14 July 2003
The gate prices for pre-season friendlies at Moss Lane will be £5 (£2 for concessionaries). If you purchase a 2003-04 season ticket, however, entry is free.
Whilst most of the national press have a report on yesterday's celebrity wedding between Alty winger Dave Gardner and former Hollyoaks actress Davinia Taylor, few if any mention his playing for The Robins, preferring instead to describe Dave as a "sports agent".
Ex-Alty forward Carl Furlong (right) is reported to be leaving Colwyn Bay to take up a playing contract in Brunei!
Hyde United, whom we meet in the UniBond Cup, have "secured two new sponsors for the coming season. The home kit is to be sponsored by C & C Insurance Brokers of Romiley... The away kit is to be sponsored by Haden Freeman of Hyde,... consultant and design engineers to pharmaceutical and chemical companies... Hyde Director, Tony Beard, says 'It is good to have two new sponsors on board. We have ambitious plans for this season in the hope we will be accepted into the second tier of the Conference next year'". "On the playing side", the Hyde website also reports that "former Manchester United star, John OíKane has signed for the club. Most recently he has been with Blackpool".
In yesterday's friendlies Radcliffe Borough lost 2-3 at home to Accrington.
Blyth Spartans have signed Steve Widdrington from Frickley Athletic.
13 July 2003
DAVE'S BIG DAY
The NLP (and other papers) have stories about today's wedding between Alty winger, Dave Gardner (right), and ex-Hollyoaks actress, Davinia Taylor at Chelford. David Beckham is joint Best Man with Phil Neville, whilst the Beckham sons are the pages. Dave, now 27, played with Neville and Beckham in United's youth team. Dave's "other job" is as partner in the Elite Sports Agency with Jason Ferguson, son of Sir Alec. OK Magazine has exclusive rights to the wedding but the NLP, which pictures Gardner in action for Alty, says that the wedding guests will include "Gardner's UniBond team-mates. Alty top-scorer Rod Thornley will be among them".
Don't forget the last day of the series of Working Weekends at Moss Lane, which starts at 10.30am today. Volunteers are needed to help to smarten up the ground for the new season.
St Helens Town, whom we meet on 26 July in a pre-season game, are believed to be subject to severe financial cuts as the new season approaches. It is thought that the income gained by the sale of their Hoghton Road ground, has become liable to 40% capital gains tax as it has not yet been used on a new stadium. The club neverthless will continue to honour its fixtures, at Knowsley Road, though the position of St Helens's boss, John Davison, the former Alty player and Burscough manager, remains uncertain.
Alty kick off the 2003-04 pre-season with an away game at NW Counties side, Woodley Sports, whom we last met in the Cheshire Senior Cup on 14 November 2001, when Alty ran out 8-1 winners in a game which they were lucky to lead at half-time. The match was marked by 4 goals from Lee Poland and, more curiously, two goals from ex-Chester striker Steve Finney. Steve had not played for Alty since the previous season before unexectedly returning for this game but, even more oddly, was never seen again! For a match report, click here. Woodley Sports, located in the suburbs of Stockport, have an excellent website, which carries detailed instructions and maps to help you find their ground at Lambeth Grove.
All Alty's pre-season games are listed here.
According to the website of Skelmersdale United, "Jordan Burke (seen, right) who signed from Altrincham towards the end of last season is back in training. The highly talented midfielder made his debut for Skem against Warrington Town at Whitemoss Park on March 8th but unfortunately injured his foot 20 minutes into the game and didnít feature for the remaining 10 games. He is well liked in footballing circles, and could be an excellent addition to the squad".
A number of our league rivals have started their pre-season games already. However, Frickley's away match with Armthorpe Welfare had to be abandoned after 70 minutes due to a serious knee injury to Frickley's Joe Garnham. Radcliffe Borough crashed 0-9 at home to Rochdale "after a dismal defensive performance allowed such an embarressing scoreline... Kevin Glendon will have struggled to take any plus points out of the game, although newcomer Chris Denham showed loads of energy up front without ever really troubling the Rochdale defence". Manager Kevin Glendon added, "I will not tolerate attitudes or performances like that, be it in a friendly or league match and especially when people are paying to watch". The Boro site also reports that "Simon Carden has signed for the Boro from Accrington Stanley". Barrow lost 1-3 at home to Morecambe whilst Harrogate, who included Paul Raynor, the former Hednesford Town manager, in their team, lost 3-0 to Hull City. 867 fans watched the game in which each side used a different eleven in each half.
