Altrincham Football Club News Archive
13 to 16 May, 2005
16 May 2005
JOIN THE PATRONSAltrincham FC is seeking further members of the Patrons' Club to help its finances during the summer months when there is no matchday revenue. For just £5 a week for ten weeks you can help the club and have the chance of winning a prize draw. Full details here.
END OF SEASONAlty's season is finally and successfully concluded:
ALTY PROMOTED! Altrincham 2 Eastbourne Borough 1
Above: The scenes after the award of the medals and play-off trophy. Picture from Gavin Rathbone; copies can be bought from GR Photos on whose website more pictures are available. Coming soon to this site, more pictures from Gavin and from Andy Boyers.
Altrincham returned to the national division of the Conference after an absence of 5 years with a well deserved victory over Eastbourne Borough at The Britannia Stadium, Stoke in the Promotion Play-Off on Sunday. Congratulations to the management, players and everyone at the club for a wonderful achievement on a shoestring budget and thanks to the fans for their magnificent support all season.
A word of commiseration for Eastbourne; to have got so close to Conference National football must be hugely disappointing but hopefully they will get there next season. Their supporters, too, were a credit to their club and it was a great pity that segregation prevented us mixing with them.
Rod Thornley and Colin Potts with chairman Geoff Goodwin.
THE ALTY ARE BACKAs the banner said at the end of Sunday's play-off "The Alty are back" and one immediate illustration of this regained national profile is a match report in today's "Times" newspaper. In it Graham Heathcote says, "We didn't expect to begoing into the Conference but we are there now and we have to address it... One thing is certain, we won't be joining the ranks of full-time clubs and we won't be overspending". On yesterday's game, Graham added, "It had to be cagey in the first half because neither side knew much about each other. I thought we held the ball up well which was going to be important on a hot day". Man of the Match Val Owen said "It is how we have played all season, very strong, always battling and never giving up".
15 May 2005
THE BIG DAYThe NL Paper's betting expert says of today's play off against Eastbourne Borough, "I think Alty are lucky to be in with a chance of a return to the Conference top-flight and today is perhaps the day when that luck runs out". Quite why Alty are lucky but Eastbourne are not is mystifying!
The Sunday Pink has a half-page on today's game, which quotes Graham Heathcote: "I know some people might say we're lucky to be where we are now but ... we've had a particularly tough route through the play-offs. That being the case, I believe we're there on merit... I've said all along that, if we could only reach the play-offs, we'd be on equal terms with all the other qualifiers... Eastbourne are also through to the final by right". Graham added. "We've earned any good fortune which has come our way.. I consider it a magnificent achievement to have qualified for the play-offs... For us to have beaten two of the biggest names in non-legaue on their own grounds, with a patched up side is something we can always feel proud of, whatever the outcome of the final". Graham reasserts that if Alty were promoted they would remain part-time, "We wouldn't overspend... Our chairman, Geoff Goodwin, and his directors are far too sensible to risk undoing all the hard work they've undertaken... I fully support the board's policy of keeping a tight rein on things". But Graham adds that promotion is "still a million miles away". The Pink also has a letter from longstanding Alty fan Peter Hennerley about Graham Heathcote which concludes, "Graham has earned the right to be called a great and very conscientious manager indeed".
The NL Paper interviews Eastbourne's Yemi Odubade and Alty's Colin Little. Odubade says, "I feel really fresh because I didn't play much at [former club] Yeovil... I feel sharp, ready to score and my confidence is very high". Colin responds by saying "It would mean a great deal to me to help my local side get promoted... I'm expecting to score at Stoke and we fancy our chances... We feel we're on a roll and we've got an honest team and we can still grind out results even when things aren't going our way".
MARK WARD ARRESTEDAccording to the Sunday Telegraph, former Alty manager (2000-01) and "former Everton midfielder Mark Ward appeared in court yesterday after a raid on his Merseyside home, where detectives found cocaine and crack cocaine with an estimated value of about £2.5 million".
A TEAM EFFORT
When this team photo was taken on 2 September few would have expected Altrincham to be in the promotion play-off eight months later. In that time, nine of the players have either left the club (Kielty, Band, Hardy, P. and S. Wright, Shuttleworth and Smith) or are long-term injured (Rose, Hallows). At least 1,500 Alty fans will be travelling to Stoke to cheer the team on and thank them, the management and the board for such a great season.
