The Stockport Diaries: Season 2 – Part 11

What a feat this could be for Stockport. In their first season in the Premier League, they stand three games from European football. Matt Porter is well on the way to having a statue built in his honour. That’s if they can get over the finish line…(Part 10 available here)

Well here we are, it’s d-day. Do or die. I feel like I am being slightly overdramatic but I also feel I am totally allowed given our performance this season. One final push boys, I mean it would be silly NOT to be in Europe really given how close we are to Manchester Airport?? Just to recap, well, I’ll let the table tell the story….

1

Just 3 games to go, and I am hoping we can cling onto top 5 which I THINK is enough for Europe… this may end up as a bit of an anti-climax as I don’t really know how many qualify. Liverpool won the League Cup with Blackburn as runners up and the FA cup final is between Newcastle and Liverpool, but to be quite frank who knows!

Newcastle are still leading the way and it is the slightly less emotional Kenny Dalglish in charge, although I’m sure he’d ‘love it’ just as much if they do prevail. If they do I’m sure the signing of Trevor Sinclair and Alan Stubbs will be looked upon as the key…

2

Talk about timing, I mean, 3 more games you absolute dickhead…

3

He can go, we’ve lost big names before. No man is bigger than Stockport.

Anyway, it’s game day and we need this…. We’ve got a lot of knackered players and 2 games in 3 days so I rest Carlita, Jarni and Bound. I could do with resting more as our next game is Man U, but I need the result so I’ll worry about that one when it comes around.

4

For 40 minutes we are awful and I mean dreadful. Dave Lucas performs miracles to keep it down to 2-0, but then we wake up and are brilliant for 5 minutes, score 1 and nearly equalise. If we carry on like that we can turn this one around.

5

This may be petering out… we get battered and deserve it. It may be a step too far but I have nothing but praise for my team, how could I have anything else? Having said that it was awful today, It is no exaggeration to say that it could have been double figures, Dave Lucas was superb.

6

Next up is the small matter of Man U, and are team are knackered. Changes coming, hopefully they will do the job, and I’m going to play an extra centre midfielder to shore things up. I have a bit of an injury/knackered player crisis too, to the extent I only have Tom Youngs available as a right sided player to play at wing back plus a very very average looking back 3…. I’m worried!

7

Well talk about making things difficult… We play pretty well but are 1 behind in both goals and players… This could be a long second half.

8

David Lucas is a football genius, but even he can’t stop Jardel inexplicably overhitting a chip and scoring an own goal. Is he auditioning for a big move to United? Words fail me…. 3-0 and even Gary Neville scores, although I don’t think that’s too bad against that lot with 10 men for over an hour.

9

Well We are at least guaranteed top 7, I’d have taken that at the beginning of the season! It’s all about perspective… The title race is so so close, and Man U probably think that actually 3-0 against us was a poor result, they needed more goals! Only 2 difference in goal difference between them and locked together on points… Man U have Leeds at home last game which could be tricky, Newcastle slightly easier Wimbledon at home, but they do have the UEFA cup final the midweek before…

10

Final game is away at Bolton and I can still get higher…. I can put a full strength side out, let’s show them what we can do!

11

Well that was a cracking first half! We edge it and are 3-2 up at half time and deservedly so…

12

Well if Jardel is leaving, he’s saying a fantastic farewell… I keep on getting a weird sense of déjà vu, seeing Jardel at the Reebok, except he’s fatter in my visions and he certainly never scores… Weird. Anyway! Not a bad way to finish.

13

Newcastle have done it! They’ve held their nerve and everyone outside of Man U is delighted. That’s secondary to the main news though… we’ve finished 6th! Sheffield Wednesday were outrageously rubbish, and so we have sneaked in… what a season, well played lads! I think we’re in Europe, although can’t be sure yet, but sod it, we’re going to celebrate in Bolton and pub crawl all the way across Greater Manchester to Stockport, it may take a couple of weeks but we’ve got the time!!

