Altrincham Football Club News Archive
8 to 12 May, 2005

12 May 2005


If you are walking to the Britannia Stadium from Stoke Station, Ian Watts (who works in the city) has kindly written a detailed and uptodate description of the route, which is in the website's guide to the big game on Sunday, here.


Altrincham FC had sold some 650 tickets for the game at Stoke as of Tuesday evening- but that is before the local press had given the game any publicity. At least five supporters' buses are running from Altrincham, with a further two carrying club officials as well as friends and family of the chairman, Geoff Goodwin. A further Alty coach is running from London and many other fans will make the short journey from Altrincham to Stoke by car or train. Eastbourne Borough's website said on Tuesday that "The Club sold four hundred tickets in two and a half hours after they went on sale at Priory Lane earlier this evening, with a good number of parking reservation tickets also sold. The Supporters' Club has also reported a lot of interest from supporters wishing to travel to Staffordshire to cheer on The Sports for the biggest game in the club's history, and is now taking orders for the eighth coach to the game". The Sussex club is known as "The Sports" as, until 2001, they played as Langney Sports.

Every evening this week, The Manchester Evening News will have a piece about Altrincham's play-off match on Sunday. Last night, reporter Tony Glennon asked Graham Heathcote if they would go full-time, if promoted. Graham responded cautiously, "We're not up yet, so let's not jump the gun, but I can state categorically there's no chance of us going full-time". The Conference is a very different place from the one we left in 2000; after just five years' absence, only five teams have continuously remained in the division of the 22 who completed the 1999-2000 season - Woking, Northwich (who should have been relegated in 2004), Scarborough, Morecambe and Stevenage (who yet may be promoted to the league). However, Southport return to the Conference National in 2005-06 as do Kidderminster, who were Alty's last opponents in the Conference in May 2000, in a drawn game in which they ended as champions and we were relegated.


Gavin Rathbone's GR Photos have supplied this picture which shows Kieran Lugsden, Colin Little (having his shirt pulled) and Gary Talbot going up for a cross against Kettering last Saturday.


Leeds Today reports that "Farsley Celtic and Burscough are heading to the High Court to obtain an injunction to block the UniBond League Premier Division play-offs. The Football Association today rejected one final offer to avert full-blown legal proceedings in the row over promotion. Farsley, who have been stripped of the title, and Burscough said they were willing to go to arbitration to solve the dispute... The two clubs' offer would have enabled a case to be heard on Thursday and the play-offs to go ahead on Saturday, but the FA declined the invitation. Celtic chairman Andy Firbank said: "The FA is acting as judge and jury yet again. We are going to the High Court in London. We are going all the way with this".

The Daily Mail has picked up the story saying that "Burscough are planning to serve an injunction in a bid to stop the play-off semi-finals taking place next weekend without them... Burscough have not been given any explanation by the FA - despite promises that they would receive a written account of the tribunal minutes. And the Yorkshire Evening Post takes the view that this situation would not have arisen had Premiership clubs been involved. It adds, "The fact that the big benefactors are the same Hyde side which escaped relegation from the Premier Division in 2002 despite finishing rock-bottom, when another West Yorkshire side Ossett Town were controversially denied promotion from the First Division, just adds fuel to an already raging flame... On prompting from the Yorkshire Evening Post, UniBond Chief Executive Officer Duncan Bayley admitted expunging [Spennymoor's] record wasn't the only option open to consideration at the meeting despite competition rule 13 clearly stating 'A club which for any reason ceases to operate at any time during the playing season shall have its playing record expunged'. Bayley told the YEP 'there is quite a major difference between resigning from the league and not fulfilling your fixtures'".


Two players who had successful loan spells at Moss Lane are in the news. Alex Hay, loaned by Tranmere four years ago, has been released by Rushden & Diamonds whilst IC Cheshire says that "Northwich Vics will sell a player who has been at the club less than two months and started just one league game... Mat Bailey, 20, was released by League One wooden-spoonists Stockport County, where he had made only one appearance. Vics' boss Steve Burr offered him a chance to re-establish himself... But during his 11-game spell with Vics - five games of which he was on the substitutes bench but not used - Bailey had trials with Crewe... Dario Gradi, who has since made a modest offer but with conditions that could earn Vics a lot more depending on how well Bailey does. Gradi sees the player as a long-term investment... He was only on the periphery of Burr's plans [at Vics]". Vics have also "released Mark Quayle last week. Quayle scored only nine goals and never lived up to his reputation".NL Daily reports that ex-Robin, Marc Lloyd-Williams is in the the "Welsh semi-professional squad that will defend the Four Nations trophy in Ireland later this month".