In Saturday's Manchester Evening News, Paul Hince nominates Graham Heathcote as his Manager of the Year "in recognition of total dedication to the club he serves". Hince chronicles Graham's career at the club from a 16 year-old apprentice midfielder in 1970 to today, as manager concluding that "Heathcote in a nutshell IS Altrincham FC. He's the club secretary, the manager and the voluntary handyman. He mows the pitch, he sweeps the terraces and is not averse to cleaning the toilets. When he added managing the team to his other duties a couple of years ago, he took charge of a club which bore no resemblance to the free-spending, successful outfit he joined as a teenager... Not only did The Robins survive, they prospered to the point of qualifying for the promotion play-offs... That feat, win or lose, is the work of a REAL manager".
Also in the MEN, Tony Glennon talks to Colin Little who, on Monday,flies out to Mexico to get married. His sons Lewis (12) and Brodie (6), regulars at Moss Lane, will be page boys. "Colin and his longtime partner Catherine Mannion booked the trip a year ago, believing his season would be over by now". Colin said, "It's a good job the playoff final is the day before we leave. I don't think the gaffer at Alty, Graham Heathcote, would have been too pleased if I'd have had to miss the game. In fact, he'd probably have ordered me to play and cancel the wedding!". Tony Glennon adds that Colin "has yet to lose in a promotion knockout decider and until joining Altrincham had scored in every one he'd appeared in barring Crewe's victory... at Wembley in 1998, in which he was voted man of the match". Colin says, "I don't suffer from nerves" and went on, "I'm desperate to go up but, at the same time, there's no massive pressure on us because I think everyone accepts that we've had a fantastic season, no matter what the outcome... But that doesn't mean the lads won't be giving it everything, because I can assure you we will". He is keen to score twice tomorrow to reach a season's total of 40.
IF YOU CAN'T GOBrian Flynn will be updating the Alty Clubcall every 15 minutes on Sunday. So, if you can't get to Stoke, ring 09066 555902. Brian says that he "will also be doing one or two updates for BBC GMR (FM95.1) during the second half......& beyond if necessary! GMR's sports programme doesn't start until 2pm, therefore there will be no first half coverage".
NATIONWIDE NORTHJonathan Smith has signed for Barrow from Accrington Stanley.
"Danny Bacon, Andy Todd and Steve Palmer look set to leave FA Trophy finalists Hucknall Town after rejecting contract offers from the Nationwide North outfit. Mark Smith has not yet accepted an offer of a new deal, although manager Dean Barrick remains confident he will. But Simon Brown, who is in his benefit season, and Nathan Winder have not been offered new contracts and will leave Watnall Road after the Trophy final". Manager Barrick told This is Nottingham "I think Mark Smith will stay, and I haven't given up on Andy Todd yet. Southport have made inquiries about him, but that might be too far for him to go".
COMING UPThe promotion final from the UniBond to Nationwide North will be on Tuesday at Workington, when The Reds will face Farsley Celtic, after Saturday's semis:
OLD BOYDean Greygoose was on losing side in the FA Vase Final on Saturday for the third time. His AFC Sudbury lost 2-3 to Didcot Town.
CHESHIRE NEWSIC Cheshire says that "Chester City chairman Stephen Vaughan pulled the club back from the brink again this week with another big payment to the Inland Revenue. He signed a personal cheque for £168,888 to cover two tax instalments... Vaughan admitted: 'The club has no money. I did a deal to pay the outstanding instalments personally and that was accepted provided the cheque cleared, which it did. This takes the total amount of money I have put into the club to nearly £4m and I must admit it is beginning to hurt'".
TWO OLD FOESContrasting news from two former Conference opponents: NL Daily reports that relegated Maidenhead United "have been informed that they are back in the Nationwide South. The reasons are yet to be officially confirmed, but it is believed that Hornchurch are dropping out of the league to play at a lower level". Meanwhile "The future of Kidderminster Harriers, relegated back to the Nationwide Conference National, is shrouded in more uncertainty after the latest statement from majority shareholder Lionel Newton. The former chairman said he is yet to receive a written bid for the cash-strapped outfit and has extended his sale deadline by at least another two weeks", reports This is Worcester
14 May 2005
EXCITEMENT MOUNTSOn GMR last night (FM95.1), which will have match updates on Sunday from Alty's match at Stoke, Graham Heathcote (left) paid tribute to his team's two play-off performances at Nuneaton and Kettering. He expects to have a full squad to choose from this Sunday, apart from Kirk Hilton and the two broken leg victims, Marcus Hallows and Stephen Rose. Graham said the pitch at Stoke was "beautiful" and he expects some good football to be played on it. The Alty boss also revealed that tickets for the match can be bought on the day after 11am at Stoke - The Conference had not wished this to be known until Friday. Meanwhile, you can also get tickets today (Saturday) at Moss Lane between 10am and 2pm. Click the link above for full details of ticketing and travel. Graham is keen that whatever the outcome on Sunday, the club enhances its reputation. He indicated that 12 coaches would be taking Alty supporters to the game - and many more will be travelling independently.
