Inside Edgeley Park

Arriving at Edgeley Park

The first of our behind the scenes reports took us to Edgeley Park, We’re hoping to do a behind the scenes at each step of the football pyramid. Certainly the non-league levels anyway, we will have to wait and see if any football league sides will give us such access.  Anyway back to Edgeley Park, after announcing our plans on Twitter, Jon Keighren from Stockport messaged us and invited us down. We checked the fixture list and decided Stalybridge was a good choice and we would like to visit then. In the week leading up to the game we arranged to meet at 12-45pm, this would give us plenty of time to get in and have a good look round before kick off.

We arrive at Edgeley Park (fashionably late) by 5 minutes or so and meet Jon by the Club shop, Pleasantries are exchanged and he hands over a matchday programme and we make our way round to the players & officials entrance.

First stop the home dressing room. Walking along the corridor to the dressing room and the first thing to catch your eye is the sign that adorns the wall.

Excuse the poor photography, but it’s that long i couldn’t squeeze it in

The title of the anthem sung from the terrace ‘The Scarf My Father Wore’ takes pride of place along the corridor wall. A great reminder to the players that the fans are loyal and support the team as passed on by the generations before.

As we turn the corridor and head for the dressing room we spot the treatment room door ajar, no sign of the famous physio Roger Wylde so we pop in and take a look, we’re either early and there’s no players here yet, or County are free from injury worries today. We later found out players were just arriving and no new injuries for County and Alan Lord has a full strength squad to choose from.

Empty treatment room

Upon leaving the treatment room we do bump into Mr Wylde, he says he has many a tale to tell from there, if only them four walls could talk he tells us with a wry smile. A good man is Roger, who has been at the club since 1988. Playing a final season as a professional footballer before taking a physiotherapy course and being appointed club physio under Danny Begara in 1989.

Home Dressing room

A few of the lads have arrived and the music is in full flow. We manage to get in and film a bit of the action and get a few words from the lads.

Chris Churchman is in charge of the music, not my cup of tea but the lads seem to be enjoying it and seem in a relaxed, buoyant mood ahead of the game. As you can tell in the video not many had arrived yet, but we managed a few words to see who would dish the dirt. From our research the following awards went to:
Best dressed: Iain Howard
Worst dressed: Kyle Jacobs
And Iain would also like us to point out how easily he megged Kyle Jacobs in training the other day. No prizes for guessing who spoke to us and dished the dirt.

We wished the lads well for the game and made our exit, just in good time as the rest of the players started to slowly arrive and it was becoming a little tight for space. We made our way down the corridor and arrived at the boardroom. As we entered the boardroom we realised we’d just interrupted some official business, sat down signing contracts for the club were Alex Meaney and Dane Smith.
NonLeagueReviews 1st Exclusive

We quickly apologised for invading and offered to return when all was finished. No need, we was reassured that we were more than welcome and in fact had the honour of an exclusive. Our first behind the scenes review and we stumble upon a signing, not one but two players and get to announce it before the official announcement. At the time i was keeping a live blog update. if anybody missed it. We got a few more snaps and wished the boys well with their new club and headed off with the excitement of our first big exclusive safely in the bag.
Alex Meaney and Dane Smith Signing Non-Contract forms with Stockport County

Leaving the boardroom we were told we would be taken over to the Danny Begara lounge under the famous Cheadle End.
First we had to make our way through the players & officials bar. Not much action at the moment, but it was soon to be a hub of activity come the final whistle.

The Famous Cheadle End
As we made our way through the corridors of the stand, we bumped into none other than Alan Lord. He tells us he has just been into the sponsors dinner and done a little meet and greet. Our host Jon Keighren explains that over the course of the season County identify five ‘category A’ games. For these games they offer the usual hospitality, and Alan Lord goes in, meets the fans and gives them a little talk. He likes to keep them informed with developments in the squad and he tells us he’s just told them his tactics and the days starting line up.
alan lord

We thank Alan for his time and let him get on and head for the dressing room to deliver the tactics he’s just told the fans about. We then enter the lounge to see the diners playing an impromptu game of heads or tails. It seems entertainment is included in the price.

We then made our way through the lounge and into the area that County reserve for the kids. Here they offer tickets to the local schools to entice them in for future games. It’s still quiet but there’s a steady stream of children picking up tickets and a little goodie bag. A nice touch from the club and a possible avenue for the recruitment of new junior hatters.

