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Turning Dreams Into Reality - 1996/97 revisited...

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There was a time nearly 25 years ago when County were the darlings of the national media, we had games nationally televised on terrestrial television, our captain was interviewed on breakfast television, we won promotion and made a semi final of a major cup competition for the first time ever. On our journey to the last four County knocked out three Premier League sides, two of those after a replay, beat another one away from home, knocked out a Championship side and scored 20 goals along the way.

Certainly, a semi final appearance was unexpected to say the least but the way the season itself played out; 67 games, promotion and prolonged cup success in multiple competitions, was definitely unexpected. The stuff of one’s wildest fantasies (well, maybe not wildest). Fortunately, for those of you too young to remember or you just fancy reminiscing with a beer or two, fellow TSBW contributor, Dave Espley, chronicled our wonderful season in his book Saturday Night and Thursday Morning. D…

Style Over Substance? - How do we measure the size of a club?

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Does size matter? I suppose any issue of Cosmopolitan will tell you, yes. But I’m not here to discuss your private lives. The issue of the size of a football club has been discussed and debated forever, but finding a definitive answer isn’t easy, especially as there are some factors which make up the size of a club that are purely subjective.Many modern clubs can claim to be the biggest but their fans would only debate size in regards to a few factors, namely, trophies, attendances, stadium and finances. So, for the benefit of those who think their club is the biggest by virtue of the number of trophies they’ve won, here are the world’s top five trophy winners, in reverse order; Celtic, PĂ©narol and Nacional of Uruguay, Rangers and number one; Al Ahly of Egypt. So, there you have it, no Barcelona, Manchester United or Boca Juniors (and I suppose that top five depends on whether Rangers should be allowed to keep their history after they were liquidated eight years ago, that’s for anothe…

Jim Gannon - County's Greatest Ever Servant?

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During my formative years following County I used to sit in what was then named the Main Stand, I only have vague recollections of 1989/90, my first season following the mighty County. A 6-0 win over Hartlepool United where Brett Angell scored four goals and a 30-yard belter scored by Malcolm Brown against Rochdale on Boxing Day. However, there is one memory which stands out for two reasons. One, because it shows the more things change, the more they stay the same, and two because I often wonder what the two protagonists would now make of the man they were criticising back then. The memory in question was two older fans bawling at our new signing; “Cannon, you’re bloody useless” came the cry from one“What’s his name? Gammon?!” said the second to no one particular“Crap, that’s what he is” said the first.And on it went. They were, of course, referring to Jim Gannon, who was making the first of his 480 County appearances. As I said, the more things change, the more they stay the same. We’…

Addicted to Love - Why we keep coming back for more

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I’ll open with a question for you. Why do we bother? County are a division five team, albeit, with high ambitions, we’ve been in the Championship, but that was nearly 20 years ago, we’re never really going to challenge for the Premier League title, nor will we likely see a County captain lifting the FA Cup. The best we can hope for is challenging for promotion and a good cup run. So what keeps us going back for more when the reality is we’re likely to be disappointed more often than not?
The answer is simple, we’re addicted to County. Sure, none of us would admit we have a problem, we could stop going to games and support from a distance, but we can never absolutely leave County forever and like any addiction, the denial of our drug causes withdrawal symptoms (why do you think I’m sat here typing this?!). It’s more than that though, we’re addicted to the possibility that absolutely anything can happen at a game; we could win 7-0, lose 7-0, we could see the greatest goal ever scored, at…

Out of the Darkness - Covid-19 and County

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So, COVID-19 has pressed the pause button on many aspects of our lives, with other parts being changed and completely turned upside down. From the highest to the lowest, young and old, we have all had to make some kind of change and sacrifice. I sincerely hope everyone reading this is safe, healthy and adjusting well to this deviation from normal life. At times like this, in a state of emergency, football is reduced to its most basic form, a hobby, a job, 22 people chasing a ball around a field. To some it’s so much more, to some it’s literally their life, their one constant. Without trying to sound overly hyperbolic, football can mean life for some, and it has been taken away from us. Personally, I genuinely miss everything about County and football in general. Some people may say that I’m being a little blinkered or that there are far more important things in life than football, my reply would be that I care dearly about my club and County are meant to be a pleasant distraction from…

Unfinished Business - County in 2019/20

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Who had ‘the season to finish with seven games left and County, unbeaten in six, in 7th place’ in the sweepstake? Well done, you’ve won a night out on Castle Street with Vernon Bear and the shirtless guy who was in the Cheadle End against Bromley. 
While we wait to find out how the clubs and ultimately, the League, resolve this season, we as fans are left kicking our heels and sighing wistfully over match footage of the good old days of last month, when being furloughed, fighting over bog roll, grassing on your neighbours for leaving the house twice a day and social distancing were unheard of. 
Of course, last August, the events of the last month were still the pipe dream of dystopian novel writers, tin foil hat wearers and those oddball ‘doomsday preppers’ you see on American TV documentaries, complete with a basement full of tinned sardines and a urine recycling machine to provide enough drinking water to outlast the ‘fallout’. Oh no, back in August, County were striding out on to the…