NL Daily reports that "Kevin Wilson, manager of Kettering Town, has already started to look ahead to the start of next season and to bring in the new players necessary to strengthen the squad. Top of the list will be two strikers, given the goalscoring problems Kettering had last season and the news that the injury sustained by striker Darren Lynch is worse than first feared. Lynch suffered a chip in a bone just above his knee, torn medial ligaments and damage to the cartilage. Recovery from surgery and the healing process is likely to take longer than the three-month break... Wilson, still trying to come to terms with the northern play-off final defeat by Altrincham last Saturday, said: 'The injury couldn’t have been much worse... We probably need a couple of strikers because there has been a lot of pressure put on the two young lads, 17-year-old Scott Cross and Chris Difante (18)'".

This is WCFC reports that "Carl Heeley has signed for Worcester City's rivals Hinckley United on a one-year deal. The 35-year-old fans' favourite made the switch after failing to agree fresh terms at City last week... This season, the centre-back reeled in more than £5,000 in his testimonial year... Heeley said: 'I liked what I saw with their new stadium. I believe I am still good enough to play at this level'... Meanwhile, City goalkeeper Danny McDonnell yesterday underwent a successful operation to cure a hernia problem".

The Tameside Advertiser quotes promoted Hyde United's boss Steve Waywell who left Leigh to join The Tigers: "I knew the potential of Hyde which is why I came, it’s a massive club that can go further than Leigh". He added, "I’ll need another keeper, a fullback, a big, strong midfielder and a new lad up front, hopefully someone with electrifying pace".

Nearby, "Paul Futcher says it could be ‘three or four weeks’ before he knows how many of his Ashton United side will stay at Hurst Cross following relegation from Conference North. Top of his list is a striker... Futcher said: 'At this stage of the season, it’s a case of players going away and leaving their options open to see what happens in the next three or four weeks. We’re looking to bring four or five players in, but with the division we’re going into we will need players who are versatile'".

Also in Tameside, "John Reed will know next week what budget he has to improve his Stalybridge Celtic squad... Reed said: 'We need competition in every position. The season’s only been finished a week and my phone’s been red hot with players asking if they can come to us... I have a list of 16 players, I know I won’t get them all, but hopefully I’ll have some ballpark figure next week... The one thing that sticks out in my mind was the game against Hucknall where we stayed up, men in their 60s and 70s were coming up to me in tears, saying I didn’t know what it meant to them'".

The NW Evening Mail says that "Lee Turnbull will discover next week whether or not Jonathan Smith is to become a Barrow AFC player. Bluebirds' boss Turnbull has offered the former Accrington Stanley defender a deal and is now waiting on his decision. But he faces stiff competition from the likes of Stalybridge Celtic and Kettering Town... Turnbull said: 'I’m still hopeful. Obviously Stalybridge are a big money club at our level and they have the financial clout to go out and get anyone at our level'... Turnbull is also still hoping to add Ashton United midfielder Dean Johnson to his squad over the summer".

11 May 2005


The stewards at Moss Lane are amongst the best in the league and on Monday night they received their NVQ awards from Alty manager Graham Heathcote at the match between the Staff and Supporters of Altrincham FC. Chief steward Darren Gregory is seen above, third from left in front row, with his team. As ever many thanks to Gavin Rathbone and his colleagues at GR Photos whose website has many more images of the game and of last Saturday's gala ball. Below is a selection from that match.

ABOVE LEFT: Reserves' physio, Alan Ainsley, in hot pursuit of a Supporters' player. RIGHT: Not sure who this is, but he must be good - just look at how he keeps his eye on the ball - or perhaps it's because, without his glasses, he can't see any further than his feet?!

ABOVE LEFT: STAR Chairman Brian Flynn leads Tom Jacobs out of defence. RIGHT: Chairman Geoff Goodwin sprints for goal.

RIGHT: Director Grahame Rowley (right) keeps a close eye on Ian Rosendaal.


