Last night, County lost 2-1 at home to AFC Fylde, a team that has previously averaged about 300 people per home game and has never been higher than the National League North. It is a game that would typically represent everything that County supporters have come to hate about the league we currently find ourselves in. A tricky match against a ‘village team’. What an absolute embarrassment, right?
And yet this game was arguably the best and most entertaining match of the season so far. And we lost. At home. To Fylde.
Why was it so enjoyable then? Well, for starters, our players gave everything. Considering where we’ve been, they’re clearly not the best players to ever represent Stockport County but they gave everything yesterday. Absolutely everything. The fans responded to this commitment and created the best Edgeley Park atmosphere I can remember in a good few years, that makes such a difference and probably got us Scott Spencer’s equaliser.
One of the reasons County have struggled in this division is because they’re quite clearly the elephant in the room. The massive fish in the desperately small pond. This in itself is not an issue but when you’re a club that has thrived on being the underdog, the proud and plucky club competing against 9 professional clubs in and around Manchester, this new label suddenly becomes quite a tricky one to handle.
As fans, it’s pretty tricky to get riled, roused and fired up for a game at home to Brackley, Vauxhall Motors or Colwyn Bay. As a result the atmosphere is sometimes very flat and on more than one occasion the teams have taken 1 or 3 points away from us when they should have had none.
But yesterday, I think a lot of County fans had a bit of an epiphany. We are the underdogs. We are a club that has been punched, pushed and kicked to the ground so many times that we don’t really know which way to turn anymore. We are the club that is still alive, against all the odds we still have a team, pulling in crowds of three thousand people per game. That is ridiculous at this level.
We need to embrace the fact that everyone is against us. The referees, the opposition and the league. They all want to see us fall, fail and in the ground. The only thing we have is ourselves. We need to unite at every opportunity because the best teams in the league can’t deal with us when we’re working as one. We saw that yesterday.
Three thousand people united, to achieve one collective goal, is something that no other team in this league can match. So going forward, let’s use that to our advantage like we did last night against the Manchester City of non-league.
Animo et fide.