The Cheadle End
|Full name||Edgeley Park Stadium|
|Field size||111 x 71 yards|
|Stockport RFC (1901–c.1905)|
Stockport County F.C. (1902–present)
Sale Sharks (2003–2012)
Edgeley Park is an all-seater stadium holding 10,900 spectators. Stockport County shared it with Sale Sharks rugby union club between 2003 and 2012.
The stadium was built in 1901 for rugby league club Stockport RFC. Stockport County moved there from Green Lane in 1902, needing to find a bigger stadium to play in following their entrance into the Football League two years earlier. Stockport County's first game at Edgeley Park was a 1-1 draw against Gainsborough Trinity in 1902. Stockport County have undertaken an entire redevelopment of the ground since moving into the ground, most notably the building of the Cheadle End which opened in 1995.
The Main Stand of the ground, which at the time was made of wood, burned down in a fire in 1935, destroying all of Stockport County's previous records; therefore, apart from having to rebuild a significant section of the ground, the club had to undertake a massive task to piece together information about previous results, playing squads, etc.
Following the Bradford City stadium fire in 1985, work began to remove all wooden structures and standing terraces from the stadium, which drastically reduced capacity, but increased safety and ensured that the ground complies to Football League regulations. This work was eventually completed by 2001. The stadium's name is often simply abbreviated to 'EP' by fans.
The floodlight system was first used with an opening friendly match against Fortuna '54 Geleen of Holland on 16 October 1956, whose side included four members of the Dutch national team that had defeated Belgium the previous week.
The ground once held two matches by the England international football team on the same day. On 14 January 1958 the England squad were due to play training matches at nearby Maine Road, home of Manchester City but the pitch was frozen. Edgeley Park's pitch was deemed playable so it was decided to hold the matches in Stockport instead.
The first game saw England draw 2–2 with a Manchester City XI, and the second saw the England senior side defeat the England U23 side 1–0.
Edgeley Park was the venue for the final of the 1978 World Lacrosse Championship.
Edgeley Park was (until County's relegation in May 2011) the closest league football ground to the River Mersey - it is actually closer than Liverpool's Anfield, Everton's Goodison Park or Tranmere Rovers' Prenton Park.
On 31 July 2015 Edgeley Park passed into the ownership of Stockport Council who are going to rent the ground back to the club on a commercial basis not costing the tax payer anything. Thus ending Brian Kennedy's association with Edgeley Park.
The first major development at Edgeley Park was the construction of the original Main Stand on the north (Hardcastle Road) side of the ground. Initially holding around 500 seats, this was a relatively low timber structure and it was totally destroyed by a fire in 1935. It was replaced a year later by the current stand, constructed of brick and steel, a building seen by many as a traditional, old-fashioned stand, typical of football stadia in Northern England. The roof of the Main Stand at Edgeley Park is supported towards the front by three steel columns, which slightly impede the view of supporters from certain seats. Unusually, rather than running the length of the pitch, as would normally be expected in football stadia nowadays, the Main Stand is only about 75 yards long, straddling the half way line, with the gaps at each end containing other club-related buildings.
The Main Stand seats 2,020, of which 405 are executive seats and contains players' changing rooms and some club offices, as well as toilets, boardroom and several bars for half-time refreshments. The team dugouts are situated at the front of the Main Stand.
The Cheadle End behind the goal at the west end of the ground is the largest and most modern stand in the stadium, and one of the largest stands outside the Premier League.
The original Cheadle End, built in 1923, was a small covered terrace of largely timber construction, with room for around 3,000 people. It was made all-seater in 1967, and its capacity cut to 1,100. This stand was demolished in 1985, after the Bradford City stadium fire, and replaced by seven steps of shallow uncovered terracing which held only a small number of supporters. However, for the 10 years that it existed, this terrace was extremely popular with County fans because of its traditional feel. Netting was controversially placed in front of the terrace during the late 1980s; after the disaster at Hillsborough Stadium in 1989 the netting was removed.
In 1995, Stockport County chairman Brendan Elwood built a new stand to replace the small terrace. The new Cheadle End is a two-tiered stand, holding 5,044 supporters, making it almost as large in terms of capacity as the other three stands collectively. The stand is all-seater, as is the rest of the stadium nowadays, and was opened in 1995 with a friendly game against Manchester City. The letters "SCFC" are visible in the seating, where white seats are used instead of blue, to symbolise Stockport County Football Club.
The stand holds the Insider Suite, a conference and banqueting facility, as well as the ticket office, toilets, refreshments facilities and the club shops; the club shop is relatively large, and was used by Stockport County until 2005. However, when Sale Sharks owner Brian Kennedy sold Stockport County at that time, they vacated the club shop - moving to a former cupboard under the stairs around the corner. They returned to the large club shop in November 2012 following Sale Sharks move to Eccles.
On the opposite side of the ground to the Main Stand, running the full length of the pitch, is the Popular Stand. It is also often referred to as the Pop Side, Barlow Stand, or the Vernon Stand due to the former sponsorship of the stand by the Vernon Building Society.
The first structure on this side of the ground was a small, covered enclosure with a capacity of 1,400. This was replaced in 1927 with a much larger terraced stand, which in 1965, in a FA Cup match against Liverpool, held 16,000 people. In 1978 the terracing at the rear of the stand was levelled and its capacity halved; eventually, in late 1993, the Pop Side was made all-seater.
It currently holds 2,411 and is occasionally given to larger away supports, if seats are not required by home supporters. There are toilets and refreshment facilities on a small outdoor concourse behind the stand, which backs onto a small reservoir. As with the Main Stand opposite, the roof is supported towards the front by several steel columns; their thickness and location are partly explained by the fact that when the current roof was built, in 1956, it had to be erected in front of an existing roof, which covered only the rear part of the then much deeper and higher terrace.
The Vernon stand also homes the gantry for the club where all the footage for the club is recorded and where commentary takes place.
The Railway End, at the east end of the stadium, is a former uncovered terrace that at one time could hold up to 6,000. In 2001, it was the last part of Edgeley Park to be converted to seating, thus making the ground all-seated, and it is now generally used to house away supporters. Still open to the elements, and with a capacity of around 1,366, the Railway End is currently the smallest of all stands in the ground. The stadium scoreboard, notorious for never having functioned properly since it was installed in the late 1980s, is located at the rear of the Railway End. The Bungalow, a Labour Party club, is situated behind this end of the stadium.
In the late 1990s, after the recent major development at the Cheadle End of the ground, County chairman Brendan Elwood announced plans to rebuild the Railway End. The plan would have involved purchasing The Bungalow behind it, on which a hotel would have been built by Britannia Building Society, which would have overlooked the ground. However, like other Millennium-related projects, these plans never came to fruition.
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