As we begin to wind down our look at our 2016/17 National League North opposition, we move on to the club with arguably the biggest fan base in the league: Stockport County.
A Football League club for 106 years, Stockport has seen players like Micky Quinn, Bill Atkins and Andy Thorpe all grace Edgeley Park with their ability.
Having been founded in 1883, County only joined the Football League in 1990 and competed in it continuously from 1905 to 2011.
The team spent most of their history in the lower reaches of the Football League, but the 1990s were more successful with the club competing in the First Division (now known as the Championship) for five seasons, whilst they also reached the League Cup semi-finals in 1996/97.
However, instability on and off the pitch eventually led to Stockport falling back to the lower divisions.
Their 106 year association with the Football League finally came to an end at the conclusion of the 2010/11 League Two season, as relegation was confirmed thanks to a 2-0 away defeat to Crewe Alexandra.
The club started the 2011/12 season in the Conference National and are currently the longest surviving Football League team to drop out of the league, having played in the league for a total of 110 years.
At the end of 2012/13, Stockport were relegated to the Conference North after a defeat away to title challengers Kidderminster Harriers, a match infamous for crowd trouble when a handful of supporters entered the field of play to make their frustrations known.
It has not been an easy ride since the turn of the decade then for County. Expected by many of their supporters to have be a dominant force in the National League North, County managed just one point in their first four games at the level.
This then led to manager Ian Bogie’s resignation at the end of August, with the club second bottom of the league.
A slight resurgence then followed, but County ultimately finished the season in a very disappointing 14th place.
Alan Lord continued in his role as manager into the 2014/15 season and he had slightly more success, guiding the club to an 11th place finish. Lord then left his position as he stated he would at the end of the season, with Neil Young taking over.
Young was ambitious and stated that “nothing less than promotion” would do. However, Young would suffer a poor run between November and January where Stockport would win just once in twelve games, a 4-0 defeat of eventually relegated Corby Town.
Young was sacked and Jim Gannon was brought back to steer the club back up the table. Gannon’s first game would be against the Tigers at Whaddon Road in a game that finished goalless. Stockport would go on to finish 9th in the league standings.
Heading into this season then, there is a sense of optimism around Edgeley Park with Gannon back for his first full season at the helm, although a radical overhaul of the 2015/16 squad has taken place, with only five being retained for the upcoming campaign.
Amongst the squad though there is a mixture of youth and experience. Joining the Hatters from AFC Fylde is forward Danny Lloyd, who has been a thorn in the Tigers side in the past.
Also returning to the Hatters for another campaign are midfielder Karl Ledsham and forward John Marsden, who will both be hoping to propel Jim Gannon’s side up the table and closer to promotion.