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I've recently got in touch with former County captain, Michael Raynes and asked him a few questions, many thanks to Michael for taking the time to answer them for me.
First of all, being a local lad and coming through the youth academy, is it painful to see the club you captained in League One struggling at the wrong end of the Conference table?
Yeah, it's awful to see the club in the situation it is in now, I still have lots of friends there and it's painful to see, County are the first result I check after my game, but fingers crossed they can survive this year and start rebuilding for next term and push to get back into the Football League, where they belong.
As is well documented, Jim Gannon has left the club recently, he was touted as being the saviour of the club and our ticket back into the Football League, he was the manager who gave you regular first team action for the first time in your career, do you think there is a man who can come in and have as big of an effect at the club as he could?*
What Jim achieved the 1st time around was unbelievable and from speaking to him, he had a long term plan the 2nd time around to build another successful squad but, obviously, he wasn't given the time to achieve that, these things happen in football.
What was it like being named captain of the club you were raised at?
It was a massive honour to be named captain of my local side, I was at Stockport since I was 12, so to captain the club in League One, I couldn't have asked for anything better.
Going off County for a minute, last we heard you were at Oxford United, how are things going there? They are a pretty big club for League Two, is there a lot of expectation from the fans for a promotion push from the team and how far do you feel the club can go?
Oxford is a great club to play for, massive fanbase for League Two, we really expected to go up this year but things haven't gone according to plan, we are still hoping for a late play-off push though.
Looking at where some of your old County team mates are now, for example, John Ruddy and Anthony Pilkington at Norwich, Ash Williams at Swansea, Tommy Rowe at Peterborough United, does it make you wonder how far County could have gone, had financial problems not caught up with us in 2009?
Me and Jimmy McNulty talk about that everytime we see each other, that squad was a very special one, I think 70% went on to play at a higher level, with the boys in the Premiership now, it's scary to think what we could have achieved if it was given time to stay together.
Your last season at County was of course the 2009-10 season when County were always going to struggle with all of the money problems off the pitch and not knowing if we would still be a club the next day, however in spite of this, your former manager, Gary Ablett, seemed to remain dignified and defiant through it all and never seemed to give up hope and never stopped believing in the squad, I'm sure all fans would be interested in what he was like as a manager, did you learn talking from him talking about his time at Liverpool and Everton?
Gary was one of the most down to Earth men I have met in football, considering what he had achieved in the game, he talked to us boys like we were on his level and made everyone feel special. He must have gotten frustrated because he seemed to come to Stockport at the worst time but he never showed it, I think if he would've got the right backing and the club didn't go into the state it was in, he would have become a great manager, he changed my life not just on the pitch, but off it, for the better.
In your 5 seasons with the club, could you say who would make your best XI players you played with at County?
My starting 11 would be;
Ruddy (John Ruddy)
Jimmy Mac (Jim McNulty)
Tunni (James Tunnicliffe)
Mulls (Johnny Mullins)
Rowe (Tommy Rowe)
Pilks (Anthony Pilkington)
Dicko (Liam Dickinson)
Bakes (Carl Baker)
When we had our success from 2007-2009, a lot of the team was built around youth, Alan Lord would of course scout the lower leagues and colleges for young players discarded by 'bigger' clubs and Gannon would regularly look to the youth side to add depth to his squad, however this Summer the Youth Academy was closed as a cost cutting measure, how much of a priority do you think it is for County to re-open the academy, if and when the funds become available?
I think if you look at some of the players that come through County's youth system it's frightening that it has been closed, I think it's a priority to get it opened back up and get more local talent and opportunity.
Finally, the 2007-08 season was the best for the club since the 90's/early 00's, however you were very unlucky to miss the play-off final through injury but the following season, you had arguably your best season, scoring several goals, of all of them, which was your favourite?
My favourite goal was against Oldham at home, I think we won 3-1 and I got the third.
*When the question was asked, Kalezic was still the manager.
Many thanks to Michael for taking the time to answer my questions, I'm sure you all join me in wishing him the very best for the future, a true County man, worthy of the armband, you can follow Michael on Twitter; @MichaelBRaynes