26 April 2004
Rumours that Graham Heathcote is set to place the accent on youth next season are supported by
this shot of the celebrations after the final whistle on Saturday.
More pictures lower down this page...
A highly successful STAR Presentation evening and Race Night was held on Saturday. It was attended by virtually all of the Alty first-team squad as well as many supporters- including some from Runcorn. The awards were:
STAR Player of the Season - Ian Craney; runners-up Peter Band
and Stuart Coburn.
Alty Fans' Forum Internet Player of the Season - Ian Craney.
Players' Player of the Season - Peter Band; runners up Gary
Talbot and Ian Craney.
Earlier, Stuart Coburn won the Young Supporters' Player of the Season award. Ian is seen, right receiving his award, with compere Brian Flynn.
Rod Thornley expertly conducted auctions for a signed Geoff Hurst shirt and for a signed England shirt from Euro 2004 which Rod will acquire in his role as England masseur. The Hurst shirt went for £280 and the England shirt for £450.
Special well-deserved awards were also made, firstly (by Grahame Rowley) to Chairman Geoff Goodwin, for all that he has done for the club and, secondly, to Alan Johnson, who has hung up his camera as Alty's photographer. Congratulations to both!
Don't forget the Youth Team presentations, which take place on 22 May. Tickets are available from the club, price £5. The youth team have done the double this season, winning the NWYA Premier Division and Premier Cup.
The STAR bucket collections have been a great success this season with £2070.28 raised by Gary Warrington and his team of collectors. In the last two years, they have raised more than £4,700. Very well done!
RAY'S GREAT WORK FOR ALTY
A well deserved award was made on Saturday to Ray Armstrong, who organizes the Altrincham ball-boys and ball-girls at Moss Lane, who must be the most professional such group in the UniBond League. Ray, who travels miles to get to Moss Lane for every game, is still looking for someone to take over from him for the midweek games at Moss Lane and would be delighted to
hear from anyone who is interested. Please contact via the club (928-1045) if you can help.
Ray has provided me with the following details of the ballboys' and girls' achievements for 2003-04:
Senior Ballboys of the Year
1st: Stuart Wilkinson - 39 games
2nd: Michael Rogerson - 38 games
Junior Ballboys of the Year
1st: Jamie Wilson - 34 games
2nd: Matthew Jamieson - 30 games
3rd: Sam Fletcher - 28 games
Ballgirls of the Year
1st: Samantha Lewis - 28 games
2nd: Hannah Fletcher - 21 games
Also at Saturday's game, Michael Rogerson received a watch as a prize for completing 100 games as a ballboy for Altrincham Football Club.
A very big 'well done', too, to all the other ballboys:
Jamie Bell [25 games as Junior], Sam Urhegyi, Alex Pugh, Adam Sheldon, Karl Sheldon, Stephen Pollitt, Ashley Woodhouse, Matthew Barber and Mark Marshall, plus the many others who have had a day with Altrincham.
Ray Armstrong, in blue shirt, is pictured below right, at yesterday's
awards ceremony. Behind him is another unsung hero of Moss Lane, kit man
Dave Mitten, who shares the role with Charles Heathcote.
Total Appearances of Ballboys and Ballgirls for Altrincham FC:
1. Matthew Summerfield 253
2. Stuart Wilkinson 183
3. Gareth Thomas 154
4. Michael Jamieson 153
5. Colin Broadhurst 138
6. James Dawson 135
7. Ryan Ashton 134
8. Thomas Hart 124
9. Michael Rogerson 114
10. Matthew Jamieson 112
10. Edward Wilkinson 112
12. Michael Bradshaw 99
13. Samantha Lewis 82
14. Andrew Clarkson 77
15. Michael Bailey 70
16. Mark McGrath 70
17. James Hart 68
18. Matthew Taylor 67
19. Ian Pastore 67
20. Peter Malon 58
21. Scott Bradshaw 50
22. Nicholas Taylor 49
23. Philip Ryan 48
24. James Nettleton 40
24. Daniel Burke 40
24. Callum Doherty 40
27. Matthew Eaton 34
27. Jamie Wilson 34
29. Wayne Sellstrome 32
30. Lee McGuinness 31
31. Adam Dennett 29
32. Damien Murray 28
32. Sam Fletcher 28
32. Sean Johnson 28
35. Jamie Bell 25
35. Andrew Jones 25
37. Sean Greygoose 23
38. Adele Stephenson 23
39. Hannah Fletcher 21
40. Samantha Malon 21
41. Barry Stephenson 20
41. John Bradley 20
Between 1973 and 2004 many, many other ballboys and ballgirls have made just under 20 appearances.
