting the County Manager when he needs it most. Tentatively named `Blue Monday’, the on line effort is poised to go live February 1st.
The Supporters Cooperative will be supporting this effort along with Help the Hatters who will be managing same, and anyone wishing to donate should visit http://theplayersfund.webs.com/.
So…..with the above…..and the eagerly awaited Membership Drive almost ready to be rolled out by the Supporters Cooperative, there is much to be done, and we were buoyed by the news coming our way via a clutch of local athletics clubs this week.
September 4 sees the second Hatters Half Marathon, which again will start and finish close by Edgeley Park. Last year’s race was a magnificent success for the Supporters Cooperative, Stockport County and the Town of Stockport, and we are aiming for 2016 to be even better.
Last year’s inaugural race attracted over 400 runners, 15% of whom were from running clubs. However on the back of rave reports from runners who ran the event, interest from clubs is building fast to the extent that Belle Vue, Wilmslow, Bramhall and Stockport Harriers have all included the Hatters Half in their Race Series’ virtually guaranteeing a boost in entry numbers this time around, with the consequent increase in quality that this brings with it!
Much to look forward too then, but before then the Supporters Cooperative will again be in the cabin in the Cheadle End Car Park, between 1.30 and 2.30 before the Hednesford game on 6 February . You can join or renew your membership at the cabin paying cash or cheque , or indeed join or renew membership online at http://countysupporterscoop.com/
In addition we are well on with our plans to launch the `online shop’ on http://countysupporterscoop.com/ having collected a decent amount of memorabilia so far at the cabin. If you have County memorabilia please consider dropping it off at the cabin, all proceeds will go to the Guardian Account via on line sales.
20 January 2016:
With the news that Neil Young had vacated the County Manager’s seat , the board of Stockport County Supporters Cooperative acted quickly to express their views on the subject to the Club Board.
A statement issued by the Supporters Cooperative board read as follows…..
The co-op board note the resignation of County Manager Neil Young. We would like to place on record our thanks for all the hard work and effort which Neil put into his job, and to share our regret that it did not meet with greater success. We believe that Neil has done the decent thing in walking away from what was becoming an increasingly untenable situation.
Our club has, since leaving administration, experienced confusion and uncertainty both on and off the pitch. We have employed a bewildering series of managers in that period and our performance as a team has suffered as a result. Now that efforts to stabilise the situation off the pitch seem to be moving in the right direction, it is vital that our club secures the means to ensure stability on the pitch.
We urge the Directors of Stockport County, when considering the appointment of a new manager, to avoid any short-term fixes but, to make a priority of the securing a sustainable, steady, long-term future for our football team. We are sure that if the right appointment is made, and a new manager comes in who has an ongoing commitment to building a team which will get us back where we belong, they will have the 100% backing of our magnificent and loyal supporters.
My views on just who should fill the County vacancy are well known, but as a body we felt that the above points needed to be made eschewing any mention of personal preferences.
Despite County’s recent travails on the pitch, off it some progress has been made, starting with the transfer of Edgeley Park from owners outside the Borough to Stockport Council. As I say……a start…..but a good one, and County’s current Board, and its advisers, achieved this essential first step in reclaiming the football ground, with the support of the Supporters Cooperative. Therein therefore lies the key to future success for the Club. This is best achieved by all the relevant interested parties working together to shelve differences and get on with the task of saving the Club and moving it up the football pyramid.
To this end the Supporters Cooperative has forged a powerful link with the other major supporters group in the town- Help the Hatters, and with them we will be working to restore County to its rightful place in the Football League….supporting the board of the Club when needed…..offering constructive criticism when necessary.
Off the field then…..there are reasons to be cautiously optimistic…..on the park we await the arrival of County’s new Manager to give our magnificent supporters something worthwhile to cheer.
13 January 2016:
So……into 2016 we go……and whilst County’s on the field fortunes continue to falter, off it the Supporters Cooperative has been actively setting the wheels in motion on a number of interesting areas.
Before Saturday’s game against AFC Telford, Supporters Coop Board members decamped to the cabin in the Cheadle End Car Park. There was a two fold aim……to receive food donations from any fans who missed us the game before, for onward dispatch to the Wellspring……and to collect County memorabilia, with the intent to re-sell and thus boost the Guardian Account.
The response from County fans, was impressive, with half a van full of Food and clothing collected, which was delivered to the Wellspring on Sunday. Meanwhile , at half time, the Supporters Cooperative presented a cheque for £260 to the homeless charity on the pitch, thanks to County fans generosity.
The memorabilia appeal produced an enthusiastic response from County supporters ,a framed and signed County shirt from the 81 promotion season, 8 County Shirts in immaculate condition, along with an XL training top and a scarf, were dropped off at the cabin, and further donations of very collectable Rothmans Football Year Books are in the offing, and will be picked up by the Coop’s busy Events Manager Dave Marchbank ,hopefully this week.
This was a magnificent effort by County fans and the Supporters Cooperative is very appreciative of their generosity. Our aim is to use the memorabilia to help boost the Guardian Account, via sails on our upcoming website shop. Our usual auctions might be in the mix as well as we initially look to push the GA past £20000. In this respect we hope that supporters will continue to support us with further memorabilia donations in the weeks ahead.
So….. the focus of much that the Supporters Cooperative do in 2016 is likely to have the Guardian Account in mind. Many of the events, ranging from the highly rated Hatters Half Marathon through to the enjoyable annual Supporters Coop 5 A Side Tournament, organised so well by Andy Plant, will raise funds for the G.A.
Opinions vary as to just what the precise focus of the Guardian Account should be, and the Supporters Cooperative hope to be able to give some lead on this issue in the weeks ahead.
One issue that has been a difficult one to sort has been our membership system. We inherited a system that was anything but user friendly and distinctly lacked the capacity to link in with our other in house systems. Now at long last….after much hard work from Supporters Coop Board Members Billy Byrne, Damian Beaumont and with the outside assistance of Andy Carson, we are within reach of solving the issue, and hope to be able to launch the new system within weeks of this article. Thereafter we will go for a membership drive, so watch this space!
06 January 2016:
New Year Message from the Board of Stockport County Supporters’ Co-operative
Happy New Year to County supporters everywhere !
As we stand at the threshold of a new year, it is perhaps a good time to take stock of where
we are up to, and to consider what we as a Co-op have achieved in 2015 and what our plans are for 2016.
Last year the club launched a document outlining their plans for the next five years. The Co-op Board welcomed the initiative, and made the undertaking that we would support and assist the club’s directors and management in implementing the measures outlined in the plan. In particular we welcomed the aims of regaining control of Edgeley Park from Cheshire Sports, working towards the elimination of outstanding debts, and making a priority of promotion back into the Football League. We also made it clear, at the time of the document’s launch, that we would, on behalf of our members, hold the club to account for the successful implementation of the plan – and would expect a full explanation if any of the objectives of the plan were not delivered.
The Co-op board now regularly sends a representative to meetings of the club board and we will continue to pursue our member’s concerns at such meeting as well as at other meetings which we have with club directors and management. We want supporters to have maximum say in the future of our club and have therefore called on the club to honour their promise of a Fans’ Forum, open to all supporters in the new year, We understand that the club hope to have this organised soon for late January.
Thanks to our partnership with Help the Hatters in supporting the Players Fund, we now hold – on behalf of the fans – 12,500 shares in the football club. We will continue to support the Players Fund and hope to increase our shareholding substantially during 2016.
One of the Co-op’s most important activities in 2015 was in building up the Guardian Account. The fund exists so that the Co-op can be in a position to acquire, alone or in partnership, suitable assets, for example part-ownership of Edgeley Park. An important feature of the account is that not a single penny can be spent without the express permission of the membership (so no more “Ground for a Pound” fiascos). The fund now stands at nearly £18,000. The Co-op is looking into the whole issue of ground ownership and hopes to be in a position this year to present proposals to the club and council.
One of the major fundraising activities of 2015 was the “Hatters Half-Marathon” which proved to be a phenomenal success, attracting over 400 runners, raising good sums for the Guardian Account, and via runners sponsorship, thousands of pounds for charities, including the Co-op’s adopted local charity – The Wellspring , which exists to help the homeless people of the town. We are already planning another Hatters Half for 2016 and are confident of attracting an even larger field.
The Wellspring has also benefitted from other Co-op activities, including over £200 raised at our “Christmas Cavort”. On Boxing Day, we issued an appeal to fans for food donations for the charity – the response was phenomenal! County fans showed what marvellous people they are and helped to collect a full van load of foodstuffs for the Wellspring.
The Co-op is planning several new ventures for 2016.
We plan to be involved in the Stockport CAMRA Beer Festival at Edgeley Park . The Thursday night of the festival is being designated “County Night” and we are hoping to organise a County-themed evening where all fans will be welcome. More details will be published in due course. We also hope to repeat the successful 5-a-side tournament in conjunction with our friends at Power League. We are also working on organising an 11-a-side contest on the sacred ground of Edgeley Park itself! More details to follow. We hope these fundraising ventures can swell the Guardian Account, and would aim to add £20,000 to the fund during the year.
A lot of supporters will be aware that the Co-op’s computerised membership system has had its problems. The membership system has been undergoing a major overhaul, made necessary by the use of incompatible and inefficient systems in the past. I am pleased to say, that after some very hard work, we finally appear to have a membership system that is fit for purpose and should be fully up and running early in the new year when we hope to be able to send out renewal reminders. The new system should make it easier for existing members to renew and for new ones to join.
The subject of membership is a very important one. County’s biggest asset is their incredibly loyal fanbase and the Co-op is by far the largest body representing County supporters. It is fully independent, being run and financed entirely by its membership. If you want to have a voice in the future of our club, you should be a member of the Co-op.
Please join or renew today!
Here’s to a good 2016!
On behalf of the Board of Stockport County Supporters’ Co-operative.
30 December 2015:
Before making any assessment of any situation in a given year it is always necessary to take a look at earlier years to gain perspective.
As far as County supporters are concerned doing so inevitably brings with it heartache and distress, in a season which at least for now, appears in steep decline on the playing field. In fact County fans have to go back to 2008 , when Jim Gannon’s excellent team were beating all comers , to remember the good times. Since then County have had a bewildering variety of Managers, each with their different interpretation of how to get the job done , and thus bring those good times back. Thus far, Alan Lord’s tenure excepted, the results of all these changes has been greatly disappointing.
So…with this season again on a downer and County having won just one game in the last 10 there was every incentive for County fans to pull up their individual draw bridges and send a collective v sign to the world, but hey…..these are County supporters we are talking about….and when the Supporters Cooperative issued their call through the pages of the Stockport Express for them to come to the aid of Stockport’s homeless and donate food in support of the Wellspring, they responded as County fans generally do ….magnificently!
Boxing Day saw Supporters Coop board members out in force in the Cheadle End Car Park , the base for collection of the donated food. By start time ( 1.30) there was already a pile of donated food left with the Club Shop, and by 2.45, the allotted cut off point, we were amazingly still receiving bag after wonderful bag of food as well as some warm clothing, toiletries and there was a welcome boost from a healthy amount of cash donations that will push the cheque the Supporters Coop are due to present to the Wellspring close to £300.
It was a wonderful effort and one that spoke volumes about the average County supporter…..massive thanks from the Supporters Coop who, by the time you read this, will have delivered the donated food to the Wellspring.
Going forward supporters can continue to drop off donations of food , clothing etc either at the stall in the Cheadle End bar, or at the cabin in the Cheadle End Car Park on match days.
23 December 2015:
Boxing Day Food Appeal in support of the Wellspring.
This year the Stockport County Supporters Cooperative will be asking County fans to donate food in support of Stockport Homeless Charity the Wellspring, the Stockport homeless charity that does such tremendous work….365 days a year in the Borough, and is 100% reliant on donations from the public!
To support this effort supporters or members of the public wishing to join in the effort, should please just turn up from 1.30 on Boxing Day , prior to County’s fixture against Harrogate Town and leave their donation of food with the Supporters Cooperative in the Cabin in the Cheadle End Car Park.
What do we want supporters and others to donate?
Tea Bags, Coffee, Sugar , Jam , Milk, Biscuits
Cans ( Soup, Meat, Fish, Tomatoes etc)
Fruit Juices etc
Donations will be passed on to the Wellspring , who we can tell you from past experience, are extremely grateful as are the Stockport homeless to whom they give a lifeline in what are hard times.
Christmas is also the time when the Wellspring holds its Rucksack Project- collecting warm clothing for when the weather takes a turn for the worst.
So …if you have any suitable clothing items ( Bobble Hats, Gloves, Sleeping Bags, Socks etc) please bring them to the Cabin on Boxing Day and the Wellspring will put them to good use.
County Supporters have stepped up to the plate magnificently many times to support those in our Borough less fortunate than themselves.
We thank them for that and ask for continued support with this latest effort, the proceeds from which ,will be added to the moneys raised by the Supporters Cooperative via the 2nd successful `Christmas Cavort’ which went ahead at the Magnet on the A6 on Saturday 12 December.
All who attended enjoyed the occasion with top band `Shifty’ raising the roof with some highly lively sets, and a total of £200 was raised for Wellspring.
16 December 2015:
The Stockport County Boardroom at 6pm on Wednesday 9 December was the scene of a meeting between the County Supporters Cooperative and representatives of the Club Board.
This is a summary of what almost 3 hours of discussion produced…..
On the Field Matters.
The Supporters Coop raised the concerns of supporters as to the dip in performances and results on the field of play, the Board in response confirmed that the Manager continued to retain the full confidence of the Club Board, who felt that there was still adequate time to turn the season around.
In answer to questions on likely playing budget for 2016,it was indicated that the budget would be at least equal to that for the current season.
The 5 Year Plan.
Asked about this, it was confirmed that the 5 Year Plan would be updated in January 2016, giving everyone a clearer picture of how things stood with the Club and what progress has been made since the initial release of this document earlier this year..
The Supporters Coop asked whether funds would be available in January, should they be needed, to enable the Manager to bring someone in to cover the very obvious need in this area.
In reply it was stated that no extra funds were likely to be available, and the Manager would be expected to work within his budget, a situation that was not without some slack to enable him to manoeuvre. The overriding priority for the Club Board remains that the Club remains viable and stable.
Transition Part/ Full Time.
In reply to a question it was confirmed that the Manager had completed the process of submitting a report/plan on the transitional arrangements likely to be needed in the event of promotion. This will be incorporated in the revised 5 Year Plan.
The Club agreed to host a Fans Forum in January to enable the supporters to question the team management face to face about the on field situation.
The Club were asked about projected loss situation.
The projected loss this financial year was circa 97k.In this respect it was confirmed that any losses would continue to be funded by the current active shareholders.
There were no issues preventing the Accounts for the current year being filed/ published.
The Supporters Coop raised concerns about outstanding loans.
For their part the Club Board confirmed that they were working to try and reach amicable agreements with the major creditors, with a view to ultimately all loans being cleared from the books. The whole question of Loans would be covered ,in detail, in the updated 5 Year Plan.
Ownership of Edgeley Park by the Supporters Coop
“Does the club have any objection in principal, to the Co-op owning Edgeley Park?”
The answer to the above question from the Borad representatives was that this would not cause a difficulty and they had no objection in principal to The Co-op owning the ground, as long as the asset was completely secure, and was never borrowed against.
Catering and Stewarding at Edgeley Park
After concerns expressed by the Supporters Coop, it was agreed that meetings be arranged to enable the Supporters Coop to discuss concerns with CGC , the current contractors for C&B, County’s Safety Officer. .
The Supporters Coop indicated that they wanted to run a Food Bank style collection before the Boxing Day fixture v Harrogate at Edgeley Park.
It was agreed we could set up in the car park, and that 1 car park space would be made available to us. The effort would be in support of the Wellspring.
The meeting closed at 8.50.
09 December 2015:
The new board of the Supporters Cooperative will be meeting the Board of Stockport County today( Wednesday December 9) in order to raise and discuss issues on behalf of County Supporters.
