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Lowdown on Stockport

Posted on 16 February 2001  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

Finns are all the rage at the moment. Sami Hyypia is the rock on which Liverpool’s defence is built, Mikael Forssell is a primary source of goals for Crystal Palace, Hannu Tihenen has been a revelation at West Ham and, to cap it all, the nation’s greatest ever player, Jari Litmanen, swapped Barcelona’s Nou Camp for Hyypia’s Anfield stomping ground.

In a quieter corner of the north west, another Finn is quietly making a name for himself following an unheralded switch from Moss FK at the beginning of this campaign. It is Jarkko Wiss who made Stockport’s trip south to White Hart Lane possible and he will be aiming to steal some of the limelight from his illustrious countrymen this weekend.

Wiss scored the 85<sup>th</sup> minute winner for the Hatters at Crewe in round four, a second 1-0 away win in the competition, having triumphed at Preston in the third round. Let’s hope there’s not a pattern forming.

County skipper Mike Flynn, likely to mark Sergei Rebrov, summed up what a visit to the Lane means to himself and his team-mates.

"It will be the biggest game that most of our players will have played in and some may not get the chance again," said Flynn. "I will probably be marking one of the best strikers in the world in Sergei Rebrov"

"The first goal is going to be all-important, and if we can get it, the crowd might turn against Spurs."

It has been a strange week for the County set. The build-up to their big day out has consisted of signing striker Glynn Hurst from Ayr for £200,000 and sacking assistant manager Dave Moss.

The former Manchester City No.2 was reported to have been involved in a row with several players in the wake of Tuesday’s home defeat by Preston. Moss took up his position when Andy Kilner was appointed manager two years ago have previously work with the youth team. Hardly ideal preparation.

As a club, Stockport are no strangers to flirting with the big-time. The 1996-97 season, under the stewardship of Dave Jones, saw County beat three Premiership teams before losing to Middlesbrough in a closely fought League Cup semi-final. In that same season they secured promotion to Division One for the first time in 60 years.

But the man who will forever be identified with turning Stockport into a relative football force was the charismatic Uruguayan Danny Bergara, who took up the reigns in 1989.

His appointment started an upward rise that made County one of the most successful sides of the 1990’s. Promotion from the Division Four in 1991 set the ball rolling and four sojourns to Wembley were beyond most supporters’ wildest expectations. Progress was also made off the field, visible in the building of the new Cheadle Stand in 1995.

Bergara’s successor Dave Jones was appointed from within and few will forget the incredible season he guided the club through, a season that saw the likes of Paul Jones and Alun Armstrong attract the attention of top flight clubs. Jones became only the second County player to be awarded a cap by one of the home nations.

Manager Jones defected to Southampton in June 1997 and was replaced by Gary Megson, under whom County retained their Division One status. Megson has since taken over at West Brom and Andy Kilner now has that responsibility and is making a pretty good fist of it.

Stockport are in the lower reaches of the division, but Kilner has had to contend with the loss of hot-shot Ian Moore, the club’s record signing, to Burnley and highly-rated goalkeeper Carlo Nash to Manchester City.

Being a Cup weekend, all the old clichés will come into play — references to giantkillers and the competition being great leveller sure to be among them. Spurs will be determined that the underdogs will not be snapping at their heels.

By Richard Hubbard