Altrincham Football Club News Archive
13 to 17 December, 2004

17 December 2004


Tomorrow morning's scheduled match between Altrincham Reserves and Southport Reserves has been postponed due to a waterlogged pitch at Haig Avenue. The first team game at Moss Lane tomorrow between Alty and Southport should go ahead despite rain today.


Altrincham have signed a new striker, Josh Mitten, from Ashton United. He is the nephew of Alty kitman Dave Mitten. Josh (27) is well known in local non-league circles having been at Flixton, Trafford and Radcliffe Borough amongst other clubs and has been scoring regularly for Ashton in Nationwide North this season. He was rumoured to be joining Mossley last week but signed for Alty today. A 6ft 2in striker, Josh is suspended for three games so cannot be involved tomorrow.


Alty boss Graham Heathcote salutes the travelling fans in SAM. It says, "Graham Heathcote believes his team's vocal supporters helped drive players to put on a fantastic display at [Harrogate, last week]. Graham said, "I'm proud of the support on the terraces and the way the team played". He added, "Saturday [v Southport] is so important. If we can win, we can put ourselves right in the frame. I understand people's finances are very tight at this time of year but it is important that we get as many fans as possible. If we can win on Saturday, we set ourselves up for a big Christmas and New Year".
  • Stalybridge C. v Moor Green


    Jo Ryan of STAR advises that some 180 STAR calendars have been sold so far. SAM is running a vote on the respective merits of the STAR/Altrincham FC and the Sale Sharks' calendars; so vote now on their website! Steve Lunt has also done an interview for Talksport, which had picked up the story from the article in the Daily Star this week. You can order your copy of the calendar on the STAR site.


    A correspondent on the Alty Fans' Forum (link above) writes: "A couple of former Alty players have the dubious honour of appearing in "England's Worst Footballers", a new book by Sky TV's Jeff Stelling. Mark Sertori is nominated as Bury's worst ever player and Matt Dickens is named and shamed as Rochdale's biggest waste of space".


    The Tameside Advertiser quotes sacked Ashton boss Gerry Quinn: "We'd been talking for a week or two so I was surprised to be there on Saturday to be honest. We had words after the Gainsborough Trinity match and they said there were certain directors who weren't happy with the situation". The article adds, "Quinn, who was in charge at Hurst Cross for five years, believes ex-assistant Andy Johnston should be his successor". Quinn added: "I can't believe they haven't gone for the new ground because then they would be able to attract new players. Whoever the new boss is will have a good squad and an absolutely brilliant set of lads who never gave me one bit of bother in five years. I'd be delighted if Andy got the job because that's the only chance they have of keeping the current players... What I'd like people to know is I was happy to fight on, I was never prepared to quit".

    And "Ashton United chairman Tony Ryan said: "It would be fair to say he (Phil Wilson) is our number one choice but that does not mean he's coming to Ashton United. The deadline for applications is the New Year; we are looking for someone with experience at senior non-league level and a proven track record". Mr Ryan confirmed that the "proposed name change to Ashton Tameside United appears likely to go ahead next year. The change is dependent though on an agreement with Tameside Council to extend the club's current 20-year lease on Hurst Cross". Mr Ryan added, "We have a five-year plan to bring Hurst Cross up to Conference standard".

    This is Redditch says that "United have brought in Walsall reserves' keeper Dean Coleman as cover for the injured Richard Anstiss... [who] has fractured his hand. Reds' reserve keeper Paul Maynard [played]... on Saturday but boss Rod Brown said it was too much to ask of the youngster to play the next two or three games on the trot".

    "Jimmy Mullen, manager of Bromsgrove Rovers, "praised defender Matt Gardiner, who is on loan from neighbours Redditch United. Gardiner, who has only just recovered from broken ribs and a punctured lung, has been sent to Bromsgrove by United boss Rod Brown to get some much-needed games under his belt" reports This is Worcs.

