Depression Continues to Linger at Stockport
A 4-1 home win wasn’t what anyone in the stadium had expected, least of all after Stockport had taken the lead in the opening sixty seconds.
Oxford City were bottom of the Conference North and County had arrived on the back of a 4-2 win against high-fliers Telford.
But, as Stockport fans know full well by now, it doesn’t take long for such brittle hope to unravel.
Here, things started to go awry when County were reduced to 10. To compound things, the red was waved just minutes after City had taken the lead in the early part of the second half through a gorgeous chip from their deceptively excellent number 9.
The afternoon got worse again just a few moments later as City club racked up a third.
“Fuck off”, three lads — plastic pint glasses in hand — cried towards their players, any player, as they made their way past City’s main stand towards the clubhouse. “Shut it”, one hardy loyal volleyed, following up with a “support your team” for good measure. Needless to say, she got a few words back before the lure of a warm bar, away from the reality of another dismal afternoon’s entertainment, proved more appealing than a thirty yard slagging match for the malevolent trio.
You couldn’t blame them, though. A thrashing in Oxford’s funereal northern suburbs was a thoroughly miserable spectacle, far from the non-league honeypots of Dulwich or Lewes where grizzled fans go to revive their love of the game. No, this was just another in a long line of floggings for supporters who — with Football League status still very much in their recent memories — are still processing just exactly what is happening to their club.
Minutes after, the three lads were joined by another couple of dissenters. These two chose a slow, silent march across the pitch to air their grievance. A couple of fans, home and away, casually hurled a few lines towards them but the atmosphere was more muted than hostile. More hopeless. The home stewards didn’t try to intervene, instead allowing the supporters to trudge off via an open gate after they’d walked the pitch’s length. Perhaps it was because they hadn’t witnessed anything quite like it before, so incongruous was the sight of such behaviour at this, a self-proclaimed Family Club.
The final whistle blew shortly after, although not before City managed to flick at Stockport’s open wounds by adding a fourth. But most County fans had already made their way by then, save a few families and a handful of old boys.
One, supported by a younger woman on one arm and a beaten up old crutch on the other, stoically shuffled his way towards the exit, barely able to keep upright. In all likelihood, his chances of seeing County play professional football again are slim, but he was there.
How exactly did it come to this? And at what point does a fan give up on their club if all it’s reduced to is a name? There are a few candidates but, without a doubt, Stockport are leading the way in testing its supporters with this very question.