See you on the other side folks, if we make it past Levenshulme without alcohol poisoning. Ian Gray is planning the route, so it may take a few months not a few weeks…

Matt will be back after the World Cup with season 3, but you can keep up to date with him on Twitter @PorterMatt

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The Stockport Diaries: Season 2 – Part 10

We’re well into Season two now for Matt Porter and Stockport, but has Spring sprung? Or are the legs starting to feel a bit weary in the unlikely quest for European places? Catch up with part 9 here

The final push, well the penultimate one anyway, for our unlikely European wishes to come true. Stockport has every reason to be a proud town at the moment, and it’s not just the league table…

12

I was sent the below by post, second class, postmark Hazel Grove, no idea what the thumbs up or the little yellow face is, but it’s another feather in our cap. Question is, will AC Milan or Barcelona be visiting next season?

Back to the football, and April will be a make or break month, by the end of it we’ll have a better idea of our fate, with only 3 games left after it. Aston Villa away first up, mid table and with a somewhat dubious forward line of Savo Milosevic and Stan Collymore, but these are the type of players who will suddenly turn brilliant when playing your team, so I am cautious with my optimism, but can name an unchanged side as Duberry and Youngs are not quite fit enough.

3

Julian bloody Joachim. I’d forgotten he even existed, which is funny because so did Robert Jarni who was supposed to be marking him. 2-0. Urgh.

4

We batter them in the second half, and I mean batter them. 2-1 after 55 minutes, surely we will score again? No. No we can’t. This game is cruel! I take solace in the fact that Villa have a quite superb centre back partnership, in fact we can only score thanks to Michael Oakes attempting to pass back to himself and surprised that he wasn’t there to receive it, own goal. I just hope Liverpool suffer from the fixture congestion as they have 3 games in hand on me now.

5

An uneventful week lets me check a bit of paperwork and I realise to my surprise that 4th choice goalkeeper and class clown Ian Gray still has 2 and a half years left on his contract, what was the chairman smoking when he gave him a 4 year deal?!

Chelsea at home next and Walton is dropped for Duberry and Youngs returns to the bench, it gets no easier but at least it’s at home, one more big push boys, they don’t like our freezing changing rooms or pre match bread and dripping these Southern pansies!

6

A very decent first half, Tomlinson scores early to send the home fans mad, and we should score again but don’t, hope we don’t live to regret that.

7

We don’t live to regret that. Edgeley is bouncing and we are unlucky to only win 3-0. I want to say keep my feet on the ground, but sod that, let’s celebrate boys!

8

We’re back in 4th we’re back in 4th we’re back in 4th we’re back in 4th…

9

Everton have 2 games in hand but one of them is against Man United who have only lost once this season so I’ll be fine.

10

Bugger. Can’t rely on those buggers to do anything right.

Sheffield United at home next and it’s a game we should win. They are 19th and only ahead of abject Drby who are on a laughable 12 points, but of course they will be scrapping for their lives. We are also missing Mario Jardel to a one match man for totting up yellow cards so in comes the fit again Youngs, and I can also put Carlita on the bench to fill up my non EU quota.

11

What a first half that was! We go 1-0 down early on, but then we batter them, Tomlinson scores 4 times but 2 are disallowed, then John Ebbrell takes out Tom Youngs when he’s through on goal and doesn’t even get a booking, the second time that has happened after Staunton against Villa. So of course Ebbrell scores an equaliser before half time. I’m confident though, surely Alan Kelly can’t play that well in the second half?

12

Alan Kelly can play that well second half. 20 shots, 15 on target. Seriously. This game.

13

One game left this month, but that draw could really damage our season though. 4th, but for how long? Come on lads, let’s not let this peter out…

14

Games in hand have evened up a bit now…5th

15

Liverpool away to finish off, nice and easy right?! Jardel returns from suspension but Dario Simic is injured and Heidenstrom has come back from international duty knackered.

16

Once again we are comfortably the better team in the 1st half, and we deservedly lead. Who said the race for 4th place is over?! It really is atmospheric here, fair play to the Liverpool fans for making such a noise to support a team with Scott Booth unfathomably leading the line.

17

Best performance of the season bar none. We absolutely destroyed them, I know they are probably tired having squeezed in their games in hand but frankly I don’t care. 3-0 at Anfield, the dream is well and truly alive, what a way to leave it for the last month of the season!

18

Shock my arse…

19

The table looks interesting, especially for Big Kev, he’d love it, love it if Newcastle could get over the line. For us, we do have a slightly better goal difference than Liverpool so if they draw their game in hand we have the advantage… Every place is a triumph, but we are now guaranteed to finish in the top 7, I think Stockport would probably take that!