Cambridge City were beaten by Eastbourne Borough last Saturday and the defeated manager said, "Eastbourne took their chances, although I thought we had our share of the play without looking particularly dangerous from our own set-plays. They looked a pretty organised team. They’ve peaked at the right time. They’ve also had a settled team, and that helps. Eastbourne would find it hard to operate without the likes of Yemi Odubade or Scott Ramsay in their team, for example. I don’t think anyone could have coped with the injuries we’ve had, and even going into Saturday’s game we had to change the shape due to the lack of personnel available"

The Brighton Argus says that "Midfielder Matt Smart produced an inspirational man-of-the-match display as Boro eased past favourites Cambridge City... It is an incredible achievement for a club playing Sussex County League football just five years ago". Smith said, "It is hard to believe we are only one game away from the Conference and it hasn't sunk in yet. ... We will try to treat it exactly the same as we have the last two play-off games and go there relaxed, enjoy it and just let our football take shape". Right-back Ben Austin added, "We said before the game that there was no pressure on us because they were at home and were second in the league. We were very much the underdogs and it showed. They came out tentative and you could see from the start the pressure was on them". Smart is also a member of the England Futsal five-a-side team - a game in which our own Richard Norris also excels. Austin admitted that his goal against Cambridge was "something Danny Simmonds and I work on in training". Meanwhile, "Striker Yemi Odubade, who terrorised the City defence throughout, deservedly scored the third goal... It has been his presence as well as his goals - thirteen in sixteen games since joining from Yeovil in February - that has arguably been the catalyst to Boro's end-of-season success". Boss Garry Wilson stated: "I am still in a bit of shock. What we have achieved and the way we have done it is unbelievable. We prepared ourselves for a really tough game but Cambridge... For some reason they played one up front in the first half and it didn't harm us in any way. We were superb... The only scary thing is that if we win we will be in the Conference. That's the worrying part because we haven't actually thought about it".


Southport's Liam Watson won Manager of the Month and Terry Fearns was Player of the Month for April in Nationwide North.

The NW Evening Mail reports that Barrow "assistant manager Lee Warren has left Holker Street after five years with the club. The 36-year-old midfielder made the decision after revealing he wants to prolong his playing career. Manager Lee Turnbull broke the news last night and admitted he was surprised by Warren’s departure".

10 May 2005


In a shock announcement this afternoon, Alty boss Graham Heathcote harshly ruled out adding to his squad for Sunday's game any of the players who graced Moss Lane last night in the Staff v Supporters match - not even chairman/striker Geoff Goodwin or director/centre-back Grahame Rowley. However, he also reported that he hopes to have all of his first-team squad (apart from the long-term injured Stephen Rose and Marcus Hallows) available for selection on Sunday.


The club hopes to have deliveries of the special play-off t-shirts (see below) on Thursday. Further news on this when available... Meanwhile the 2005-06 kit remains available in limited supplies and can be bought at the club during normal office hours on weekdays. Ring 928-1045 to check availability.


Although the main aim on Sunday is to enjoy the experience (and win, of course!), arrangements for the match at Stoke are a little more complicated than we are used to in Nationwide North. So, please make sure that you read the website's page of information about the play-off match arrangements for Sunday's game against Eastbourne Borough at The Britannia Stadium, Stoke, which is here. And, don't forget it is a 1pm kick-off! The page covers:
  • How, when and where to buy a ticket
  • How to get to the ground by supporters' coach, car or rail
  • Matchday - entertainment and behaviour

    Details of the STAR supporters' coach times and fares are here.


    Action from the game last night.

    All of Alty's games at present seem to go to extra time and Monday night's Altrincham FC Staff v Supporters game at Moss Lane was no exception. A hard-fought 3-3 draw was the outcome after 90 minutes but the Supporters won the penalty shoot out 5-4 when the Staff's last effort was saved after the ball had bobbled on the spot as the kick was taken, just as it did for David Beckham. So Mark "Mourinho" Eckersall's team triumphed over Dalton Steele's squad which included Stephen Rose and former Man. Utd star Clayton Blackmore, as well as a number of more "experienced" players. Men of the Match were the supporters' no.8 and the staff's Bill Coop, a commanding presence in the centre of defence. The game was watched by about a hundred people including several of the first-team players (including Steve Aspinall, Kieran Lugsden, Chris Adams, Stuart Coburn, Mark Maddox and Eddie Hussin, the last named giving out the trophies, too).

    Right: Jay Goodwin attempts to substitute his father, Alty chairman Geoff Goodwin during the game.

