18 to 25 June, 2003
Vauxhall Motors' manager Alvin McDonald has told IC Cheshire that "For the past five seasons, Vauxhall has had a tremendous run of success. We have moved from the West Cheshire up to the UniBond Premier and had a tremendous FA Cup run, but we still can't get the crowds through the door. It would be difficult to compete at the next level financially and that is a major stumbling block for us," he said. "We would need 400 people to come along and we are still way below that, with our average home gate around the 240 average this past season." McDonald added that "although Vauxhall [the car firm] help the club, they do not have a similar relationship as the likes of Juventus have with Fiat. They give us tremendous help, but they do not pay for everything from a bottomless pit of money," he said.
Gateshead, who hope to bounce back up to the Premier Division, have received "a boost with the news that utility man Paul Thompson and full-back David Morgan - both targets for Durham City - have decided to stay at the International Stadium", according to IC Newcastle.
As Altrincham prepare for 2003/04, above is a picture of the squad as it warmed-up before the first pre-season game of last season, on 17 July against Tranmere Rovers. Those seen above are: Mike Turner, Peter Mellor, Derek Ward, Rod Thornley, Chris Adams, Gary Scott, Neil Ryan, Danny Frost, Ian Craney, Stephen Rose, Gary Talbot, Mark Maddox, Andy McDonald and Danny Murphy. Italicised names indicate players no longer at Moss Lane. Other unpictured participants in that game, who are not now playing for Alty, include Eric Nixon, who kept goal for the Robins, Ryan Hevicon and Stuart Locke.
As previously reported Whitby Town's Turnbull Ground has been passed for UniBond Premier action next season after upgrading work to the stand and turnstiles. However, "these are only temporary measures until the new stand in built. The Stand appeal total is getting nearer to the target and we are 60% of the way there".
Leigh RMI report that striker and former Leigh player Marcus Hallows has re-signed after a spell at Stalybridge whilst ex-Alty players Stuart Coburn and Ged Kielty remain as contracted players for the Railwaymen for 2003/04.
Our neighbours Trafford FC have won the final of the Manchester section of the FA's nationwide competition for five-a-side teams with a squad which comprised several ex-Alty youth players, including Dale Newbrook, Richard Smith, Ben Ashmole and Ian Taylor. Trafford won the final 6-1 against Maine Road and now enter the regional finals.
For details of events to mark the centenary, see the STAR supporters' trust website and click the link above for information about the Centenary Dinner.
Gainsborough Trinity chairman John Reames has spoken to This is Lincs about the FA's cut of Cup prize money. "When you hear the FA lost £5m on computer systems, we are the ones who are made to pay for it. We are easy targets because they know we need the FA Cup", he said.
However, This is Nottingham reports the other side of the coin: "Last year, Hucknall Town reached the fourth qualifying round and earned £20,000 but, should they reach the same stage this season, they will receive £10,000. However, Burscough, who won the FA Trophy and received £12,000, will get £50,000 if they make a successful defence".
Harrogate Today states that "Town chairman Bill Fotherby has confirmed that progress is being made regarding a site for the club's ground and academy. Fotherby has received a number of offers of land from local farmers". Harrogate's pre-season friendlies include visits by teams from Hull City, Manchester City, Nottingham Forest and Leeds United.
"Following a change of heart goalkeeper Craig Dootson has elected not to sign for Accrington Stanley and he will instead be staying at Bower Fold", says the Stalybridge site, which also reports that "Chris Denham has been placed on the transfer list at his own request... after being unable to secure a guarantee of a starting place in next season's line-up. Last season he made 51 appearances (the vast majority from the sub's bench) and scored 12 goals". The Tameside Advertiser quotes striker Andy Payton talking about his move to Celtic: "Itís what Iím looking for and hopefully my experience will rub off on a few of the lads at the club. They want to get promotion, they finished last season off very well and I think they have got a good chance". Manager Dave Miller added, "Heís moved to Middlesbrough for £750,000, to Celtic for £800,000 and wherever heís gone heís scored goals - 80 goals in 132 games for Burnley as well. Accrington Stanley had been sniffing around but he expressed to me he had no wish to go there".
IC Liverpool says that Burscough manager Shaun Teale "claims he is being stabbed in the back by people within the club. He has attacked rumour mongers who have falsely linked him with other managerial positions and says the 'mole' within Victoria Park needs to be sorted out immediately". Teale said that he "has had only one phone call from any of the Burscough officials since lifting the Trophy, still has no idea of his budget for the 2003-04 season and is therefore unable to speak to new players he has lined up". A club statement issued following a meeting at Victoria Park with Teale on Tuesday said: "We remain very disappointed that Shaun chose to publicly make such derogatory remarks about club officials only days before a scheduled meeting to discuss plans for next season. However, following a very frank exchange of views, all the issues have now been satisfactorily resolved and Shaun will be continuing as manager of Burscough FC next season". Burscough's central defender Joe Taylor is going on a pre-season European tour with Yeovil after impressing the new League side when Burscough knocked them out of the Trophy.
