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2021/22 NATIONAL LEAGUE OPPOSITION PREVIEW

A look at Stockport, Torquay and Wealdstone

6 August 2021

In the build-up to the 2021/22 campaign, we will profile all teams in the Vanarama National League.

Pre-season preparations are in full swing for National League sides and all attentions are turned to the 21st of August, with just over two weeks until the commencement of the season.

We continue our opposition previews, this time focusing on Stockport County, Torquay United and Wealdstone.

Stockport County

Founded

1883

Manager

Simon Rusk – Appointed in January, Rusk took the reigns at Stockport County as his first managerial job away from academy football. He had previously overseen the U23s side at Brighton and Hove Albion. The 39-year-old’s first full season in charge of County will certainly be a baptism of fire, with a huge expectation of success for the coming campaign. Rusk led the Hatters to a third placed finish last season. 

Stadium

Edgeley Park - 9,475

Last three meetings

Southend United 3-0 Stockport County – Saturday 3rd November 2012 – FA Cup first round

Stockport County 2-1 Southend United – Saturday 26th March 2011 – League Two

Southend United 1-1 Stockport County – Saturday 7th August 2010 – League Two

Their last three finishes

2020/21 – 3rd in Vanarama National League

2019/20 – 7th in Vanarama National League

2018/19 – 1st in National League North

Three facts about them

- Stockport have made several marquee signings this summer, perhaps most notably Scott Quigley. The former Barrow forward scored 14 times in League Two last season, one of which being against Southend in their penultimate match of the season. Quigley scored 20 times for Barrow in their 2019/20 National League promotion campaign. 

- Rusk’s appointment saw the departure of Jim Gannon. The 52-year-old had managed the Hatters for a total of seven years over the course of two different spells. 

- Stockport are being tipped as favourites to win the National League title next season. It is clear to see why, with an impressive transfer window and positive momentum from their play-off campaign last season. 

Distance from Roots Hall

232 miles

Highest league finish

1997/98 – 8th Football League First Division (second tier)

Torquay United

Founded

1899

Manager

Gary Johnson – The Torquay boss was appointed in 2018, with a huge amount of managerial experience under his belt. His recent successes came in the form of a National League promotion with Cheltenham Town, and a League One promotion campaign with Yeovil Town. Johnson nearly enjoyed another promotion last season, but his side fell just short with a second placed finish and defeat in the play-off final to Hartlepool United. 

Stadium

Plainmoor – 6,500 (2,950 seated)

Last three meetings

Southend United 1-0 Torquay United – Saturday 29th March 2014 – League Two

Torquay United 1-0 Southend United – Saturday 14th December 2013 – League Two

Southend United 1-1 Torquay United – Saturday 16th March 2013 – League Two 

Their last three finishes

2020/21 – 2nd in Vanarama National League

2019/20 – 15th in Vanarama National League

2018/19 – 1st in National League South

Three facts about them

- Torquay narrowly missed out on the return to the EFL last season, after losing 5-4 in a penalty shootout to Hartlepool United in the National League play-off final. Hartlepool looked set to win the tie, holding onto their 1-0 lead until the 95th minute. However, Torquay goalkeeper Lucas Covolan headed in an equaliser to take the match to extra time.

- Neil Warnock oversaw the end of the 1992/93 campaign for Torquay. Appointed in March 1993 as ‘consultant’, Warnock saved the Gulls from relegation from the Football League.

- Johnson’s side announced seven new signings on the 19th July. Tom Lapslie was one of those, signing for the National League side after seven years featuring for Southend rivals Colchester United.

Distance from Roots Hall

249 miles 

Highest league finish

1957 - 2nd in Third Division South

Wealdstone

Founded

1899

Manager

Stuart Maynard – Maynard was appointed as Wealdstone boss in March 2021, but had been in charge as caretaker boss since the departure of Dean Brennan on 2nd February 2021. He oversaw four league victories during his time in charge.

Stadium

Grosvenor Vale Stadium – 3,200 (709 seated)

Last three meetings

Southend and Wealdstone have never played against one another.

Their last three finishes

2020/21 – 19th in Vanarama National League

2019/20 – 1st in National League South

2018/19 – 7th in National League South

Three facts about them

- Wealdstone were promoted to the National League for the first time on points per game, after the 2019/20 season was cut short. They are a part-time club and as such, they are naturally disadvantaged in the fifth tier.

- In terms of its capacity, the Grosvenor Vale Stadium is the smallest in the National League. Phil Brown’s side travel there on August 30th.

- Former Nottingham Forest and West Ham United defender Stuart Pearce began his playing career at Wealdstone. The 59-year-old featured 176 times for the Ruislip based side between the years of 1978-83.

Distance from Roots Hall

60 miles

Highest league finish

1984/85 – 1st Alliance Premier League.

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