20

Matt will be back next Tuesday with the end of Season 2 but you can follow him on Twitter @PorterMatt

The Stockport Diaries: Season 2 – Part 9

After a brief bout of sickness, Matt Porter returns with the latest from Stockport County. It’s been a couple of weeks so you can catch up with the previous episode here, before heading back here to see how Matt gets on in March. Is a European push back on the cards?

Well February was hard. The weather was miserable, the football miserable, but let’s put it in context. We had 3 very tough away games and no home league games, and we did compete in most of them. Plus, we are still 5th in the Premier League and mathematically safe (I think), on balance the folk of Stockport are still rather pleased with their football team. Having said that we don’t want to settle for mediocrity, we want European football, so we need to get out of this rut.

Only 4 games this month and 3 are at home, starting with the trickiest fixture as Arsenal visit, desperate for revenge for their defeat at Highbury. Skipper Duberry is out for a month so Matty Bound returns, otherwise it is as you were.


1

An encouraging first half, we don’t create much but Arsenal create absolutely nothing. We could nick this one you know…

2

We have stopped the rot! A 1-1 full time result, Dugarry scores against Arsenal again and the crowd go mad, but Ian Wright quietens them quickly. We are on top without really making many chances, and Overmars almost nicks it at the end but we breathe a sigh of relief. Hopefully we can kick on from what is a really good performance, and the crowd go home happy, back up to 4th here we go!

3

Interesting venue choice…

4

A bit of a break to the next game which means my players are at 100% except for Duberry and Youngs who are both still out for another 2 weeks. It’s Middlesbrough away next for our boys, our only away game, and we are miles ahead of the only team to finish above us in Division 1 last year. Nick Wright comes in for the injured Youngs in the only change, it was an impressive performance last time out after all. Will the break help? Alun Armstrong makes the bench for Boro, to be fair he’d have had a decent chance of starting for me today.

5

Once again we are comfortably the better side but can’t find a breakthrough in the first half. My mood is not helped when Schwarzer takes out Dugarry… The ref pauses… then waves play on! Are you blind ref?! I hate blaming referees and would prefer a rugby type system so they actually get some respect, so I bite my tongue so hard it bleeds.

6

Full time nil nil. Schwarzer who should have been sent off in the first half gets man of the match. Predicatable really isn’t it?! I don’t make a mention of the incident in my post-match interview, focusing on the positives in our performance instead, I think I deserve a medal. Still, unbeaten in 2! Or no win in 6, depends on your viewpoint really…

7

Could really have done with a win there, the next 2 home games are going to be vital…

8

Unchanged side against Coventry at home, we could really do with that overdue win…

9

Nil nil at half time, God that was boring

10

Well it’s another draw but that’s only half the story, we go 2-0 down to Darren bloody Huckerby, but then Dion Dublin gets sent off, however on 85 minutes we are still 2-0 down, but super sub Graeme Tomlinson nicks 2 in the last 5 minutes to gain the point. I give the rousing speech, this is the run in, we’ve done incredibly well to get this far, just one more big push lads… The atmosphere in the dressing room is electric, we know we’ve been playing well this month, we just need that win!

11

12

I feel I need some flair, and who is the first player who jumps into your mind when flair is mentioned? Well it’s obviously Chris Bart-Williams isn’t it…

13

Arsenal are really taking the piss here ,and he has a big club release clause so I can’t refuse!

14

Good lad Chris…

15

Last game of the month and Sheridan is only fit enough for the bench so CBW comes into the side, and of course Tomlinson has to start so Wright makes way. The game comes a bit too soon for Youngs and Duberry. Derby are dead bottom with only 12 points, so surely this is the day?!

16

Well that was a first half! As you may have spotted we score from the first attack before I can even screenshot, and then we score again, and again. Graeme Tomlinson is making a big fat point to me, and I quite happily will eat humble pie if he carries on this form.

17

Well it’s a pity that we can’t keep the clean sheet, but that is a relief. 4 games unbeaten this month, a few too many draws but we can’t complain really!