    Bad news for Barrow is that recently signed striker Glen Murray from Workington (played 9, scored 9) has signed for Carlisle United. Meanwhile, the NW Evening Mail reports that Barrow "Striker Gavin Knight is set to be recalled from his loan spell, despite failing to rediscover his goalscoring touch. The 24-year-old has been out on-loan for nearly two months after struggling for form... Yet spells at Brigg Town and Bridlington Town have failed to help Knight find the form which saw him finish the Bluebirds deadliest marksman last season with 20 goals... He looks set to rejoin AFC for the festive double-header against arch rivals Lancaster City. With striker Neil Campbell struggling to shake off a back injury, manager Lee Turnbull faced going into the busy Christmas period with just two available strikers, Glenn Murray and Mike Kewley" - but Murray has now gone.

    Stalybridge Celtic have given 13 primary schools in the area free tickets for Saturdays' game to help boost attendances at the Bower Fold.

    IC Cheshire says that "Danny Byrne, who played for Runcorn in their last home match, will line up against them at Halton Stadium this Saturday. The livewire striker has been recalled by Droylsden, the Linnets' last Nationwide North visitors of 2004. But, ironically, Carl Furlong, who faced Runcorn when the clubs last met in September, is in the reckoning to fill the void left by Byrne's departure after a month's loan. Ex-Altrincham striker Furlong was registered by Chris Lightfoot four days before the former manager was sacked in October, but he hasn't featured in any of the 13 games the Linnets have had since. A hamstring injury the player had picked up before joining Runcorn for a second time, after a spell in their Conference days, proved more serious than first thought. However, Furlong has now declared himself ready to return to action. 'We will have a look at Carl in training and see how fit he is,' said Alvin McDonald... Byrne has been summoned back to Droylsden because Lutel James... has broken a bone in his foot... McDonald's side have lost their last four league games... 'We need a win desperately to turn it around'",the boss added. "Former boss Chris Lightfoot has signed for Marine as a player".

    This is WCFC says that "Worcester City's stand-in goalkeeper James Coates admits he is devastated after failing to earn a contract at Boston United. The talented 19-year-old had been training with the Pilgrims and played five reserve games... But... Coates has left York Street after being told by the club's management that he lacked Football League experience. It is the second time Coates has suffered rejection from a professional club this year, having been released by Mansfield Town earlier this summer". Manchester-born Coates played against Altrincham for City earlier this season.

    Move: Chris O'Brien (Vauxhall M. to Colwyn Bay)

    16 December 2004


    Alty Reserves made it eight games without defeat with a well deserved draw against a Vics' side which included six players who were in their first-team squad for last Saturday's Conference game (Connett, Royle, McCarthy, Carratt, Hughes and Quayle). There were also other first teamers such as Foran and two ex-Alty faces in their line-up; Mark Quayle and Jason van Blerk.

    Match report in the Reserves' section.


    Alty play Southport on Saturday and we stand between them and their manager's ambition. After Southport's game at Lancaster in midweek, manager Liam Watson said "I am proud of everyone of my players who gave their all in terrible conditions. We had to battle both Lancaster and the elements. My aim is to be top of the table alone by the end of the Christmas period". Ex-Alty man Tony SUllivan's crosses from the wing were a major factor in the game. Pickford and Fitzgerald picked up injuries but how serious they are is unclear..

    IC Southport quotes Watson as well; "We are going to be a hard nut to crack if we are in the same position at the start of 2005, I am very confident we have the squad to win the Nationwide North title... It was great to see Neil Robinson back to his best. Dominic Morley and Kevin Lynch bossed the midfield. Hope-fully Carl Baker and Kevin Leadbetter can kick on from that performance because on the right and left they contributed the way I want. Earl Davis and Farrell Kilbane were 'Steady Eddies' at the back and we still have Neil Fitzhenry to come back. Both full-backs, Alex Mortimer and Steve Pickford, did their jobs".


    Alty play Stafford twice over Christmas but Rangers won on Tuesday against Stalybridge in controversial fashion with their winner allegedly being a "hand of god" goal. Also, one Of Celtic's goals came when a supposed "gentleman's freekick" after a Celtic injury was fumbled by the Rangers' keeper into his own net.


    Alfreton Town "Striker Mick Goddard has completed a transfer to Ilkeston Town for an undisclosed fee. The deal ends Goddard's 37-month association with the club and is deemed as 'good business' for the Reds".

