1 May 2004
Alty Youth manager George Heslop emerged as front runner to replace Ron Atkinson as ITV's new soccer pundit when he correctly forecast the play-off finalists as Bradford PA v Burscough early this morning. Rather than travel to Bradford on Monday, why not watch George's double-winning Alty youth team play Marine on Monday (2pm) at Moss Lane instead? The team will receive the championship trophy at this game.
Today's play-off scores:
Ashton U. 1 Bradford PA 2
Radcliffe B. 0 Burscough 2
Right: Martindale turns away after scoring Burscough's second in the closing stages.
Burscough took the lead through Blakeman, after Radcliffe keeper Hurst had slipped. Following a triple substitution early in the second half, Borough pressed hard for an equaliser but the Linnets wrapped things up with a late goal from Martindale, after Eaton had got to the by-line, right of goal.
In today's other play-off semi-final, at Ashton, Bradford PA took the lead through Helliwell (19) before Garvey equalised for Ashton (51). Ryan Crossley headed BPA's winner after 75 minutes.
GET YOUR ATLAS OUT
The completion of the Dr Martens league fixtures today clarified who will play against Altrincham in Conference North a little - but no too much. As well as the 14 UniBond qualifiers for the new Division, and Leigh and Northwich who are relegated from the Conference, six other teams will enter Conference North. Five of these are now clear: Stafford Rangers, Kettering Town, Hinckley United, Nuneaton Borough and, today's qualifiers, Moor Green from Birmingham. The sixth place will go to either Redditch Utd or King's Lynn if either wins the Dr Martens play-offs. If neither succeeds, it will be either Cambridge City or Worcester City who take the final place. Cambridge is one minute of latitude north of Worcester so it should, in theory, be Cambridge rather than Worcester who join Conference North.
Alty's Steve Lunt (right) has enjoyed triple success this season. Steve made 26 league and cup appearances for the first team this season and helped them achieve Conference North status but has also hit more than 20 goals for Altrincham's double-winning youth team this season - so far. He will be involved in the Youth team's last two games, this Sunday away to Leigh RMI and on Monday at Moss Lane (2pm) against Marine, when the NWYA Premier championship trophy and medals will be awarded. Sadly, fellow youth and first-teamer Kieran Lugsden will not be involved this weekend after breaking his arm in the first-team game at Whitby in April.
Entry to Monday's game at Moss Lane is free. Tickets for the Youth Team presentation night on 22 May will be available for sale at both the games this weekend. After the weekend they will be available from the club or by contacting Jo Ryan.
ONE EXTREME TO THE OTHER
After being UniBond Fair Play winners in March, Alty finished bottom of the Fair Play chart in April! Over the whole season we finished 13th.
BEST FOR YEARS
Altrincham may only have finished 12th this season but, with the exception of our championship year in 1999, the number of league defeats was the lowest since 1991 when we almost won the Conference- and we only played 42 games then compared with 44 this season. Likewise the 51 goals conceded were the lowest since 1999. For details see the League History data.
The UniBond League Premier club of the month was Droylsden, whilst Harrogate Town won the goalscoring awards. Gainsborough won the Fair Play award for April and were also the season's winners. Bottom were Frickley and Barrow, both of whom were a significant margin worse than any other clubs.
IC Cheshire says that Hucknall boss "Steve Burr and [Hyde's] Steve Waywell have emerged as the front-runners for the managerial vacancy at Northwich Victoria... Burr watched the Vics-Telford match on Wednesday... Hucknall are cutting their budget next season, giving rise to rumours Burr is unsettled... Gary Simpson, assistant at Vics and Lincoln City to Keith Alexander, was also at Wincham Park a week ago, as was former Winsford United manager [and Alty assistant manager] Dalton Steele, a likely applicant but without any realistic hope". Vics' Chairman Dave Stone said of Teale, "He didn't bring in the forwards we needed and the team was nowhere near the standard required".
