Football Conference North – 26th August 2013
And after the heroics of the last six games, here we go again.
Colwyn Bay fought brilliantly to remain in the (now named) Skrill Conference North at the last 6 games of last season, consigning (unfortunately) Corby Town to the drop, and played in their third season at Conference North level. From looking at the teams following the AGM Cup, one team stuck out.
When I started watching football Stockport County were a solid First Division (now the Championship) side. In fact they were in the Championship up until the 2001-02 season, but in probably the worst ever capitulation from any football club I’m aware of has seen them in the 2013-14 season in the Football Conference North. Admittedly they have been installed as either favourites or near enough favourites from some bookmakers, but early season results haven’t exactly been great – picking up one point from the first 3.
To be honest Bay’s start was the same, a point from the first three games, but the Seagulls went into this game brimming in confidence – said point came in the previous match against Guiseley – pretty much Colwyn Bay’s bogey team, after a 95th minute equaliser from 2-0 down saw them rescue a point. So it was with zero confidence County fans made the trip to Edgeley Park, and a mixture of nervous trepidation and a resignation to enjoy the day that 74 Colwyn Bay fans made the trip.
I t was probably my first ever Bay game that I took the bus to the match, so it was incredibly difficult to judge the highly irregular bus from Chorlton to Didsbury (there’s a running joke that it’d be easier to get from North Korea to South Korea than doing the jump from two of Manchester’s top suburbs), so arrived remarkably early. After a walk from Stockport bus station to Edgeley Park (which is up a massive hill), and buying a badge where I spoke to a few County club shop workers who enquired about the game at our place (on the Bank Holiday Monday), I decamped to the Sir Robert Peel pub to enjoy a few ales.
It was quite nice, but outside was roasting, and it was much too hot for me. Instead I rested inside until kick off, where I made the small journey to the ground.
And took a look at the away end, which was in baking sunshine and completely without shelter from the heat. Not being allowed to stand up, we were thankfully let into the area under shelter in time for the teams (with Colwyn Bay wearing their unbelievably sexy red away kit) to come out and kick off.
Colwyn Bay started brightly, controlling the first 10 minutes with relative ease, without forming any clear cut chances. County played like a team devoid of confidence, and it was only Bay’s lacking of penetration that stopped them from taking the lead, with Rob Hopley shooting wide in front of the home end on about 30 minutes. Stockport did begin to come back into it, with a half chance cleared rather comfortably off the line from Danny Taylor the best chance of their half. Bay fans – who were looking for a day out when they woke up this morning – felt as if they didn’t get anything from the game it would be a travesty. Morally it was 1-0 to the Bay, but at half time it was still 0-0.
Stockport started the second half brightly, bringing the locals into life which was surprising as the 2400 strong County contingent were rather quiet for the first half, but slowly the Bay came back into it, and two more clear cut chances from the forwards saw the locals quiet again, the best coming from James Ellison who failed to connect with a Cameron Darkwah cross. They were nearly brought roaring into life on the 69th minute when Aman Verma headed against the post and it bounced out in a goal that I was sure was going in, but from the break Stockport fell to sleep, and a 3 on 2 situation ended with Jamie Matthews scored with a backheel to send the 75 strong away following delirious. You could see how much that goal meant for Matthews, who seems to be really enjoying football at the Bay.
Bay had a chance to go two nil up, with Evans denied from some last ditch tackling in the 6 yard box, but as time ticked on, with no injury time board being held up, Bay held on for a final whistle that couldn’t have come soon enough. The first 3 points for Colwyn Bay of the season, and the season is kicking off again.
For Stockport, you do feel sorry for them. Years of mismanagement has caught up with them, and it is rather sad, but take nothing away from The Seagulls. Yes they rode their luck a bit of it, but neutrals watching the game must’ve left with the satisfactory feeling that the better team won.
Overall though even if we hadn’t have won the match I enjoyed the day out. County fans are warm and welcoming, with a black sense of humour on their team. I genuinely hope they pull out of their predicament, and I’m sure they will.