Tag Archives: national league north

Stockport County will be looking for the double bounce promotion, these 2 factors will help that

The Champions of the National League North, Stockport County, are taking a step up to the National League, but what can they do to stay there next season?

As many long-serving Stockport County fans will despise to remember, this huge club was a Championship side until 2002. Due to the club falling into administration, it’s been a downhill slope for the club which has been playing in the sixth tier of English football for the past six years, until now.

This Greater Manchester based club will take the place of its neighbour, Salford City, in the National League next season. If Stockport can follow suit of Salford, they will find themselves alongside them in the EFL League Two, presuming that Salford is capable of remaining in the division.

Stockport County clinched their first league title in 52 years by finishing 1 point ahead of Chorley, but how can they ensure a finish the fans deserve in their new league in the 2019/20 season…


A sore subject for Stockport County would be finances. However, Jim Gannon himself said “Only the best clubs that are investing well or have strong management and teams have done well. So hopefully we can replicate the likes of Salford and Fylde, Harrogate and Halifax, who have consolidated at that level.”

This suggests that Stockport County’s investment over recent years hasn’t been enough to allow the club to grow, hence how they have stagnated in the National League North. But now that they have established themselves as real contenders, it may be time to invest in the future of the club and allow them to progress even further.


Stockport County were very impressive last season, scoring 77 goals. However, in the 2018/19 National League North, teams scored an average of 55.8 goals, whereas, in the 2018/19 National League season, teams scored an average of 57.3 goals. This demonstrates the higher quality and ability of teams in the league, and Stockport needs to be able to keep up with that next season.

Fortunately, Gannon has taken this into account. Stockport recently disclosed that they have signed the striker Alex Curran from Colne, a 20-year-old who bagged 22 goals in 44 appearances last season, and 22 goals in 46 the season before. This young talent will no doubt increase the rate of fire for his new club.

And the manager has some strong words to say about him, “With Alex, we think we have got a player with an outstanding C.V. Over the last two years he’s been one of the main players, he’s a regular goalscorer, provides regular assists and I think we’ve provided a great platform for him.”

2 Stockport Players that should be looking to move on this summer

The Hatters secured promotion back to the National League this season after winning the North National League title. 

Now that Stockport have a new season to go into, they’ll be looking to do well and keep themselves in their new league. Then hopefully move up the leagues from there. If they want to make a positive impact on their National League run, they’ll have to look into their team. Maybe try to sign or get players loaned that can play in the league.

To make a little room, Jim Gannon could look at these two players as options to loan or completely get rid of…

Connor Dimaio

The 23-year-old midfielder has been with Stockport since 2018. He’s managed 17 appearances and got 3 goals on his record but in 2019, Dimaio was loaned to Ashton United where he made 12 appearances.

He’s on a 2-year contract with Stockport and the club have confirmed that he’s still one of their own, after coming back from his loan spell. It could go one of two ways for the midfielder, he could come back to the Hatters inspired and motivated to get starts and do well, or he could have bad games and not get the starts.

I think he should maybe keep his options open to go elsewhere before Gannon considers his options. 

Elliot Osborne

Another midfielder who started off as just being on loan to the club but then permanently signed for the Stockport in 2018. When the 23-year-old was on loan with Gannon’s team, he impressed after making 5 appearances and bagging a goal.

However when he signed officially, in 24 appearances he only managed one other goal. Maybe Osborne was an exciting prospect at the time and now he could do with some more games somewhere else. 

Gannon has three key areas he needs to strengthen for Stockport to win Double Promotions

After winning the Vanarama National League North last season, Jim Gannon will have his hands full, should he want to compete for a double promotion next season.

The National League North Manager of the Year’s team narrowly won the league, beating Chorley by a single point on the final day. With their position in the top flight of Non-League guaranteed. All eyes will have turned to next season, and just how far Jim Gannon can take County.

In Gannon, County certainly has a manager with enough pedigree to take them back into the Football League. With the manager having experience higher up the pyramid, and even in European competition. With this experience in the game, Gannon will certainly have the contacts to help with recruitment.

Since promotion, the overhaul of the squad at Stockport has already begun, with 9 players leaving the club and 10 arriving – either on loan or on free transfers. Despite this turnaround, we believe there are still some areas that Stockport County need to address if they are to be fighting at the right end of the National League next season.

Goals from the rest of the team

Despite having three strikers in the top scorer’s list, Stockport only finished fourth highest in the goals-for charts. Therefore, the only conclusion is that last season, the team was too reliant on their top three goalscorers, and the rest of the squad didn’t chip in with the odd goals.

If they want to compete at the right end of the National League, others will have to get on the scoresheet. They certainly cannot be so reliant on Matthew Warburton, especially as he’s now left for Northampton Town.

