Club Historian Phil Yelland dips into the archives to explore the previous meetings between Barrow and Stockport County at Holker Street over the years.
Saturday will be the ninety fourth meeting between the clubs over various competitions down the years. County were our first ever opponents when we joined the Football League in 1921 – we had been elected to Division Three North having won the Lancashire Combination Division One whilst County had just been relegated from Division Two – what is now the Championship. A brass band played, a crowd of 9,708 turned up to see County take the spoils with a 2-0 win. We lost the return game 2-0 and also lost 1-0 at Edgeley Park that season in the Lancashire Senior Cup First Round.
We recorded our first win over County the following season – 3-2 at Holker Street in the FA Cup Fifth Qualifying Round with the goals coming from Alf Webb with two and Billy Kellock; we went out in the next round of the competition to Bath City.
League success against County was much harder to find; they were relegated back to Division Three North in 1926 and we lost nine League games (home and away) and an FA Cup tie before we recorded a win at Holker Street – Frank Allen netted the only goal of the game for us back in March 1931.
Our biggest home win over County came in Division Four in March 1960.
At the end of the 1957-58 season whilst we had found ourselves in Division Four, County made Division Three but were relegated after one season at that level. Now we defeated them 5-1 with a hat trick from Bobby Murdoch, plus goals from Charlie Kerr and Jackie Robertson.
Murdoch was a Liverpudlian who joined Barrow in September 1959 and he scored eighteen times in forty three League and Cup games for the club before in the summer of 1960, perhaps as a result of that hat trick, he moved to County. He later managed South Liverpool in the Northern Premier League.
In the late 1960s, the clubs’ fortunes seemed to be inter-twined – in the 1966-67 season as we won promotion for the first time, finishing third in Division Four, County were champions; when we were relegated three seasons later, County were also relegated and that season – 1969-70 we defeated them here 4-1 as Don McEvoy saw the team reviving their fortunes following his return to the club in February 1970 – the scorers that day were a Jim Smith own goal, a Dave Storf penalty and two goals from Mick Hartland – when we lost our Football League place in 1972 there was talk that Storf was going to join County, but a holiday accident meant that the move never happened.
Stockport's biggest win here to date was a 4-1 success in October 1934 in Division Three North when Jimmy Shankly netted the Barrow consolation goal. They have also recorded two 4-2 wins here – in Division Three North in December 1928 when the Barrow goals came from Billy Hamilton and William Miller and then again in October 2013 in what was then Skrill North – that game was watched by just 684 fans and our scorers were Nick Rushton and Jamie Allen.
Our last meeting here with County in the National League should have been at the end of March 2020 – we were pushing for the title at the time whilst Stockport were pushing for a play-off spot. However, two weeks before the game was to be played football shut down due to the pandemic.