Optimistic: Former Stockport County striker Brett Angell knows what its like to beat West Ham United in cup competition
Brett Angell knows just what it takes to upset West Ham United – and the Stockport County legend would love to see his former club roll back the years in tonight’s FA Cup third round tie.
County last played West Ham in a last-16 replay in the League Cup back in 1996. County were flying high in the old Division Two, while Harry Redknapp’s Hammers were in the Premier League.
But Dave Jones’ men weren’t fazed. On a wet and windy night at Edgeley Park, Angell scored the winner in a famous 2-1 victory in a match also remembered for a spectacular Iain Dowie header in his own net.
Stockport reached the semi-finals of that competition, pushing Bryan Robson’s Middlesbrough to the wire over two legs as part of an incredible season.
It ended with them getting promoted to the second tier for only the second time in the club’s history, where they would remain for five seasons.
“That game with West Ham was close to being postponed,” recalls Angell. “It didn’t need a lot of rain for our pitch to become a bog.
“We always felt good enough to compete with anyone. It was a great atmosphere at Edgeley and we didn’t lack for confidence.
“They went ahead before Iain gave us a helping hand. He got his bearings wrong but that allowed us back in the game and I got on the end of one to loop a header over their goalkeeper.
“It was special to reach the semi-finals, but we still managed to get promoted after playing 67 games that season.
“To maintain the level of performance and see the job through was a great effort. They are very fond memories, and I’m sure it’s the same for the fans.”
Those were very much the glory days. Less than 12 months after beating West Ham, Angell scored as Manchester City were beaten 3-1 at Edgeley Park in the league. Stockport finished that season in eighth, while neighbours City were relegated.
Fast forward to now, and the landscape is very different. This is the Hatters’ ninth season out of the Football League, while six of those were in National League North until promotion in May 2019.
Angell, who now lives in New Zealand, where he was manager of Hawke’s Bay United in the country’s top division, has been saddened by Stockport’s demise. But with former team-mate Jim Gannon in charge, he is hopeful they are back on the long road to former glories.
“Jim has very deep roots with the club from a coaching and playing perspective,” admits Angell, now 52.
“He knows the ins and outs of what makes Stockport the club it is. Maybe that got lost at some point.
“It was always a club that had a strong community spirit and hopefully Jim has been able to bring that back.
“But there seems to be optimism, whereas before it was just negativity. From the outside, it looks like they have begun to try and get back that success of old.
“Stockport are probably an example to clubs in the Football League of what can happen and to be careful. And it shows that it’s not easy to get back.”
In his journeyed career, Angell also had a short loan spell at Preston, winning the Division Two title under current West Ham boss David Moyes in 2000 and he admits his old manager still has the same traits two decades later.
“He was very intense and he still is now,” reveals Angell. “He knew how he wanted his teams to play and I can see his stamp on this West Ham side.
“He won’t take this tie lightly and will not want to be on the end of an upset. Knowing David, he would see the FA Cup as a realistic trophy for West Ham.”