Jim Vince (junior) has resigned as manager of Abbey Hey, who entertain Alty in a pre-season friendly in July. The cash-strapped Gorton side finished second bottom in the NW Counties Div. One.
Brendan Burke, who played for Alty in 1999-2000, is playing in Kevin Parr's testimonial at Stalybridge on Monday.
30 April 2004
NEW OPPONENTS: No.1 HINCKLEY UNITED
Alty's move to Conference North means a loss of fixtures with 9 of this season's opposition. Most strikingly, there will be no trips to the north east next season as Blyth, Spennymoor, and Whitby have all failed to qualify and, indeed, trips over the Pennines could be limited to Harrogate, as Wakefield & Emley and Frickley have failed to qualify and Bradford's place depends on winning the play-offs.
On the other hand, we should have eight 'new' opponents next season, though some are old friends (Northwich, Leigh and Stafford Rangers for example). But Altrincham will meet a number of clubs
which they have never run up against previously. Over the next few weeks, some brief notes on
these new opponents will appear here. The first is: Hinckley United, who last week beat the champions, Crawley Town, 3-0 away , to go sixth in the Dr Martens Premier. Hinckley lies 95 miles from Altrincham, in Leicestershire.
Hinckley United were only formed in 1997 from a merger of Hinckley Athletic (founded 1889) and Hinckley Town (ex-Westfield Rovers). They won the Dr Martens Western Division in 2001 and, last season, finished 12th in the Premier Division. Team colours are red and blue stripes and they are known as The Knitters.
Hinckley United are currently building a brand new £4 million stadium complex at Leicester Road with 4,000 capacity. In fact, three full-sized and a number of smaller pitches will be created as well, together with a sports injury clinic and a gym. A social club will also be built. All this has been financed by selling their current home at Middlefield Lane and by winning a number of grants. The new ground will open for 2004-05 season.
Entrance prices for the 2003-2004 season were: adults £7, concessionaries £4 (+£1 for the stand, whose seats came from Filbert Street).
The manager is 42 year-old Dean Thomas, a former player with many clubs, including Wimbledon, Northampton and Notts County. The club has an attractive and very informative independent website.
One tenuous link: in October 2003, Hinckley won 2-0 at Wakefield & Emley in the FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round - and Wakefield did the double over Altrincham!
CONFERENCE NORTH NEWS
Confguide reports that "Relegated Northwich Victoria have
started their summer shake-up by releasing three players. Strikers Chris Ward and Peter Wright
and defender Lee Woodyatt are the first to leave Wincham Park". The same source also says that
"The Conference are reportedly considering allowing Margate to stay in the Conference for next
season", which is bad news for hopes of a reprieve for Leigh RMI from joining us in Conference
Alty's pre-season friendlies are now listed here.
The NW Evening Mail says that after re-signing Graham Anthony and Scott Maxfield, Barrow manager "Lee Turnbull... also revealed that captain Mark Salmon is expected to follow suit. Guy Heffernan and Mike Kewley are two others to agree terms for next season, though Simon Shaw is to be let go and Lee Warren asked to concentrate more on his assistant managerís role".
IC Sefton says that Southport manager Liam Watson "has set his squad a 90-goal target for the Nationwide Conference North. He said: 'That's what we will need to be going for promotion and I am looking for a proven striker to go
alongside Neil Robinson. We need a finished article not simply promise if we are to achieve. I know Kevin Leadbetter will contribute from the left and Carl Baker on the right... I have the players targeted to do that and they should be signed up in the next three weeks'". Alex Mortimer and Earl Davis have both signed two-year contracts for 'Port.