18

So April may well be the decisive month, it’s been a successful season regardless, but how successful? We’ll soon find out…

19

I think you’ll agree it’s great to have Matt back. You can also follow him on Twitter @PorterMatt

The Stockport Diaries: Season 2 – Part 8

Matt Porter is here to brush off those post-bank holiday blues. Stockport have found life in the Premier League a doddle so far but is February 1999 the time it all comes unstuck? You can catch up with part 7 here

Well that’s January out of the way, a couple of minor news stories knocking about, the Euro came into use as the single currency, Bill Clinton faces an impeachment trial, but they both fall into the background of how the might Edgeley boys are taking the Premier League by storm – 4th place and a very well deserved 4th place at that.

First off we have Everton in the cup though, and it’ll be a strong team, why not? Not like we’re going down, although I do want to try and get a European place through the league, but I’m not a Gary Megson type to rest placers for the cup when we have a realistic chance, so I’m unchanged from the win last up against… Everton.

1

First half- boring. This is why the FA cup is dying people, put some effort in!

Second half – boring. Come on people! Although we do survive a scare when Everton score in the 87th minute, however it is blatantly offside (I’m sure it was blatant anyway).

2

Oh for fuck’s sake I hate this game sometimes. We actually start playing and batter them in extra time, contriving to miss yet another penalty. I do get a bit of heart attack when ‘Lucas fouls O’Toole’, which is slightly odd given that it is in the first half and they are the two team’s respective goalkeepers.

It of course goes to penalties, and we of course go out on penalties. So annoying.

3

Sheffield Wednesday away next and of course half my squad are knackered from 120 minutes of football 2 and a half days previously. Youngs, Jarni, Duberry, Sheridan and James are all exhausted so I’m going to have to bring in a few unusual faces, including my ‘big signing’ from Hereford, John Brough, at the centre of defence.

4

Well we are rubbish. So rubbish in fact that I don’t even bother writing anything at half time. I kind of expected that with a tired team, and at least Brough played well, he could be a real bargain. We have 2 weeks off to regroup now, 2 games doesn’t count as a slump does it?!

5

We’re still 4th, so get rid of that frown and get stuck into a pint of Robinsons…

6

We have a bit of a warm weather break in our 2 weeks off, well, Scarborough, but you have to work to a budget. Everyone comes back refreshed except Neil Edwards who comes back injured so Carlo Nash is going to have to take a day off going on the pull to sit on the bench against top of the table Newcastle. Sadly Darren Peacock is only on the bench for the hosts, otherwise we could have a proper battle of the long flowing locks between him and Dugarry.

7

We’re rubbish again, but away to Newcastle is tricky, and at half time its 2-0, although not a lot has happened really.

2nd half is much as you were, no chance really. I try to hide my disappointment but the lads are low and I am struggling to motivate them with anything other than clichés about league positions. I could do with an easy match next, but instead we are away at Leeds, this is definitely a slump!

8

And yet we are STILL 4th!

9

If you are wondering why I haven’t made any signings…. It isn’t for want of trying but no one wants to come to Stockport… why?! All the players for United and City live around here anyway!

Last match up, and I am going to stick with the same side…. There is no shame in losing the 2 league games we lost, and we were unlucky against Everton. It doesn’t however change the fact we haven’t scored in a month, so it would be nice to change that…. Big Pav is in goal for Leeds after his brief stint with us, so we all know how this one will end. Leeds have a front 3 of Danny Dichio, Andy Cole and Thomas Brolin, I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

10

First half and it is a similar story, we are the 2nd best team and lose our skipper early, but we are not without hope…

11

2nd half and we are far better, I take Dugarry off at half time and reinforce the midfield and we finally score in the 80th minute, then we hit the bar. Then we hit the bar again. Then we hit the bar again and Big Pav saves the rebound. Then Dichio scores a 90th minute winner. I hate this game sometimes.

12

Well that was a tough month, but we’re still 5th, we’ve got rid of 3 tough away games (no home league games all month, sort it out Premier League), so let’s hope that slump passes…and we did play far better in that last game. Onwards and upwards!

13

That was a rough month for Matt but he’ll be back next week to try and turn it round. You can follow Matt on Twitter @PorterMatt

 

The Stockport Diaries: Season 2 – Part 7

Prepare to have Prince stuck in your head all day. Matt Porter’s Stockport team sit 3rd in the Premier League as the calendar turns to 1999, but with safety already in the bag are Stockport really contenders for a European place? Catch up with the previous episode here.