The Supporters Coop Board, have wanted to have a further and better opportunity to raise a range of issues with the Club Board away from the telescoped and necessarily restricted time frame offered by the Club Board Meeting, to which the Supporters Cooperative now regularly attend.
As previously reported ,the Christmas Cavort, goes ahead on Saturday 12 December at the Magnet on the A6, featuring headline band Shifty. Doors are at 7pm and it will cost you just £8 for this excellent evening! Tickets from any Coop Board member, direct from Dave Marchbank on 07785 432562……. email@example.com, or online ( with no booking fee) from http://scsccavort.eventbrite.co.uk
In support of the Wellspring charity the Supporters Coop have now committed to staging a Boxing Day Food Bank ( similar to that done so effectively by Curzon Ashton when we visited their place) before the Boxing Day fixture at Edgeley Park against Harrogate, on 26 December .
County Supporters have been magnificent in their support of the Wellspring who have been very appreciative of the donations of food and clothing we have regularly dropped off with them on your behalf.
To support this latest effort supporters are asked to please bring food items to the Cheadle End Coop Stall, or hand to a Coop Board Member.
Stockport Beer Festival 2016
Dave Marchbank has worked hard to establish a working relationship with CAMRA, and his efforts have produced a significant result in so far as CAMRA have agreed that Thursday 2 June 2016 will be earmarked as `County Day’ at the Stockport Beer Festival.
The Supporters Coop will run with this generous gesture, and aim to sell tickets , to the benefit of the Guardian Account.
There’s a fair amount of time between now and the Festival , so if supporters have any additional ideas how we might further utilise Thursday June 2( or indeed if they have any ideas for other events), they are requested to contact Dave.
02 December 2015:
Following the highly successful AGM, the new board of the Stockport County Supporters Cooperative have responded quickly to concerns expressed to them by their members.
It is true to say that County fans, have genuine concerns just now…..not least being the form of the team on the pitch, with particular reference to the poor scoring record of the team throughout the current season.
Throughout this season and the previous one, buoyed by the magnificent efforts of Help the Hatters, County supporters have raised significant amounts of money in support of the Clubs Playing Budget.
Supporters have done this willingly in a conscious effort to halt our decline in fortunes and start the climb back up the football pyramid.
If supporters are to continue digging deep to aid the Club with the playing budget, it must be reasonable for them to see some progress on the park, otherwise another season at our current level beckons with all the financial implications that brings with it.
The Supporters Coop Board are seeking an early meeting with the Club with a view to seeking clarification on a whole range of issues including the above.
We are also urging the club to take action to resolve the issue of outstanding loans which affects the Club’s attractiveness as a target for investment.
So….watch this space…..
On a lighter note we can now confirm that arrangements for the Christmas Cavort are now in hand, and the popular event will go ahead on Saturday 12 December 2015 at the Magnet free house, 51 Wellington Road North, doors from 7 pm.
Last years event, which was in support of the Wellspring who do so much excellent work for the homeless in Stockport, was a massive success, so much so that the formulae from 2014 will be followed this time round…..
Headliners for the evening are Shifty who gave us a couple of high octain sets last year which went down really well. Shifty were a 3 piece band on that occasion and are now a 4 ….so they will be even better value for the admission price which we have pegged at £8 per ticket.
Tickets will be available soon, from the Co-op Stall in the Cheadle End on match days, and can be ordered in advance from Dave Marchbank on 07785432562, and hopefully via www.countysupporterscoop.co.uk.
The support band has not been confirmed yet but we are working on this as we speak, so a brilliant night is in the offing….do not be tempted to miss it!
25 November 2015:
The Bungalow on Hardcastle Road was the venue for the 2015 AGM of Stockport County Supporters Cooperative on Thursday 19 November. Out side the wind howled … and the rain intermittently gave those abroad a dousting, but those hardies inside got themselves a pint or a glass and took their seats for the most important meeting in the Coop calendar.
The business in hand was to receive reports ,first of all, from various Board Members , after various minutes had been approved.
John Gaskin, the retiring Treasurer, gave a very optimistic account of the position, noting how the retained surplus had increased 100% ( from £10013 to £20151) and the general situation was advised as being good-the accounts for the last year looking very healthy
The motion to continue to have the accounts independently examined was carried without desent.
The Membership Report pointed to potential as regards gaining new members and thus increasing income.
The report by Dave Marchbank on events and the inaugural Stockport Hatters Half Marathon , held in Sept, was the source of much satisfaction and praise for Dave and Race Director John Giles who produced a magnificent event that was not only pretty much an organisational masterpiece but also a brilliant boost for the Coop and the Club in the community. Runners loved it too and it was confirmed that the race will go ahead again in 2016. Dave thanked everybody who volunteered, and did a tremendous job.
Over £4000 clear profit was made this year from the race which was added to the #Guardian Account, and it’s estimated the 450 registered runners raised about the same (4k) for charity & good causes , and great thanks for support go to the Club& Foundation.
Other successful events over the last 12 months including a 5-a-side tournament & the Christmas Cavort (this year’s soon coming….)
Under the Community Report it was noted that for the last couple of years the local Wellspring charity have been adopted as our official charity partner. It was agreed unanimously that this is carried on.
There were 4 vacancies for the board ,but only 3 nominations received, thus Damian Beaumont, John Giles and Ian Brown were elected unopposed, each candidate having given a short address to the meeting.
During the question and answer session that followed the Chairman took time out to thank Help The Hatters for their terrific work in ensuring the Players Fund had gained fans ,through the Coop, 12500 shares in the Club
John Firtzpatrick however probably gave the most stirringly appropriate contribution of the evening urging members to “ not be down hearted…..pointing to the £25k raised in 14 months by fans for the PF, and the Bung refurbishment which was nothing less than a small miracle- again all done by fans” in conclusion John urged us to “ be positive, and be proud of what we have achieved and can achieve going forward”
Despite a modest turnout on a horrible evening the Co-op raffled a signed football which raised another 50.00 for the GA, the meeting closing shortly after 9.30.
18 November 2015:
As must see events go, the one on Saturday 14 November-the SCAN Reunion of the heroic County 72/73 team was right up there!
For months….nay years ………SCAN , a valued offshoot of the Supporters Cooperative, has worked on bringing this famous group of Cup fighters together and thanks to the efforts of Marcus Heap, Ian Watts and Des Hinks this finally came to pass, fittingly in the adopted home of Stockport County supporters- the Bungalow on Hardcastle Road.
A fantastic effort ensured that 17 players were enticed to Edgeley Park for the game v Tamworth FC, along with family members representing players now sadly no longer with us, and the Supporters Cooperative along with Help the Hatters were happy to make a contribution to the cost of staging this event.
The party of 62 were entertained and enjoyed corporate hospitality before the game, and after they had seen County get substantially Marsdened, went post haste to the Bung where SCAN had plans for them.
Marcus Heap opened proceedings and, opening remarks done/dusted he then introduced the team of 72/73. There was an ovation for Johnnie Griffiths that had him beaming happily. John was followed by `the White Pele’ Ian Davidson, then Paul Hart who looked every bit as commanding a figure as he did in his playing and managerial days….right through the 17 they went …all entering and taking their seats in front of the stage, and it was as if the roof might cave in on top of us when Alan Ogley and Hugh Ryden made their entrances, such was the appreciative noise generated by the supporters to greet their heroes!
Alan Ogley, Hugh Ryden, Ray Charter, Paul Hart, Steve Fleet, Johnnie Griffiths, Tommy Spratt and Malc Russell all said a few words and good humour abounded as the team recalled the exploits of 43 years ago. Ray Charter having made the trip from Oz certainly did not waste his few hours back in the spotlight, his lively and entertaining offering had the room rocking with laughter, whilst the Russell, Spratt,Ogley combo ( impishly interrupted by Steve Fleet at one point) fed the room tasty anecdote after tasty anecdote that had us all engrossed.
The next part of the evening involved presentations, by the supporters, to the team of 72/73, and each player, or family representative was presented with a wax stamped, framed professionally calligraphered SCAN Certificate. The special presentation to Alan Ogley of an original art work of his West Ham penalty moment, brought more than the odd tear to the odd eye.
Everyone present enjoyed the event and felt it reflected great credit on the Club…the supporters and a very special group of former players.
Elsewhere the Supporters Coop are requesting fans to donate County Memorabilia- Shirts, Scarves, Hats, Metal Badges, signed Balls, Old Squad Photos, are all welcome and these will be used to hopefully boost the Guardian Account which currently stands at £17000.
Items should be dropped off at the Coop Stall in the Cheadle End on match days, match days at the Bung ,or given to any Coop Board Member.
11 November 2015:
Bonfire Night 2015 was the focus for hard work and excitement in the Hardcastle Road area of Stockport on November 5th as Stockport County Supporters Cooperative combined with Help the Hatters to stage the second Community Bonfire behind the Bungalow on Hardcastle Road.
This was no ordinary affair either and great excitement was generated by top UK band …Stockport’s own Blossoms agreeing to attend and light the first firework.
The lads are no strangers to the Bung having headlined there on one occasion. But whilst their rise in the UK music world has been dramatic, they have never forgotten or forsaken their Stockport roots, and whilst the NME took time out to state “ Manchester’s Blossoms offer a lighter take on psychedelia, one that’s steeped in classic Brit Pop song writing” the band themselves through Tom Ogden put the record straight recently with “ We definitely see ourselves as a Stockport band, but we are close to Manchester so we do gigs there, but we were all born in Stockport, and my granddad still runs a scaffolding firm in the town”
Great stuff from a great band, and they will be in Dublin by the time this item goes out supporting Paul Weller, and at the Band on the Wall on 25 November. It was great to see Tom, Charles, Josh, Joe and Myles , and they stayed until the death mixing and chatting happily, which was excellent!
What of the bonfire?
Well…..by 7pm things were set to go, and after County Ambassador John Fitzpatrick did the honours lighting up, the fun started.
The fire was a massive affair….larger than last year’s by a fair bit, and a terrific fireworks display followed the first ignition by Blossoms.
So……the Community Bonfire was another massive success., having attracted 200 to the Bung – a neat mix of families , and others…County Supporters mainly, but not exclusively…there were a good few of the neighbours from SK3 about the place and enjoying themselves too!
The event again proved the effective way that Help the Hatters and the Supporters Cooperative are able to work together on worthwhile projects.
Here’s to more of the same going forward !
04 November 2015:
Yes….its that time of year again, and on Thursday 19 November , the 2015 Annual General Meeting of the Stockport County Supporters’ Society Ltd will be held at The Bungalow, Hardcastle Road, Stockport SK3 9DB, at 7:30pm.
As you would expect there will be much to talk about and decide, and there is a packed agenda …..
- Minutes of the 2015 SGM, for approval
- Chairman’s Report
- Treasurer’s Report and accounts for year ending 30 June 2015, for approval
- Approval for the 2015/16 accounts to be independently examined rather than audited
- Appointment of Inspectors of accounts (if Item 5 approved) or re-election of Auditors
- Membership report
- Membership Survey
- Half Marathon / Fundraising report
- Media report
- Community Report
- Any other administrative business
All the above will be followed by a 20 min break ,after which comes item 13…
- Presentation of candidates for election to the Society Board.
The formal AGM will be followed by an informal meeting to discuss the Co-operative’s priorities for 2016.
All the relevant documents have been sent out to members by now, and every effort has been made to encourage new faces to emerge …with new ideas….to galvanise the organisation and help move us forward.
In this respect ,even if you may not have put yourself forward as a candidate for election to the Supporters Cooperative Board, please come to the meeting if you are a member and see how we operate.
As we look towards 2016, you can be assured that, we will continue to represent the interests of County Supporters , but your input is crucial to this process!
See you on the 19th then ?
We hope so!
Stockport County Supporters Cooperative.
28 October 2015:
Before Saturday’s match at Edgeley Park, Board Members of the Supporters Cooperative spent time loading leaflets inside the Clubs excellent match day programme.
This was a fairly typical effort from a hard working body of supporters who were either elected via the SCSC AGM or co-opted since.
The last year has seen the same group work immensely hard and not without achievements to point to, boosting the Guardian Account balance to £17000 with a tremendous effort in organising the Hatters Half Marathon. Born of one man’s idea in May it looked a very big ask indeed to turn around a top class race( from scratch) in barely 6 months, but that is what John Giles and the Supporters Coop Board did!
Preparations are already underway for next year’s Half Marathon and the same dedicated group of people and a whole host of magnificent volunteers, will ensure that the 2016 race will be even better than the inaugural event was.
We are in the process of making application for a special events licence , so watch this space!
During 2015 we have been busy staging a number of diverse events including a Five a Side Tournament , and a number of Band Nights featuring top bands, amongst them `Blossoms ‘who have just been signed up to the Virgin label.
At Christmas last year we staged our Co-op Christmas Cavort in support of Stockport homeless charity the Wellspring, and on Saturday 12th December 2015, the event will be staged again at the Magnet, with Shifty again headlining. Tickets will be £8.00 and should be available soon and once again the Cavort will support the Wellspring, who are immensely grateful for the magnificent donations they have received from County fans, who regularly leave clothing , cash, and food items at the Supporters Coop stall in the Cheadle End on match days.
Other events are planned for instance we have lots of good quality County memorabilia ,kindly donated by County supporters, and we plan some kind of event to supplement the regular auctions we run via the Supporters Coop web site. Supporters are to be thanked for their help with this activity which is greatly appreciated.
So….plenty being done then….but also lots still to do ….
Hence the upcoming AGM of the Supporters Cooperative at the Bungalow on Thursday 19 November will be an ideal opportunity for SCSC to take stock and move on.
If you are a member of the Supporters Coop, why not consider standing for election to the Board?
There are 4 vacancies on the Coop Board and it would be nice to see a contested election and some new faces emerge …with new ideas to perhaps galvanise the organisation going forward.
Meanwhile…the work goes on…… seeking to represent the County Supporters, the Board of the Cooperative will be meeting with the Club on Monday, and will have representation at the Club Board meeting on Thursday of this week.
21 October 2015:
The Stockport County Co-operatives AGM takes place on Thursday 19th November, at 7.30pm in the Bungalow- details have been sent out to all members.
We are encouraging people to stand for election to the board to help us carry on the work that we’ve been doing so far. Most of the current board are remaining in place but we are always looking for people to help us and for people to bring new ideas to the “table”.
In the 2 years since the Co-op was `re-launched’ the changes have been remarkable , and ,thanks to the donations made by the Players fund, the Supporters Co-op has become a shareholder in our club, thus we now attend the monthly board meetings where ours (and our members) views are expressed and there is genuine interest from the other shareholders in our views and concerns.
We have developed a great partnership with Help the Hatters and undertaken various projects with them and this is something that we intend to carry on and develop over the coming months, and, as a board, we know that it’s the support of our members that enables us to be recognised as “The voice of the fans” , even if sometimes those listening may not like what we’re saying.
Over the coming months we intend to have a concerted membership drive and work is currently taking place to update our systems to make joining the Co-op easier and more “user friendly “. Members will be able to log into their records to update their details, make payments etc In addition we hope that those supporters who are not yet members of the Supporters Co-op will join us and enable us to carry on the work that we’ve been doing.
Full details can be found on our website and there will be members of the Co-op board available ,before any home game and at half time , at the Supporters Co-op stall at the Cheadle End concourse, to answer any queries that anyone may have.
14 October 2015:
INAUGRAL HATTERS HATTERS HALF BOOSTS GUARDIAN FUND
The Stockport County Supporters’ Co-operative are delighted to announce that the inaugural Hatters Half marathon, which took place on Sunday 6th September, raised a fantastic £3,633 for our Guardian Fund initiative.
Our runners also raised sponsorship money for various charities including our partner The Wellspring, Cancer Research, British Red Cross, St Anns Hospice, Baby Beat Appeal, Alzheimers Society, Sturge Weber UK, The Christie, Rett Appeal and Bowel and Cancer Research.