IC Cheshire reports that "Not even the widely-expected departure of skipper Dominic Morley to Southport could spoil the feelgood factor at Runcorn FC Halton this week. Out-of-contract Morley was reunited with ex-boss Liam Watson... but player-boss Chris Lightfoot revealed player-of-the-year, midfielder Matty McGinn and goalkeeper Tony McMillan are taking up options on their contracts. Meanwhile, central defender Peter Ellis and wing-backs Steve Carragher and David Ness are to sign new deals". Manager Chris
Lightfoot said: "I have really enjoyed it. It's been hard work but we've got where we wanted to be. A lot of people didn't expect us to be there but we have proved them wrong... I have made a couple of phone calls already and have a couple of players lined up'. Lightfoot has, meanwhile,
confirmed he has every intention of continuing his involvement as a player".
29 April 2004
Graham Heathcote has arranged more provisional (NB provisional) dates for friendlies in July. As explained below, no friendlies can be held at Moss Lane till August due to drainage work. The full list to date is:
Sat. 17 July: Abbey Hey (A) 3pm
Tues. 20 July: Trafford FC (A) 7.45pm
Sat. 24 July: Chorley (A) 3pm
Mon. 26 July: Hyde United (A) 7.45pm
Sat. 31 July: Bamber Bridge (A) 3pm
The Stockport Express has a feature on Stockport County's ex-Alty left-back Danny Adams who "is already after a new, improved contract with the club. Adams... amazingly still has yet to taste defeat in a County shirt after making his debut... some 10 games ago. Is it purely coincidental that County have gone on this great run towards safety because Adams has been in the side? Well the man himself wouldnít be drawn on that... Adams said: "Iíve settled in quite well. Itís been quite easy really, but thatís mainly because of the quality of the players around me. They have been a lot better than I had been used to before... Right now Iím on a deal until the end of next season, but Iím after a better and longer contract... I feel Iíve coped well since stepping up a division, and Iíve got a taste for the big games now. At QPR the other week I loved playing in front of more than 15,000. The atmosphere was brilliant, itís so much better than playing in front of 1,500 at Macc." Danny is set to tour China with County but says, "Iím not really looking forward to the China trip at the moment though, Iím not a good flyer".
In today's SAM, Alty chairman Geoff Goodwin says that "The club will post another small profit this year and the reserve team will be making a comeback next season". Alty last ran a reserve side in 2001-02. Geoff added, "I am not be a football person but one thing is for sure, I'm an Altrincham person and I have this club in my heart now. I love the people here- everyone has thanked me and I have had grown men crying with happiness on my shoulder today" (after Saturday's game against Runcorn).
Pictured above is the Reserves's squad which played at Abbey Hey on 21 July 2001 with manager Graham Wright (wearing hat). The team comprised- 1. Dale NEWBROOK, 2. Dave SWANICK, 3. Kenny BRADY, 4. Phil BURTON, 5. Terry BOWKER (capt.), 6. Tony HARGREAVES, 7. Keith MAIRS, 8. Tomoaki SHIMIZU, 9. Wayne McKENZIE, 10. Lee POLAND, 11. Colin HUNTER, 12. Derek TURAY, 14. Rico RICHARDS, 15. Simon McMAIN, 16. Pat CLAFFEY, 17. Gerard L…ONARD, 18. Ryan GILLIGAN, 19. Levi KENNEDY, 20. Eric SEEKIE.
If you offered to sponsor goals scored or clean sheets, please send your sponsorship cheque to a STAR representative or the club as soon as possible. Blyth have an interesting variation on goal sponsorship, according to their website. They invite predictions for the total number of goals scored with the winner gaining a free season ticket. More than £800 was raised by the Blyth scheme.
A WORD IN YOUR EAR
Right: Mark Maddox and Ged Kielty have a word in the ear of Player of the Season, Ian Craney, after Saturday's match. In the background are Gary Talbot and Rod Thornley.