The final UniBond Premier Division attendance statistics are here, courtesy of Terry Rowley. This season's average gate was 584 at Moss Lane for league games, just 12 down on last season.
The Radcliffe website reports that
"Following the signing of Richard Battersby & Simon Kelly the club are delighted to announce the signing of a new contract by club captain Davy Luker". All three have signed two-year deals.
A correspondent on Ashton United's Forum reports that "During Ashton's tenure in the NPL, they have played 10 seasons in Div. 1 and 2 in the Premier. Out of 12 seasons, they have finished one place below the 'promotion' place 7 times including this year's 14th place".
Harrogate Town have already fixed pre-season friendlies against "a full strength Bradford City team" and "a Birmingham City XI".
Southport report that "Alex Mortimer and Earl Davies [have signed] full contracts", but "Danny Stone has been released from his contract and has left".
UniBond First Division Colwyn Bay's manager Jimmy Mullen has resigned "for personal reasons".
25 April 2004
Above, Graham Heathcote (in suit) salutes the crowd yesterday after securing a place in the new Conference North. Graham described this season as his toughest in more than 30 years of non-league football. After losing as many as nine first-team players through injury at one point this season, and with a very limited budget and no assistant manager, following Dalton Steele's departure, he and his backroom team fully deserve their success. The board (Geoff Goodwin, Andrew Shaw and Grahame Rowley) too is to be thanked for turning round the club's financial situation by refusing to allow it to live beyond its resources and by putting in a lot of hard work to generate income.
IAN - AND ALAN - WIN AWARDS
Ian Craney won the STAR supporters' Player of the Season award last night, whilst Peter Band won the Players' Player of the Season prize. More on this on Monday. A special award was also given to Alan Johnson by STAR's Brian Flynn (above). Alan, with Paul Dewey, established the first Altrincham FC website but is now retiring after running the Alty photo website for the last two seasons. Alan's pictures of the Runcorn game and the Player of the Year awards are on his website.
ALTY QUALIFY! ALTRINCHAM 1 RUNCORN FC HALTON 0
A 35-yard freekick from Barry Shuttleworth, in the first minute of the game, gave Alty their needed win against Runcorn. Keeper McMillan got a hand to the ball but failed to keep it out. Alty gave another good team performance to keep Runcorn out and created a number of chances themselves in the rest of the game. Alty finished 12th in the table and Ashton's loss meant that Runcorn also qualified for the new Conference feeder division so there were mass celebrations at the end of the game. The attendance of 874 was Alty's best for a home league game this season and the best today in the UniBond.
Match Report here.
ABOVE: The team celebrates at the end of the game.
RIGHT: Stuart Coburn, with his award, just after being named as Young Supporters' Player of the Year after today's game
Mark Quayle netted for Scarborough and both Mario Daniel and Graham Tench were subs for Leigh, who may yet be reprieved from relegation by continuing off-field problems for Margate. Matt McNeil scored for Hyde.
24 April 2004
Altrincham 1 Runcorn FC Halton 0
Ashton United 3 Harrogate T. 4
Blyth S. 1 Alfreton T. 0
Bradford PA 0 Lancaster C. 2
Gainsborough T. 3 Spennymoor U. 1
Marine 0 Worksop T. 2
Radcliffe B. 1 Burscough 2
Southport 3 Frickley A. 1
Stalybridge C. 2 Barrow 2
Wakefield & Emley 0 Vauxhall M. 1
Whitby T. 1 Droylsden 2
As things stand, with games still to be played outside the UniBond, the new Conference North is likely to include: ALTRINCHAM and the other top 13 clubs plus the winners of the play offs, plus Leigh and Northwich, plus Kettering (Ryman) and the following from Dr Martens- Stafford, Worcester, Nuneaton, Hinckley and Cambridge City.
ALL TO PLAY FOR
Today sees the most important game at Moss Lane in many a year as Altrincham set out to win against Runcorn FC Halton, in (hopefully) the last match of the season, to guarantee participation in next season's new feeder division. Alty can finish anywhere between 10th and 14th in the league, but only a top 13 place guarantees qualification for the new division. The fixtures and positions of the leading contenders are noted below. An Alty win means certain qualification, as does a failure to win by Ashton United, even if Alty lose. An Alty draw could, at best, mean a potential finish level on points with Gainsborough or, at worst, failure to qualify if Ashton win. Indeed, if Trinity lose by two goals or more and Alty draw, both teams would have identical points so goal difference would then come into play. Finishing 14th means playing up to three play-off knock-out games in the next nine days, of which the first would be at home to the UniBond First Division champions (Hyde Utd or Matlock Town) on Tuesday night.