In total 338 runners took part in the race, the male winner was Damian Nicholls from Wilmslow Running Club in a time of 1hr 15mins 36 seconds and the female winner was Annette Bowden in 1:26:29. We would like to extend our congratulations to the winners and everyone who took part in the first Hatters Half.
Starting at Edgeley Park and finishing in Alexandra Park, the race passed along Northgate Road and Brinksway, before joining the Trans Pennine Trail at The Woolpack Bridge. The scenic route followed the River Mersey to Northenden, before forming a loop and returning to Alexandra Park. www.hattershalf.co.uk
The Co-operative will be transferring circa £4,000 to The Guardian Fund, which will increase the total balance to £17,000. The Guardian Fund is intended to raise a collectively-owned lump sum to invest in the club, in genuine, equal partnership with like minded investors. This fund can and will make a major difference, to help acquire a stake for supporters in the club and secure assets for the benefit of the club.
The intention is to build up the Guardian Fund via a series of events, utilising the fantastic facilities we have at Edgeley Park, but additional contributions – either as a one off or regular contribution would be very welcome. Supporters can donate via Bank Account Number: 65510425, Sort Code: 08-92-99 or PayPal – http://www.countysupporterscoop.co.uk/guardian-account/
We would like to thank all the runners, volunteers, exhibitors, supporters, visitors, Stockport MBC, Manchester MBC and sponsors (particularly Robinson’s Brewery, Sweat Shop, Site Supply, Nestle Pure Life and Seaborn Monk) who helped made this such a well received event.
So…building on the success of Hatters Half 2015, the Supporters Cooperative has agreed to promote the race again in 2016. Provisionally the date has been set at Sunday 4 September 2016,
07 October 2015:
The Supporters Co-op have been busy building an events calendar, we now have a number of events throughout the year and our Flagship Event the Hatters Half Marathon proved to be a great success, promises to be bigger and even better next year, with more entrants and more events planned for the day of the race. We also have the annual Five a side competition as well as the popular Christmas Cavort, details of which will be made available soon. Despite all this the Co-op is keen to do more and would welcome suggestions for other Events we could consider.
We would particularly consider events which the wider community could get involved with as with the Half Marathon, as we feel Edgeley Park can and should be a bigger focal point for the local community, so if you have any ideas for some future events please contact the Co-op via the website www.countysupporterscoop.co.uk or by phoning myself Dave Marchbank on 07785432562 .
Plans are underway for the Co-op AGM which will be held on Thursday 19th November at the Bungalow Club next to the ground 8PM Start. We are hoping that as many members as possible will attend and provide feedback regarding Coop business.
Half Marathon Feedback Session
Also planned for the Bungalow is a feedback session for both runners and volunteers who helped Marshal the Half Marathon, this will take place at the Bungalow after County’s game with Bradford Park Avenue on Saturday 24th October 5PM start. All suggestions as to how things can be improved are welcome and anyone with any points that cannot attend can contact us via the details above, to have their point heard.
Neil Young’s Gold Rush
Massive Thanks to everyone who contributed to Neil Young’s Gold rush, the idea, a follow on from last Season’s “Blue Monday” directly boosts Neil’s Playing Budget, the money raised could make a real difference in helping County obtain their goal of promotion. As of 10.00 AM Friday morning (02/10/15) the Gold Rush had already reached over £5000 not only is this a huge boost to the popular County Manager, also under the deal agreed it provides another 2500 Shares to the Co-op. Once the money has been handed over and the Shares have been through the Legal process, the Co-op will hold 12500 Shares in the Football Club. It is hoped to that Neil will be presented the money before the home game with Bradford Park Avenue in the Bungalow Club, this means it isn’t too late to donate donations can be made to Bank Account Number 69512571 Sort Code 08-92-99 Everyone will be welcome to see the presentation made, Hope to see you there.
30 September 2015:
It is true to say that Stockport County….now languishing in the Sixth Division in the UK Football Pyramid, have seen better days! A lot of them actually, but despite their current plight a robust pride in a rich history still underpins much of what County supporters do.
For the Supporters Cooperative, whilst we see our job as one tending to and catering for the needs of our current membership, there is, and indeed from the birth of the organisation, there has also been a keen appreciation of that rich history and who did what when!
Some years ago, as a result SCAN was born….a fantastically vibrant offshoot of the organisation- Stockport County Appearance Number scheme! This is a scheme unique to Stockport County , and is only emulated by the England Cricket Teams numbering system, in world sport.
Every player who has played a FL game for County, from the late 19th century pioneers, until more recent times, secures a unique SCAN number which is then eventually added, by a calligrapher to a certificate containing details of his debut game etc…..the certificate is then wax stamped and framed for presentation to the player, or in the case of deceased players…a family member!
There have been some wonderful occasions as a result…..the inaugural event in 2010 attracted a big audience to Edgeley Park , the stand out moment being the presentation of the SCAN certificate to , now 100 year old George Haigh, by Paul Turnbull the youngest player to play for County’s first team.
Since then, last year the Bungalow was the venue for the celebration of County`s team of FA Cup heroes from 1964/65 season and that was another amazing occasion, with 8 of the team making the event one to remember!
Well …in early November the Bungalow will be the place to be again as SCAN have invited the 1972/73 team to the venue in order to celebrate their achievements and present them with their SCAN certificates9 precise date to be announced later). It should be another great County occasion- one to make every Stockport County supporter proud, as Hugh Ryden pops in again and the likes of Ray Charter ,who will journey all the way from Oz to be in the Bungalow! Add other County favourites …Steve Fleet, John Griffiths, and of course Paul Hart who started off at Edgeley Park before hitting national prominence with Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest side, and the place will be buzzing!
So….the certificates are with the SCAN Calligrapher Brian Dixon, now…..the countdown begins…..
23 September 2015:
This time last season County supporters, in a gargantuan effort, raised in excess of £3400 in a single day in support of the then Manager Alan Lord`s Players Fund.
Via collections at Edgeley Park on match days, and the income generated by the pre match sale of beer at the Bungalow on Hardcastle Road, a total of £15000 was finally contributed, during the season ,by supporters which not only sustained the Club through a difficult period but translated into 7500 shares in Stockport County gifted to the Supporters Cooperative in return for the supporters £15k donation.
New season…….a fresh Manager( Neil Young), but the supporters priorities remain the same….do everything in their power to support the Club in its efforts to get out of their current league!
So the upshot of all this is that on Thursday 1 October 2015 another` boost the budget day’ for the Players Fund will burst upon the football supporters of Stockport, aptly named as- ‘Youngs Gold Rush’.
Neil Young, speaking to Sam Byrne of the Stockport Express, recently responded thus….
“It’s unbelievable that fans are willing to do that (about a boost the budget day), especially given how recently we arrived here. I think (well I hope!) that there’s some confidence in the recruitment process, and that the Players Fund will help with that.”
The aim is on Thursday 1st October for as many people to donate as much or as little as they want or can, but ideally it would be nice if people were starting at a tenner to really get the amount up. Supporters can commit to regular payments also, but the main focus is on maximising the total money raised at one go to give NY`s season a much needed shot in the arm.
Players Fund donation buttons can be found on the following websites…..
And……for direct donations HTH Players Fund bank details are….
Donate via Help the Hatters Players Fund
Co Operative Bank
Sort Code: 08 – 92 – 99
Account No: 6951 2571
05 August 2015:
With Hatters Half Marathon just over a month away the Supporters Co-op is hoping that the people of Stockport and surrounding areas can play their part in making it a day to remember.
The race will be run on Sunday, September 6th and there’s still time to enter, or to offer to help in a supporting role – or simply put it in your diary to remember to come out and cheer on the runners.
This is a completely new venture for the Co-op, and while members recognise that it is a bold move on the part of the Board, organising such a big occasion for the first time presents a number of challenges. The race management team have been busy for months working on the detailed arrangements.
The route has to be planned meticulously. Regular publicity is needed to attract a decent number of entrants, who then have to be kept fully informed. Everything has to be in place to ensure that all goes well on the day, especially making it easy for the runners to follow the course, as well as looking after their welfare and safety.
The event will raise funds for the Co-op’s Guardian Account, which aims to provide backing for supporters in working with the club, and also for their charity partner, The Wellspring – the Stockport resource centre for homeless and disadvantaged people.
The Half Marathon will set off from Edgeley Park at 9.30 am and runners will follow a route that takes them on to the Trans Pennine Trail along the River Mersey, before looping back to return to the stadium for the finish. Cale Green Runners have kindly offered to act as pacemakers.
Entries are still coming in, with 225 competitors already signed up from as far afield as Scotland, East Anglia and the West Country. Full details are on the race website hattershalf.co.uk.
There’s still time to put in a bid in the Co-op’s pre-season shirt auction. On offer is an away shirt from last season signed by all the players – size XL. Bids can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org up until 12 noon on August 7th (Friday) and more detail can be found on the Marionsboard message board.
Finally, a reminder about the Fans Forum, tomorrow (Thursday) at the Robinsons Visitors Centre at 7.30 pm. with Neil Young and club board members in attendance.
29 July 2015:
Supporters’ organisations from across the UK were represented when hundreds of football fans gathered in Manchester last week for the annual Supporters Summit. A wide-ranging agenda included discussions on the reform of FIFA, sharing the TV wealth, ticket prices, and involving fans in the running of their clubs.
The event, jointly organised by Supporters Direct and the Football Supporters’ Federation, illustrated how fans can come together and deal with social and community issues in ways that will the benefit their clubs, and the game as a whole.
Stockport County supporters have a long record of doing just that. The work of the Co-op in representing fans is now recognised, and the invaluable contribution of Help the Hatters’ to the welfare of the club is well known and widely appreciated. But the fans have developed their own ways of expressing the culture of the club.
For example, there is SCAN, which stands for Stockport County Appearance Number, and is a scheme that is unique to County. It reflects the fact that, over the years, County have had nearly 1300 senior players – more than any other English club. Every player who has taken part in a senior game is allocated his own unique number – issued in sequence to each new debutant – and is duly presented with a specially commissioned certificate by a County supporter.
This project is run by a small group of fans, entirely independent of the club, and the Supporters’ Co-op is committed to supporting it financially and practically.
There will be a special SCAN event in November, with the reunion of the 1972 team, which famously went on an amazing run in the League Cup, knocking out some big names in the process.
A replica has been produced of the one-off blue and black striped shirt – with its own one-off badge -worn by the team in its victory at Crystal Palace. Further details are available from email@example.com.
Something else special to County fans, is the annual Memorial Day, when they meet up to remember supporters who are no longer here. This year, the fifteenth year it has been celebrated, it will take place on Friday, August 7th at the Royal Scot in Marple Bridge, from 12 noon onwards.
The Co-op board is planning for a blue and white wreath to be placed on the grave of John Hall, known to all as Captain Beefheart.
22 July 2015:
Edgeley Park will be flying the flag for the Supporters’ Co-op during the coming season. The Co-op is to be represented in the iconic array of flags that top the poles overlooking the Railway End. The board have been wanting for some time to have a Co-op presence there that could stand together with the likes of Help the Hatters and Danny Begara’s Uruguay, and the club have now given the go ahead for this to happen.
Last week’s meeting of the Co-op board heard that the Players Fund will continue into the coming season once arrangements between the parties concerned have been finalised. Under the scheme fans are asked to contribute to a fund to be used to supplement the existing playing budget set out by the club.
With Help the Hatters looking after the administration of the fund, the money raised will be made available to manager, Neil Young, to add to his playing staff as he sees fit, and there is the added bonus of a £1 share in the club being made over to the Co-op for every £2 raised.
When it comes to such funds, the supporters of Grimsby Town have set the bar rather high. With the club anxiously seeking a return to the Football League, they have been frustrated by narrowly missing out in the past three seasons, even losing a penalty shootout in last year’s play-off final.
The response of the supporters’ organisation, the Mariners Trust, has been to set up a crowdfunding scheme to boost the playing budget, and the initial target for this “Operation Promotion” was to raise £20,000 during June and July. That figure was reached within a twenty four hours, and now, with a week to go before it closes, the fund stands at over £85,000, including £5,000 pledged by the Trust itself and £20,000 from a Euromillions-winning married couple who happen to be fans.
The Co-op is still on the lookout for County collectables which can either be sold on the Co-op stall or auctioned to enhance the Guardian Account. Signed or unsigned shirts are always popular, and old photos, scarves, badges, balls would also be welcome. There is also a steady demand for pre 1970 programmes. If you have any such items you would like to donate please contact Dave Marchbank on 0161 292 5168 or 07785432562.
15 July 2015:
Although County fans are generally a harmonious bunch, differences of opinion have been known to occur and, on occasions, some big bust ups have broken out. Yet there is one matter where total agreement is guaranteed, and that is the supporters’ love and respect for John Fitzpatrick.
Describing Fitzy’s contribution to the County cause would fill the entire sport section of this newspaper (and more), and, even then, it would be difficult to do justice to his ability to lift the spirits of the fans with his personality and his drive.
Today’s meeting (Wednesday) of the Co-op board will be asked approve the granting of life membership to John in recognition of his commitment over many years to making life better for the club and its supporters.
Last year, Robinsons Brewery Visitors Centre was the venue for a pre-season fans’ forum, jointly run by the club and the Co-op and there are plans to do it again this year. The format proved very successful, helping to establish a positive rapport between the main shareholders and supporters. The date scheduled for this year’s event is Thursday August 6th when a good attendance will be expected in anticipation of the new season.
County fans can expect to be bombarded with leaflets at the pre-season friendlies and early league games. The Co-op board is appealing supporters to rally round and come out in force to help with a range of important tasks on the day the Hatters Half Marathon is run – September 6th. Having a good number of course marshals in place will be particularly important for the efficient organisation of the event. Supporters can register their willingness to volunteer on the race website: hattershalf.co.uk.
Last week’s announcement that supporters will again be able to hear commentary of all County’s matches was good news all round. Thanks to the generosity of a Newcastle based County fan, funds will be available for Pure FM to continue their coverage with the Co-op’s charity partner, the Wellspring, receiving the commercial benefits.
It will also mean another season of the innovative arrangement which allows a County fan, nominated by the Co-op, to pick up the microphone and act as guest summariser.
Aspiring Gary Nevilles should send contact details by email to firstname.lastname@example.org saying which game (or games) they are interested in. The opportunity is open to all County supporters, not just Co-op members.
08 July 2015:
Stockport Council’s intended purchase of Edgeley Park was the main item for discussion at a meeting of Co-op members. Chairman, Pete Towey, stressed that the move would not cost the ratepayer a penny and was actually a good investment by the Council.
He told the meeting that the decision – agreed by all political groups – would give County some much needed security, but neither the club nor the Council saw the arrangement as one would that go on for ever. Members were concerned, however, that Edgeley Park should never be allowed to become a potential attraction for speculators.
Board member, Dave Marchbank, reported that the entries for the Hatters Half Marathon had now passed the 150 mark, but the target was 500. As this was the first time the Co-op had organised such an event, he felt it was important to get it right so as to secure the race’s reputation for future years. There was still a need to recruit more marshals and volunteers and this was the immediate priority.
An early half marathon prize went to the winner of the competition to design the race T-shirt. Jack McNally was presented with – naturally – a race T-shirt displaying his winning design. The shirt, which has distinct Stockport and County content, can be purchased on the race website: countysupporterscoop.co.uk, and an alternative design is also available. Details of how to volunteer, and, of course, how to enter the race, can also be found there.
Another winner, with a rather more substantial prize, was Aidan Waters, whose name was picked out in a draw of all those supporters who completed the recent Co-op survey. Congratulations to Aidan who gets a season ticket, kindly donated by the club.
The results of the survey will provide the Co-op board with important information about the supporters they represent. Christine Robinson, who organised the survey, was very pleased with the response, with 331 fans completing the questionnaire.