UNIBOND PLAY OFFS
Alty fans at a loose end have a choice of local UniBond play-offs on Saturday, as Radcliffe entertain Burscough and Ashton host Bradford PA. The Boro' website says that "Radcliffe ditched their league form and put in probably the best performance of the year in this entertaining encounter at Whitby. To say we owed them one is probably an understatement, Whitby running out winners on three previous occasions this season". In the penalty shoot out, Boro missed their second and third efforts, whilst Whitby missed their third. Whitby's website adds: "Then followed an amazing run of goals that brought together both sidesí last
two outfield players. But while Radcliffeís Dave Luker found the popular bottom left corner of the net, Blues' skipper Graham Robinson saw his kick for the opposite side clutched by Hurst". So, Boro won 8-7 on penalties. The site finishes ominously, "The Turnbull Ground will certainly see changes off the pitch this summer, and possibly not just a new stand".
If you thought the UniBond play-offs were complicated, they are simplicity compared with the other feeder leagues' play-offs. The Isthmian (Ryman) and Dr Martens (Southern League) both have play-offs for two places in the new league. The 2nd to 13th placed clubs in both the Ryman and Dr Martens automatically qualify for the new set-up. In the Ryman, seven clubs (14th to 20th) play off with the winner of an initial tie between the two champions of Ryman 1st Division North and South to find the two successful teams. In the Dr Martens, the play-offs involve a simultaneous tie between the champions of the 1st Division East and West and games between 15th and 18th and 16th and 17th, whilst the 14th team gets a bye to the next stage, where it meets the winners of the 1st Division play-off.
Only after the play-offs are resolved can clubs be finally allocated to Conference North or South. Both the Ryman and Dr Martens have yet to finish their normal league season and the latter, in particular, is very tight. As of last Sunday, Cambridge City in 8th place had 54 pts and Moor Green in 16th had 51pts!
The Conference North season starts on Saturday, 14 August.
WORLD CUP FOR BARRY?
Alty Youth goalkeeper Barry George is the fully-sighted goalkeeper for the England Partially-Sighted XI. The World Championships for Partially-Sighted Footballers take place in Manchester this December so, hopefully, Barry might be involved in them. The organisers, Manchester FA are looking for volunteers to be drivers, stewards or to perform a host of other roles. Successful applicants get expenses, free lunch/refreshments and free tickets to the games. Apply to the Manchester FA on 881-0299 if you can help with this worthwhile venture.
Alfreton Town report that "Having finished in a very satisfactory fourth place in the UniBond Premier Division, boss David Lloyd has already been buoyed by the fact that virtually all of his squad have agreed to stay with the club for the new
venture of next season's Conference North. After three seasons of major changes to start campaigns, Lloyd now has a sound and experienced platform on which to build and whilst it is inevitable that there will be some new faces, there will be fewer changes than there have been over the last three years.... The only two players who have been released are Tony Hemmings
[ex-Alty] and goalkeeper Stuart Ford."
Likewise, at Barrow "All the current crop of players have agreed to stay at the club with Graham Anthony & Mark Salmon having shaken hands on two year deals". However, the article goes on to say that manager Lee Turnbull "has decided to release some of his more seasoned players with Steve Gaughan & Simon Shaw saying goodbye to the club
after being dogged by injury. Ian Arnold is also being released after work commitments have hindered his preparations this year, while Kenny Mayers may yet also move on". The club's pre-season friendlies include matches with Queen of The South and Sheffield Wednesday.
28 April 2004
Bradford PA 3 Spennymoor U. 1
The double-winning Altrincham Youth side complete their league fixtures with two games in 24 hours. On Sunday 2 May they are away to Leigh R.M.I. at 2pm and on Bank Holiday Monday (3rd) they entertain Marine 'A' at Moss Lane at 2pm. The NWYA Premier Division championship presentation will be made at the latter match so why not come along and join the celebrations? The Youth team also has a presentation night at Moss Lane on 22 May to which all are welcome. Tickets (£5) include food and can be obtained via the club.