    The squads were;

  • STAFF: Sean "The Cat" Riley, Paul Roberts, Steve Foster, Bill Coop, Grahame Rowley, Andy Knott, Neil Brown, Charles Heathcote, Geoff Goodwin (the Alty chairman, who scored a goal and a very good penalty), Chris Rowley, Gavin Rathbone, Nick Milne, John Laidlar, Alan Ainsley, Carlos Marsden (who also supervised the warm-up), Clayton Blackmore, Stephen Rose. The manager was Dalton Steele and kitman was Dave Mitten.

  • SUPPORTERS: Gary Warrington, Ian Rosendaal, James Harwood, Chris Edwards, Karl McDonald, Oliver Needham, Paul Dane, Ian Hussin, Andrew Nash, Martin Jordan, Wayne Thorley, Fraser Thorley, Brian Flynn, Neil Faulkner, Noel Shields (who headed two goals), Tom Jacobs, Danny Johnson, Matt Day, Chris Bird. Manager: Mark Eckersall.



    Above: Andy Boyers captures Kieran Lugsden's delight as the winning goal goes in at Kettering.

    In Monday's Evening News, Graham Heathcote said, "You need luck to achieve anything in football and, considering the odds we've had to overcome to get this far, I don't think anyone could begrudge us a little bit of good fortune with the own goal" which won the match at Kettering.

    Above: Gavin Rathbone's picture shows Val Owen (with Kirk Hilton), celebrating after one of his two goals at Kettering. More of Gavin's excellent pictures are on his GR Photos website.

    9 May 2005


    Eastbourne Today reports that "Eastbourne Borough are just one game away from joining the non-league elite after winning 3-0 away to Cambridge City ... Garry Wilson's men secured a trip to Stoke City's Britannia Stadium to play Altrincham".


    This is WCFC reports that "Worcester City are set to ground-share St George's Lane with neighbours Evesham United next season. The newly-promoted Southern League Premier Division side plan to move from their Common Road base to a new stadium for the 2006/07 campaign... City chairman Dave Boddy said: 'We have agreed with Evesham that, should they need to, they will be able to share our ground from January 1, 2006, to the end of the 2005/06 season. Obviously, it's a neighbourly thing to do. We might need the same sort of reciprocal favour in the future'".

    The NW Evening Mailreports that "Barrow chairman Brian Keen has said the club will issue a statement of their current finances within the next few weeks... The last figures seen by fans were the unaudited accounts issued in September last year. They showed the club to be £137,000 in debt".


    Altrincham FC have been given 5,106 tickets for Sunday's game against Eastbourne at the Britannia Stadium, Stoke (1pm). The club is required to sell these in a pre-defined sequence i.e. so the seats are filled up from the front first. Prices are £10 for adults and £5 for concessionaries i.e. senior citizens and under-17s. All children and concessionaries must sit in a special family area, adults may accompany their children. So, senior citizens have to sit in the family area unless they are prepared to pay full price (£10). Altrincham have been allocated the lower level of the Main (West) stand, whilst Eastbourne have the upper tier. Altrincham will be playing in their normal red and white stripes but will use the away dressing room.

    Tickets go on sale tonight from 7pm, before the Staff v Supporters football match at Moss Lane, which kicks off at 7.30pm. For those taking a car to Stoke, parking at the stadium costs £5 - tickets for parking are also available from the club. The club has been warned that any parking elsewhere in unauthorised places could result in heavy fines being imposed by the local authority. Click the Away Tarvel link (above) for the STAR supporters' coach details. Matchday programme prices have not been finalised but are thought to be £3.

    From Tuesday, tickets will be sold from 1000-1700 at Moss Lane. If you have any difficulty in geting to Moss Lane to buy tickets, please ring the club on 0161-928-1045 to make arrangements. You cannot buy tickets on matchday. Corporate tickets, which include a meal can be bought for £65; for more details of these please ring the club.


    Above: Gary Talbot, facing camera, celebrates Alty's winner at Kettering - courtesy of Gavin Rathbone, whose GR Photos website has plenty more from the game. Also pictured are Lewis Chalmers (left) and Kieran Lugsden.


    Graham Heathcote and colleagues and their Eastbourne counter-parts have to attend a meeting at Stoke today to finalise ticket and other arrangements for the game next Sunday. Once known, details will be posted here. It will be Tuesday at the earliest before tickets are on sale and it is expected that the basic price will be £10, (concessionaries £5), but please await confirmation of this. There will also be various hospitality packages available for the game.


    Above: The team celebrates, as director Graham Rowley and kitman Dave Mitten look on. Picture kindly supplied by Gavin Rathbone's GR Photos.