A revamped membership system will come into operation on August 1st, finally bringing to an end any difficulties members may have been encountering. Board member, Billy Byrne, told the meeting that a new facility on the website will make membership matters much easier to deal with for all concerned. Details will be announced shortly.
Crucially, there will be a membership drive to coincide with the start of the new season, in part undertaken with the co-operation of the club.
01 July 2015:
On hearing that Stockport Council is set to take ownership of Edgeley Park and so become the club’s landlord, County fans had to pinch themselves to make sure they weren’t dreaming. After so many disappointments in recent years, on and off the field, such a promising turn of events can be difficult to take in.
The deal boosts the credibility of all the parties involved, including the current owner, Cheshire Sport. The Council will have acquired an asset offering the potential for a number of community uses, while the club will finally have the security it needs to press on with its much wanted revival.
While the news brings a solution to a longstanding problem, it’s also the beginning of a new and challenging stage in County’s history – and one in which supporters have a considerable interest.
The Co-op recognises the efforts of those in charge to turn the club round and manage it a on a sounder basis than was previously the case, yet there is still work to be done to ensure that County’s future is secure and sustainable.
Then, there is the role the supporters will play in the new setup. Currently, both fans’ organisations – the Co-op and Help the Hatters – work closely with the club. Hopefully, the new found stability will provide ways for the Co-op, on behalf of the supporters, to actively influence how things are run.
In the long term, the future ownership of the stadium will have to be resolved and here the supporters, via the Co-op, will want a major say.
Last week’s article for this column was written before much of the detail of the Council’s anticipated purchase of the ground was known. However, a Co-op members’ meeting was flagged up, and the arrangements for this have now been finalised. It will take place at the Bungalow, on Saturday, July 4th, with a starting time of 1.30pm.
The Co-op board hopes to provide as much up-to-date information as possible based on its talks with those involved in the Council’s intended purchase of Edgeley Park.
The meeting will also get an update on the Hatters Half Marathon, to be run on September 6th. The number of runners listed is growing daily and the organising team are putting in an enormous amount of time and effort to ensure the success of the event. Details are on the website: hattershalf.co.uk.
24 June 2015:
The Co-op board intends to get to the bottom of recent reports concerning the future of Edgeley Park, which have left County supporters confused, and not a little anxious, about the fate of stadium.
First there was talk on social media of a group of fans putting forward plans of their own for the purchase of the ground, and now it we hear that the club and the town hall executives are in discussions which could lead to County becoming tenants of the Council.
A meeting of Co-op members is planned for the near future, at which at which it is intended to throw some light on these developments. In the run up to this meeting, board members are planning to meet with all the parties concerned and to question them on the proposals, so that the board can present the full picture to Co-op members when they report back to them.
Amongst the questions will be one about the implications for the Asset of Community Value status that the Co-op achieved for Edgeley Park, which allows the Co-op six months to prepare a bid of its own if the stadium comes up for sale. The role of the supporters in any deal will also be of great interest.
The group of fans who showed in interest in buying Edgeley Park have already been asked to provide further information and they will be requested to submit this in advance of the members’ meeting.
Also at the meeting, one lucky fan will become the owner of a free season ticket in a draw of all those who responded to the Co-op’s survey of supporters. It’s still not too late to complete the survey which can be found on the Co-op website: www.countysupporterscoop.co.uk and you don’t have to be a member to do it.
Information gathered from the survey concerning supporters’ views and experiences will help the Co-op in carrying out its role as the representative body of the fans.
The number of entrants for the Co-op half marathon on September 6th is growing, and the organising committee is in the lookout for marshals and other volunteers to help on the day. An introductory session to brief all helpers will be held in the next few weeks. In the meantime you can offer you services at the Hatters Half website: hattershalf.co.uk, or, alternatively, sign up to take part in the race.
17 June 2015:
Since becoming manager Neil Young has not hesitated to take big decisions concerning the make-up of his playing squad, but his first real test came last week when he attended a gathering of the County faithful.
At a packed Bungalow meeting, the new boss, together with his backroom staff, explained to supporters their plans for the reviving the club’s fortunes.
He sought to explain the “difficult decisions” which resulted in certain players moving on, even though fans might believe they still had a contribution to make. These were business decisions, made to allow the best use of the available budget and to attract newcomers with the right sort of character, who wanted to be part of a winning team.
New Head of Recruitment, Carl Garner, talked of bringing in experienced players, and he caught the mood when he said of County: “in non-league terms this is a monster and it’s fast asleep.” He was confident of the management team’s ability to recruit the large number of players still required.
Coach, Mike Flynn and scout, Alex Hay, both reported positively on the new set up. Assistant manager, Gary Jones, a little less prolific at speaking than he was at scoring goals during his playing career, is obviously held in high regard by Neil Young.
Most fans would have come away with the impression of a management team that was clear-sighted about its goals and confident in its ability to achieve them. In a strange reversal of roles, the new manager seems to have had County in his sights for the past fifteen months, and this has left him fully focussed and well prepared for the job in hand. And, importantly, he and his staff appear to understand the club and its heritage, which means that they also understand what is required of them.
But as Neil Young himself acknowledged, they can only be properly judged by results on the field, and here supporters will be in full agreement, having seen too many false dawns in recent years. Even so, fans should be able to recognise the credentials of the new manager, and will no doubt get behind him.
As Supporters’ Co-op Chairman, Pete Towey, pointed out, the Meet the Manager event was organised by the fans for the fans. And, he might have added, it was in a venue – the Bungalow – that was restored by the fans for the fans.
10 June 2015:
For many football fans there’s a lot more to supporting a team than just turning up on a Saturday afternoon. Last week in this column I talked about what supporters give to the game, but if they are going to have a lasting input, they need some decent backing behind them.
There are two well established national supporters’ organisations working on behalf of fans.
The Co-op has strong ties with one, Supporters Direct, which is the umbrella group for 185 supporters’ trusts with a total membership of over 370,000. It also services a network across more than twenty countries throughout Europe.
Groups are helped to secure an influence in their clubs in different ways, whether it’s full ownership, a seat on the board, or a shareholding in the club (as in the case of our own Co-op.) But at the very least it means pushing for clubs to be run responsibly and for fans’ concerns to be heard.
The other supporters’ organisation, the Football Supporters’ Federation, has more than 500,000 members, made up of individual fans and members of local supporters’ groups. It campaigns on many issues on behalf of fans, such as safe standing and ticket prices.
Supporters Direct and the Football Supporters’ Federation will be joining forces later this year to hold a Supporters Summit which will bring fans together to debate some of the game’s major issues.
The arrival of new manager, Neil Young, at Edgeley Park has lifted the mood of the fans and the Co-op board is hoping that a good number of them will want to meet him and hear about his plans for the coming season. They can do this tomorrow (Thursday) at a meeting jointly arranged by the Co-op and Help the Hatters, starting at 7.30pm at the Bungalow.
Dave Marchbank, the board member responsible for running Co-op events, paid a visit to Robinsons brewery last week, but it was strictly business. He was there to discuss plans for the Hatters Half Marathon, and the company, as the main commercial sponsor of the race, promised to do all they can to make the day a big success. And to show that they mean what they say, they will be sending along a couple of their own stars – the popular shire horses, Trooper and Wizard. Full details of the event, to be run on September 6th, are on the website: hattershalf.co.uk.
03 June 2015:
What does the recent arrest of fourteen Fifa officials over corruption allegations involving tens of millions of dollars mean for football supporters?
The scandal that came to light in Zurich last week has been described as “jaw dropping”, yet doesn’t come as a surprise. FIFA has turned the game into an enterprise for making money on a global scale, detached from the grass roots love of playing and watching football. In such an environment some individuals have come to see lining their own pockets as a natural thing to do.
In contrast to this, and largely overlooked in the blanket media coverage, is the positive contribution that football fans make to their clubs and the game as a whole.
Whatever misfortunes County has suffered in recent years, the supporters have stayed together and maintained close links with the club.
Evidence of this could be seen earlier this week, when Help the Hatters held the first session of their annual spring clean and renovation of Edgeley Park. Each year, a team of volunteers does a great job refreshing the stadium, at the same time saving the club money. Donations of paint, brushes and rollers would be welcome.
They are seeking further volunteers so if you can help, please contact Ian Brown on 07947 828190 or email email@example.com. Perhaps they could recruit some Fifa officials to assist on a community payback scheme.
A number of Co-op members, including board members, are involved with this work, and although the two organisations are different in what they set out to do, they do combine their efforts on occasions. The latest example is the jointly arranged “meet the manager” evening on June 11th at the Bungalow, when fans will have their first opportunity to hear about new manager, Neil Young’s plans.
Continuing the theme of fans, there has been a good response to date to Co-op’s survey of supporters, and it’s still not too late to complete the questionnaire and give your views. The survey is open until the end of June – to members and non-members alike – and all those who reply will be entered in a draw for a season ticket. It can be done online via the Co-op website: www.countysupporterscoop.co.uk or printed out and sent to the address given on the form.
Finally, please keep in mind the Co-op’s Hatters Half Marathon on September 6th. Details about taking part or volunteering are on the website: hattershalf.co.uk.
27 May 2015:
New County manager, Neil Young, has quickly made his presence felt, first of all issuing a bold statement of intent followed by a radical shake up of the last season’s squad. To describe the supporters as long-suffering isn’t quite accurate – the club’s plunge to the depths has been too sudden for that – but this appointment does seem to have put them into a more positive mood than of late.
The club has responded with a positive gesture of its own and is offering a full season ticket at a reduced price until May 31st, a move that comes about as a result of a request from the Supporters’ Co-op.
Whatever level Stockport County finds itself playing at, the club will always be an integral part of the life of the town, and a key part of the Co-op’s vision is to strengthen the bonds between County and the community. The board takes these social goals seriously, and one of its members – Paul Charnock – has special responsibility for this area of its work.
Paul has been talking to the Love Heaton Norris group – which is very active in promoting the area and tackling issues that arise there. The two organisations are considering joint environmental projects as well as other ways of working together to further the aims of both groups.
Love Heaton Norris members have offered to provide runners and volunteers for the Co-op’s half marathon on September 6th, whilst the Co-op aims to support the community group’s five-a-side competition. In recognition of this new commitment, and mindful of the fact that Heaton Norris was County’s birthplace, the Co-op presented the residents with tee shirts displaying the group’s logo.
The Co-op has been flooding, not just Stockport, but Manchester and parts of Cheshire and Derbyshire, with leaflets and posters for the Hatters Half Marathon, which will be run on September 6th. Gyms, sportswear retailers and running clubs have been targeted in an initial post-launch publicity campaign. Anybody who feels they can assist in getting the message out can download the leaflet for distribution from the race website hattershalf.co.uk – or, if you would like ready-printed copies, email John Giles at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The latest co-op shirt auction features Ian Ormson’s match worn and signed number 13 – size XL – with all the outlandish features of a modern day goalkeepers’ jersey. Bidding is until May 31st on Marionsboard – members3.boardhost.com/marionsboard
20 May 2015:
The Supporters’ Co-op is used to putting on successful events to bring the fans together and raise money for a good cause – but its latest venture is altogether more ambitious than anything that’s gone before.
The Hatters Half Marathon will be run on Sunday, September 6th starting at 9.30am from Edgeley Park. The race will follow theTrans Pennine Trail along the river Mersey before looping back to the stadium for the finish.
This major commitment on the part of the Co-op should attract some good publicity for the town. The event’s potential was illustrated when the first people to sign up were a married couple from Plymouth who spotted it on the website of the national road running organisation, runbritain. They were soon joined by entrants from Yorkshire and East Anglia, and now it’s looking like most regions of the country will be represented – together with the large local contingent that is expected.
A great deal of work has gone into planning the race to ensure everything goes smoothly and to make the day a positive experience for the hundreds of runners and the watching crowds. County have been very supportive in making facilities at Edgeley Park available to the runners.
The Co-op needed to get clearance from two local Councils – Stockport and Manchester, plus the approval of UK athletics – as well as ensuring traffic and safety issues are properly dealt with. And then there’s the matter of the course itself: identifying it; checking for hazards; measuring it; getting the distance officially validated. Organisers, Dave Marchbank and John Giles, should be familiar with every one of the 13.1 miles by, having cycled them so often.
Funds raised from the event will go to the Co-op’s Guardian Account and we are encouraging participants to raise money for our charity partner, the Wellspring, a local resource centre for homeless people.
With Stockport in the spotlight, the Co-op board is keen make the most of the occasion and to involve as many residents and local organisations as possible. All the necessary information -whether it’s about becoming a sponsor (Robinsons Brewery and sweatshop have already committed); volunteering to help on the day; or better still , taking part in the race – can be found on the Hatters Half Marathon website www.hattershalf.co.uk
The Co -op congratulates Neil Young on his appointment as manager and we look forward to speaking to him on behalf of the fans. We are confident that the supporters will recognise Neil’s qualities and get behind him in true County fashion.
13 May 2015:
Last week this newspaper produced an end-of season report that most County fans would have seen as a fair reflection of the previous nine months, although it might have been a bit too upbeat for some.
All football fans want a successful team, but in County’s case there’s more to it. Supporters are hurting – not just because the Danny Begara and Dave Jones years are still vivid in their memories. They want a club with its self-respect restored – and that means playing in a proper professional league against proper professional clubs. The outcome of any and every season will be judged against that background.
As the voice of the supporters, the Co-op wants to be involved in the County’s rehabilitation and it will back those in the club who have taken on this difficult job – as long as they are moving in the right direction. But this support is not unconditional and the Co-op won’t hesitate in taking to task those in charge if they are getting things wrong.
There are these among the fan base who would like the Co-op to be more proactive in bringing about a transformation in the club’s fortunes, and that’s a healthy debate that will continue. In any event, as the Guardian Account builds up the Co-op will be able to speak with greater authority.
There’s a new date to add to the Stockport events calendar now that the go-ahead has been given for the Co-op’s Hatters Half Marathon on Sunday 6th September. The race is being run in support of the Wellspring, the Stockport charity working with the homeless, and the Co-op’s Guardian Account – and is sponsored by Robinsons Brewery, Sweatshop, and Pure FM.
Details can be found on the race website www.hattershalf.co.uk and there is a link to the national road running organisation, runbritain, where you can enter for the race.
Those who don’t feel so energetic can still help to make the day a success by acting as a marshal or assisting at water stations. If you would like to volunteer your services, please contact race organiser, John Giles at email@example.com.
This is a major venture on the part of the Supporters’ Co-op which should attract some good publicity for the town. The event’s potential was illustrated when the first people to sign up were a married couple from Plymouth who spotted it on the runbritain website, and they have since been joined by entrants from Yorkshire and East Anglia.
06 May 2015:
Supporters’ organisations joined forces recently to ensure that the concerns of football fans didn’t get overlooked in the General Election campaign. The Football Supporters Federation and Supporters Direct posed a series of questions to the main political parties about their policies for football.
Four of them – Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrats and the SNP – replied and spelled out in some detail how they would deal with the modern game if they were in government. These responses have now been made public to allow fans to see them before casting their votes. They can do this at www.fsf.org.uk. –and there’s a link direct to the candidates in all constituencies.
A key issue for the supporters’ groups was how the parties would go about promoting a positive relationship between the clubs and their fans. They also asked about plans for improving the governance of the game and for making it more affordable for fans.
Inevitably, there was a question about distributing some of the Premier League’s broadcasting billions amongst supporter and community groups – and there was even one asking about the government’s role in creating a successful national team!
Nearer home, the Supporters’ Co-op is on the point of finalising arrangements for the Stockport Half Marathon, which is scheduled for September 6th. Discussions are taking place with a number of organisations, and once these have been completed there will be an official launch with full publicity. Several sponsors have already been signed up, but others are being sought for what will be a highly visible event, and any organisation that might be interested can find out more from Dave Marchbank on 0161 292 5168 or 07785432562.