LINCOLN "FOILS" HYDE
Ashton's Lincoln Adams headed home a corner just before the interval of extra time to clinch a 2-1 win for Ashton United against Hyde United last night in the UniBond Premier play-offs for a place in the new Conference North. Adams was earlier involved in a bizarre incident in the second half of normal time when he went down injured and, after several minutes of treatment, was stretchered off, covered by silver body-insulating foil, with what looked to be a serious injury. As Ashton appeared to be preparing a substitute and, less than two minutes after leaving the pitch motionless on a stretcher, Adams jogged back onto the pitch and played on. Earlier, Hyde had taken the lead when Tolson sprang the offside trap and rounded the keeper (17 mins). Ashton levelled in the second half through Smith, Adams's former Emley team-mate, who was recruited by Ashton's Yorkshire-based former Alty boss Gerry Quinn.
At Whitby, Radcliffe conceded a last minute penalty in extra-time to draw 2-2 but then came from behind in the shoot-out to win 8-7 on penalties.
Ashton U. 2 Hyde U. 1 aet
Marine 1 Burscough 3
Whitby T. 2 Radcliffe B. 2 (Radcliffe win 8-7 on pens)
UniBond League Challenge Cup Final 2nd Leg:
Hucknall T. 1 Droylsden 2 - Droylsden win 4-1 on aggregate.
President's Cup Final 2nd Leg:
Workington 4 Barrow 3 Barrow win on away goals; aggregate 6-6.
MOSS LANE STREAKER BAND
A potentially nasty incident was narrowly avoided amidst the celebrations on the pitch last Saturday at Moss Lane. As a bid was made to emulate the recent "Woodley Streaker" episode at Moss Lane, only prompt action from Alty's Stadium Security Coordinator, Phil Taylor prevented trouble. Phil (above, left) is seen above as he selflessly prepares to step-in between a fist-wielding spectator and the smiling streaker. Later, Altrincham's Players' Player of the Season, Peter Band, denied any involvement in the episode.
SAM says of Saturday's game against Runcorn, that although "the Alty result was ultimately irrelevant, the Robins still put in a professional performance". Speaking after the match, manager Graham Heathcote told SAM, "It sounds daft but maybe we scored far too early because I don't think we played after that. Runcorn played ever so well and we had to dig in but what we did today has put us in the restructuring and that is we defended well... I don't think we played that well today but we have come away with a win... This club is moving forward again. The pace may not be fast enough for some people but we are moving in the right direction".
WELL DONE, STEVE
Alty supporter and STAR member Steve Foster is to be thanked for the huge amount of effort he put into raising money for the Race Night last Saturday. His prediction chart raised a profit of £287 for STAR and the club. The £100 first prize was won by Barry Heaton, with the winning combination being 567. Steve and STAR wish to thank all who took part.
In a press release, STAR's Chairperson Brian Flynn says, "Qualification for Conference 2 North represents a significant milestone and STAR looks forward to supporting Altrincham Football Club even further during this exciting period" The STAR Presentation/Race Night raised more than £1,500. Brian added that STAR is also "planning a number of activities during the Summer... the first of which is the Altrincham Festival on Saturday 3rd July and then STAR will be bringing Alty mascot, Rocky Robin, and his penalty shoot out to local school Summer Fairs... STAR will also be launching a number of new fund raising initiatives including a seat sponsorship scheme for the Main Stand at the Club, a raffle to name the Golf Road End at the Club after the winning supporter, and a directory of local businesses. STAR has donated £9,500 to the Club since it was launched around a year ago. Further details of all STARís activities can be obtained by contacting Jon Stack on 01827 64471 or by e-
Worksop Town announce that "Following a meeting with Conference chiefs on Sunday, it was agreed to adopt a new rule which will see five substitutes being available for team selection next season". Whilst the UniBond allowed only three named subs last season, the Ryman and Dr Martens leagues both allowed five.