At this point we realise we still don’t have our press passes so head for a tour of the ticket office. Amazing to see the list of scouts and other managers with reserved tickets. Quite a few local games falling foul of the weather and we see tickets reserved for Karl Marginson FCUM manager and Stuart Rudd from Salford City amongst others. The most interesting name was from the England ‘C’ camp. The girl on the desk also tells us they were here for the previous midweek game so I’d be interested to see who they were  watching.

Next stop, back to the press room. It’s approaching 2pm and our host Jon has to be on air on Pure 107.8fm with the build up of the game then match commentary from 3. We settle in the press room and meet the lads from County TV, Gavin Browne from the Stockport Express who reports each week on County’s games and Mike Petch the official club photographer. Time for a coffee and a pie to warm up, the corridors of Edgeley Park aren’t as warm as you’d expect. At 2pm Jon leaves us and heads off to the commentary booth.

Jon and Phil from Pure 107.8 live on air

With an hour to kick off we head pitchside to see how it’s held up with the current weather being nothing but non stop rain. The pitch itself seems to have held up well but the sidelines and pitchside areas are terribly wet.

Pitchside with the Cheadle End in the background
The tunnel leading to the Dressing room
A few Stalybridge players head out for an early warm up, so we grab a quick picture before heading up to the pressbox as the wind starts to swirl around the ground.

View from the Pressbox
Stalybridge warm up                                                      Stockport warm up

Not long after teamnews starts to come through and we’re handed a teamsheet. As earlier pointed out, no new injury worries for Stockport. Ian Ormson still not 100% so Christian Dibble keeps his place in goal and Fagbola suspended following his 2nd red card in 3 games. No place for new signings Meaney and Smith and recent loan signing Oates is on the bench.

The warm up out on the pitch gets strenuous as the crowd starts to build. Being a local derby a good one is expected. Later tio be revealed as 3107 with 110 making the short journey from Stalybridge. Which leaves just under 3000 Stockport fans. Not bad at all for a team in Level 6 of the football pyramid.

Almost time for kick off so we head back to pitchside to get the teams coming out.
Kristian Platt leads Stalybridge out 
Handshakes before we get underway
During the game we do regular twitter updates and make notes for our match report which we posted yesterday. At HT we get a shout out on the radio by Jon and a mention from the Pure radio Twitter feed. Any publicity is good publicity they say.
Anyway we head back down to the press room. Coffee is very much needed and another pie would have gone down a treat. Unfortunately we were beaten to the pies but the coffee and digestives were a welcome treat. It’s at this point i had to fight County sub Liam Dickinson for the milk. It seems he’s just as cold sat on the bench as we were in the pressbox. Coffee and biscuits finished we get back to business in the pressbox just as the second half gets underway. County run out 2-0 winners and the fans can leave Edgeley Park happy with the 3 points. After the full-time whistle we clear our desk in the pressbox and make our way back down to the pressroom, County TV, Mike Petch and Gavin Browne all in there as we await Alan Lord and his assistant Phil Brown for a few post match thoughts.
Phil Brown                                         Alan Lord

Check out the Interviews and match highlights from CountyTV here

After interviews are done it’s time for everybody Post match favourite. A trip to the bar, nothing better than after watching the football a trip to the bar to talk it all over again with a pint. After waiting for the after match interviews we are too late for the pizzas. Which i don’t think we’d have had a chance of getting anyway. The players looked like they demolished them in minutes. A surprising guest in the bar was Shaun Goater. Not one to ask questions about why, we settled for a picture.

Further down the bar, nice to see the days two managers enjoying a drink together. Alan Lord and Keith Briggs, with Keith being ex County we thought it would be good to get a programme signed by the two managers and give away to a reader of the blog.

Signed match programme
Pints nearly drunk we are almost done for the day. We thank Jon and Alan for their hospitality and making us feel welcome. Sad to see such a big club like Stockport in the position they are in now. But with Alan Lord at the helm we have every faith they will change it around. Since our visit and publishing this piece Stockport had another game. Away to Bradford Park Avenue, a little over 48 hours after the win against Stalybridge. Another 2-0 win and 9 points out of 9 in less than 6 days. Coming in to form at the right time.

But don’t mention the ‘P’ word to Alan.


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