Hardly has the buzz from last Saturday’s Co-op band night died down, and minds – particularly those of organisers Phil and Christine Robinson – are turning to an all-day event. This will be on Saturday, July 4th when there are plans for a daytime/evening happening at the Bungalow – with the earlier outdoor sessions having a family-friendly emphasis.
As has been mentioned here previously, the proceeds from a lot of Co-op events go to the rapidly growing Guardian Account. It will receive half of the amazing £325 raised at the most recent shirt auction, and when the money from a busy weekend of activities is tallied up, it is more than likely that the fund will top £12,000. The supporters are now well on the way to having a sizeable sum behind them.
29 April 2015:
In order to represent County fans in the best possible way, the Co-op board wants to find out more about them – their background, their views and their involvement with the club. Supporters are being asked to complete a questionnaire, and all responses received by July 1st will be entered in a draw, with a season ticket going to the winner.
The next twelve months are crucial for County’s hopes, and the current positive relationship with the club means that the Co-op can play its part in bringing about the much needed change. To do it properly, the board has to keep in touch with the fan base, and the questionnaire is one way of achieving this. They are hoping there will be a good response from the supporters.
Copies were handed out at Saturday’s game against Harrogate, but fans who missed out are being asked to respond online at https://eSurv.org?s=LOIJIJ_3f58e74f or the on the Co-op website www.countysupporterscoop.co.uk. It is also available at the club shop where it can be left after completion.
Last week, for the first time, the Co-op was represented at a meeting of the County board. Although Co-op Chairman, Pete Towey, was there as an observer, club board members had no hesitation bringing him into the discussion and seeking his views. Not surprisingly, items on the agenda included transitional arrangements for the handover of team management duties, as well as the design of next season’s kit.
There will be no end-of-season blues for County fans. A busy bank holiday weekend starts on Saturday – May 2nd – with the Co-op band night at the Bungalow with Ten Eyed Man and Mutha Luvin Chimps. Doors open a 7pm and the price of entrance is a very reasonable £5.
Then, on Sunday, it’s the Co-op five a side tournament, taking place at Stockport Powerleague, with a 12 noon start. It’s still not too late to get a team together. The cost of is £5 per player (maximum 8 per team) with a £10 non-refundable deposit, to be paid in advance. Teams are guaranteed 45 minutes game time even if they don’t progress to later rounds. To enter, email Andy Plant at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next up, on Monday, is the Help the Hatters car boot sale, from 7am to 1pm – held, as usual, on the Booth Street car park. Regulars will know that can expect a wide variety of bargains, hearty refreshments, and a good atmosphere. An early start is recommended.
22 April 2015:
Stockport County fans may have had differing opinions as to whether Alan Lord was the right manager to achieve the success they all crave, but there is no doubting his love for the club and its supporters. As Lordy moves to a role where he can make full use of his ability to bring out the best in promising young footballers, the rapport that exists between him and the fans will not be any less.
Nothing was ever too much trouble. He turned up to all sorts of supporter-organised events, regularly made it his business to go over and speak to the fans at the end of a game, and in all his dealings he was genuine and open. He did this because he wanted to, and because he understands that’s the way things are done at the club.
With the General Election approaching, last week saw the launch of the party manifestos, and some managed a mention of football, and even football supporters.
The Conservative Party talks of the benefits of co-operative ownership models, and enabling fans to get involved in owning or running their clubs, while Labour says it will introduce legislation to enable accredited supporter trusts to appoint and remove at least two of the directors of a football club, and have the option to purchase shares when a club changes hands.
Football supporters will be glad that these issues are being recognised – even though they might wonder whether the problems faced by smaller clubs within the modern game can be resolved with a government magic wand, assuming it ever gets waved.
Pensioner, Frank Knight, became the third Blackpool supporter to be sued by the club’s owner, Owen Oyston, and chairman, Karl Oyston. He was obliged to publish an apology for comments made on a fans’ message board, and has to find £20,000 in damages.
Football fans around the country responded to an appeal on a crowd-funding website to help pay Mr. Knight’s damages. Among those donating was a high profile County supporter, who commented: “Ridiculously OTT to get £20K. An apology would have been more than enough.”
In keeping with the Bungalow’s smart new look, the Co-op board has invested in a new PA system. It is intended for use at Co-op band nights, starting with the appearance of Ten Eyed Man and Mutha Luvin Chimps on Saturday, May 2nd. Details are on the website www.countysupporterscoop.co.uk. All proceeds will go to the Co-op’s Guardian Account.
15 April 2015:
As the season moves towards a rather disappointing end, it’s no surprise that the main discussion point amongst County fans is: where do we go from here?
County’s future has come the under the spotlight in recent weeks, with much of the debate being positive, whilst at the same time recognising there aren’t any easy answers. The club itself set out its plans in its “Moving Forward” document, with a focus on a return to the Football League in five years.
A group of supporters has made public their own proposals, and an up-to-date response from the Co-op board can be found on the website www.countysupporterscoop.co.uk (click on: “more news and events.”)
Also very relevant to this talk of County’s future is the Guardian Account. Rather than being simply yet another plan, the aim of Guardian Account is for the supporters to have a big enough lump sum behind them to give them the clout to invest in the club and influence its development. This might be in partnership with other like-minded investors, but any decision as to how the money is used will be one for the Co-op membership.
The fund has certainly attracted the interest of County fans, with a good deal of discussion about the uses it might be put to, as well as regular contributions from a number of people. Details are on the Co-op website.
Now that Easter is over, hopefully teams will be turning their minds to the Co-op five a side competition and managers will be getting their squads fully prepared. It will take place at Stockport Powerleague on Sunday May 3rd and the cost of is £5 per player (maximum 8 per team) with a £10 non-refundable deposit, to be paid in advance. To enter, email Andy Plant at email@example.com.
County fans’ experience of owning their club was not a happy one, but lessons were learned and mistakes eventually recognised. Supporter ownership of County for a second time is not on the immediate agenda, but neither has it been ruled out if the circumstances were right.
So it’s worth pointing out that Supporters Direct has designated this week as Supporter Ownership Week, with events taking place illustrating how supporter ownership can and does work. Details are on their website www.supporters-direct.org. Two of the best known clubs to be owned by their fans are Portsmouth and AFC Wimbledon, and others familiar to County fans include Wycombe, AFC Telford, AFC Chester and Wrexham.
07 April 2015:
Plans for the Stockport half marathon are starting to take shape as the Co-op events team met County officials yesterday (Tuesday) to discuss arrangements for the event. The race is scheduled for Sunday, September 6th. and the Co-op aims to make it a big day out, not just for the runners, but also for their families and friends and the people of Stockport.
Two major sponsors have already been confirmed – Robinsons Brewery and Sweatshop – and the events team is seeking to attract others. A variety of sponsorship packages is available – ranging from the opportunity to become headline sponsor to placing an advertisement in the programme. Interested companies can find out more by contacting Dave Marchbank 0161 292 5168 or 07785432562.
Readers who have responded to the Co-op’s appeals for County memorabilia may like to know that the Players Fund and the Guardian Account both benefitted from a quick-fire Easter auction of a prized Liam Dickinson shirt. The auction was held on the fans message board, Marionsboard, and another will appear there soon. Once again, such donations are being put to good use, so please keep them coming.
The Co-op board would like to hear from any shop fitters or joiners amongst the fan base who can volunteer their services to help with improvements to the Co-op’s stall in the Cheadle stand.
In a different type of request for help, the Wellspring, the homeless charity supported by the Co-op, has asked us to put out an appeal for new items of men’s underwear, which are urgently needed. Any donations can be brought on match days to the Co-op stall in the Cheadle stand or to the Bungalow, or contact Dave Marchbank or Billy Byrne at firstname.lastname@example.org
There was good news for two non-league clubs last week concerning their stadium, and in both cases it came about as a result of significant help from the local Council.
When Hereford United were wound up before Christmas Herefordshire Council repossessed their Edgar Street stadium. Now the Council has agreed a lease for the ground with the consortium behind the new phoenix club, Hereford FC, who were able to move in just before Easter. The reformed club are now waiting to hear which league they will be playing in next season.
Chester’s agreement to play at their Swansway Stadium was coming to an end but the Conference Premier side have now signed new terms with Cheshire West and Chester Council and were delighted to secure a 50-year lease.
01 April 2015:
A group of County fans will be showing true dedication to the cause this week. Their Good Friday will start at 5am so that they can prepare the Booth Street car park for the popular Help the Hatters car boot sale.
Once everything is running smoothly, they will go off and board the coach that will take them to Cumbria and County’s match at table-topping Barrow. Hopefully, by the time they return later in the evening their efforts will have been rewarded with a County victory.
The Supporters’ Co-op has already made plans for the next bank holiday weekend at the beginning of May. There will be another lively Co-op band night – featuring Ten Eyed Man, supported by Mutha Luvin Chimps – at the Bungalow on Hardcastle Road on Saturday, May 2nd. Doors open at 7pm, admission £5, with the proceeds going to the Co-op Guardian Account.
The day after, Sunday, May 3rd, will see the second Supporters’ Co-operative five-a-side competition, to be held at Stockport Powerleague with a 12 noon start. Teams are guaranteed a minimum of forty-five minutes game time. Last year’s event not only produced some very competitive games but was also an enjoyable social occasion for all concerned. To enter, contact the organiser, Andy Plant, at email@example.com.
And that same May Day weekend could still get a lot busier. On the Saturday, the second leg of the Vanarama Conference North Play-Off Semi Final will take place.
Supporters’ organisations were busy last week. The Football Supporters Federation led the “Share TV Wealth” demonstration outside the Premier League’s shareholder meeting, and they seem to have made an impact as the League promised to pass on £1bn of the recent TV deal to the lower leagues and grassroots football. The call now is for supporters to be involved in deciding how the money is spent.
Then, Supporters Direct, the umbrella group for supporters’ trusts, welcomed the Football Association’s proposals for increasing the quota of home grown players in top clubs. SD took the opportunity to point out that that this was a better way forward than earlier plans for Premier League B teams to compete in Football League Competitions, and they called for these to be now dropped.
Incidentally, there is an interesting and challenging opportunity with Supporters Direct for a committed person with the appropriate experience. They have a vacancy for a Junior Casework Officer based in the North West. Further details can be found on the Co-op website www.countysupporterscoop.co.uk – click on “more news and events.”
25 March 2015:
The monthly meeting of the Co-op board took place earlier this week and members will soon be hearing the outcome via the usual channels of communication – and then in due course the minutes will appear on the website.
There’s nothing unusual in that, you might think. But, as an account of how the Co-op works, it’s far from being the full picture. For example, the board met twice during the course of the previous week to deal with County-related matters raised elsewhere. And while that may be a bit unusual, the period between monthly meetings is never a leisurely stroll.
There are three sub-committees – young people, Guardian Account, and media and communications – which are likely have business to conduct; the overhaul of the membership system continues; the website needs to be kept fresh; and Co-op fundraising and events activity is a growth industry in its own right. The preparatory work, alone, for the proposed half marathon later in the year, is already taking up a lot of time and involving a number of people. And, following last year’s success, plans have just been finalised for another Co-op five-a-side competition on May 3rd.
Meetings are held regularly with other organisations, not least Stockport County – contact is increasingly important now that minds are finally becoming focused on a better future for the club.
In our relationship with the club we are more fortunate than some. A group of Blackpool supporters became so unhappy with the owners that they boycotted the home game against Leeds and went to watch AFC Blackpool’s game against Bootle instead. No doubt the North West Counties Premier Division team were happy with an attendance of 500 more than the usual few. County supporters have somewhat better communications with their club, so Cheadle Town, who are in the league below AFC Blackpool, won’t be expecting a similar windfall any time soon.
Football supporters could be forgiven for thinking their efforts to influence the sport don’t count for much, if the experience of Hull City fans is anything to go by. Last year, in the face of fierce opposition from the fans, the club tried to change its name to Hull Tigers but this was rejected by the Football Association Council. Now, an FA arbitration panel has ruled that the club can come back and have another go next season – on the grounds that the original FA ruling had given too much weight to the supporters’ objections.
18 March 2015:
If nothing else, the recent fans’ forum proved that, even if times are difficult, there’s still plenty of spirit left in Stockport County and its supporters. Club officials put up an energetic defence of their present policies and showed a strong commitment to their “Moving Forward” document – whilst Alan Lord expressed a matching belief in his team’s progress.
The forum raised a number of questions for the Co-op board to look into when it meets next week, and it will be then be seeking a meeting with the club to take these issues forward. Incidentally, the next meeting of the club board will see a Co-op representative in attendance for the first time.
Also arising out of forum, we have seen the emergence of a group of County fans with proposals of their own. They will be given the opportunity to explain to Co-op representatives what they have in mind so that it can then be discussed at next week’s Co-op board meeting.
The Co-op thanks supporters who brought items to the Solihull game for distribution to the Wellspring. They were much appreciated by the charity’s representatives, who were presented with a Co-op cheque for £200 at half-time.
Thanks are also due to the people who have donated County memorabilia – including those who responded to requests made in this column. Talking of which, Dom Blizzard’s match-worn shirt went for a winning bid of £50. Details of the next auction will be available soon on the Co-op website www.countysupporterscoop.co.uk and supporters’ message boards.
And a further thank you to those who continue to contribute to the Guardian Account, which currently stands at over £11,300. Standing orders can be set up via the Co-op website. The next fund raising event for the Guardian Account will be another famous Co-op Band night – with Ten Eyed Men playing at the Bungalow on Saturday, 2nd May, starting at 7.30pm.
A meeting was held last week with the Council to discuss the Co-op’s plans to stage a half marathon, and whilst there are still a number of practicalities to be worked out, progress is being made.
Finally, Co-op members send their sincere sympathies to the family of former County player, Ken Hodder, whose funeral takes place on Friday (20th March), with the hearse first stopping outside Edgeley Park. As a loyal one-club man, happy to play for his home town team, Ken represented much that is no longer in evidence in today’s game. It’s not so long ago that I saw him taking it easy in my local.
11 March 2015:
Supporting a football club can take up a lot more of your life than just a couple of hours on a Saturday and many County fans devote a great deal of time to their passion for the club. They publish fanzines, debate at length on message boards, organise benefit matches, sell lottery tickets, lay on coaches to away games, and volunteer in all sorts of behind-the-scenes roles.
There exists a whole community of activity to do with the club, some of it undertaken by individuals and some by groups – junior supporters, disabled supporters, for example, as well as the two best known: Help the Hatters and the Supporters’ Co-operative.
When supporters come together for the benefit of the club and the fans, such groups can only thrive on the basis of the goodwill and trust of those involved. Recently this column pointed to the integrity and commitment of those who contribute to the amazing work of Help the Hatters.
Whilst goodwill and trust are important in all voluntary organisations they can’t guarantee that things won’t go wrong. There can be disagreements – some people might be turn out to be unreliable, or not up to the job, or they may be pursuing their own interests.
It’s not a slur on other groups to point out that the Supporters’ Co-op is the one that has the necessary structures to try to deal with this. Members have the opportunity to contribute in an open and democratic way, and there are procedures for resolving differences and agreeing the way forward. Above all, those who are responsible for making things happen – the board – are accountable to the rest who have signed up as members. Some might say it’s all a bit boring and bureaucratic, and they have point, but that’s the price you might have to pay if everyone is to feel assured that things are being run properly.
The Co-op board was pleased to see such a good turnout for last week’s Fans Forum. There may still be some unanswered questions, but the manner in which club representatives dealt with the debate on their future plans went some way to dispel anxieties about lack of direction or leadership.
A new shirt auction is up and running. The Johnny Mullins signed shirt went for a winning bid of £50, and next up is Dom Blizzard’s match-worn, signed, black, Diadora shirt, size XL. All bids to be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org by March 15th, with the proceeds being equally divided between the Guardian Account and the Player Fund.