FA CUP DATES
If you like to plan ahead, here are next seasonís FA Cup dates. I am not sure at which
point Altrincham will join the competition:
28 August 2004 Extra Prelim. Round
4 September 2004 Prelim. Ríd
18 September 2004 1st Qual. Ríd
2 October 2004 2nd Qual. Ríd
16 October 2004 3rd Qual. Ríd
30 October 2004 4th Qual. Ríd
13 November 2004 1st Round Proper
4 December 2004 2nd Round
8 January 2005 3rd Round
29 January 2005 4th Round
19 February 2005 5th Round
12 March 2005 6th Round
27 April 2004
Tuesday 27th :
Ashton U. 2 Hyde U. 1 aet
Marine 1 Burscough 3
Whitby T. 2 Radcliffe B. 2 (Radcliffe win 8-7 on pens)
Wednesday 28th at 7.45pm:
Bradford PA v Spennymoor U.
Saturday 1st May at 3pm:
Ashton U. v BPA/Spennymoor
Radcliffe B. v Burscough
Monday 3rd May at 3pm
Ashton/Bradford/Spenny. v Radcliffe/Burscough
Altrincham FC is pleased to announce that it has received a grant from the Football Stadia Improvement Fund for the installation of a complete new drainage system and levelling of the pitch at Moss Lane. Work is expected to take place from 6 to 20 May. A new tractor, to help maintain the pitch, is also part of the grant. This means that pre-season friendlies in July are likely to be away from Moss Lane, though some games should be possible at home in early August.
It has emerged that Stuart Coburn may have been playing with a hernia injury towards the end of the season. He will now see a specialist to see if an operation is needed. If Stuart can play as well as he has done with a hernia, he should be unbeatable when fully fit next season!
Rod Thornley recently had a second operation on his knee; this was to repair a tear. This was a similar injury to Niell Hardy's but Niell's is expected to heal itself. Meanwhile, Chris Adams and Kieran Lugsden await the time for the casts to be removed from their fractured arms.
SPOT THE FACES
There are plenty of familiar Moss Lane faces here on the pitch after Saturday's game as they salute Runcorn's players as well as their own team, after both sides had qualified for the new Conference feeder division.
Left: Alty Chairman Geoff Goodwin at the Presentation Evening. Right: Stuart Coburn lets rip whilst youth-team manager George Heslop keeps his cool!
IC Cheshire reports that "There were unprecedented scenes after a nervous 90 minutes at Moss Lane as fans of two great UniBond Premier League rivals came together to celebrate elevation to Conference North... [Runcorn] player-manager Chris Lightfoot said: "There aren't many teams who could have played as many games as us in the last three weeks and won so many. All credit to every one of them - they have been absolutely brilliant".
Now is the time to pay for your goal sponsorship. Alty scored 75 league and cup goals this season. Please take or send your sponsorship to the club office.
ON THE ROAD
Alty fans who watched every game this season will have travelled more than 2668 miles to attend all 22 league away games and if they went to the cup matches, the total rises to over 3423
miles. The arrival of the new Conference feeder division, whilst extending our journeys southwards could actually mean slightly less travelling overall. This is because Blyth have already failed to qualify and other distant grounds such as those of Spennymoor and Whitby may also not be on our itinerary if they fail in the play-offs.
The UniBond League reports that "The annual UniBond League Chairmen's meeting was cut short on Sunday by several hundred anti-fascist protestors. Unbeknown to league officials the Altrincham Cresta Court hotel venue was also hosting a BNP meeting attended by the French far-right activist Jean Marie Le Pen. The UniBond League meeting was almost finished when the hotel alarm system sounded and the delegates were asked to leave the building. The Chairmen's meeting agenda centred around the FA draft for the Standardisation of Rules of competition at UniBond level".
In today's Daily Telegraph non-league benefactor Victor Gladwish, whose company Gladwish Land Sales has committed £900,000 to various clubs in sponsorship, reveals that "We're interested in Blyth Spartans, they've a great cup giant-killing history".