Tonight I’m gonna party like its 1999…. We’re sitting pretty in 3rd in the Premier League, a few wobbles along the way but we’re safe already, no pressure, so hopefully we can carry on our momentum.

1

Great start to the month, but maybe it’ll help persuade him sign a new contract…

2

First up this month is Walsall in the cup, I’m going to try and take the competition seriously, as why not? Jardel is the only player rested as he has been pretty much playing every minute, and Heidenstrom is fit only for the bench.

3

As you may notice from above, I can’t even get my 1st minute screenshot done before we win a penalty and their player gets sent off for the foul, but I STILL have forgotten to take Cavaco off penalties and he balloons it. We batter them all half, and their keeper is stretchered off too, but we just can’t find a way to score despite having 13 shots to zero.

4

A pretty routine win in the end although I have to bring on Jardel in the end to break the deadlock and he scores twice as Dave Lucas is a complete spectator all game, he only touches the ball twice. Back to the league next, if it is as comfortable as that I’ll be very happy. Everton away is our 4th round draw, could be better really but we did knock them out of the league cup last year.

Bye bye Colin, another stalwart gone, but I think he is definitely more at home in the league below.

5

Blackburn at home next, and Tony Sheridan our record signing finally makes the bench, hopefully a long awaited debut. This is the kind of game we need to take ourselves to the next level, although Blackburn are still big hitters and an Indian chicken company are only known to fans as Baltistan on Whalley Road and nothing else.

6

We are good! We dominate, and although they have a couple of chances we go in deservedly ahead with a goal from the ever improving and beautifully coiffured Christophe Dugarry.

7

That was once again really easy! Tim Flowers is superb, the crossbar is even better (seriously, it’s ridiculous), but no dramas, 2-0. The crowd chant my name, and some crude chant about Dugarry’s hair being better than Ginola’s, they are very creative around these parts…

8

9

Last of the big spenders… I’m a bit short on centre backs and this bloke has been spotted by a bloke who I bumped into in the pub who went to watch Hereford against Ashton United, yep we really do have an A+ scouting system here.

10

Wimbledon away, that’s Wimbledon not Milton Keynes, who currently play in front of dog walkers, and that’s how it should be…… Sheridan in for Smith for his full debut is the only change, momentum is firmly with us, and despite Wimbledon trying the trick of turning the hot water off to the visitor showers it is still an improvement on our trickle of muddy water at Edgeley, who’s laughing now?! Ally McCoist and Robbie Earle on the bench a few years before lining up alongside Lynam on The Premiership, cringing at Tim Sherwood’s overly tight shorts instead of the tactics truck of future years.

11

We are terrible for no apparent reason, we are damn lucky to only be 1-0 down, mainly thanks to Dave Lucas. Smith on for Cavaco at half time to shore up the midfield, and that is the rollocking of the season so far.

12

Well the second half is an improvement, but a non-event and we lose 1-0. It is a sombre mood on the way back and certainly a wakeup call, but let’s keep an eye on the big picture, we’re still fourth!

13

Marcus Babbel has obviously decided to have a GAP year in the middle of his career, as he has just rejected Bayern Munich to stay on a free transfer… very bizarre.

Cup game away at Everton next, and only one change with Youngs in for Cavaco.

14

A dull first half, lit up only by the reflection of the sun off Arnar Gunnlaugsson’s head and a decent goal from Tom Youngs, we’ll take more of that please…

15

A frustrating end as Gary Speed equalises and despite us peppering Everton’s goal they hold on for a replay I could do without, but overall I can’t complain about a decent performance after that shocker last weekend. If we get through it is Blackburn at home in the 5th round, we are doing it the hard way if we are going to make Wembley.

16

It’s a controversial one, but I am going to let a good player go. I just feel he has stagnated and I reckon I’ll be able to replace him with better… famous last words.

17

The second of our now 3 in a row against Everton thanks to the replay, but this one is in the league. Kevin James is fit again so comes in for Matt Bound, otherwise it’s as you were, with Sheridan making a good start to life in Stockport.

18

2-0 at half time thanks to a Tom Youngs brace, Luis who? At least my penalty record should improve now too…

19

Extremely comfortable, especially when Everton’s young keeper forgets he is the goalkeeper and overhits a backpass straight into his own goal… Amazing how often this game does that. Despite this howler he still gets man of the match, which says it all really, I can even afford to rest a few players for midweek against… Everton again! Can we play you every week? Well… yes.