04 March 2015:
There will be some fans at Saturday’ home game against Solihull Moors who will be listening with added interest when the attendance figure is announced.
They will be taking part in a “guess the crowd” competition organised by the Co-op’s recently formed young people’s group – with the winner receiving two free tickets for the game against Chorley a fortnight later.
The group’s steering committee has been busy planning activities designed to bring together younger County fans and to involve them in Co-op and club matters. Although the group is aiming to promote County to the younger generation they want to avoid being pigeonholed as just a youth section. They would like to be seen as an integral part of the fan base and hope that supporters of all ages will take an interest in their activities.
Entries to the guess the crowd competition can be submitted via the group’s Twitter account – @scfccoopyouth – and the closest to the actual figure will win.
Another Co-op matter to be dealt with at the Solihull game involves an on-pitch presentation. Following the fundraising Christmas cavort, food and other urgent items were purchased and delivered to the Wellspring – the Co-op’s charity of the year which works with homeless and disadvantaged people. The remainder of the money raised from the event will be handed over to the charity on Saturday in the form of an extra large photo-friendly cheque.
The Co-op board is pleased with its track record on fundraising. Recent efforts have produced decent amounts for community as well as football-related causes – such as the Guardian Account – often with the bonus of a successful social event to go with it.
However, the board doesn’t believe it has a monopoly on ideas or expertise in this area. It’s asking members to come forward with fundraising suggestions, and better still, to take responsibility for making them happen. There are probably lots of imaginative projects in fans’ heads which they might fancy putting into practice. It could be anything from a weekly football card or running a quiz, to a major concert at the Manchester Arena – although the necessary expertise would help. Likely as not, the Guardian Account would be the main beneficiary but certainly not the only one. Please contact Dave Marchbank on 0161 292 5168 or 07785432562 with suggestions or offers to fundraise.
If you have sent in a form to join the Co-op and are still awaiting confirmation of your membership, please email Billy Byrne at email@example.com with your details.
25 February 2015:
It’s official – Stockport County supporters are now shareholders in the club that they have stood by in spite of its decline in recent years. This came about thanks to the willingness of Sharron Brammall to make shares over to the Supporters’ Cooperative in response to the fans’ contributions to the Players Fund.
Although the numbers involved represent only a small percentage of the total shareholding, it’s still a milestone in the relationship between the club and its supporters. For the Co-op, there will be the challenge of continuing to be the independent voice of the supporters while seeking to influence events from the inside. Co-op representatives should now be able to get an insight into how things are – or are not – working, and they will hope to be in a position to press for change.
It is impossible to ignore the fact that supporters are unhappy with the club’s present situation – on and off the field – so it would make a lot of sense for the club to work with the fans to turn things round. After all, we are not just any shareholder.
The relationship between supporters and the owners of their football club has never been an easy one and there are plenty of examples in today’s game to illustrate this. Mike Ashley continues to seriously upset the fans of both Glasgow Rangers and Newcastle United; a Blackpool fan found himself being sued by owner, Owen Oyston, for comments he made on a supporters message board; Sky Blue Trust members are calling for Coventry City owners SISU to sell up and move on; and the ink was hardly dry on the new Premier League television rights deal before owner Hull City owner, Assem Allam, told supporters they could forget a cut in ticket prices.
While such stories put affairs at Edgeley Park into some sort of perspective, we are not underestimating the size of the task facing the club and the Co-op. We do think, however, that County’s shareholding supporters can make a difference.
There is an early opportunity for Co-op members to catch up and put their ideas forward at tomorrow’s Special General Meeting (26th Feb), at the Bungalow, starting at 7.30pm.
There’s always scope for changing things for the better. Cardiff City fans have succeeded in their campaign against owner, Vincent Tan’s insistence on playing in red, and the team have reverted to their traditional blue. Mr Tan put his change of heart down to advice given to him by his mother.
18 February 2015:
Finance features strongly in news from the Co-op, with priority given to building up the Guardian Account so that the fans can have a bigger say in County affairs. The total now stands at over £11000, thanks to additional money from donations, fund raising activities, and the match day stall.
Supporters are being encouraged to make regular contributions to the Guardian Account and the board is planning to grow the fund in a number of other ways.
The first involves a series of auctions of old County shirts and, currently, battle is being done over a Johnny Mullins shirt – with the highest bid to date standing at £40. This auction runs till the end of the month with half the proceeds going to the Players Fund. Bid at www.countysupporterscoop.co.uk or on supporters’ message boards.
Another ambitious fund raising venture – and great day in the making – will be the Co-op’s Stockport Half Marathon, for which Council approval has now been sought.
This weekend, Co-op board members will be looking at a different, but no less important side of finance, when they attend a Supporters Direct training course, with the fascinating title of “Assessing the Financial Health of Your Club.” There will be a chance to look at the pressures under which football clubs operate and to examine what helps to makes them financially successful – and sustainable. The idea is to help course members become better at assessing their own club’s finances. Watch this space.
With all this talk of finance, it wouldn’t do not to mention last week’s Premier League TV rights deal, with broadcasters paying more than £10m per game and the reward for the club finishing bottom coming out at around £99m.
On the same day as the Sky/BT extravaganza was all over the news pages, a less noticed article appeared in the Guardian concerning Iain Hume, the Tranmere Rovers striker. In 2008, while playing for Barnsley, he suffered a badly fractured skull as a result a violent blow from the elbow of Sheffield United’s Chris Morgan. It changed his life in a number of ways – inadequate compensation, nine months out the game, the effect on his confidence, and a permanent ugly scar.
According to Hume: “Sky tried to organize the next season’s fixture [against Sheffield United] to be literally a year after the event, almost on the anniversary, but they didn’t quite get what they wanted. I was injured. He [Morgan] was suspended.” Don’t let the football get in the way of a good television show.
For information about the Guardian Account and to donate go to www.countysupporterscoop.co.uk
11 February 2015:
County supporters may have seen a report of a meeting that took place last week between the Co-op and Help the Hatters. It was a fairly low key event, a sort of mutual updating on what’s happening, taking in the Players Fund, the Guardian Account and the 1964/66 Reunion Event.
But it also illustrated how the two groups, which work in quite distinct ways for the benefit of Stockport County, try to bring together the best of what each has to offer. At the same time they provide the supporters with different sorts of opportunities to get involved.
Fans can see the two organisations carrying out their separate roles in relation to the Players Fund, with Help the Hatters dealing with the transfer of money to the club, which then translates into shares for the Supporters’ Co-operative . But there’s a lot more to it.
The Co-op is a formal democratic, not-for-profit organisation. When it puts forward ideas about how County is run it speaks as the authentic representative body of the supporters – and, of course, it is legally in a position to hold shares in the club.
Help the Hatters is an informal organisation that wants to get on and do things. Well before the Players Fund was established, they were providing the means for Alan Lord to add his latest promising young discovery to the squad. Their annual painting and general overhaul of Edgeley Park is there for all to see at the start of each new season, and their latest enterprise – the transformation of the Bungalow Club into an attractive meeting place for County fans – has rightly attracted widespread praise. It’s also worth pointing out that a number of Co-op members assisted on this project.
To get all this done, Help the Hatters need money so they put their energies into raising it – one of the best examples being their highly popular car boot sales.
Whereas the Co-op, quite correctly, does things by the book, Help the Hatters is moved more by the spirit of its activists. It stands or falls on the quality of the people who contribute to its work and the effort they put in. If it had a coat of arms the motto underneath would probably read: “Integrity and Commitment.”
There is inevitably some overlap between the Co-op and Help the Hatters – and there are fans who are active in both organisations – but it is important that each maintains its separate identity. It’s tempting to describe it as an arrangement unique to County fans, but whether or not that’s the case, it’s certainly very County.
04 February 2015:
The Co-op wants to encourage the younger generation of County supporters to get together to run their own events and develop their own channels of communication.
In the County anthem “The Scarf my Father Wore” the scarf is passed down the generations. While the song never fails to raise the spirits of the fans, it’s also based on some sound thinking, because without a regular influx of younger fans a football club has an uncertain future. For a club like County to attract such youngsters, they first have to overcome the incessant Premiership hype – and languishing two levels below the Football League doesn’t help, either. Over the years a lot of effort has gone into getting children enthused with County, while the 14-21 age range has largely been neglected.
A newly formed group is hoping to put this right. It includes Chris Ridgeway from Pure Radio and Patrick Knowles, with Christine Robinson acting as the link with the Co-op Board, and they are looking for other like-minded young fans to join them.
Unsurprisingly, digital and social media will play a big part and there’s now a Facebook group and a Twitter account -@scfccoopyouth – already with 131 followers. The group is hoping to have a dedicated page on the Co-op website as well as producing a fanzine, which will cover more than just County matters Hosting games events – video, darts, snooker – was another idea the group agreed to look into.
Thanks to Pure’s Chris Ridgway, there will be exciting opportunities to involve younger fans in the work of the radio station – which could mean talking on air about what it means to follow County or, for those interested in a career in the media, the chance to tour the studios. Anyone interested in contributing to the work of the group can get in touch at www.countysupporterscoop.co.uk/co-op/contact.
The Co-op’s fund raising is directed by Dave Marchbank, who is keen on what he calls football collectables – old programmes, shirts, photos, etc. – which provide a good source of income when offered for sale, usually by auction. Dave has little shame and will accept items from any club, not just County. In all seriousness, he would be more than happy to receive material from United and City or anywhere else, and all money raised will go either to the Co-op or County. Not only that, it’s a way of raising awareness about football memorabilia and could lead to a Co-op collectables fair later in the year. Please contact Dave Marchbank on 0161 292 5168 or 07785432562 if you have items you would like to donate.
28 January 2015:
It’s a busy period coming up for the Co-op.
A Special General Meeting of Co-op members will be held on Thursday, 26th February at the Bungalow, starting 7.30pm. A number of formal matters have to be agreed relating to the accounts and newly co-opted board members will be introduced. Other agenda items will include the Guardian Account, a new system for renewing membership, and the Stockport Half Marathon. There will then be an opportunity for an informal discussion on County and Co-op matters.
The Board is looking to organise a half marathon in autumn, and with support already offered by County, it could well be tied in with a Fun Day at Edgeley Park. It’s a big undertaking and we need to look further into what’s involved before taking a final decision – possibly deferring the event until next year if the time constraints turn out to be too pressing.
The Co-op were pleased to be able to help the band, The Blossoms, by organising a warm-up prior to their world tour, which means they will play at the Bungalow Club on Friday, 6th February, 7.30pm, with the Mantells also on the bill. Admission is £5.00 on the door and it will be strictly first come, first served with no advance tickets. The event will give Blossoms’ fans (as well as County fans) the chance to catch them before they leave for Japan and the USA.
The Young People’s Working Group has been set up which intends develop its own activities – not necessarily related to Coop business – while aiming to attract a younger generation of Co-op members.
Finally, on the information front – watch out for an announcement about a series of auctions and the opportunity to bid for some old County shirts that will stir the memory.
Supporters should be aware that The Guardian Account went live last week, and we were surprised to find that the first PayPal donation came from an address in Bury.
There has been a much talk of late, and rightly so, about what County’s owners are up to and how they are going to set the club back on the right path. There are no simple solutions, and the Co-op, while dealing with present situation – which is far from perfect – also has to find ways of contributing to a better future for County. It’s not so long ago that that a Co-op match programme article was rejected because it referred to one of our objectives, which is: “to hold the club to account.” We have moved on in our relationship with the club but the objective remains.
21 January 2015:
In what turned into a disappointing week for County it was left to off the field matters to lift the mood. The Guardian Account – the supporters’ investment in the club’s long term security – is now up and running, and the boards of County and the Co-op met for some productive discussions on a wide ranging agenda.
For the club, directors Richard Park and Gary Burton, and advisor, Steve Bellis, told Co-op board members that they are seeking to build a framework to set the County back on its feet following a period of turbulence. They want to move the club into a position of financial stability so that it can operate on a sustainable basis. Despite recent results the directors feel the playing budget is a competitive one.
Discussions are being held with the Council about ways of regaining ownership of Edgeley Park, and club representatives recognised the need for supporters to be involved. The Co-op believes it has a big role to play here and we have been doing our own research into the possibilities, and a Joint Feasibility Study is certainly an option when the time is right.
More details of the meeting are available on the co-op website www.countysupporterscoop.co.uk but for now it’s worth reporting that the first batch of shares in the Club resulting from the Players Fund agreement was due to be made over to the Co-op yesterday. It was also stated that new investors would be welcome but only if they had a credible plan for taking the club forward.
Whilst the Co-op board welcomed the constructive nature of the meeting they are aware that much still has to be done to address supporters’ concerns about the position that the County is now finds itself in, not just on the field, but as a hollowed out version of the football club it used to be, and needs to be again.
In the coming months a lot more will be heard about the Guardian Account which was launched with the transfer of £10,000 from Co-op funds. Hopes are high that it can provide supporters with the means to take the initiative and positively influence the shaping of County’s future. There’s a lot more to be seen, including the ongoing total, on the website www.countysupporterscoop.co.uk/guardian-account
Finally, thanks for the replies to last week’s article seeking donations of County memorabilia such as old programmes and shirts. Sadly, because of a technical blip the messages were lost, so with apologies to those concerned, we would ask that they contact Dave Marchbank again on 0161 292 5168 or 07785432562.
14 January 2015:
When the Co-op first got the idea of raising funds from the sale of County memorabilia, we had no idea that we would get such a positive response from the supporters, both the ones who generously donated items and those who snapped them up.
For County, like all football clubs, a new season means a different shirt, as does a change of sponsor. Goalkeepers seem to want to outdo each other with their range of bad taste jerseys, and the need for an away strip has somehow become the need for two away strips – all on the assumption that the fans will loyally turn up at the club shop.
Over the years County, have played in shirts of many designs and various shades of blue , some of which are still to be seen on fans’ backs whilst many more are no doubt buried at the bottom of a wardrobe. In recent months the Co-op board has been surprised at the number of County supporters eager to acquire shirts from past seasons, and there are some who regularly check our match day stall for any new additions.
With all the interest that is being shown the Co-op is considering holding a programme/football collectables fair later in the season.
Much our stock has now been sold or auctioned off to benefit Co-op funds, so we are now asking supporters once again to check the bottom of their wardrobes. We would welcome donations of programmes, particularly from the 1960s, or earlier, signed footballs, photographs, scarves, or any other memento of county history. We would also be happy to receive items from other clubs. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or phone Dave Marchbank on 0161 292 5168 or 07785432562.
The Co-op board would like to improve the appearance and usefulness of the stall in the Cheadle stand concourse and would appreciate offers of help from any joiners or shop fitters from among the fan base who would be willing to volunteer their services. Let us know at
Last week Wasps hosted Sale Sharks in a rugby union game, and in the words of their director of rugby, Steve Diamond, Sale were “given a good hiding.“ But the two clubs are closer in other ways. The game was played at the Ricoh Arena, the stadium that was purpose built for Coventry City. As the owners, Wasps are benefitting from the income generated by a hotel and conference and events centre at the stadium. This is what Coventry hoped to do but now they are just tenants using the stadium just for match days. Sounds familiar.
15 October 2014:
The second part of the Football Association commission report into the future of the English game last week got a much more favorable reception than the first part received last May.
Football fans will be encouraged by the remarks of FA Chairman, Greg Dyke, indicating that the earlier commission idea of introducing Premier League B teams into the Football League has as good as been abandoned.
The commission’s proposals for “a radical new approach” to grassroots football look positive. They include plans for a £230M investment in local training facilities, with a doubling of the number of 3G all-weather pitches and 150 new “football hubs” across the country for youth development and coaching. This is in recognition of the current poor quality of park pitches and goes some way to catching up with the standard of facilities in places like Germany and the Netherlands. A big increase is also proposed in the numbers of qualified coaches at all levels.