    Kettering Today says that "Town manager Kevin Wilson... needs to bring in a goalkeeper before this weekend's big Nationwide North clash with Worskop [as] Gary Hateley is suspended... But Wilson is also keen bolster his attack by signing a striker – possibly on a month's loan – as top-scorer Darren Lynch continues to sit out because of injury. Wilson said: "Jonathan Rowan and Chris Difante are the only out-and-out strikers available to me at the moment. Danny Haywood is moving to America so it leaves us a bit short up front".

    This is Lincs reports that "A young and inexperienced Gainsborough Trinity side lost 4-1 at Worksop last night in the second round of the National Conference Cup... Trinity manager Paul Mitchell, watching from the stands, not only gave several young players a chance but also handed the running of the side over to reserve team manager Tommy Bannon". Trinity fielded "three brothers; Anthony, Mark and Carl La Rocca, from Gainsborough".

    15 December 2004


    Preston Today quotes Liam Watson, manager of our next opponents, Southport, as saying "If you have played 42 matches and you lose a league by one goal it will break your heart. Every single person in the squad will think of the chance they have missed or the goal they gave away and I told the players we have got to be a bit more ruthless. Everyone is seeing the chances we are creating. It could have been six or seven at Stafford last weekend and at Runcorn last Tuesday and it should have been six or seven in this one. But it was not to be and we will just have to keep plodding along and grinding out good wins".


    Alty play Stafford a week on Sunday and again on New Year's Day. This is Staffs says that for last night's game "manager Phil Robinson will be forced to reshuffle his defence...and... is considering giving Chris Smith his first outing for the club... 'Chris could play or Alan Dodd could go in the middle', said Robinson. Meanwhile, midfielders Craig Lovatt and Robin Gibson both face fitness checks on toe and knee injuries respectively. Rangers ended a run of seven matches without a win by beating second-from-bottom Bradford on Saturday".


    This is Lincs says that "Gainsborough Trinity's "star striker Lee Ellington has been placed on the transfer list... Ellington has already had negotiations with another Conference North club... They are believed to have tabled a joint bid for both Ellington and fellow Blues' striker Gareth Grant who is also on the Northolme transfer list in a bid to cut spiralling costs. However, Grant's name has now been removed from the list. While Trinity have accepted the offer, Ellington has rejected personal terms and this has caused the deal to stall". Ellington was briefly at Altrincham in 1999/2000. "I want to stress that what is happening at the moment is being done with my full blessing - providing it is done in the right way," said manager Paul Mitchell. "It is important to protect the future of Gainsborough Trinity and anything we do is intended to move the club forward. I can confirm that we will listen to offers for Lee, and we will be circulating his name to other clubs - but Gareth will now be taken off the transfer list as a consequence". Trinity's financial problems are "caused by falling gates and an early FA Cup exit to Halesowen". Meanwhile Ellington said "I don't want to leave Gainsborough, but the club's situation may mean I have to". He has scored 96 goals in 202 appearances for the club.

    "Runcorn FC Halton's goalkeeper Tony McMillan is to be reported to the FA after allegedly spitting at a Worcester City supporter" says This is Worcs.

    Phil Wilson, manager of Lancaster City, has reportedly turned down an approach from Ashton United. Although Ashton United's board has voted to rename the club Ashton Tameside United, this is dependant on the Council renewing the lease on Hurst Cross.

    Leeds Today states that "A deal to bring Danny Holland from Hucknall Town permanently to Wetherby Road, [Harrogate], is imminent". Manager John Reed said "Hopefully, it will all be signed and sealed this week... Holland, who is currently on loan, has scored 8 goals in his last 4 matches" - including one against Alty last week. Meanwhile manager "John Reed has been fined £75 by the FA and warned as to future conduct... following the match at Redditch" reports the Harrogate Town website, which says that Alfreton Town manager David Lloyd has also "recently been charged with using abusive and/or insulting words to a match official. He has received a 2 match touchline ban... and a £100 fine".

    This is Nottingham quotes Hucknall chairman Brian Holmes - "We still have problems with the ground. The Football Foundation has only just responded to an application for funding to improve things at Watnall Road. We'd be in a difficult position if we did enough to go up. We could have gone up the season before last but the rules changed and we couldn't go up last season. I wouldn't be surprised if the rules change again".