Sky Bet quotes odds on the UniBond League Premier Division championship in which Southport (11/4) are the championship favourites, followed by Barrow, Stalybridge Celtic, Vauxhall Motors and Worksop Town. Altrincham are joint 11th favourites at 33/1, with Frickley and Radcliffe tipped to be the bottom two.
Manchester United Reserves will entertain Manchester City Reserves on 6 November in the league encounter between the two sides. Whether this will be played, like other United Reserves' matches, at Altrincham's ground remains to be confirmed as do the other league fixtures. In the
Manchester Senior Cup, teams will now meet just once this season, rather than home and away. The Manchester Derby in the MSC will be away, at Hyde United's ground.
12 July 2003
This is Lincs says that "Boston United utility man Paul Ellender (right) was set to sign a one-year contract after thrashing out a deal with manager Neil Thompson. Ellender had stalled for an improved contract after being offered a new deal at the start of the summer".
According to Harrogate Today, "The Wetherby Roaders confirmed at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon that they have joined forces with bathroom manufacturer Jacuzzi UK for an undisclosed figure for a period of two years with the option of another year... The club also unveiled their home kit of yellow and black stripes and the new away colours of claret and blue. Chairman Bill Fotherby said: "This is one of the largest sponsorship deals in the UniBond League and further proof of how the club is progressing. To attract a company the size of Jacuzzi UK is fantastic and signifies our ambition as a club to succeed both on and off the field". The site adds that "Three more players have been training with Town this week with a view to joining the squad. They are midfielder Neil Glasser from Burton Albion, ex-Ipswich Town midfielder Robert Dickinson and former Hednesford Town manager Paul Raynor".
Worksop Town's official site reports that "Steve Ludlam [the manager] was delighted with the progress that had been made, not only at the training sessions but also the quick gelling of the players which will give the team a brilliant team spirit... Valuable defender Ryan Ludlam has unfortunately picked up a ham-string injury during the summer and... he will be out for possibly 3-4 weeks. Goalkeeper, Dave McCarthy, travels to the USA this week-end for his annual coaching of American players and will be away for three weeks, returning on 3 August. This will give an opportunity for new signing Ian Bowling to state his presence in the Tigersí goal". Former Northwich man Andy Brownrigg and Ben Walker are two trialists currently with Worksop.
The NW Evening Mail confirms that Barrow is another club with a number of trialists who will figure in pre-season: "The AFC chief said last night: 'There will be three or four trialists appearing... I would expect Ian Stevens to play, Scott Brough is back training with us at the moment as is James Cotterill (ex-Scunthorpe defender) and there is the possibility of another couple of players turning up on Saturday'".
The Southport Visiter confirms that "Former Port hero Shaun Teale is poised to make a sensational return to Haig Avenue. Teale, who pulled off an outstanding victory in the FA Trophy final as player-manager of Burscough last season, is due to report for training next week". Manager Mike Walsh told The Visiter: "Shaun discussed the possibility of joining our training and we will see where that goes. Shaun will be with us purely as a player and we will discuss terms".
This is Lincs says that "Gainsborough Trinity have refused to reveal which trialists will be included for their pre-season trip to Goole Town tomorrow (3pm). Officials at the Blues are keeping their identity a secret to avoid alerting rival clubs over their transfer targets". But manager "Mitchell will not get the chance to run the rule over the trialists himself as he is currently on holiday with assistant Peter Rinckavage in Turkey. He has handed team affairs to former Lincoln United coach Paul Tittcomb... One player who won't be involved will be new striker Carl Alford. The former Yeovil man, who penned a two year deal last Friday, has been overcome with a bout of dysentery and hasn't trained all week".
Lancaster City, according to Lancaster Today "have moved all but one of their pre-season games away from Giant Axe after being told to keep off the grass. Intensive work on the pitch by the club's newly appointed groundsman means that planned warm-up games against Clitheroe and Welsh side Cefan Druids have been changed to away fixtures... New groundsman Carl Horrax has been hired to work on the pitch for 20 hours a week and has devised a major programme of works to rejuvenate the surface. Mr Horrax works for sportsturf specialists European Turf, who have undertaken work at Manchester United's Old Trafford".