First choice goalscorer

As mentioned previously top scorer Matthew Warburton has left Stockport for Northampton, and as of yet, they haven’t replaced him. They have Nyal Bell from Gateshead, however last season he didn’t set the National League alight goalscoring wise. What the squad at Stockport is missing is a 20 goal a season striker, sadly however there isn’t a great deal of them around without spending a small fortune.


Currently, Stockport County’s squad is full of experience in the lower divisions. However, if you look at squads around them, especially at the top end of the Vanarama National League. They are filled with players that have experience in the Football League. They bring the right aura of professionalism and experience, to take the club to take that next level.

Stick or Twist: Should Jim Gannon Twist With The Oldham Athletic Job or Stick With Stockport County Following Promotion

Another rumour on the managerial merry-go-round is that Stockport County boss Jim Gannon could be off to Oldham Athletic.

The Vanarama National League North manager of the year, took Stockport to the National League North league title last season and presumably will manage them in the National League next season.

Gannon is in his third spell as manager at Stockport, after being made a member of the clubs hall of fame, having also played at the club for roughly 10 years making over 350 appearances.

In the eyes of many, Gannon has done a great job taking Stockport into the Vanarama National League, despite this Stockport are a semi-pro team with part-time players, so you could see the attraction of the move to Oldham. However, is the attraction of moving up one division strong enough to part Gannon with his beloved Stockport? I personally don’t think so.

The last time Gannon left the club at his own devices, was the chance to go to Scottish Premier League side Motherwell, who at the time was playing in the Europa League, Oldham are just nowhere near that level.

Gannon has really got a project going down at Stockport County, having got them promoted out of the Vanarama National League North, a division they had been stuck in since the 2013-14 season. Following the promotion, you have to think, a club the size and calibre of Stockport County will attract the right kind of players and will flourish in the National League.

Therefore leaving very little reasoning for Gannon to move to lower midtable Oldham in League Two, as give it a couple of seasons and Stockport could be in a similar position themselves – should they succeed in a very tough National League division.

OPINION: Can Altrincham Go One Better Next Season In The National League North?

After defeat in the Semi-Finals of the National League North Play-Offs last season, Altrincham will look to go one better this campaign and get promoted to the National League.

Last campaign there was very few people who would have tipped ‘Alty’ to be anywhere near the playoffs. However, with experienced manager Phil Parkinson at the helm, the club finished 5th in the league 11 points behind title winners Stockport County.

The club has made it very clear they want to be up there again, if not winning the league during the 19/20 season. Tying down their manager to a three-year deal and, securing the core of their squad for another assault on the title next season – including top scorer Jordan Hulme who finished on 20 goals and 11 assists in all competitions.

Last season Altrincham were the highest scoring team in the National League North, however defensively they conceded 20 more goals than title winners Stockport County. With how long manager Phil Parkinson has been in the game, he will know that this is the area that needs work early in the window with already making a signing to improve them defensively from Nantwich in Toby Mullarkey.

It seems like all the right things are happening at free-scoring Altrincham for them to once again compete around the top of National League North again next season, and we see no reasons why on paper they can’t go one better and get themselves promoted. However, as everybody knows The National League North is a funny old league, and every team can go through bad spells or have an injury crisis. However, if they stay fit and keep their consistency from last year minus a couple of the draws and narrow losses, we could see ‘Alty’ in the top tier of Non-League very soon.

Is Curzon Ashton’s Mark Bradshaw Focus On Youth The Right Step In The National League North

More signings are set to walk through the door at Curzon Ashton and so far this window, it has been set out very clearly that the club is taking a new approach and are focusing on younger players.

This strategy can have positive and negatives effects on a club depending on how well the club handle it. After finishing just above the relegation positions last year, I’m sure that Curzon will be hoping this influx of new exciting talent will propel them up the National League North table and into a more comfortable finish next campaign.

Curzon has already signed a number of players this transfer window, meaning it could be a brand new team that appears next season and that unpredictability could definitely work in their favour.

Last year the clubs under 18’s won the quadruple, an amazing feat. With this influx of new young players and, academy players being moved up to the first team, it appears that the future of Curzon is very bright. I just hope their plans for long term success don’t affect them in the short term.

The famous quote “you don’t win anything with kids” was disproved by Sir Alex Ferguson early in his management career with Manchester United, and everyone at Curzon will be hoping they can do it too.

With youth though often comes inexperience and immaturity, therefore the management at Curzon will have to keep an eye on this and keep players together and as a squad ever more so if results don’t go their way. If they can defeat this, then the potential in the team being assembled is scary and they could be in for a very successful few seasons.

Why Are Fans Shifting From Premier League to Non-League Football?