    From Kettering Today comes Town manager Kevin Wilson's views on Drew Roberts's move to Aylesbury United. "The fact that I heard about it from somebody else was a shame... It is a disappointing that he has decided to drop down a level and I don't believe the theory that the fans getting on his back was a reason why he left. In all honesty I don't have any interest in any player who doesn't want to play for Kettering". And the Kettering website reports that Birmingham City have taken 17-year-old left-back Stephan Morley on a week's trial.


    The NL Daily reports that Radcliffe Borough's former Alty midfielder "Scott Wilson has turned down an offer to join Stalybridge Celtic. Wilson... opted to further his career with Radcliffe. Wilson has been one of Boro's players of the season so far".

    Preston Today has more on Harry McNally, whose death was reported here yesterday. Harry was chief scout at Altrincham many years ago. It quotes him as saying, "I could have been a seriously rich man, but who wants to die in a coffin full of 10 pound notes?" McNally became manager of Wigan Athletic and Chester City. Anecdotes include a Chester Christmas party "when Harry's No 9 Keith Bertschin led the celebrations... Harry recalled: 'The last thing I could remember before I blacked out was Keith Bertschin launching himself over the bar, shouting 'this is how I scored the winner against Liverpool!'".

    14 December 2004


    Five teams are now covered by a single point at the top of Nationwide North - and Alty are sixth, four points further back.
  • League Table

    Tuesday 14th

  • Kettering T. 1 Vauxhall M. 1
  • Lancaster C. 1 Southport 1
  • Stafford R. 3 Stalybridge C. 2

  • FA Cup 2R Brentford 2 Hinckley 1
  • Conf. Cup Worksop T. 4 Gainsborough T. 2

    Saturday 18th

  • Alfreton T. v Harrogate T.
  • ALTRINCHAM v Southport
  • Ashton U. v Stafford R.
  • Bradford PA v Hucknall T.
  • Gainsborough T. v Hinckley U.
  • Kettering T. v Worksop T.
  • Lancaster C. v Worcester C.
  • Nuneaton B. v Vauxhall M.
  • Redditch U. v Barrow
  • Runcorn FC Halton v Droylsden
  • Stalybridge C. v Moor Green


    Last Saturday it was Alty away at "table-topping" Harrogate, this Saturday it could be a home game with "table topping" Southport, if they win tomorrow, who will be Alty's opponents. Then, on Boxing Day it is away at Stafford Rangers, who are unbeaten and have the league's equal tightest defence with that of Southport. Rangers are 7 points behind Alty but with 2 games in hand and lie 17th in the table. They are the only Nationwide North team we have not yet met this season - though we have only met Hucknall in the FA Cup and not the league. On New Year's Day, Rangers come to Moss Lane in search of their first league away win of the season. A familiar face likely to be in Stafford's squad is speedy winger Jamie Phoenix, whose Alty career last for just two incomplete games in 2002-03, his swansong being a sending off against Kendal Town in the FA Cup.

  • Through the Years


    Gary Scott, Peter Band, Steve Lunt, Barry Shuttleworth and Chris Adams all feature in yesterday's Daily Star newspaper in a half-page about the STAR calendar.

    STAR has negotiated a price with the BBC for a licence to sell a limited edition Alty highlights DVD including many of Alty’s greatest TV moments. The DVD will include footage of goals from Jackie Swindells, famous goals from John Hughes at Everton, Jeff Johnson at Spurs, the goals from the defeat at Spurs, including that disallowed goal, beating Macclesfield 3-0 in the FA Cup, the 4-1 win at Lancaster, the wins over Chester and Lincoln, the 2-1 victory at Birmingham, the fourth round appearance at York, the victories over Scunthorpe and Wigan, a Football Focus Liverpool match feature, Runcorn FA Trophy final footage, victory over Barnet in 90/91, plenty of interviews with players and managers and, much, much more. Because we have to be sure of selling a certain number of DVDs to break even, ordering at this stage is by pre-registering for a copy. We will only go ahead and produce the DVD if we achieve sufficient pre-registrations to breakeven. If you pre-register now you are guaranteed to receive a copy if we go ahead and produce the DVD. So please get your orders in now. DVDs will be priced at £18 each, and we would expect to have them available around April. This is a strictly limited edition and we are only licensed to sell a small number of copies. No money is required at this stage. In the event of over-subscription, it will be first come, first served so please email Jon Stack with your name, address and phone number and the number of copies of the DVD you require (max 3 per person at this stage)".