The project to make the Bungalow into the match day meeting place for fans was officially launched on Saturday by County manager, Alan Lord. The Co-op will benefit, with 50 pence for every pint sold over the bar being donated the Players fund, which in turn will generate shares in the football club for the Co-op.
For supporters, pre- and post-match meet ups are an important part of going to watch County, so, as Edgeley Park’s next door neighbour, an upgraded Bungalow is an exciting prospect and hopefully this will help to secure its future.
While we are on the subject of being sociable, it’s worth mentioning that, after the Hednesford game on Saturday 15th November, there will be another Co-op Band Night at the Bungalow, starring Roger Wylde’s band with further names to be confirmed nearer the time. Starting time is 7.30pm although doors will open after the match has ended. Tickets on the door at £5.00
Details of the Co-op Christmas Party have now been finalised. It will be on Friday 12 December, from 6.30pm, at The Magnet Free House, 51 Wellington Road North. Local band, Shifty, will be performing a selection of acoustic seasonal numbers together with their range of folk and roll covers. There will be food available to pay for on the night.
Tickets cost £6.50 for members and £8 for non-members and can be bought on-line from Eventbrite at https://scscxmas.eventbrite.co.uk. They are also available from the Co-op stall in the Cheadle Stand at every home game – or phone Dave on 07785432562. The number of tickets will be limited and early booking is recommended especially as the ticket price includes a mystery Christmas present.
08 October 2014:
There’ can’t be many managers who take the trouble to spend an evening talking informally with a gathering of fans about team affairs, tactics and training methods. But last week, in true County fashion, manager, Alan Lord, did just that at a meeting hosted by the Supporters’ Co-op at the Fingerpost in Offerton.
There is full coverage of what was said elsewhere on these pages, but, from a supporter’s point of view, it was not just what was said that made the evening such a success. I suspect fans learned a lot and took inspiration from the professionalism of Alan Lord, his assistant, Phil Brown, and coach, Dave Conlon, as they described their work and the way they go about it.
Whilst providing some fascinating insights into behind the scenes activity such as training and preparation for games, they came over as an articulate management team with well thought out ideas and who work well together. They talked about the way they deal with the players and it was clear that they place a lot of emphasis on building a positive relationship with them, individually and as a group. Supporters’ questions were answered honestly and fully, and Alan and his team re-assured the meeting that they understood what fans wanted and they saw it as part of their job to make the players aware of what is expected at Stockport County.
Before Saturday’s FA Cup game against Ilkeston, Help the Hatters are holding an event to launch their Players Fund bar in the Bungalow, next to Edgeley Park. The Bungalow has agreed to donate 50 pence to the Players Fund for every pint sold on home match days and Help the Hatters have been giving the place a makeover. Starting time for the launch is 12.45 and Alan Lord and former players will be in attendance. If all goes to plan, this will become a regular pre-match meeting place for fans as well as generating some much needed revenue for the venue.
Congratulations to supporter-owned Portsmouth FC, after last week’s announcement that, two years ahead of schedule, it has paid off all its legacy debts inherited when the club came out of administration 17 months ago, including a £7million owed to 25 ex-players. The club has endured a horrendous recent history, suffering three relegations and two periods of administration since winning the FA Cup in 2008. The fans’ consortium now in charge have worked hard to totally re-organise the way the club is run and it says it wants to put in place the foundations for sustainable growth. After years of short term thinking the focus is now on long-term stability.
01 October 2014:
As we enter October there will be no letting up for the Supporters’ Co-op between now and the end of the year.
A busy programme starts tonight with the Co-op hosting an open meeting – jointly run with the Club – at the Fingerpost on Hempshaw Lane, starting at 7.30pm. Manager, Alan Lord, and others from the Club will be there to take part in a Question and Answer session, with the event being open to Co-op members and non-members. As capacity is limited supporters are being advised to get there early to be sure of getting in.
Preparations are underway for the Supporters’ Co-op AGM which will be held around mid -November. It’s not too much of an exaggeration to say that the meeting will be the culmination of an impressive twelve months that has seen the Co-op transformed from a well-meaning organization struggling to get its message across into one that has unified the supporters. Three places on the Board are up for election and the plan is for hustings to be held at the AGM with candidates having the opportunity to address the meeting and members being able to question them. Hopefully, new people will come forward to complement the skills and experience of current Board members and also to reflect the range views of the wider County support base.
The AGM will be asked to approve the terms of the Co-op’s Guardian Fund to be launched next year with the aim of raising a significant amount of money, enough to give us a serious say in County affairs. The Fund can only be used on long term purposes, decided by the members, and is fully safeguarded. Full details of the AGM, including date and venue, will be sent to members shortly
One date that is fixed is the 12th December, when the Co-op will be holding its big Christmas event in the excellent function room of the Magnet pub on Wellington Road North. Expect a live band and the usual Magnet quality of food, not to mention its range of beers. The evening will be open to non-members and there will be a discounted price for members. Look out also for another lively Co-op Band Night in the not too distant future.
The Co-op stall is now a regular feature at County’s home games, with Board members in attendance to answer questions, listen to supporters’ views, and sign up new members. Co-op merchandise and a selection of old match programmes are available to purchase. The stall is located in the bar area of the Cheadle Stand.
Finally, if anybody is, or knows, a printer who would do work for the Co-op at sympathetic rates please get in touch at www.countysupporterscoop.co.uk/co-op/contact.
24 September 2014:
County’s fans could be forgiven for thinking that the recent run of good form means we are at long last going in the right direction to become a proper football club again. So, could it happen that in ten years’ time, a film charting County’s rise to the highest level of English football will be premiered at a West End cinema in front of an audience including famous actors and top footballers?
That’s what’s happened in the case of Swansea City with the full length documentary film Jack to a King: The Swansea Story, which is now on general release. It tells the remarkable story of how the Welsh club was sold for £1 in 2001, and, two years later, after being only 90 minutes away from relegation to the Football Conference, it was rescued by a group of fans and business people coming together and pooling their money to save the club they loved. Within ten years Swansea had gained promotion to the Premier League and is now 20% owned by its supporters, with the remainder in the hands of a consortium of local businessmen who happen to be fans.
With some justification County fans think that their support is special. Yet however deep fans’ feelings are for their own club, their off-field concerns are very much the same as those of followers of any other club, and chief among these is the relationship between the supporters and the supported.
According to reviews in the national press, the Swansea film is a moving account of this relationship in action. As its BAFTA award-winning director, Marc Evans, explained: “This is not just a film about the rise of Swansea City Football Club, but the story of a town and the people who made the club what it is today.”
Football clubs are notorious for disregarding their biggest asset – the supporters. The owner of Hull City, for example, continues to insult and mislead the fans because of their opposition to his proposal to change the name to Hull Tigers. He has at various times described “City” as lousy, common and irrelevant.
The Supporters’ Co-op is working towards building a constructive relationship between the Club and its fans. Last week in this column we were able to report on a positive meeting between the Co-op Board and County Directors – who wanted to hear what we had to say. We aim to acquire a stake in the Club starting with the shares from Players Fund initiative.
It doesn’t mean that, as the voice of the supporters, we believe everything at Edgeley Park is just fine, but we are making progress, even if we are not quite ready yet to call in the film crews and book our seats at a West End cinema.
17 September 2014:
Stockport County has turned the corner, the bad old days are in the past, and those in charge are now hoping for a period of stability. That was the message given by Club director, Richard Park, to the board of the Supporters’ Co-op in a meeting that brought the fans’ representatives and County directors together for the first time.
Along with fellow director, Jon Keighren, also known for his silken-voiced match commentaries, and Steve Bellis, who currently makes most things happen, Richard spoke frankly about a range of County matters that have been of concern to the fans.
Whilst he was positive in his assessment of the current state of affairs at Edgeley Park there was an underlying caution. Things are improving – there is now a better grasp of the finances, creditors’ bills are reducing, and a shortfall on commercial activity is not anticipated – but there is still a long way to go. Richard, Jon and Steve placed great emphasis on the need for the business to be sustainable whilst wanting to see County rising through the Conference Premier to regain its Football League status. New investment would be welcomed so long as the people behind it were genuine and sound.
While costs have been reduced, plans are in hand to boost income, particularly with extra publicity for games and increased sponsorship, although results on the field are still a big influence on match day takings. Richard expressed total confidence in manager, Alan Lord, both in team matters and in the football structures he is creating.
So far, so good. From the Co-op perspective, we are more than happy that Richard – a wholehearted County fan – is showing such enthusiasm for the cause. There is a renewed mood of optimism about Edgeley Park after the gloom of the last few years. But we are conscious that it’s a fragile optimism. The club is still a part-time outfit in the sixth tier of English football. The issue concerning shareholders is less messy than a year ago but still not fully resolved and a number of loans have not yet been written off. And while some sit on their hands, waiting for we know not what, it is only the generosity and goodwill of a small number – Richard Park among them– that prevents County from going under. And, of course, the small matter of the ownership of the Club’s home, Edgeley Park, has to be sorted out.
Being able to get round the table like this is a sign that the Club is willing to respond positively to the fans and that it sees the Co-op as a credible supporters’ organization.
A fuller account of the meeting is to be made available to members and can be seen on our website www.countysupporterscoop.co.uk.
10 September 2014:
Charity collections are a familiar sight at Edgeley Park and supporters have always responded generously over the years. The Supporters’ Co-op has a particular interest in the collection to be held at Saturday’s game against Boston United since the beneficiary is the Wellspring, a local charity which does a remarkable job supporting the homeless. The Co-op has recently developed links with the Wellspring and we are going to be supporting the organisation in a number of ways over the coming months.
Based in Harvey Street, just off the town centre, the Wellspring is open 365 days a year, helping up to 120 homeless people daily, offering hot meals, companionship, clothes, shower facilities, as well as advice on education, jobs and health matters. It is staffed in the main a by volunteers and is dependent on donations from the general public, businesses, schools and churches. Donations of food, clothing, bedding, toiletries & financial donations are always needed. Such is the regard in which the charity is held that in June this year it was awarded the nationally prestigious Queens Award for Voluntary Service.
Our backing for the Wellspring stems quite naturally from what the Supporters’ Co-op is about. We are a more than basic fan’s group. There is a statement on our website www.countysupporterscoop.co.uk which states that our vision is “(t)o be the democratic and representative voice of the supporters of Stockport County Football Club, and to strengthen the bonds between the Club and the community which it serves.” Much of our time is spent in being the voice of the fans and seeking greater influence for them in County affairs, but the use of the word “co-op” in our name means that there is a lot more involved. We are a legally constituted co-operative society and, like all other such co-ops, we have social goals and aim to work for the benefit of our community.
The Wellspring connection is, in fact, shared with the Club. Under an imaginative agreement from the start of this season, County’s match commentary to its subscribers – jointly broadcast with Pure FM – is sponsored by the Wellspring, or that’s how it appears to the listener. When funding for the commentary to the charity running the radio station was withdrawn, a County fan generously (and anonymously) stepped in to make up the shortfall. Part of the deal provides for a fan, nominated by the Co-op to act as guest summariser on the commentary. The best bit, however, is that the Wellspring gets a good number of plugs during the course of the game.
3 September 2014:
In what was a busy week, the Co-op Board has been involved in talks on a number of different fronts, including a meeting with Stockport County officials.
The Board had a useful meeting with County’s Steve Bellis covering a range of issues related to the finances and general state of the Club. Fans have been concerned of late about what can best be described as ‘drift’ and lack of leadership, and they are anxious to know what plans are in place for a serious push to get back into the Football League as well as restoring the general wellbeing of the Club.
There was a wide-ranging discussion on the costs involved in running the Club and, as a result, a summary of the current income and expenditure figures will be made available to enable supporters to see the ins and outs of the day-to-day finances. A further meeting has been scheduled, this time with the Club directors, giving the Co-op an opportunity to question them on their plans for the future and the direction in which they see County going.
We have also asked to meet with the shareholders – individually or as a group – to seek out their views and intentions as investors, and plans are in place for this to happen. We were told that there is still outside interest in investing in the Club.
More details of these discussions will be sent to our members and then published on the Co-op website www.countysupporterscoop.co.uk .
The monthly Board meeting heard proposals for two very different sorts of projects. Stockport County Community Foundation representatives, Helen Foster-Grime and Ian Lees spoke, about the activities of the Foundation and expressed the hope that links can be built with the Co-op. Their grass roots work in providing sports coaching and education to the local community through schools, soccer courses and many other projects, is respected and appreciated throughout the Borough and beyond. The Co-op, of course, is fully orientated to its own social goals of becoming involved in the wider community, so supporting the Foundation makes a lot of sense and we will be looking for the best way to take this forward.
On a very different note, an offer of expert help in raising funds was well received by the Board. It came from Mike James, who has many years’ experience in the entertainment industry and now acts as a consultant, advising organisations on how to run events that will boost their income. We will be having further talks with Mike as we want to build on the success of our previous ventures, which provided an excellent opportunity for our members to get together whilst adding to the the funds that will give us a greater say in County affairs.
27 August 2014:
Last Saturday’s game against Bradford Park Avenue saw the first appearance of the Supporters’ Co-op stall. Situated in the busy Cheadle End concourse, it had on display Co-op leaflets and application forms, together with our banner and a selection of posters. We will be looking out for a positive follow-up, particularly in the numbers applying to join.
Now that the idea has become a reality we plan to develop the stall so that it becomes an active link between the Co-op and the fans. As well as making it attractive for people just to have a look, we hope that supporters will come to see it as a contact point for the Co-op. We want fans to come and talk to us about their ideas and concerns or simply have a chat. Even with the current emphasis on communicating via the internet and social media there is still value in face-to-face contact.
Last season the Co-op ran a number of pre-match leaflet campaigns around Edgeley Park. Whilst it proved to be an effective way of spreading the message, the most gratifying aspect was the personal touch shown by the volunteers giving out the leaflets, as they found time to stop and talk to the fans in the pubs and on the street.
The Co-op stall brought an unexpected bonus for the Wellspring, the centre for homeless people, an organisation that the Co-op is planning to work with and support. When we discovered that they had an urgent need for supplies of coffee we put out a call for donations in kind or in cash. As a result of a bucket collection on Saturday’s stall, by the next day we were able to deliver to the Wellspring 1000 tea bags, 16 jars of Coffee and 6 bags of sugar, with a supply of catering packs to follow.
Older supporters might have found a certain poignancy in the fixture against Bradford Park Avenue. The Bradford club played in the Football League from 1908 until 1970, when it failed to get re-elected. Four years later it was liquidated, but immediately reformed as a Sunday League club, and since then has risen up through a series of amateur and semi-professional leagues, to find itself in the Conference North with its old Football League rival, Stockport County. And there may be omens in some of the past results between the two. In 1914 County won a home game against Park Avenue by the same score as on Saturday – 3-1 – but the Bradford team went on to gain promotion from the old League Two. The last ever Football League clash between the clubs took place at Edgeley Park in the 1966-67 season, resulting in a 4-0 victory for County, who went on to become champions of the the old League Four.
20 August 2014:
Last week the power of Twitter to promote a cause was combined with the energy of Stockport County supporters with a cause to promote, and the result was an irresistible force that reached well beyond the Vanarama Conference North. Tamworth’s decision not to allow commentary from their Lamb Ground for subscribers to CountyPlayer, with a knock-on effect for Pure Radio listeners, upset many County fans, who were already unhappy with the increased admission prices faced by travelling army. On hearing the news the Co-op quickly issued a statement of disapproval which drew support nationally from journalists and ex-players.
Thankfully, concerns about the negative publicity brought about a late change of heart by Tamworth. The broadcast went ahead and as an added bonus, listeners got to hear the insights of the Co-op’s very own Dave Marchbank, co-commentator for the day and sounding as if he could have slipped easily into the role vacated by Alan Hansen if the BBC had known about him when filling the vacancy.
