It’s December 1998 and Matt Porter is making miracles in Stockport. All he wants for Christmas is to stay in the European places – but with a trip to Old Trafford on the horizon, can Santa deliver?
Well it’s Cliff Richard season once again and I feel as happy as Noddy Holder’s bank manager at this time of year. We’re 3rd, we are flying, and we are pretty much safe by Christmas. This is about the time of year everything fell apart last year, but I’m confident it won’t happen this time, and anyway even if it does we have already pretty much hit our season target! I’m not going to say that to the players though, I said something similar last year…
Walsall in the FA cup draw, the glamour tie no doubt…. And when the month ticks over once again I am overlooked, I mean I have Stockport County 3rd in the Premier League for crying out loud. Still, at least it means I avoid the curse of manager of the month.
Well its them lot down the road next, the small matter of a trip to Old Trafford, and I have an injury crisis in midfield, with Carlita, Heidenstrom, Sheridan and Bray all out, plus Duberry suspended. I am going to give Martin Lauchlan a go in midfield, might as well experiment, and Walton comes in for Duberry. I’ll be honest, I’d probably take a point here!
Well I didn’t expect that…. We absolutely batter them in the first half, the United fans are choking on their prawns, and if it wasn’t for a crazily good performance by the big Dane in their goal we’d be out of sight before Dugarry finally beats him. We do give them a couple of chances though, and I mean gift them through mistakes, and you can’t do that with Scholes lurking, 1-1 at half time. We’ve had 10 shots for God’s sake, we should be winning! Jardel is unplayable.
That was so harsh. They had the better of the second half, but they just showed how clinical this league can be, 4-1 is so so harsh, but I try to keep spirits up, on another day that could have been 4-1 the other way and they could have had no complaints. It’s a learning curve for us, let’s not get downhearted, lets just have a pint of Robinson’s Best and move on… The team nutritionalist looks like he wants to kill me, but sod him we’re going the old fashioned way.
Oh for goodness sake, Sheridan returns from injury then a day later is ruled out for a month…. Great start for the record signing.
Garde in for Lauchlan and Duberry in for the tired Matt Bound, and it is another Greater Manchester derby but this time Bolton at home. My childhood loyalties are put to one side here, the Edgeley roar needs to get behind us as we aim for our first win in 5.
Well that was the worst half of football we have played in a long time, we’re 2-0 down and frankly lucky it’s only that. We are seriously struggling in midfield but I have no alternatives!
A little bit less terrible than the first half, faint praise indeed, this is in danger of becoming a proper slump. Half time was the first time I’ve had a go this season, poor Remi Garde, it’s not his fault I signed him after a couple of beers…
Incredibly we are still third, but the cushion has gone… still I’d have taken this for the half way point!
Leicester next up at Edgeley, and thanks to the injury problems I have to drop Simic so that I can bring in Carlita in the midfield, thanks to the foreigner rule, Connolly comes in at right back, and Youngs is back on the bench after injury. I don’t want to ramp up the pressure, but how many games without a win?! A couple of our old players in their lineup, so they’ll inevitably score.
A pretty boring first half, but we still contrive to concede a goal from that legendary goal machine Garry Parker. I hate ruts on this game.
Now that was a crucial half, and the monkey is off our back. We equalise deservedly through Jardel, and then get a penalty. Shit, I forgot to take Cavaco off penalties. I am having a heart attack on the side lines, but he slots it away. Oh no, a retake, for goodness sake, but amazingly he slots this one away too and we hold on comfortably (having gone ultra-defensive) to win. I nearly had a heart attack on the touchline, but we won! I’ll even give them Christmas day off, Scrooge I am not… and to be fair, sorry to harp on, but we’re third!
Merry Christmas one and all… Ian Gray turns up for a match, his calendar was fast apparently, and Martin McIntosh somehow rules himself out for 2 months with a torn groin muscle, obviously a little over excited by the present from the missus…
Boxing day remains unchanged, because why the hell not, and is there anywhere better to go post-Christmas than Barnsley?
I’d forgotten how good David Watson was in the return fixture, and he’s doing the same again, 1-1 at half time but we should be ahead.
Well our prayers are answered in the second half but not in a way I would wish on anyone as David Watson is stretchered off with 20 minutes to play. His replacement is appropriately useless and we have 2 shots and score twice, even allowing time for a Barnsley consolation. Tom Youngs returns from injury and hits the ground running, I am impressed, we’ve turned a corner after the Bolton debacle, and every time we seem to be slipping we pull it right back. The County Boys are off on a European tour! (maybe)
40 points! We are surely safe! David Watson is only out for a couple of weeks, I’m glad to hear (I honestly think he could have played for England without his injury problems.)
Every time it looks like we are going to go down the pan, we pull it back. There is proper character, in a proper stadium, with proper pies, and a proper town. You can stick your MK Dons where the sun don’t shine!
You can follow Matt on Twitter @PorterMatt