    Former Chester City manager Harry McNally (b.1938) died on Sunday afternoon in the Countess of Chester Hospital, after a short illness. Harry "managed Altrincham, Southport and Wigan before going on to manage Chester City" in the 1980s and 1990s, according to his obituary. In fact, Harry was chief scout at Moss Lane. Amongst those whom he mentored to a league career were former Alty player Graham Barrow, now boss of Bury. Please see Chester City Net for more details. Jacqui Forster advises me that Harry was a regular visitor to Moss Lane and had been at our ground earlier this season.


    Brian Flynn has an interview with Gary Talbot on Clubcall currently (details, right).


    The NL Daily says that "Redditch United are prepared to put their faith in teenage goalkeeper Paul Maynard. The 18-year-old played at Vauxhall Motors on Saturday.. Maynard stepped into the breach following an untimely injury to first-choice ‘keeper Richard Anstiss, who broke a finger during the 1-0 win over Stafford Rangers last week... Despite Maynard’s performance, Redditch are to bring in Walsall’s Dean Coleman this seek... Much-travelled midfielder Frazer McHugh, wide man Chris Gray and striker Arthur Appleton all joined the Reds last week and, as a result, Luke Prince, who arrived from Team Bath in the summer, has been released".

    As well as Northwich Vics, Stafford Rangers are reported by NL Daily to be interested in signing Hucknall's Gary Ricketts. "Clubs were alerted to Ricketts’s possible availability last week when Hucknall were forced to trim their wage budget".


    Our Trophy opponents Leigh have signed "Workington’s teenage striker Michael Farrar... on non-contract terms... Farrar as he is studying in the Manchester area but he has not cut his ties with Reds and is now on dual registration forms... Whitehaven-based Farrar’s chances have been limited at Borough Park" says the News & Star.
    13 December 2004


    Former Altrincham left-back Steve Porter, who is now at Vauxhall Motors, and who came on as a sub at Moss Lane last Tuesday was shot in both legs last Saturday night whilst walking along Prescot Road, Old Swan, Liverpool. He is in hospital in a stable condition. Steve is the second Vauxhall Motors' player to be shot this season with Anthony Wright suffering the same fate during the summer. He is now back playing for the Motormen. Andy Wilson, the webmaster at Vauxhall Motors informed me of this sad news and on behalf of the club I have sent, through him, the best wishes of all at Altrincham to Steve for a speedy recovery.


    Altrincham have now played half of their 42 league games and as they have played 19 of the 21 other teams in the division their record should be a reasonable pointer to the second half of the season. Everyone at Moss Lane can be very pleased to be 6th at this stage after we had only qualified for Nationwide North on the last day of the season.

    But it has been a season of contrasts so far; we have gleaned 21 points from 10 home matches and just 10 points from 11 away games. And, after taking 21 points from our first 11 games, we have taken only 10 from the last 10 matches as injuries have bitten into the already thin numbers in the Altrincham squad.

    A very pleasing aspect of the season is that we have scored in every game except two in the league this season and are the division's joint second-highest goalscorers after Droylsden with 34 goals. Defensively we are the sixth best team and have kept 6 clean sheets in the league. First team home league attendances at Moss Lane this season currently average 626 compared with 584 at the end of last season - a 7% rise. (Terry Rowley's updated crowd statistics are here).

    Individually, Colin Little and Colin Potts are our leading scorers in the league with 7 each, but Colin L. also has 9 cup goals as well compared with Colin P.'s one. Marcus Hallows has also been impressive with 5 league and 7 cup goals from a total of 17 starts and 8 sub appearances.

    Alty have named 32 players in league and cup games this season but only 25 have got onto the pitch in a league game. All in all, Graham Heathcote can be very satisfied with his team's performance especially given the absence of any transfer kitty, the loss of two team captains since the summer (Ian Craney and Peter Band) and the injury problems. It has also been pleasing to see the newly re-formed Reserves, under Neil Brown, developing young players who have made the first-team squad this season (Adam Brindle, Lewis Chalmers, George Melling, Joey Roberts, Paul Tilley and Matt Tooth), some of whom had previously graduated from George Heslop and Neil Thomason's youth set-up. The second eleven has also helped to rehabilitate injured players such as Rod Thornley and Sean Smith, whilst also nurturing Val Owen back to football action after a lay-off.