The National League attendance figures for the 2018-19 season have been released and, what a sight it is for fans of the game outside the Football League.

As more and more fans of ‘The Beautiful Game’ grow sick and tired of the disconnect between professional players, earning more in a week than what some people do in multiple years and themselves. It seems that more of this disgruntled lot are turning their attention to their local clubs, many of which I’m sure will be surprised at the standard on the show.

More and more fans are becoming annoyed at being treat like a number on a piece of paper, as opposed to an actual person, and can you blame them? Once most of these people go to a non-league game, it’s a fair bet that a number of them will end up frequently attending these games due to the feeling around the place.

The family atmosphere is something in Non-League you just don’t get in the Premier League, you feel like you really are part of something and you can genuinely see the rewards for any input you put into the club. Whether that be financial or volunteer hours, your hard earned time and money don’t just disappear never to be seen again.

The main reason I think that Non-League attendances are growing isn’t anything that the clubs below the football league are doing especially, it’s more what the Premier League clubs aren’t doing, they aren’t looking after the support that follows them week in week out.

OPINION: Pre Season at Non-League​ Level Has Changed Over The Years

Following a tweet, by Altrincham FC striker Jordan Hulme we thought we’d look at the facts and give our opinion as to whether preseason in Non-League football has changed.

Because of many factors yes Non-League preseason and Non-League football, in general, has changed over the years. I agree with Hulme the days of players just going on the booze for a month are gone but probably for the better.

In the last few years Non-League football has taken great strides in becoming more professional and more advanced than it had previously been, the standard of Non-League is constantly improving as the game at that level gets more and more interest and funding.

We see players like Vardy and Smalling who climbed there way from Non-League to the Football League, and personally I don’t think this would have been possible had Non-League not been improving constantly. Would any professional club have cared if Vardy had been playing Sunday league at the age he broke into the upper parts of Non-League…I don’t think so.

I understand why some players have issues with this, one of the reasons that some people play Non-League is that its less of a commitment. You don’t have to train daily, go to the gym and monitor their diet. In the modern version of Non-League, though that commitment is there, you can’t go off in your summer months on a total bender, purely because the other players won’t be and you will be steps behind.

I’m sure a lot of Non-League players would love a return to the old ways, however, in the state that the game is in at the present time, its just not possible because players and clubs will be left behind.

What Will Former FC United Striker Kurt Willoughby Bring to AFC Fylde?

Despite playing for relegated FC United of Manchester last season, striker Kurt Willoughby has moved into full-time football with last season’s beaten National League play-off finalists AFC Fylde.

On the back of having a very good season last year, scoring 19 goals for FC United. He had previously scored goals for fun in the North West Counties League for AFC Blackpool and Clitheroe, wherever Willoughby goes goals seem to follow.

His form this season has also seen the 21-year-old called up to the England C squad, where he scored on his debut against Wales C.

With last seasons joint National League top goalscorer Danny Rowe in the squad at Fylde. Willoughby has the perfect model to help develop his game and, this has lead to his new manager Dave Challinor labelling his new striker “Not a risk but definitely a project”.

With that being said, we thought we’d take a look into just what the new man will bring to AFC Fylde. With the ambitions of going one step further and getting promoted out of the National League and back into the Professional Football.

Running in Behind

You could compare Willoughby’s game to that of Jamie Vardy in the Premier League, the man loves a ball over the top or a through ball that he can run on too from the shoulder of the last defender.

This will definitely be something fresh for fans of Fylde as top scorer Danny Rowe isn’t that type of player instead, he holds the ball up and creates chances from nothing.

Therefore, Willoughby will be another option in the Fylde arsenal this season, meaning they have a plan B.

Counter Attacking

Something that Willoughby definitely isn’t opposed to is running the channels and dragging his team up the pitch.

The former FC United man was top scorer at a relegated team last season, meaning that likely for long spells they were defending, therefore, the striker was forced to play on the counter-attack.

Its this willingness to run that will create space and openings for other players at Fylde, such as Danny Rowe and if you give that man space, goals follow.

Other new signings have also been made at Fylde to improve this side of their game, therefore it’s looking like his new club will be playing to Willoughbys strengths.

EFL & Below Show 2018/19 Season Review: Bury FC, Salford City, Oldham Athletic, Rochdale, Wigan Athletic & Bolton Wanderers

This is the EFL and Below Show, your look at all the footballing action in Greater Manchester that doesn’t come from Old Trafford or the Etihad.

Niall McCaughan is joined by Ian Foran and Aaron Benson from the Football Manc Cave in this final episode of the season, taking a look back at the respective seasons of Bury, Salford, Oldham, Bolton, Rochdale and Stockport County.

Subscribe to the podcast now and never miss a show.

Thanks for listening this season!

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