20

So yet another good month, wow we’re doing pretty well. 4th? Yeah that’ll do, with a 5 point cushion to 5th, will this bubble ever burst? I hope not!

21

Matt will be back next week with more of the same, but in the meantime you can follow him on Twitter @PorterMatt

 

The Stockport Diaries: Season 2 – Part 6

It’s December 1998 and Matt Porter is making miracles in Stockport. All he wants for Christmas is to stay in the European places – but with a trip to Old Trafford on the horizon, can Santa deliver?

Well it’s Cliff Richard season once again and I feel as happy as Noddy Holder’s bank manager at this time of year. We’re 3rd, we are flying, and we are pretty much safe by Christmas. This is about the time of year everything fell apart last year, but I’m confident it won’t happen this time, and anyway even if it does we have already pretty much hit our season target! I’m not going to say that to the players though, I said something similar last year…

1

Walsall in the FA cup draw, the glamour tie no doubt…. And when the month ticks over once again I am overlooked, I mean I have Stockport County 3rd in the Premier League for crying out loud. Still, at least it means I avoid the curse of manager of the month.

2

Well its them lot down the road next, the small matter of a trip to Old Trafford, and I have an injury crisis in midfield, with Carlita, Heidenstrom, Sheridan and Bray all out, plus Duberry suspended. I am going to give Martin Lauchlan a go in midfield, might as well experiment, and Walton comes in for Duberry. I’ll be honest, I’d probably take a point here!

3

Well I didn’t expect that…. We absolutely batter them in the first half, the United fans are choking on their prawns, and if it wasn’t for a crazily good performance by the big Dane in their goal we’d be out of sight before Dugarry finally beats him. We do give them a couple of chances though, and I mean gift them through mistakes, and you can’t do that with Scholes lurking, 1-1 at half time. We’ve had 10 shots for God’s sake, we should be winning! Jardel is unplayable.

4

That was so harsh. They had the better of the second half, but they just showed how clinical this league can be, 4-1 is so so harsh, but I try to keep spirits up, on another day that could have been 4-1 the other way and they could have had no complaints. It’s a learning curve for us, let’s not get downhearted, lets just have a pint of Robinson’s Best and move on… The team nutritionalist looks like he wants to kill me, but sod him we’re going the old fashioned way.

Oh for goodness sake, Sheridan returns from injury then a day later is ruled out for a month…. Great start for the record signing.

Garde in for Lauchlan and Duberry in for the tired Matt Bound, and it is another Greater Manchester derby but this time Bolton at home. My childhood loyalties are put to one side here, the Edgeley roar needs to get behind us as we aim for our first win in 5.

5

Well that was the worst half of football we have played in a long time, we’re 2-0 down and frankly lucky it’s only that. We are seriously struggling in midfield but I have no alternatives!

6

A little bit less terrible than the first half, faint praise indeed, this is in danger of becoming a proper slump. Half time was the first time I’ve had a go this season, poor Remi Garde, it’s not his fault I signed him after a couple of beers…

7

Incredibly we are still third, but the cushion has gone… still I’d have taken this for the half way point!

8

Leicester next up at Edgeley, and thanks to the injury problems I have to drop Simic so that I can bring in Carlita in the midfield, thanks to the foreigner rule, Connolly comes in at right back, and Youngs is back on the bench after injury. I don’t want to ramp up the pressure, but how many games without a win?! A couple of our old players in their lineup, so they’ll inevitably score.

9

A pretty boring first half, but we still contrive to concede a goal from that legendary goal machine Garry Parker. I hate ruts on this game.

10

Now that was a crucial half, and the monkey is off our back. We equalise deservedly through Jardel, and then get a penalty. Shit, I forgot to take Cavaco off penalties. I am having a heart attack on the side lines, but he slots it away. Oh no, a retake, for goodness sake, but amazingly he slots this one away too and we hold on comfortably (having gone ultra-defensive) to win. I nearly had a heart attack on the touchline, but we won! I’ll even give them Christmas day off, Scrooge I am not… and to be fair, sorry to harp on, but we’re third!