Another beneficiary was the local charity The Wellspring, a resource centre for homeless and disadvantaged people, which was recently awarded The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service and which benefits from live commentary adverts. Not only were the adverts heard as normal but Wellspring had earlier been receiving donations from generous County fans anxious to make up for any losses arising from the threatened commentary ban.
In a unique arrangement, a County fan living in the North East came forward anonymously to make up the shortfall for cuts in funding for the Pure Radio commentary and, in exchange, the commentary names Wellspring as the programme’s sponsor. Part of the deal was for a fan to sit in the commentary box on match days as guest summariser. Those participating will be nominated by the Co-op but names will not be restricted to Co-op members. Another positive is that Co-op is now interested in developing closer links with the Wellspring.
Don’t forget to check the Co-op website www.countysupporterscoop.co.uk . New stuff appears there regularly and you can now see a preview of the some new Co-op merchandise shortly to become available. This includes a set of four coasters, a key ring, a mug; car window sunscreens and a variety of phone covers, all of good quality and displaying the Co-op logo. We hope this sort of thing will help to make the Co-op more visible whilst at the same time boosting our funds.
On the subject of funds, we recently successfully appealed in this column for fans to donate items of County memorabilia to the Co-op. Experience has shown that old shirts, programmes and other County collectables, often signed, are attractive items in fund-raising auctions and we would be happy to receive any more that County fans may want to pass on.
13 August 2014:
Hereford United’s Edgar Street ground, sitting incongruously across from the cattle market, makes Edgeley Park look positively palatial. Almost half the stadium consists of standing terraces but they are now so dilapidated that a Council safety certificate limited the crowd for last Saturday’s match to just 1000 – not that this would have bothered many supporters because they weren’t there.
Bulls fans are boycotting the club and have set up an alternative team made up of supporters and former players, with 821 turning up to watch a game at Malvern Town. The protest is aimed at getting the owners to resolve a situation that has seen the club expelled from the Conference into the Southern League with debts of up £1.3millionand a winding up order hanging over them.
Stockport County’s fans have often been in despair at the Club’s decline in recent years, so, whilst it might not be much consolation, we can sympathise with other supporters who are going through difficult times.
Tonight’s live televised Capital One Cup match at Northampton between Coventry City and Cardiff City will see a joint protest by the supporters’ trusts of both clubs under the banner of “Fans Let Down”
For Coventry, a long running legal dispute between the club and the owners of their stadium, the Ricoh Arena, means that they have to play their home games thirty five miles away in Northampton, whilst Cardiff fans are aggrieved by the owner’s “marketing” decision to change the club’s colours from the traditional blue to red – supposedly a lucky colour in the Far East. Even though the luck seemed to have run out when Cardiff were relegated from the Premier League, the fans’ pleas for a return to blue are still ignored.
A little over two weeks ago Blackpool had just enough players on their books to for a five- a-side- team plus three substitutes. The recently formed Blackpool Supporters’ Trust is now campaigning against the owner’s unusual, or, as some fans would put it, asset stripping policies that brought this crazy situation about. The Trust has set out a list of goals to help turn things around on and off the pitch.
As for Stockport County, recent signs have indicated a bit more stability in the running of the Club. There are still some crucial issues to be addressed before supporters can start to feel reassured – in particular the need to attract new investment and sorting out the future of Edgeley Park.
With this in mind, it helps that County’s supporters themselves have come a long way in the last twelve months and are now much better organised to make their views heard and to have an impact on club affairs. The Co-op has established itself as a credible representative body and as a result the fans are a lot more confident about it what they can achieve.
06 August 2014:
After last week’s Co-op Board meeting, fellow Board member, John Gaskin, kindly gave me a lift home. As well as his Co-op responsibilities, John is also very active in Help the Hatters. So active, in fact, that after he dropped me off he drove over to Edgeley Park to check the progress of the restoration work Help the Hatters had been doing earlier in the evening. He himself had been working there before going on to the Co-op meeting.
John is one of several Co-op Board members who are involved with Help the Hatters, and this helps communication between the two groups – which offer different but complementary routes for fans to express their support for County. Help the Hatters provide practical assistance while the Co-op acts as the formal representative body of the supporters
The link between the two wasn’t always so positive and it has taken time and effort to get to this stage. Proof that it is working, however, can be seen in the recent Players Fund initiative, which will see Help the Hatters overseeing the money side with the Co-op becoming a shareholder in the Club.
County fans did kit man, Richard Landon, proud on Saturday. The occasion was his benefit match – the last friendly game before the season gets underway – against another of Richard’s old clubs, Macclesfield Town, and he received a great reception from the supporters. In true County style, fans give as much respect to a member of the backroom staff as they do to one of their favourite players.
In earlier days Richard’s played thirteen games for County, scoring four goals. His playing career was hampered by injuries, although his ability to find the back of the net wasn’t in doubt. He scored twice at Edgeley Park for Peter Shilton’s Plymouth in the 1994/5 season, and during County’s 2004 tour of China he came on as substitute to score the winner, and he was only down as the kit man!
It’s not unknown in football for the kit man to be overworked and underappreciated, invisible most of the time except as the butt of dressing room jokes. Yet Richard’s name is always mentioned with respect and appreciation for what he brings to the Club and the team, over and above what can normally be expected. He even took over team affairs for a while after the Club went into administration. Lando has given loyal service to County under no less than 13 managers and caretaker managers.
Which brings me back to where I started – with John Gaskin. After he left me, John got to Edgeley Park at around 10.30pm and noticed that there was a light on in the dressing room. Curious, he looked inside to find Richard Landon, still there ironing crests on to tee shirts for the Club shop. Some kit man.
30 July 2014:
Hopefully the Co-op Board does a good job keeping County supporters up-to-date with Co-op affairs, but perhaps not so much is known about our behind-the-scenes work. With our monthly our meeting approaching I thought it would be useful to provide an insight into how our affairs are organised.
Our meetings are usually in two parts. The first is routine stuff: Treasurer’s report and membership update together with reports from the Board members who lead on the various areas of our activities. Small groups – each with a named lead person – are responsible for media/communications; events/fundraising; and community. There are also sub-committees to deal with specific issues, such as the Guardian Fund – our long term project for raising sums large enough to put us in a position to influence events at County.
In all these activities we are fortunate to have the assistance of a number of Co-op members and as a result of their efforts and skills the lives of Board members are made a little less hectic, for which we are extremely grateful.
The second part of the Board meeting is for important matters, both new and ongoing. Clearly, the Players Fund and the Guardian Fund are hot issues at the moment while previous agenda items have ranged from the shareholding situation at the Club to preparations for big events such as the recent comedy night.
Our role is a mix between, on the one hand, being proactive and initiating long term projects and, and on the other, reacting to events as they happen. One, ideally, involves strategic planning, while the other is more like firefighting.
When circumstances require it we organise extra Board meetings, sometimes informally, and we are, inevitably, in constant touch by email.
We try to develop and maintain links with other organisations, especially the Club and Help the Hatters, and Board members also spend time meeting with groups or individuals who may be able to make a contribution to our work, whether it’s practical or financial.
We keep members informed by email about issues of the day and there are regular newsletters to update them on Co-op activity as a whole. Members meetings are held throughout the year and we will be announcing the date of the next one very soon.
Two things that take up a lot of our attention are membership levels and communications, and we are constantly looking for ways to improve both. With this in mind, the coming season will see Co-op stalls inside Edgeley Park, where members and non-members alike can come and talk to us before the game and find out more about the Co-op.
There’s a lot more on our website: www.countysupporterscoop.co.uk together with details on how to contact us, and if you are enticed by this picture of the world of the Co-op Board there will be places up for election later this year.
23 July 2014:
I make no apologies for writing about Mike Flynn’s benefit match for a second successive week but this time it’s with the focus on Stockport County, the club and its supporters rather than the great man himself.
How many football clubs, big or small, could have put on an event quite like that? It was a night when we were reminded that football can still be about people and relationships, whether it’s players, supporters or managers. Last Friday night, the close ties amongst County fans and the bond between them and the ex-players, some who last played for the club twenty years ago, were on view all round Edgeley Park.
The next morning I opened the Sport section of the Guardian to read an article by Louise Taylor headed: “Clubs take to the skies in global marketing push to spread the Premier League gospel.” For West Ham and Newcastle this involves the small matter of a 24,000-mile pre-season return journey to New Zealand. West Ham’s commercial director says they will use the tour to develop their fan base and commercial opportunities around the world. “We’re giving fans a chance to really feel and touch a Premier League Club”, she says. Another continent, and another club and we get this from the chairman: “America’s a big market so we’ll be PR-ing the hell out of it and make it aware of Crystal Palace.”
If we indulge in a bit of football fantasy and imagine County reaching the Premier League one day, would we want the club to be run that way? No doubt some will be attracted to this vision (perhaps fancying a bit of an away trip) but I suspect the majority of fans would say that’s not County any more. They would rather have a soundly run mid-table Football League club that values its real supporters – the ones that turn up in the flesh every week because they want to be part of the spirit that was so evident on Friday night – a football club with a soul that’s not trying to turn itself into a global commodity.
This is where the Supporters’ Co-op comes in. We want to positively exploit the strong bond between County and its supporters as well as to build on the benefits the Club brings to the community. These are things that come naturally to County but they need harnessing and it won’t be simple or easy. It’s more a long term project, seeking to build a sustainable club supported by local people. Naturally, we want success on the field but it doesn’t have to depend on brands and image rights. To have great club with its self-respect restored will be fine .
Perhaps our first task should be to sign up as many as possible of Friday’s crowd who haven’t yet joined the Co-op. They obviously get what County is about.
16 July 2014:
No sooner is the World Cup out of the way than the first pre-season home game is upon us – and what a game.
Mike Flynn’s benefit match on Friday promises to be a nostalgia-fest. Such is the respect for Flynny that 30 former players will be turning out for his team to play the current squad in a match that will feature the largest substitutes’ bench in history.
The Supporters’ Co-op will not be letting the occasion pass without paying our own tribute to the man who captained County through some of the best times in the Club’s history. Mike is to become an honorary Co-op member and we will be making a pre-match presentation to him on the same pitch where he gave so many great performances. By his side will be another ex-player who has a very special place in County folklore: Kevin Francis
Just mentioning the two in the same paragraph unlocks a wonderful store of memories. Together with the others on view on Friday, they brought so much success and excitement to Edgeley Park during the 1990s. It was a decade in which we got to play at Wembley four times in three years (twice in eight days); were promoted to Division One (today’s Championship); and outwitted and outplayed a series of top rank teams, only to be deprived of a place in the League Cup Final by bad luck (and, perhaps, a refereeing decision.)
Kevin and Mike each made a distinctive contribution to those glory years and they did so in a way that said as much about them as people as it did as footballers. Kevin was excitement and goals and not just the ones he got. How many times did County score as a result of the fear his presence induced in a crumbling opposition defence? It wasn’t just his strength, his apparently extendable legs and his unconventional skill that made him such a fans’ favourite, but also the way he expressed his love for the fans his through his great spirit and his humour. It would be hard to find a better example of true mutual affection between player and supporters.
Flynny was a quieter version, almost too modest for a professional footballer. His jack-knifed jump for headers seemed to give him a six inch advantage over the opposing centre forward. Either that or he had slipped a pair of springs into his boots before the game. It was trademark Mike Flynn, the committed footballer.
The presentation to the two of them on Friday night represents one more step in the Co-op’s progress. To have the backing of these two County heroes can only be a good thing for our standing with the Club and the fans. It’s a great arrangement: two ex-players helping the very supporters who hold them in such esteem to become a force for good in the Club.
09 July 2014:
I imagine that all over Stockport and beyond there are cupboards, boxes under beds, garages and lofts, all bursting with County memorabilia. It might be programmes from big games, signed shirts or footballs, pictures of past players and teams, or just one of Kevin Francis’s shin pads. This is an unashamed request to hand them over to the Co-op.
An auction of such items at our recent comedy night was a great hit. The star piece – a framed poster advertising a friendly between County and SV Hamburg in 1966 – went for £400, illustrating that people are willing to pay to have a permanent reminder of such events Raising income this way is just one part of our plans to build up funds that will give supporters greater influence in County affairs.
I suspect that some fans may be a bit ambivalent about their County memorabilia. On the one hand, it’s stuff that brings back great memories: the programme together with the ticket stub from the 1997 match at Chesterfield which saw County promoted into the equivalent of today’s Championship; the thrashing of Scunthorpe to go up to Division Three, reported on the front page of a 1991 “Pink Final”. And, let’s face it, at the moment where Stockport County are concerned, if we want to feel good we have no option but to look to the past.
On the other hand, we may never cast a further glance from one year to the next at all these items that we hang on to and they will just be gathering dust; it makes sense to pass them on and free up some space.
If you are in the clear-out camp , or on the other hand , if you can bring yourself to part with your valued collection knowing it will be going help the fan base as a whole, please get in touch. Who knows what amazing stuff is out there? Contact Dave Marchbank on 07785432562.
The Coop Board sends its good wishes to George Harnwell and his friend, Peter Spencer. Next week the pair will be visiting every Premiership and Football League ground in the space of just four days and one night, seeking to raise funds for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. That’s not quite true, because there will be one more very important ground included in their itinerary, and that’s Edgeley Park. George is making the trip in memory of his father, Richard Harnwell, known and loved for the style and passion of his commentaries on County matches. During the current World Cup coverage, both the BBC and ITV have played recordings of South American commentators getting rather excited when a goal is scored – none of them with Richard’s class.
If you want to support George & Peter you can sponsor them at their JustGiving Page: https://www.justgiving.com/92stadiums
The Stockport County Supporters Cooperative are linked to and receive valuable support
from Supporters Direct.
Supporters Direct has been working since 2000 to help supporters gain influence in the
running and/or ownership of their clubs. In the past 15 years SD have helped establish
Supporters Trusts at over 180 clubs, whilst providing valuable support for 750,000
members of supporters’ trusts in the UK.
Supporters Trusts have now brought well over £40 million of new finance into football and
rugby league, and 39 clubs in the UK are now in ownership or in control by supporters’
trusts, including Football League clubs Portsmouth FC, AFC Wimbledon, Exeter City and
In addition over 100 supporters’ trusts now have shareholding in their club, and upwards of
70 supporters’ trusts have directors at their clubs
Supporters Direct will be holding their first regional meeting of 2016 at FC United of
Manchester’s Broadhurst Park facility in Moston, Manchester this evening( Wednesday 10th
Delegates are welcome to attend from 6:00pm for a tour of the newly opened Broadhurst
Park facility, refreshments will be served from 6:30pm with business beginning at 7:00pm
and closing by 9:30pm.
This North West regional meeting will have the overarching theme of fundraising and is
aimed at giving trusts and clubs ideas on how to raise capital for projects, provide
information on available grant funding as well as talk about long term, consistent, sustainable
The evening will consist of a headline speaker from Heritage Lottery Grant Funding who will
discuss current grant opportunities open to Community Benefit Societies as well as how to
successfully apply for funding. The evening will also feature a panel of guest speakers from
across the trust network who will talk about recent projects they have undertaken and how the
funding required for these was achieved.
Stockport County Supporters Cooperative were delighted to send one of their number to
speak at this important gathering, and the SD meeting will provide Supporters Cooperative
Events Manager Dave Marchbank with an ideal opportunity to address the meeting on the
fund raising issue. Dave will be highlighting whilst on the subject, the tremendous
organisational triumph we pulled off last year with the first Stockport Hatters Half Marathon.
The evening is an excellent chance to get ideas for projects and research possible funding for
Supporters Trusts or Community Owned Clubs, as well as a great opportunity to share ideas
and network with likeminded groups.
Attendance is free to any members of Stockport County Supporters Cooperative.( Non
Details on how to get to Broadhurst Park can be found on the FC United of Manchester travel
Great stuff…and we look forward to Dave’s report in due course.
Be aware meanwhile that we are still on the lookout for County Memorabilia, and anything
you can root out and hand to us in the Cabin before any home game, will help us build up the