Apart from the long-term injured (Adams, Thornley, Hardy), Alty have no new injury concerns today.
The current league table is here. Before kick-off, it shows-
10th STALYBRIDGE CELTIC - 63pts, max 66, gd+6 Celtic have qualified but could still be caught by Alty.
11th GAINSBOROUGH TRINITY - 61pts, max 64, gd+16
12th RUNCORN FC HALTON - 61pts, max 64, gd +5
13th ALTRINCHAM - 60pts, max 63, gd+14
14th ASHTON UNITED - 59pts, max 62, gd-19
ALTY YOUTH WIN TITLE
Manager George Heslop's report on the game which clinched the league title for his Altrincham FC Youth team is to be found on the Youth section of this site.
This Sunday's youth team game has been postponed due to unavailability of the pitch at Wythenshawe Town.
If Harrogate can stop Ashton winning today, Alty will be promoted. Harrogate Town report that boss John Reed "feels his side have a 'score to settle'" against Ashton. "There is no sentiment in football and we want to do the double over them and exact some revenge".
Marine "have received a massive boost with news that defender Neil Murphy and striker Dean Thurston have both signed contracts which secures them to Rossett Park until May 2005.
Murphy, 23, a full time coach at Liverpool Academy joined the Mariners from Altrincham last season". Manager Roly Howard told his club's website, "Neil is a versatile defender who has done extremely well since returning to the first team after injury. He is now fully fit and has been a big help in improving our results with only one defeat in the last 10 games".
Worksop Today reports that "Former Tigers' chairman Neil Hood was 'justifiably' sacked by millionaire owner of Worksop Town FC, Howard Raymond... The decision was made unanimously by a three-man industrial tribunal... Mr Hood, 54, resigned as chairman of the Sandy Lane club last July after being confronted by directors about £46,000 of missing cash...The panel heard evidence from both sides and took 30 minutes to conclude that Mr Hood...was fairly dismissed... Mr Hood insisted he was merely Mr Raymond's 'puppet' and all decisions were ultimately the property tycoon's responsibility". Tribunal Chairman "Mr Trayler said the tribunal felt responsibility for the banking systems and cash management were ultimately Mr Hood's".
Worksop Today also has a match report on Alty's win over Worksop on Tuesday. It says the Tigers' boss Steve Ludlam "was made to suffer as his side were defeated in the second half, despite the opposition being reduced to 10. It was Worksop's fourth defeat in their last five matches".
23 April 2004
ALTY YOUTH DO 'DOUBLE'
A 4-1 win at Euxton Villa (Chorley) by Alty Youth last night enabled them to secure the NWYA Premier Division title to go alongside the Premier Cup which they had already won. The goals came from Stuart Cook (2), Andy Thorpe and Paul Lewis. Congratulations to manager George Heslop, coach Neil Thomason and all the squad. Report to follow.
There will be a youth team awards presentation night on Saturday 22 May at Moss Lane. More details to follow.
THE BIG MATCH
In today's NL Paper Graham Heathcote (right) says of tomorrow's big game with Runcorn, "Both sides have played a lot of football in the last few weeks and it is possible that fatigue could play a part in who wins on the day. I've said to the players that there is pressure everywhere in football, be it for us going for this promotion or Chelsea striving to reach the final of the Champions' League". Graham also said that "We are at home, which is obviously pleasing... but then Runcorn have put themselves in this position on the back of their excellent away form". Runcorn boss Chris Lightfoot said of Alty, "They came to our place and gave us a bit of a hammering so we know what they are capable of. They get the ball down and try to play decent football. On the other hand, we went to their place and probably put in one of our best performances of the season in the FA Trophy, even though we ended up losing 2-1". He believes the Linnets have had a good season "considering we have lost three or four decent players". Their only injury worry is "defender Peter Ellis, who is ruled out with an ankle injury".
RUNCORN SET TARGET
Runcorn FC Halton beat Wakefield & Emley 5-3 last night after twice trailing to the visitors, who were undone by uncertain goalkeeping. With the score 2-2 at the break, Runcorn scored three in ten minutes (52-62 mins) but it was Emley who finished the stronger. The game was watched by Alty's Graham Heathcote, Ian Craney, Mark Maddox and Gary Scott as well as a significant contingent of Robins' supporters. Whilst the win extended Runcorn's recent run of games without defeat, the fact that the bottom team scored three against them must give Altrincham some confidence for Saturday's game at home to the Linnets. Alty must win this game to be certain of qualification; anything less leaves them awaiting the results from Ashton and Gainsborough on Saturday, with the latter only falling behind Alty if they lose heavily to Spennymoor.
