STOCKPORT COUNTY FC

TAKE FIVE… AFC Telford United

County visit AFC Telford United tonight in a 7.45pm kick off, and ahead of the match County Tweet-meister Gareth Evans has put-together five factoids on our opponents for you. TAKE FIVE…

  1. 1. Ah, Telford United. One of the long-standing bastions of the non-league world – right?

Well, yes and no. Our hosting-club from Shropshire this midweek is technically quite a new outfit – the fourth-youngest in the National league North – having been formed during May 2004, and in the immediate wake of the original Telford United’s liquidation with debts exceeding £4 million.

That said, of course, the development was not without any continuity. Most obviously, for starters, the ’AFC’ title still incorporates the name of the former club! But in addition, the current playing kit also retains part of the colours sported by the original ‘Lilywhites’, and the team plies its trade at the same ground, too – although Telford United (as was) only got to enjoy the fully-renovated New Bucks Head stadium for a season before folding.

  1. 2. But the ‘old Telford’ had made its mark prior to that?

It had, indeed – and within a shorter time-frame than one might have imagined. For the Parish Church Institute club, based at Wellington, which started life in 1872, subsequently operated for some 90 years, from 1879, as Wellington Town – one of a dozen English clubs to win the Welsh Cup (thrice, in Wellington’s case) – before being re-named Telford United, after the surrounding new town, as recently as 1969 and whilst in the Southern League.

Over the next 35 years, Telford established a record, which still stands, for most appearances in FA Trophy Finals. Of the five Finals reached, the original ‘Bucks’ won three (in 1971,1983 and 1989) – also a record, albeit one shared with Woking and the now-similarly-defunct Scarborough. And when it came to the FA Cup, they were no slouches either – as Hatters of a certain age will painfully recall. Telford and the-then Fourth Division County were drawn out of the hat together three times during the 1980s – with the non-league side triumphing 3-0 at home in 1983/84 and stunning the Edgeley Park faithful with a single-goal victory two seasons later. The Hatters did scrape through, after a replay at EP, on the third occasion in 1987 – and, in fact, had made tidy work of Wellington Town some 58 years earlier, courtesy of a 4-1 win at the original Bucks Head.

  1. 3. I was wondering about the original Bucks Head. Where was it, and what happened to it?

The ground actually occupied the same site as the current stadium – but, as the last century drew to a close, its mix of cinder-banking terraces, a wooden stand and generally run-down facilities had become unfit for purpose and required complete rebuilding rather than mere refurbishment.

The Bucks Head pub that stood on the corner of the site – and from which the grounds and clubs have respectively taken their names and nicknames – is sadly no longer a licensed premises. But the building remains in use, occupied by a national pizza-takeaway chain – so that pre/post-match hungers, if not thirsts, can be satisfied.

  1. 4. How about players who have turned out for both clubs?

They are, as you might expect, largely confined to the recent years that have seen the Hatters and Telford rub shoulders as non-league opponents – although striker Jack Bentley (at County during 1961/62) was quite the pioneer, playing as he did for each in far more distant times.

Otherwise, those to have served the two clubs include: defenders Gianluca Havern (2006-10), Jordan Rose (2010-12), Kyle Brownhill (2011-13) and Mark Lees (2014-15); midfielder Greg Wilkinson (2015); and strikers Chris Sharp (2014-15) and Danny Glover (2015). Another forward, John Marsden (2016-17), left EP this summer to join the Bucks following a successful loan-spell.

  1. 5. So – placing any big Bucks on the outcome this Tuesday? Arf.

Wait until the reverse-fixture in SK3 on 14 April – provided, naturally, that you set any store by historical sequences! For our five seasons together, both matches have been won by the home team (in 2013/14), or by the visitors (2015/16), or else drawn (2011/12, 2012/13 and 2016/17).

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