Hucknall Today says that "Fuming manager Phil Starbuck flew out to Florida for a family holiday this week, insisting that Hucknall Town had not seen the last of him. Stunned by his sacking, Starbuck has lodged an appeal to be heard by the club's full committee. The hearing is unlikely to take place until early August but the former Nottingham Forest man is determined to pursue it... "I deserve better treatment after everything I have done for the club", he asserted... Town have offered him a financial settlement, in respect of the remaining season on his contract, but he has rejected it and if he opts to take his case to an employment tribunal, there are fears that the wrangle could drag on into the new Unibond season, which begins on August 16. For that reason, new boss Steve Burr has been initially named Director of Football, rather than Manager, with Peter Wragg as Assistant Director... Wragg is currently employed at Manchester United by Premiership Promotions".
IC Cheshire says that Vauxhall FC's "prestigious pre-season friendly against neighbours Chester City has been switched from Rivacre Park to the Deva Stadium in an attempt to attract a larger crowd".
The Runcorn Weekly News reports that The Linnets have signed amateur striker Steve Daly, who had been on trial at Wigan Athletic, and manager Liam Watson is competing with Prescot Cables for "Accrington's winger Russell Payne, who has turned down a new two-year contract... because of work commitments... Watson revealed Daly had turned down Accrington, Stalybridge and Marine to put pen to paper". Runcorn's ex-Alty striker Matty McNeil is now "returning from injury".
There are now 10 pre-season games, which will give Graham Heathcote and Dalton Steele the opportunity to run their eye over last season's regulars as well as some of last season's youth team and any trialists who may emerge by then. Full list of games here.
The draw for the 1st Round of the UniBond Challenge Cup has been made and Alty are away to Hyde United.
Mon. 20 October
Tue. 21 October
Wed 22 October
All ties will be played to a result with extra time and penalties if required. The other 19 UniBond clubs will join the 13 winners of the above ties for the in Round 2, to be played in w/c 17 November.
This is Lincs states that "Gainsborough Trinity manager Paul Mitchell has condemned the money being offered by fellow UniBond Premier Division clubs to attract players as 'ridiculous'... Last week Mitchell found himself the victim... as his bid to sign defender Grant Brown was scuppered by big spending Premier Division newcomers Alfreton Town. 'In Grant's case, the wages he was offered by Alfreton would be nearly as much as what he or anybody would get at a league club... I've found a lot of players in the UniBond Premier who are looking for a move and who are good players, are being offered ridiculous money... I do think Conference Two has made a difference to how they are thinking for this coming season. It is important clubs do qualify especially in financial terms, because to be left out would be a disaster'".
But Alfreton chairman Wayne Bradley is unrepentant; "I have made the gambles that the player quality will go up, so then will the costs of that side of the clubís operation. I hope I am gambling with a good degree of confidence... Our fans can look forward to seeing some cracking football. We will be sticking with our attacking brand and the fans can once again make a difference". The club website goes on to say that season-ticket sales "are already up 39% compared with the corresponding period 12 months ago and that they have also sold 64% of last yearís final total already". Chairman Bradley added: "I am appealing for people throughout the area to come and have a look at the countyís highest ranking club. I am totally confident we can build on last yearís total and I am requesting an average of 500 per game for next seasonís home league games". Last seasonís average gate was 388 compared with the 2001/02 total of 277. The club's previous seasons in the Premier saw an average of 250 in 1996/7 and 203 the following year, when they were relegated.
This is Runcorn confirms that "Debbie Quaile, secretary of Runcorn FC Halton, has become the first woman to be elected to the Unibond League management committee".
IC Newcastle reports that Blyth Spartans are attempting to fill the gaps created by a player exodus to Whitley Bay and Durham City by approaching Gateshead's Gareth McAlindon. Relegated Gateshead's manager Derek Bell will be joined by his brother Alan next season; Alan will run the Reserves.
The balance of power is shifting in the North East with yet more players opting for Northern League clubs in preference to UniBond Premier teams. IC Newcastle reports that, after losing a posse of players to John Charlton's Whitley Bay, Blyth have now lost striker Glen Robson to Durham City, who also hope to sign Gateshead's utility player Paul Thompson and full-back David Morgan. However, "Robson, sent off five times last season, has landed a job in London so he is unlikely to be available on a regular basis". Durham also aim to sign former Spennymoor assistant player-manager Jason Ainsley as well as winger Steve Stewart from Blyth to join ex-Blyth defenders John Hutton and Justin Keegan and goalkeeper Paul Gilmore at City.
IC Cheshire quotes Vauxhall Motors boss Alvin Mcdonald on the recent speculation that he was to manage Northwich Victoria. "It's the first time I've been linked to another job since I been at Rivacre Park and I think the recognition that Vauxhalls have come such a long way in such a short time, is long overdue. "We haven't had the credit we deserve for what we have achieved, two successive promotions, UniBond Premier Division runners-up at the first time of asking, defeating QPR in the FA Cup last November. It's a remarkable achievement for this club and yes, it is nice that that has been recognised elsewhere". As for the Motormen, he said, "I've spoken to a number of players and invariably they say at this time of the year 'I'm interested' but never put pen to paper, as they want to keep their options open. Some players are still talking silly money, £200 or £300 per week, but with so many players been released by Football League clubs, there will be a domino effect... Hopefully, we'll pick up one or two along the way, but experience tells me not to panic," he added. "Just like last year, some clubs are throwing money at it, because with the Conference North likely to start in August next year, they want to make certain they are in the top 10. Worksop and Harrogate are just two clubs that fall into that category - it is going to be very competitive and probably the hardest yet in our time in the UniBond Premier".