Alty fan and photographer Andrew Boyers has kindly sent in two more pictures from the Worksop game on Tuesday. Top is Peter Band taking a tumble, whilst below is Ian Craney striking the winning goal.
Tuesday's STAR bucket collection raised £71.73 for the club. Many thanks to all collectors and contributors.
Terry Rowley's updated League attendance figures are here.
22 April 2004
MAN OF THE MATCH
Ian Craney was Man of the Match against Worksop on Tuesday. For most of the game he was surrounded by two or more opponents whenever he got the ball and Andrew Boyers's excellent picture, above, captures just such a scene.
VICS' BOSS GOES
The BBC reports that "Relegated Northwich Victoria have parted company with their third manager of the season following Shaun Teale's decision to leave Wincham Park. Teale departed after being told he was unlikely to be given the job for next season... 'I accepted that and I have left with no hard feelings', Teale added, 'but it's disappointing that with a new stadium next season and really a new club, I did not get the chance to build a side of my own, because I could have done that'".
GRAHAM ON QUALIFYING
In SAM, Graham Heathcote says of our game with Runcorn, "It's a matter of settling everyone down and re-grouping for Saturday's game which is basically a cup final. That's the way we need to look at it. If we end up in the play-offs we will have to put together a winning sequence of maybe five out of seven games or we can put a sequence of one win together and qualify automatically - it's in our hands... If people see on Saturday the same effort they put in [in] the second half tonight [v Worksop], I don't think anyone can complain".
By 5 wins out of 7, Graham means that we would have to win all 3 play-off matches as well as having won 2 of the last 4 league games of the season.
On Saturday 24 April, Altrincham must beat Runcorn FC Halton to be certain of gaining entry to the new Conference feeder division. Howard Watts's Through the Years statistics reveal that exactly 22 years ago to the day, Altrincham met Runcorn and won 1-0 in the Cheshire Senior Cup Final. Above is the 1981-82 Alty team featuring a certain Graham Heathcote, back row, far right.
As Alty won on Tuesday, so too did our rivals Runcorn FC Halton against Harrogate. The Harrogate Town website says "The final scoreline was, perhaps, a little of an unfair reflection on the territorial and ball possession share overall. However, the essential difference between the sides came down to some inept defending by Town and failure to capitalise on chances created at the other end, thanks in part to an
excellent performance from Runcorn keeper Tony McMillan" who saved a
penalty and was the busier of the two keepers.
Right: Matt Bailey
Bradford PA 0 Gainsborough T. 0
Runcorn FC Halton 5 Wakefield & Emley 3
The Nationwide site confirms that
"Barrow's failure to beat Alfreton Town means that Farnborough Town will not be relegated" from the Conference.
Stalybridge could still be caught by Alty but their final game against Barrow has become easier since the Cumbrians lost the chance of gaining promotion. Also, the Barrow site says that "Andy Hill and Steve Ridley have both received one match bans for their recent sendings-off and both will miss Saturday's now-academic
trip to Stalybridge. Mark Salmon [has] suffered a soft tissue injury to the foot and is likely to miss out while Steve Gaughan was only able to play last night thanks to a pain-killing heel injection".
"Shrewsbury boss Jimmy Quinn has been talking to the Shropshire Star about former UniBond striker Jody Banim. "There has been interest from a club in Sweden that have been watching Jody since before he came here. They wanted to take him on loan for the whole of their season which runs from April to
October... If our season finished this Saturday and they just wanted him during our close season we might have considered it, if Jody fancied it because it would be good experience. But who knows Jody could be called upon to score us the winner in the play-off final - we've told him and he understands the situation". The Swedish club Bodens BK's assistant-manager Matt Larsson
said: "We have watched him from the time he was at Radcliffe Borough and we will continue to keep our eyes on him. We feel he can do well in the Superettan (League) and maybe even in our Premier League".
The Worksop site has a good match report on Tuesday's game at Moss Lane.
21 April 2004
Man Utd Reserves beat Newcastle Utd Res. 2-1 tonight at Moss Lane.
ALTRINCHAM 2 WORKSOP TOWN 1
Match report here.
Above: Ian Craney leaves the pitch with his champagne award, followed by Mark Maddox.
What can happen on Saturday:
If Alty beat Runcorn, Alty are in the Alliance (Conference North) next year. It remains in our own hands to win a place in the new set-up.
