2019/20: An Incredible Journey. Match Day 4 – Tuesday 13 August 2019: Stockport County v Barrow

I’m old enough to remember Barrow being in the Football League back in 1972 when they failed re-election into the “old” fourth Division. Though the reasons for not being re-elected were many, three factors have been highlighted, (1) Barrow’s geographic isolation, (2) Hereford United’s FA Cup victory against Newcastle United, and (3) the decision of the Barrow board to introduce a speedway track around pitch at Holker Street, as a means of off-setting financial difficulties. With Barrow out of the Football League, they joined the Northern Premier League for the start of the 1972/73 season, the club having spent a total of 51 seasons in the Football League. They’ve actually played at their Holker Street ground continuously for 110 years – another ground I need to visit!

In mid-August Barrow were playing away at Edgeley Park, home of Stockport County and so a midweek trip to see the Bluebirds was in order. My connection to Stockport is as with other clubs I’ve adopted, through a work colleague. I say that, but it was probably more accurate to say that I knew Mark through work, as he was based in Manchester. Through him I started to follow Stockport’s results. Like Barrow, they too have dropped out of the top four tiers of the pyramid and both now ply their trade in the National League, the division below League Two. My main memory of Stockport was their trip to the League Cup Semi-Finals when they narrowly lost to Middlesbrough in 1996/97 season. The First-Leg at Stockport saw the Hatters lose 2-0 before securing at remarkable 1 – 0 win at the Riverside Stadium against a Boro’ team containing Australian International ‘keeper, Mark Schwarzer, the Brazilian pairing of Emerson and Juninho, as well as Italian International striker, Fabrizio Ravanelli. It was a brave effort by County who were then in League Two against the Premier League side, going out 2-1 on aggregate. Following the game I discovered that another friend of mines’ husband is a Stockport fan and was also at the game, small world!

A nightmare in parking the car on arrival in Stockport, allied with the fact that the club had decided to go to a ticket-only policy, meant that I missed the first ten minutes of the match and the opening goal of the game. It appears that I’d missed some early excitement as Ben Jackson had already forced a fine save from Barrow ‘keeper Joel Dixon before the home side fell behind in the third minute. Scott Quigley had raced clear one-on-one with the County goalkeeper and slotted home by the time I took my seat. From the restart, Stockport immediately went on the offence for the rest of the half. Dixon further denied efforts from County’s Adam Thomas and Elliot Osborne, with Frank Mulhern and Paul Turnbull both having good chances to level the game before the break.

Into the second-half and the Hatters continued with the pressure and got their rewards just three minutes after the break when Mulhern flicked in an inviting cross from Thomas. Four minutes later and the home crowd were on their feet again as Jordan Keane found the bottom corner with a powerful drive from distance. The crowd had gone from the early frustration of the first-half to the enjoyment of taking the lead within the first seven minutes of the second-half.

From that point it was an absolute cracker of a game and Barrow hauled themselves level through a John Rooney (younger brother of our Wayne) free-kick on 67 minutes. However Stockport weren’t to be denied as Thomas converted a low cross from substitute Jake Kirby for the home team just three minutes later. That goal came with twenty minutes still remaining, but County saw it out in a five-goal thriller to secure a first win back in the National League.


Tuesday 13 August 2019

Vanarama National League

Stockport County 3 (Mulhern 48’, Keane 52’, Thomas 70’) Barrow 2 (Quigley 3’, Rooney 67’)

Venue: Edgeley Park

Attendance: 4,183

Stockport County: Hinchliffe, Miniham, Palmer, Turnbull, Cowan,Keane, Thomas, Dimaio (Kirby 63’), Osborne, Jackson (Arthur 88’) Mulhern (Bell 72’)

Unused substitutes: Ormson, Curran

Barrow: Dixon, Barry, Granite, Kay (Dyson 59’), Brough (Brown 10’), Hird, Taylor, Rooney, Angus, Harrison (Hardcastle 46’), Quigley

Unused substitutes: Hindle, Greaves


Steve Blighton