IC Liverpool states that "Marine last night signed veteran Southport striker Steve Whitehall. The 36-year-old had been released by the Sandgrounders... 'Steve will bring goals to the team, and he will also be able to greatly help the less experienced players in the squad'", said manager Roly Howard. "Also joining Marine was 20-year-old striker Ian Johnson, a team-mate of Whitehall's at Southport last season".
11 July 2003
FOLLOWING IN FATHER'S FOOTSTEPS
SAM reports on Alty's signing of Steve Aspinall. Graham Heathcote is quoted as saying, "Steve is one of the few players we did target and we're delighted to add him to our squad. He's a thinking footballer with a good brain who both wins and keeps the ball well. He'll be a great addition to our squad". SAM adds that "Aspinall, son of former Tranmere Rovers and Altrincham central defender John Aspinall, was a free agent after completing two years of regular appearances in Vauxhall's midfield...He spent some time at Winsford United when Alty assistant manager Dalton Steele was boss there". Graham adds that "This gives us is a bit more strength in depth, freeing up Stephen Rose for more positions in defence and midfield". The Alty manager added, "I still think there will be a few players looking for clubs later this month".
The tidying up of Moss Lane, preparatory to the new season, was given a huge boost by 25 cadets from 145 Squadron Air Cadets of Altrincham and Hale. "The cadets, who are working towards their Duke of Edinburgh Award, helped out with painting and general tidying up duties", reports SAM. Pictures of the cadets can be found on Alan Johnson's Alty Photo Site (link above). The Club is most grateful for this help.
Help is still required to complete the preparatory work at Moss Lane this weekend, so if you can spare some time on either Saturday or Sunday (from 1030am), please come along to Moss Lane.
It is believed that the details of how clubs will qualify for the new Conference feeder divisions will be released by 20 August.
The draw for the First Round of the Cheshire Senior Cup is on 21 July.
QUAYLE MOVING AGAIN?
Former Alty striker Mark Quayle, currently at Nuneaton, is reportedly in talks with Scarborough.
As well as signing Chris Denham from under the noses of several UniBond clubs including Altrincham, Radcliffe Borough have also signed Karl Margison From Salford City. "Marine were confident that Denham would be playing for them until a last ditch effort from Boro manager Glendon persuaded Denham to sign".
Relegated Hyde have re-signed former Alty reserve striker Lee Evans. Manager Steve Waywell is confident for the new season, saying, "The club wants to get back where it belongs - itís a lovely set-up and the crowd is second to none".
Alfreton's website reports that winger Ryan France's expected move to Coventry City has fallen through. France "had come through a medical and been offered and agreed terms but after months of speculation and talks, an agreed package deal between the two clubs was watered down by the Nationwide First Division club and the Reds pulled the plug on the move...Chairman Wayne Bradley added: "The club declined the offer as Alfreton Townís valuation of the player is greater than that of Coventry Cityís". The club's Director of Football added: "Ryan is still our best prospect and it is wonderful to be able to keep him - even if it may only be for a short while. He has come straight back into training and is raring to go"- Town's first league game will be at home to Altrincham.
The BBC report that "Leigh RMI have named former Nottingham Forest midfielder Phil Starbuck as their new assistant-manager. Starbuck will work alongside ex-Sheffield United team-mate Mark Patterson at Hilton Park....The 34-year-old is also to register as a player with Leigh". Starbuck was sacked as manager of Hucknall Town last month.
The Spennymoor website reports that manager
"Alex Mathie has added to the recent signings of former Sunderland midfielder Carl Shippen and ex York City defender Gary Hobson with 2 more experienced players. They are ex Burnley forward Tony Shandran and Nick Richardson formerly of Harrogate Town. Players released are, Mark Foster who has rejoined neighbours Bishop Auckland... and Tony Woodhouse who has joined Blyth Spartans. Stephen Hutt and Stephen Bell will not be retained for next season".
The UniBond League confirms that Rudi Coleano has moved from Wakefield & Emley to Farsley Celtic.
