Elected to Division Two 1900. Failed re-election 1904.
Elected to Division Two 1905. Relegated to the Conference 2011.
Promoted to League Two 2022.
Heaton Norris Rovers
1890-1894 s u G
1900-1905 o s
1905-1906 a o u
1908-1911 o r s u F H
1911-1914 u y H
1914-1915 s u
1920-1923 u C
1923-1924 alt s
1929-1930 s u
1933-1934 s u
1934-1937 c e k m C
March 1947-1948 u B
1956-1959 p u E K
January 1958 A C E
1961-1962 u E
1962-1963 d N
1964-1965 e u E
1965-1966 u E
1966-1967 C E
1971-1972 f C
1972-1973 f p
1976-1977 p w
1978-1979 (1) w u y
1978-1979 (2) u y
1979-1980 h w
1980-March 1982 w D
April 1982 s
1985-1986 C I
1987-1989 j C
1989-1990 n t z D
1990-1991 n t
1992-1993 l t D
1994-1995 l t D
1995-1996 l D
1996-1998 l s
1998-1999 l L
1999-2001 l s
2001-2002 l t
2002-2004 l t
2007-2009 a v
29 April 2017 E
In 1883 members of the Wycliffe Congregational Church, following a precedent that was becoming common across the north-west, formed a football team known as Heaton Norris Rovers to provide young working men with healthy leisure outlet. The team were knows as "the Dark Blues" and became simply Heaton Norris FC in 1888 before taking the name Stockport County in 1890 when the town became an independent county borough. The first known photograph shows the team wearing striped shirts at least two sizes too small - presumably they had shrunk at the laundry! This was also the year that the club turned professional. The area was the regional centre for the manufacture of headgear, an important industry at a time when every man and woman in the country owned at least one hat. Inevitably, the club became known as “The Hatters,” a nickname they share with Luton Town.
Although some sources suggest Stockport wore blue and white during their early career, the club historian, Marcus Heap tells us he has found no contemporary reference to these colours and what evidence there is suggests they wore red and white.
After a spell in the Football Combination, County joined the Lancashire League, finishing as champions in 1900 after which they were elected to Division Two along with Blackpool. One of the clubs they replaced was Luton, who did not seek re-election.
County's early career in the Football League was a disaster. After seeking re-election four times in succession, they lost their place to Doncaster Rovers in 1904 and joined the Midland League and the Lancashire Combination in the belief that competing in two leagues would increase their chances of returning to the Football league. They won the Lancashire Combination and applied to rejoin the Football League but were initially unsuccessful. It was then decided to expand the League, creating four vacancies in the Second Division. On a second ballot, Stockport were successful while Doncaster lost their place.
The club struggled but only faced re-election again in 1913. In 1914 David Ashworth was appointed as manager: he had previously been in charge of Oldham Athletic and he made sure that County played in the same broad blue and white stripes. Ashworth left to manage Liverpool in 1920 but curiously, Stockport continued to play in the same shirts as Oldham after he left: both clubs adopted very distinctive shirts with a single broad blue stripe at the same time. A further oddity is that in the 1923-24 season, some shirts had the colours reversed, with both sets appearing in the same match.
In 1921 County were relegated to the new northern section of the Third Division but they returned a year later, winning the championship by six points. In 1926 The Hatters were relegated and were stuck in Division Three (North) until 1937 when they returned briefly to Division Two.
A crest was worn in the 1924-25 season but HFK has not been able to establish the details.
During the 1930s the club adopted plain white shirts with black shorts but their fortunes did not improve. The crest, adopted in 1956, featured the central shield from the Stockport coat of arms.
The old gold and black kit worn at home in January 1958 is an anomaly. The team was drawn against Luton Town, then in the First Division, in the FA Cup Third Round. The rules of the competition at that time required both teams to change when colours clashed and County chose the famous old gold and black of Wolves. Stockport won 3-0 and continued to wear their new lucky strip throughout January, including in a home match against Halifax.
In 1959, Stockport were relegated after a single season in the new national Third Division. A colour version of the crest was introduced in 1966 and is particularly remembered for appearing on the white shirts with a single blue hoop worn in the last years of the decade. Promotion came in 1967 but in 1970 they were back in the Fourth Division.
Lean times followed after white became the team's primary colour and County had to apply for re-election in 1974, 1975, 1976 and 1985. A cypher was worn in the 1977-78 season before it was replaced by a new crest with a crosslet as it's central motif. This appeared in various colour combinations with or without the SCFC lettering until 1989.
In 1979 the club adopted broad light blue and white stripes after Argentina's triumph in the World Cup: these were dropped in April 1982 after the outbreak of the Falklands War.
In 1989 the club adopted a modernist crest in the red, white and blue colours worn at the time. Such innovations are rarely popular with traditionally-minded football supporters and it was no surprise when a more traditional crest was introduced just two seasons later, based on the arms of the Metropolitan Borough of Stockport. The new crest was introduced at the same time that the team returned to wearing blue shirts.