    There is now a match report on the game at Kettering here. I am grateful to Gavin Rathbone, John Cudlip, Stan and Isabel Riley for the information in the report, as I ws unable to attend the game.

    Kipax also has photos of the Kettering game last Saturday, here.


    Robins' Shop manager (and holder of a 1001 other posts at Moss Lane), Jenny Heslop, tells me that she has received fresh supplies from Ian Senior's Sensports of the Alty replica kit for 2005-06. You can get yours by calling at the ground anytime during normal weekday office hours - or ring 928-1045 to check availability.

    Indeed, Ian Senior has told the club that if anyone wants a new style Alty shirt (home or away) ready for Sunday he will guarantee to get it to the club by the weekend as long as the order is received by Tuesday night.

    And don't forget that you can get one of the special t-shirts being made to commemorate next Sunday's play-off final - they are sure to become collectors' items! These cost just £5 - see below for ordering details. Pictured below (courtesy of Bill Coop) are the wording on the back (with the main text) and the front of the t-shirt. The shirts' colour will depend on whether Alty play in red or yellow on Sunday.

    Above: The wording on the front. Below: The back.


    With the help of Ian Senior's "Sensports", the club is having special t-shirts printed for the game at Stoke next Sunday. Because both teams play in red and black, a decision about our colours for the day will be made tomorrow. So the t-shirts may be in red or yellow. They will retail for £5 and it is hoped to have a sample available on Monday - if so, a photo will appear on the website. The club needs expressions of interest to determine how many to produce so please ring Grahame Rowley on 07720-606897 or e-mail him here.


    The Altrincham FC Staff v Supporters game will be a 7.30pm kick off tonight (Monday) at Moss Lane. Admission is free and everyone is welcome. The Altrincham FC stewards are having their presentation night at the above event and there will be a buffet available for all the participating players, stewards, gate people and ballboys/girls, whilst the Bar will be open for all spectators.
    8 May 2005


    Above, Gavin Rathbone's excellent picture of Graham Heathcote, Rod Thornley and Chris Adams captures the mood as Alty reach the Confernce Promotion Final.

  • Kettering T. 2 Altrincham 3 aet
  • Cambridge C. 0 Eastbourne B. 3

    In the NL Paper, Graham Heatcote said, "To show the character we did to come back against another committed side in Kettering was a credit to this club. We kept at it and got our reward. We deserve to be in the final".


    Alty Youth completed their league campaign last Wednesday with a 10-0 win at Euxton Villa. Report to follow....


    Howard Watts's Through the Years records show only two previous games on the May 15th date of our play-off against Eastbourne Borough. The last such anniversary was our FA Trophy defeat in 1982 to Enfield at Wembley.

    I think I am correct in saying that Sunday will be the first time that Alty have played a team from Sussex, a county in which non-league football is undergoing a successful period. Two East Sussex sides, Lewes and Eastbourne Borough, qualified for the Nationwide South play-offs but Lewes's ground at the Dripping Pan was not deemed up to Conference National standards and they were barred from the playoffs.

    Our opponents, Eastbourne Borough have an excellent website - link here. The club was founded in 1966 as Langney Sports and played under that name until 2001. They have risen steadily through the non-league Pyramid. In 1983-84 they joined the Sussex County League Division Three and progressed through that league until 2000-01 when they joined the Southern League Eastern Division. As runners-up in 2003 they joined the Southern (Ryman) Premier and qualified for Nationwide South in 2004-05. This season, like Alty, they finished 5th and beat higher-placed opposition away from home (Thurrock 4-2 and Cambridge City 3-0) to reach the final.

    They play in red shirts and black shorts so there will be a clash with Alty's first-choice strip on Sunday. Like us their change-strip is yellow. Their manager is Garry Wilson and since joining them this season their star player has been Yemi Odubade, a not very tall but extremely fast striker, formerly at Yeovil Town.


    As a number of STAR supporters' coaches to Stoke City are likely to be needed to get everyone to the play-off final next Sunday, please note that it is vital that you do NOT change your stated boarding point. This is because not all of the coaches will call at all of the pick-up points so, to avoid overloading, if anyone turns up at the wrong boarding point they may not be allowed on. Travel coordinator Mark Eckersall will have a difficult enough job on the day so please help him by being punctual and by using your stated boarding point. Also, please remember there is no alcohol allowed on the coaches.

    Coach fares and timings are here - where there is also a link to a map of the ground area in Stoke.