May have been better starting again
23 April ~ The only consolation for Stockport fans was that, in the end, Saturday's defeat to Kidderminster didn't matter. Despite new manager Ian Bogie's attempt to repair the damage inflicted by his predecessor Darije Kalezic, Stockport's collapse continues. Fifteen years ago we were eighth in the second tier. Next season, we'll be in the Conference North. The only thing of note from the game was a Stockport supporter thumping Kidderminster defender Lee Vaughan, with the game stopped for half an hour because of trouble from visiting supporters inside the Railway End.
While the behaviour of some Stockport supporters was unacceptable – the supporter in question will appear at Kidderminster Magistrates' Court in May – Kidderminster have to be take some blame through their reluctance to have a police presence inside Aggborough. Stewards also allowed a section of Stockport supporters to stand at the barrier of the all-seat Railway End for the first half and until Kidderminster took the lead six minutes into the second half, when the assault took place.
Kidderminster's excuse for the absence of police came from chairman Mark Serrell, who said the club received no intelligence indicating any potential trouble. However, before the game a Kidderminster statement (since taken down from the club's website) said the Stockport board would not be travelling on safety advice from the club and West Mercia Police. This was heavily disputed by the Stockport board, who countered by saying Kidderminster would not allow their entry; vice-chairman Spencer Fearn said he was "disgusted" at being barred. From suggesting a potential safety risk to saying there was no intelligence indicating trouble is rather odd.
Stockport supporters are divided on what happened on Saturday, with some venting their disgust at those who criticise fellow "supporters" for their actions. Nevertheless, there is agreement that the current board is responsible for the fall into regional football. Many are calling for the sacking of chief executive Ryan McKnight – the man responsible for appointing Kalezic – and the resignation of chairman Lord Peter Snape, who has presided over three relegations in four seasons.
As with every mishap-cum-disaster that befalls the club changes have been made, with two new board members arriving. One of them, Jon Keighren, is familiar to many Stockport supporters through his commentary on local radio. With a background in PR, this is probably the most difficult spin job he'll ever undertake.
The board now have two decisions to make to secure the club's immediate future. Firstly, the use of Edgeley Park; the ground belongs to Sale Sharks owner Brian Kennedy, with County paying around £80,000 a year in rent. According to an interview with Fearn this will have to be renegotiated – again. The other is whether the club drops to part-time status. For some this will be difficult – the final reminder of how far the club has fallen – but many are realistic about the level the club is now at and the necessary sacrifices to secure its future.
And yet there is optimism, somewhere. The success of Chester and Halifax mean that clubs can find their way out of the abyss and begin to thrive, even if it takes time. However, if we had folded when in administration back in 2009 and re-formed as a "phoenix club", we'd possibly be celebrating our success in the Conference North right now. David Meller @davidpmeller