During the 1990s the club underwent a transformation. Promoted to Division Three in 1991, they reached the play-offs for the next three seasons and in 1997 won automatic promotion to Nationwide Division One (the old Second Division), the first time they had played at this level since 1937-38.
During their promotion season Stockport wore a rather peculiar crest with intertwined letters. This was replaced after two seasons by a modified version of the older crest.
After finishing in eighth place in 1998 the future seemed bright indeed but behind the scenes debts mounted. Inevitably a club with such limited resources could not afford to compete at this level: after relegation in 2002 they were back in the lowest division (now Coca Cola League Two) and facing bankruptcy.
In July 2005 the club’s owners, Cheshire Sport, sold their interests to the Stockport County Supporters’ Club, making County the latest in a growing band of community owned clubs. In 2006 County narrowly avoided relegation to the Conference. To reflect this change of ownership the crest was altered to be almost identical to that of the local council.
Supporters were now regularly involved in the design of the team's kits although their clear favourite for 2007-09, a revival of the striped top worn at various periods in the past, was overruled by the board, who opted for an all-blue outfit with a white chest band reminiscent of the iconic shirts worn in the 60s, but with the colours reversed.
In June 2010 a consortium of local business people (the 2015 Group) took control of the club, which had been in administration for 14 months. A revised crest and new strip were introduced as a result. The Metropolitan Council sponsored Stockport in 2010-11 with their own coat of arms appearing on the team shirts, apparently prompting the club to alter their own crest as it would otherwise have appeared twice. The new regime was unable to reverse County's misfortune and they were relegated in 2011 having finished last in League Two, losing their place in the Football League after 107 years.
In need of a fresh start, County reverted to stripes in 2011, last seen in the Eighties after a poll of supporters. The club motto (which translates as "courageously and faithfully") was also restored to the crest at the request of fans. Around the same time the club adopted the slogan, "A Football Club is so much more than a ground with four Stands," a reminder that football clubs are not just businesses, they are part of their community. Nevertheless another relegation followed at the end of the 2012-13 season and County spent the next five seasons in the Conference/National League North before winning the title and promotion back to the fifth tier in 2019.
After Nike sold off Umbro, threatening the future of the iconic brand, Stockport became the only senior club in the UK to wear Umbro strip in the 2013-14 season.
The 29 April 2017 marked the 50th anniversary to the day of Stockport winning the Fourth Division title. To celebrate the club commissioned a special kit that was an exact replica of the one worn in 1966-67 which the team wore against Gloucester City. Eight survivors of the championship team were guests of the club that day and the name of the player who wore each numbered shirt was embroidered onto the sleeve.
In January 2020 a local businessman, Mark Stott, bought the club for an undisclosed fee. Having cleared their debts, Stott announced his intention of returning to a full-time professional playing staff and leading the club back into to the EFL.
Two years later and eleven years after dropping out of the Football League, the Hatters became champions of the National League with six points to spare to earn automatic promotion to League Two.
- (a) Stockport County Official Website
- (b) Club Colours (Bob Bickerton 1998)
- (c) The West Ham United Collection (2003)
- (d) Crewe Alexandra FC (Images of Sport) Harold Finch 2001
- (e) Port Connection
- (f) Football Cards
- (g) Classic Kits
- (h) Aldershot Has It
- (i) Football Focus
- (j) Scarborough FC - Images of Sport (Paul Eade 2002)
- (k) Sepia Views
- (l) empics
- (m) The Football Encyclopaedia (Associated Sporting Press 1934) - information provided by Arthur Fergus
- (n) Countylads
- (o) Association of Football Statisticians - provided by Pete Wyatt
- (p) Pete's Picture Palace
- (q) Callum Jefcoate
- (r) London Hearts
- (s) Phil Brennan (Media Manager, Stockport County FC)
- (t) David King
- (u) Greger Lindberg
- (v) Simon Bailey
- (w) Alick Milne
- (x) e-bay
- (y) Marcus Heap (Stockport County historian)
- (z) Matt Smith
- (A) Ian Kennedy
- (B) Simon Monks
- (C) Keith Ellis
- (D) Old Football Shirts
- (E) Des Hinks
- (F) Emma Hadley
- (G) Athletic News (23 October 1893) submitted by Kingsley (Wrexham AFC)
- (H) Nik Yeomans
- (I) @OldPoshShirts
- (J) Birmingham Daily Gazette (23 October 1906) submitted by Richard Essen
- (K) seniortigers.org.uk
- (L) Santiago Vara
- (M) Alderley & Wilmslow Advertiser (5 November 1886) submitted by Des Hinks
- (N) John Taylor
Crests are the property of Stockport County FC. Newspaper cuttings retrieved from the British Newspaper Archives.