If Alty draw with Runcorn, we need Ashton to lose or draw on Saturday. (If Gainsborough lose tomorrow night, a draw could also see us ahead of them if they lose again on Saturday; if Runcorn fail to beat Wakefield on Thursday, we would also finish ahead of them).
If Alty lose to Runcorn, we have to rely on Ashton losing or drawing, or on Gainsborough losing on Saturday if they have not won or drawn this Wednesday.
At worst, we will finish 14th and qualify for the play offs for the new Division with a home game against the UniBond First Division champions on Tuesday 27th, followed by two more home games if we are successful.
If the team plays with the same spirit as shown last night, we have every chance of making it to the Conference North!
Alty won the Fair Play Award for March. Before then they had had just two players sent off all season. Since then, they have had three red cards (Maddox, Shuttleworth, Talbot) in four games! Gary Talbot has a curious record. He has played in 47 first-team games this season and been cautioned with a yellow card just once. But he now has two red cards to his name.
Worksop's website reports that "Former Worksop Town Chairman Mr Neil Hood today lost his claim for unfair dismissal against his employers Provincial and Metropolitan, namely Mr Howard Raymond, at an Industrial Tribunal held over two days in
Sheffield. The findings of the Tribunal stated that the ultimate responsibility for keeping financial records at the club were Mr Hood's. They went on to say that it could be either dishonesty or incompetence that monies are still missing and with a figure of £31,000 still unaccounted for, it is still a significant amount in the club's turnover of between £120,000 and £150,000 per annum".
20 April 2004
Tuesday's results (below) mean no one will now be promoted to the Conference from the UniBond. Altrincham 2 Worksop T. 1
Barrow 1 Alfreton T. 2
Hucknall T. 1 Stalybridge C. 3
Runcorn FC Halton 4 Harrogate T. 1
Mark Maddox and Gary Talbot have been major influences in preserving Alty's positive goal difference this season - and that could prove vital at the end of the season. Here they are seen at Whitby on Saturday.
The Whitby website has a match report of Altrincham's visit last Saturday. It refers to Alty fans, "some decked out in navy uniform" and praises the Robins for not timewasting when leading in the final minutes.
19 April 2004
Bradford PA 1 Marine 1
Droylsden 0 Lancaster C. 0
As with important matches earlier this season, STAR is once again collecting good luck messages from supporters to be relayed to the first team before the final two games of the league season. If you would like to send a message, it can be e-mailed to STAR here.
Alty striker Kieran Lugsden (see below) now joins the list of those out for the rest of the season and midfielder Ged Kielty is another injury concern after being hurt by a tackle at Whitby which led to Ian Craney's booking for complaining to the referee. Stephen Rose's injury led to his being rested at Whitby but hopefully he will be available tomorrow. Loan player Jamie Baguley, too, is injured and Altrincham await news on his fitness from his club, Stockport County.
Alty meet Worksop at Moss Lane on Tuesday. Steve Ludlam, the Worksop manager, reviews his club's season on their website. "The overall view from myself, is that we have been lacking in the goal-scoring department, an area that successful sides always excel in. The mid-field and defensive areas have produced some excellent performances, with goals coming from both. The number of occasions that we have been in control of games, creating plenty of chances without scoring, only to draw and throw away
two points is the main reason for our lack of progress into the top three places... I appreciate the supporters' frustrations, disappointments and expectations, I am a Sheffield Wednesday fan, but the level of verbal abuse, with vile, venomous adjectives are beyond belief, even the opposition managers are subject to it at times. From my point of view, you can shout and swear all day long, but do not criticise the players or the opposition in this disgusting way. The funny side of this is that one member of the supporters club has complained that some of the players have retaliated with the same verbal abuse. Well done those players!".
Former Alty captain, Steve Hawes, was substituted in the Tigers' last game after picking up an injury.
YOUTH TEAM MOVE NEARER TITLE
Altrincham Youth won 2-0 away to Lancaster City yesterday, with both goals coming from Andy Thorpe. Match report on the Youth Page.
"Outline planning permission has been granted for Leigh Sports Village, which will host Leigh RMI FC if it is completed", reports Confguide. Leigh RMI, relegated to the Alliance, figure in plans which "include a 10,000 capacity stadium for
shared use between RMI and Leigh Centurions". The aim is to start building "early next year".
The NW Counties League. announce that "Curzon Ashton FC will have use of the facilities of Tameside neighbours Stalybridge Celtic next season after officials of both club's came to an agreement at a meeting on Thursday... Curzon said goodbye to National
Park on Saturday".