Merry Christmas one and all… Ian Gray turns up for a match, his calendar was fast apparently, and Martin McIntosh somehow rules himself out for 2 months with a torn groin muscle, obviously a little over excited by the present from the missus…

Boxing day remains unchanged, because why the hell not, and is there anywhere better to go post-Christmas than Barnsley?

11

I’d forgotten how good David Watson was in the return fixture, and he’s doing the same again, 1-1 at half time but we should be ahead.

12

Well our prayers are answered in the second half but not in a way I would wish on anyone as David Watson is stretchered off with 20 minutes to play. His replacement is appropriately useless and we have 2 shots and score twice, even allowing time for a Barnsley consolation. Tom Youngs returns from injury and hits the ground running, I am impressed, we’ve turned a corner after the Bolton debacle, and every time we seem to be slipping we pull it right back. The County Boys are off on a European tour! (maybe)

13

40 points! We are surely safe! David Watson is only out for a couple of weeks, I’m glad to hear (I honestly think he could have played for England without his injury problems.)

14

Every time it looks like we are going to go down the pan, we pull it back. There is proper character, in a proper stadium, with proper pies, and a proper town. You can stick your MK Dons where the sun don’t shine!

You can follow Matt on Twitter @PorterMatt

 

 

 

The Stockport Diaries: Season 2 – Part 5

It was going all a bit too well for Matt Porter at Stockport. A couple of defeats to end part 4 shouldn’t over shadow what a great start it has been to their first season at Premier League level, but as we reach November, is this a temporary blip or a permanent road block? Let’s find out…

Well this is going better than I thought, although the last couple of games were a bit worrying, especially in the cup. We need to get back to it and quickly. It’s Chelsea up next and coincidentally they along with Arsenal and Leicester are in for Micky Flynn. With a heavy heart I have accepted 6 million pound bids for him, I can’t stand in his way if he wants to go, he’s 29 and it’s his last chance of a big move.

I return to the league team after the cup disaster, and bizarrely notice that Nick Colgan is ahead of Ed De Goey in goal, mind you last time I said that about a keeper he won the match single handedly for the opposition.

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All square at half time, Chelsea the better side and they go ahead early on, but Jardel equalises, and then Dugarry should put us undeservedly ahead on the stroke of half time but misses a sitter.

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Well that came to light in the second half! End to end stuff although we are the better side this time, so typically Jody Morris scores, that huge name. Last season we would have collapsed, but we are made of sterner stuff, even in front of 40,000 baying cockneys, and we attack with gusto, and within two minutes we turn it around from 2-1 down to 3-2 up. The away end is delirious and we even grab another at the end. Job done, we are pretty damn good!

I am still going to let Flynn go though, unhappy players have no place here. Besides, letting other crowd favourites go has hardly harmed us so far…

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As a Bolton fan I feel somewhat offended by this:

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Still top of the league!

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It’s a pretty fitting farewell, battering your new employers on their patch. It is wwith a heavy heart I say goodbye to my fantastic captain, but I think I’ve got a decent deal here, especially if Duberry is any good, so I couldn’t really turn it down.

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There is dissent in the ranks of the fans, but I ask them to trust me, after all we have gone from relegation candidates from Division 1 to top of the Premier League in a season and a half. I also point out the lack of ‘progress’ from Dinning and Gannon, it seems to make the point. There may be another favourite on the way soon too in the form of Alun Armstrong. He hasn’t had a chance this season and yet is still worth around 3 million, and bizarrely there is a lot of interest in him, so if an offer comes in he is on the way.

Oh for fuck’s sake, that would happen wouldn’t it:

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Next up is Liverpool at home, a real tough test of our new found heights, and one that we must attempt without our erstwhile captain. I am nervous of a defensive horror show resulting in murmurings within the home end, after all the seeds of dout can be sown very quickly, but as someone clever (probably) once said, if you aren’t moving forwards you’re going backwards. Actually on reflection that’s complete bollocks, it was probably some management speak on a corporate video said alongside a very boring powerpoint about sales. I’ll stick to football and leave meaningless soundbites to Tony Blair.

Anyway, the game itself, and I shouldn’t worry about the athmosphere, it is buing and Michael Duberry gets a rousing reception. He impresses me so much in training during the week I give him the captain’s armband, future England captain this one I reckon (but then I did think that in real life too). Aside from this, it is the only change as we move onto a stern test, Liverpool have a strong side but there are certainly weaknesses at the heart of the defence.