UniBond champions Accrington Stanley have renamed their Crown Ground as The Interlink Express Stadium, their website confirms. The name is part of a "three year ground sponsorship deal worth five figures". Above, Barry Shuttleworth nets a penalty at Accrington last season.
The Tameside Advertiser says that Droylsden are to sign Ashton United's Gareth Morris. Manager Dave Pace said, "I want to improve on last season when we finished seventh and we will do our best. To be honest thereís a few teams spending a few bob and itís getting harder and harder. We needed two or three players - one will be Gareth".
IC Liverpool says that Burscough are "resigned to losing several of the FA Trophy winning squad. Midfielder Mark Byrne is poised to sign for Southport, and another midfielder Paul Burns has indicated that he will be available only in emergency due to increased work commitments. Central defender Joe Taylor is expected to sign for either Yeovil or Tamworth, while his goalkeeper brother Matty is heading for trials with Lincoln City and Stockport. But [manager Mike] Marsh has already targeted two replacements for the central defence, one Chris Whelan who played for Kingstonian last season and...the other is an experienced Football League centre-half... Burscough-born Iain Brunskill, formerly with Hyde United and Maghull and now on the staff at the Liverpool FC Academy, is also expected to be involved in pre-season training to assess whether he can be part of Marsh's plans as a player".
The same source says that ex-Burscough manager "Shaun Teale may sign for Southport" for whom "Both Steve Soley and Steve Whitehall took part in [training] after making quicker than expected recoveries from deep-seated injuries". Manager Mike Walsh said, "We are looking at a number of trialists and it will take a couple of weeks to assess them. Our first priority is working on the levels of fitness. Pre-season preparation is all about getting it right for the first league match".
The Lancaster Today website reports that "The current 'swap-shop' of players between Lancaster City and Southport continued this week with two more players taking the now well-trodden route. Paul Haddow and Chris Bennett have both gone to Haig Avenue to join up with ex-City boss Tony Hesketh, now assistant manager at Southport". City manager Phil Wilson "has reassured fans that central defensive pairing Farrell Kilbane and Paul Sparrow are staying". Meanwhile Tony Hesketh said, "I have a lot of respect for the players I had at Lancaster, I thought we had the makings of a championship-winning side and it is not surprising that I would like some of them to travel with me to Southport - nobody should be surprised at that".
Runcorn FC Halton are running a competition which costs £10 with the prize being a Harley-Davidson motorbike, worth £15,000. Gordon Taylor of the PFA launched the competition for the Linnets at the Bauer Millet shop, in Manchester and "announced that the PFA would buy £250-worth of tickets", according to This is Runcorn.
"Whitby Town FC finished the Unibond Premier season with a modest cash surplus thanks to players taking a 15% pay cut in January for the remainder of the season. Treasurer Andrew Spenceley told Friday's annual meeting at the clubhouse that the surplus was about £1,500 and the players would be back to the normal payments at the start of the new season. Taking into account the money raised for the new stand fund, the club had a £28,000 surplus for the year. Chairman Graham Manser, adding his tribute to the players' response to the pay cut, said: "They all stayed, and without the 15% cut we would have been looking at a loss. They stayed loyal and I am very grateful". Because the Conference ground standards are not yet known, Whitby "have decided to keep our options open and build a stand to seat 500", according to Whitby Today.
10 July 2003
Leigh RMI's site confirms that ex-Alty midfielder Ged Kielty, though under contract, will be allowed to leave the club "should an acceptable offer come in from another club".
Alty's first league game is at Alfreton Town, whose website says that Director of Football, Dave Rushbury has "assured the fans that the four signings made so far wonít be the last but there... will be no panic appointments... To do the job properly we need to leave a space open within the squad to recruit again after maybe six to ten weeks, as by then we would know where we stand at the higher level. Within the operating budget we are trying to do things as professionally as possible, but it would be unrealistic to start the pre-season with a full complement which doesnít leave room for improvement". He added that "The players wonít just be training two days a week, they will be implementing weekends as well".
The Stalybridge site reports that Chris Denham, who had talks with Altrincham and was reported to have signed for Runcorn, has actually joined promoted Radcliffe Borough instead.