    The youth team, too, has seen an improvement in form recently after a shaky start and has now hit 34 goals in its last 6 league games and progressed to the NWYA Premier Cup semi-finals.


    Match report here.

    The Harrogate Town website also has a report on yesterday's game.


    Second-half goals from Paul Lewis, Adam Walker and an own goal saw Altrincham Youth beat Woodley 3-0 on Sunday afternoon. Report to follow.


    Five of Alty's last seven league games have been away from home, so it makes a nice change to be at home on Saturday. After Harrogate away last Saturday, it is another top three side, Southport this Saturday - indeed 'Port could go top on Tuesday night. Alty lost the reverse fixture 2-1 earlier this season.


    Both the Mossley FC and the UniBond Press Release reported that ex-Alty man Niell Hardy and two Ashton colleagues had moved to Mossley from Hurst Cross but the Mossleyweb site now says that "Mossley manager Jason Beckford, having been let down by the three previously reported signings from Ashton United - Josh Mitten, Simon Carden and Niell Hardy" had to draft in two players from other clubs for Saturday's game. All very odd!

    Former Alty winger Michael Reynolds has had his loan from Worksop Town to Belper Town made permanent. Former Alty Youth and Reserves' keeper Dale Newbrook has joined Padiham, leaders of NW Counties Two whilst winger Jamie Phoenix was a used sub for Stafford Rangers on Saturday.

    Other moves:

  • Lee Wilson (Worksop T. to Belper T.)
  • Andrew Carr (Lancaster C. to Bamber B.)
  • Danny Trueman (Ashton U. to Wakefield-Emley on loan)
  • James Fox (Nuneaton B. to Gresley R.)


    John Guilfoyle has published The Cheshire County League, 1919-82, an illustrated booklet containing a history of the league plus full final tables. It costs £3.99 plus 42p. postage from John at 24 Adelaide Street, Clayton-le-Moors, Accrington, BB5 5LU


    Longstanding Altrincham supporter Peter Hennerley wishes to thank the Football Club and all supporters who helped him raise £178.90 for Bowdon & District British Legion's Poppy collection this year. In all the Branch raised £9,172.35.


    The UniBond League press release says that "Alfreton Town have placed 26 year old striker Mick Goddard on the transfer list. Goddard was a proven goalscorer in the UniBond League but his opportunities this term have been limited and he has become unsettled. Alfreton are inviting offers for the contract player".

    In a bid to boost their gates, Harrogate Town printed a voucher in Saturday's programme granting free admission "to the first 3,500 through the gates" for their home match with Stafford Rangers on 15 January.

    Hucknall chairman Brian Holmes has written on the club Forum that "The club has an open policy with its players and agreements to advise if any offers or approaches are received from clubs in the Conference or Football League. This agreement is one reason that players like Danny Bacon agree to sign and that trust is maintained between the club and its players. With regard to Danny Mayman... Discussions were held with Danny when it was clear he would need an operation and he was not prepared to re-sign for next season... In those circumstances and with the knowledge that clubs were interested at this time, rather than let the matter drift, it was decided to let him go [to Northwich]. With regard to Gary Ricketts; we have had several clubs interested in obtaining Gary’s services and the matter has been discussed with Gary... No offers or deals are currently in the club's interest or Gary’s and... we agreed to let matters rest and for Gary to continue as a Hucknall player. On the question of Danny Holland [who scored against Alty on Saturday]; we are at present in discussions with Harrogate and it is likely that a permanent transfer will be concluded". Mr Holmes adds that Town's ground improvement application will be considered by the Football Foundation next March. "During recent discussions it was clear that no urgency or system was in place for clubs who may be considered for promotion and therefore what will happen at the end of this season is now a matter of concern... Unless all the clubs in promotion contention for the play-offs have the grade then the issue will be very difficult especially for a club like ours whose capacity is the real issue".