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The first half includes chances for both sides and is a good watch, but thanks to our post stopping Robbie Fowler twice it remains nil nil, although we do have 2 centre backs on yellows.

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A fantastic half of football! We lose Heidenstrom, stretchered off after 10 minutes, but after that the fun starts. A couple of chances for either side, a couple of goal saving tackles from our new captain, then Owen goes through 1 on 1 and makes no mistake. No matter though, this side don’t get overawed or let their heads drop, we’re like the Rocky of South Manchester, and a few minutes later Dario Simic pops up to score after a Jarni free kick hits the bar, nothing like your two full backs combining for a goal is there? There is still time for both sides to hit the post (that REALLY does happen far too much on this game), but overall it’s a useful point against a good side, and 4 points from Chelsea and Liverpool going into the international break is not to be sniffed at.

Not ideal news, but could be worse, in effect it’s a month as we have 2 weeks off now for internationals.

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Straight after the game I get bids in from Wolves, Man City and Middlesbrough for Alun Armstrong…. My original team is being speedily disbanded. I have put a club record bid of £4 million in the meantime in for Tony Sheridan, a midfielder at Ipswich, and I am bidding against big names of Celtic (who actually are on here) and Arsenal. I feel central midfield is somewhere I can develop, and I want to fight the big boys!

In the meantime Kevin James is being a cock and rejecting a contract extension, which is annoying as he has a big club release clause so I will lose him if anyone makes a bid.

Woohoo! Technically I win on default as Celtic can’t afford the fee and Arsenal withdraw because of an injury to Sheridan, but I don’t care, I win!!

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In fairness this is not unexpected:

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Next up is Sheffield United away, a nice short trip but one I will have to make without the injured Simic, Heidenstrom, Sheridan, Youngs, McIntosh and Tomlinson. Simic will be replaced by Connolly and Carlita comes in for Heidenstrom, and there is a place on the bench for forgotten man Nick Wright.

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Well that start should put the big clubs off, after only 2 minutes Kevin James ‘overhits the chip’ and scores an own goal. What the fuck are you doing chipping the ball towards your own goal anyway Kevin?! After a really poor first ten minutes we grow into the game though and for the second game in a row it is our right back popping up, this time from a corner, to equalise. 1-1 half time, and these are there for the taking.

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It’s a cagey second half until the 67th minutes when our skipper gets sent off for a professional foul, that’s more like the Michael Duberry you all know! We batten down the hatches, and although Sheffield United score in the 88th minute it is disallowed for offside, another point gained, I’ll take that, and Matt Bound continues to prove he is a Premier League defender, I will definitely take that!

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We’ve dropped off the top now, but we are still well in touch, I think I’d have taken this at the beginning of the season!

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Bye bye Alun, all the best! To be honest I don’t think he’s Premier League quality but I’ll keep an eye on how he does for 19th placed Boro (who finished above me last season remember!).

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Tottenham up next and Simic is back which spells bad news for Carlita as he drops out because of the EU rule with Bray replacing him, and Connelly drops out too unluckily.

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Kevin James again! Dreadful backpass and Spurs score. He is dropped! It is a pity but he seems to have had his head turned and I tell him so at half time. Otherwise very little happens and it is 1-0 Spurs.

I forgot to screenshot halftime, but the second half is excellent. Once again we battle hard but with little end product until I being on Nick Wright for his first appearance of the season. He transforms the game, laying on a goal for Jean Bray who excels on his return to the side, and also hitting the bar and finally earning a yellow card for taking out Ian Walker, although I dispute that ruffling his hair and messing up his curtains warrants this. The hairdryer treatment obviously worked for Kevin James as he gets man of the match, and will probably not be dropped anyway as I think Duberry is suspended for the next match.

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So we have gone from the team who hasn’t drawn a single game all season to drawing 3 in a row, but I reckon 6 points is a decent return given the injuries and the tough November fixture list, plus in two of those draws we were the better side and could have won it. We look like we’re in a mini league of 4 as we approach the half way point, and not many people could have predicted those 4 names. Only 4 points to go to that magical 40 point mark…. Didn’t think I’d be saying that at the end of November!

Matt will be back again next week but you can follow him on Twitter @PorterMatt