Non-League Daily says that "Former Leeds United star Scott Sellars and midfielder Neil Glasser from Burton Albion are transfer targets for Harrogate Town. Sellars was due to sign for Harrogate this week, but after he broke his ankle at the Sheffield Masters event on Sunday the deal has been put on hold... Glasser is a 28-year-old tough-tackling midfielder. His previous clubs are Grantham Town, Ilkeston Town, Bromsgrove Rovers, Notts County and Nottingham Forest". However, Harrogate Town confirm that "Craig Elliott has left the club. He didn't turn up to training last Thursday and then he told us he had joined North Ferriby United. We were very disappointed after we helped nurse him through his injury. He hasn't shown us any loyalty, but that's football".
The same club website reports that Town have signed midfielder Danny Lowe from Northampton Town, their fifth signing in the last week. "It was also revealed that ex-England midfielder David Batty, who makes occasionally trips to Wetherby Road, could be set to join his former Blackburn Rovers team-mate Mark Atkins at Harrogate Town. Harrogate chairman Bill Fotherby, who was once his chairman at Leeds, said: 'I am hoping we can take David Batty from Leeds. David has told one of our directors he will finish his career at Harrogate Town... It might be twelve months or it might be two years' time. But there is always a place for him here'".
Ashton United have re-signed Dean Johnson, who has been in Australia, and also Andy Thackeray a right-sided defender/midfielder from Nuneaton Borough. Meanwhile Jason Dormer and Jamie Miller have signed new contracts.
NL Daily states that Hyde United have signed Phil Salt, a midfielder from Leigh RMI, and much-travelled former Alty midfielder Greg Challender (30) from Ashton United. Whitby Town have signed Scott Nicholson, an attacking midfielder from Tow Law Town.
Hucknall Town have signed striker Danny Bacon, who was on loan to the Nottinghamshire side from Mansfield Town last season for a "small fee". They have also signed former semi-pro international Gary Patterson (30) from Farnborough Town and goalkeeper Stuart Nelson (21) from Doncaster Rovers. The UniBond League also report that Nuneaton Borough left back, Dean Barrick and Halifax Town defender Alistair Asher have joined the club, whilst Steve Prindiville has left.
The Southport Visiter reports that Burscough's Mark Byrne has joined the Sandgrounders. Manager Mike Walsh said, "Mark is a pacey lad who can score goals, I've brought him in as winger but he can also play up front. I am pleased he wanted to join us at Haig Ave and I am looking to play with two wingers and would prefer a 4-4-2 formation". Earl Davis, who was at Stalybridge, is
training at Southport but is sidelined till November by injury. Goalkeeper Kevin Welsby has left the club but Nuneaton Borough's defender Jamie Squires is training at Southport, according to the Portfans website.
Mark Atkins (Shrewsbury T. to Harrogate T.)
Glen Naylor (Darlington to Harrogate T.)
James Riordan (Ashton United to Harrogate T.)
Liam Sutcliffe (Farsley Celtic to Harrogate T.)
Chris Gowens (Frickley A. to North Ferriby U.)
Chris Bennett (Lancaster City to Southport)
Paul Haddow (Lancaster City to Southport)
Danny Jarrett (Northwich Victoria to Southport)
Like Alty, Blyth have debts to pay off but their website reports that "We have come to an agreement with Customs and Excise to pay this off at a fixed amount per month during those months when we are playing football. This will amount to a payment of about £750 per month which would see the debt paid off in 2005... With regard to PAYE and National Insurance the previous accountants set up a scheme where the players were paid by dividends rather than wages. We were assured by the accountants that the scheme was legal. We had visits from the tax inspectors in January and February this year. They are perfectly happy with the way the club is being run now. However, they are taking a closer look at the previous years and are attempting to discuss this with the accountants. We have taken advice and believe that we have a case against the accountants if the Inland Revenue decide that we have underpaid".
The club has signed Michael Laws, a centre back from Whitby and Anthony Woodhouse, a striker from Spennymoor. Manager Paul Baker also says, "I am going to sign [goalkeeper] Adam Saddler who is on the coaching staff at Newcastle". Spartans' other keepers, Andy Grainger and Phil Naisbett are respctively on trial at Halifax and Swindon. Another Blyth player on trial is striker Scott Emerson, at Carlisle".
IC Huddersfield reports that Wakefield and Emley have appointed defender Paul David as assistant manager to Ian Banks. Former Emley goalkeeper Ray Dennis will also help with first-team coaching.