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August issue available now online and in store

The new WSC, including our 2022-23 season guide, is out now available from all good newsagents or to order from the WSC shop with free UK delivery.

2022-23 Season Guide
Premier League • EFL • National League • Scottish Premiership • WSL • Women's Championship
• How will your team do? • Which former player should return? • What strange thing happened at your club?

Inside WSC 423
Pre-season preparations: Middlesbrough's goal glut
Stockport County: Back in the League | Team of the Nineties?

When Newcastle ruled | How to cope with failure | Academy players head for the US | Writers' competition winners | International cup for FC United | The saga of Staines Town | A lucky scarf for Wales | Hope for Derby and Oldham | Multi-club ownership | Pressure on politicians | Brighouse Town AFC Women | Focus on Brian Kidd

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Stock take Stockport County back in the League
A few months after Stockport County’s relegation to the National League North, I bumped into a former club employee. It was the autumn of 2013; defeats by Colwyn Bay and Vauxhall Motors were the norm, while FA Cup interest had ended at home to Rushall Olympic. I asked my companion if he was optimistic of a recovery. “Not really,” he said. “If anything, they could fall even further.” It would have been ridiculous then to consider Stockport returning to the Football League nine years later. It took six just to get back to the National League. And even as the damage caused by years of mismanagement began to be reversed in the mid-2010s, the road back was bumpy. Promotion to the fifth tier in 2019 followed a couple of near misses, and subsequent seasons have been even more eventful.

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Bishop Auckland 0-5 Middlesbrough Pre-season preparations at a packed Heritage Park
The walk into the main stand at Bishop Auckland’s Heritage Park takes you past the home and away dressing rooms. At the intersection between the two I am hailed by Middlesbrough coach Leo Percovich. The 54-year-old Uruguayan shakes me warmly by the hand, gives me a firm slap on the shoulder and says: “Great to see you. Brilliant you’re here.” I’ve never met the cheery South American in my life, but his friendly and unexpected intervention sets the tone for an afternoon that is so filled with sunlit positivity I find myself instinctively humming the Beach Boys’ Good Vibrations on the walk back to the car park.

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Stain removal The end of 130 years of history at Staines Town
Staines Town played their very first game in 1892. What will almost certainly turn out to be their last was an 8-1 home defeat to Northwood in April. The official attendance was 126. Although listed as a “home” match it wasn’t played at Wheatsheaf Park, their 3,000-capacity stadium for most of the last 70 years. The club’s owners were boycotting their own ground in a dispute with the landlords.

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Rabble rousing 2022 WSC writers' competition winner
It’s about ten past nine on a Tuesday night in late March. I stop scrolling Twitter and calmly tell my other half that I’m going to the pub. Redbridge have just gone ahead against Stansted. This a big deal in the world of the Essex Senior League. I put on a blue and white bobble hat, despite the clement spring weather, and leave the house. The pub is only three minutes away but before I even reach my destination, it’s 2-0. Massive. I walk into the pub and cheerily wave to Thom. I knew Thom was already here because he hadn’t even waited for Redbridge to take the lead before posting a picture of himself alone in the pub in our WhatsApp group. That’s confidence for you. Drink bought, I take a seat and we both laugh at the absurdity of it all. A few minutes later Alex joins us, then another Chris. An alliterative trio of Aaron, Andy and Adam follow. Adam, who told us he couldn’t possibly come out tonight, but who has been the catalyst for so much around what has happened to our football club over the last few years. His absence tonight would have been felt. Before long there are a dozen of us sitting around a table, mostly wearing bobble hats or scarves, despite their unnecessary ridiculousness, and we are all manically, obsessively refreshing Twitter.

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Stockport County photo by Paul Thompson/WSC PhotosBishop Auckland v Middlesbrough photo by Colin McPherson/WSC Photos,  Staines Town photo via Getty Images,Walthamstow FC illustration by Matt Littler

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