In Friday's Manchester Evening News, Tony Glennon reports that "Altrincham are paying for their assistant manager Dalton Steele (right) to fly back from a business trip to Bermuda so he can be ... at Sunday's play-off final. Steele is away... in his job as a health and safety expert". Also keeper Stuart Coburn has turned down the chance of a two-week trip to the Far East ... Coburn had been chosen to go on tour with Middlesex Wanderers, the unofficial England non-league team, but has rejected the invitation... in favour of a trip to The Potteries". Graham Heathcote said, "I know some people are making a big deal out of Sunday and I fully understand why. But the thing I've impressed on the lads is that this isn't a day out in Blackpool, it's our chance to win a match which will take this club back into the Conference. We'll be preparing no differently than we do for any other game. Let's go there and get the job done... then we can think about celebrating. After all, we've all summer for that. Eastbourne wil be as desperate to win as we are and we'd be naive to think otherwise".
SAM's Mike Crockett has done Alty proud with substantial coverage of Alty's game on Sunday, including a piece on the paper's front page where Graham Heathcote says, "This club has a fantastic history and it's time to write a new chapter. We need the whole town to support us if we are to achieve that aim". In his report on the win at Kettering, Mike writes, "More than 400 Altrincham fans cheered their team on at Rockingham Road on Saturday and you can be sure more than three times that [number] will be doing the same this Sunday... Another thing you can be sure of is that this Altrincham side will never, ever give up and, if they don't make it to The Conference, it certainly won't be because they didn't try".
EASTBOURNE'S SKIPPERThe Brighton Argus reports that "The memories will come flooding back for Stuart Tuck when he leads Eastbourne Borough out at the Britannia Stadium on Sunday... Eight years after helping Brighton & Hove Albion achieve the point they needed at Hereford to retain their Football League status, Tuck hopes to guide Borough into the Conference by beating Altrincham in the play-off final... Tuck, 30, said: 'That was the ultimate experience in feeling under pressure because if we had lost it could have been the end of the club... Now I'm one of the older players at Borough so it will be my job to help the younger ones if they are struggling. There is no hiding the fact it is going to be a huge game in front of a big crowd but we have got to put the nerves to the back of our minds and grab the opportunity we have given ourselves... Altrincham are a big club so it will be a tough game. No one expected us to get this far so in one way we have nothing to lose but now we are in the final it will be disappointing to miss out. The worst thing would be to freeze on the big stage. If we lose after giving it everything then we can hold our hands up and say we tried our best but I'm confident if we play the way we can then we've got a great chance'. Borough will be without Phil Warner whose loan from Aldershot ran out following the 3-0 win over Cambridge City... last Saturday. Ollie Rowland is available again following suspension while Darren Smith has returned from honeymoon and Danny Chapman has been passed fit. Altrincham have no new injury worries and are expected to name the same side which beat Kettering".
GETTING TO STOKE
POSTERAlty fan Jeremy Arnold has produced a poster for Sunday's game which supporters can put up in shops, pubs, etc. Click here to view and download it.
NATIONWIDE NORTHOn the Moor Green forum it is reported that after the arson attacks, "The insurance claim has not yet been settled but it is hoped that this will be resolved in the very near future. Moors definitely won't be playing at the Moorlands next season as there are no facilities. Solihull is the likely venue for next season... Whether Moors ever return to Sherwood Road is in the balance... Other options would be a merger with/takeover of Solihull or finding somewhere else (unlikely!)".
At Nuneaton Borough "manager Roger Ashby will announce his list of retained players on Monday".
On the Conference North forum are reports that "Kettering Town have re-signed seven members of last season squad. Keeper Mark Osborne, defenders Wayne Diuk, Craig McIlwain and James Gould, midfielders Ollie Burgess and Brett Solkhon (who rejected a move to Hinckley) and striker Chris Difante have all signed for next season. Deals have been offered to Derek Brown, Martin Matthews and Jamie Paterson, but Paterson is also in talks with his hometown club Halifax Town where he will also be football in the community officer next season... Rob Gould, Matt Harris, Adam Bridgeford, Scott McCafferty and Dan Bulley have all been released".
Harrogate Today says that "Town look set to be without crowd favourite James Turley and record-signing Lee Morris next season. Both players have this week announced their intention to leave Wetherby Road during the summer - and have already been courted by potential new suitors. Out-of-contract winger James Turley, who has spent four years at Town, is mulling over a string of offers - including one from former boss John Reed at Stalybridge Celtic. And Lee Morris, who is thought to have cost a substantial four-figure price tag last summer, is also understood to have been given permission to find a new club - though he is likely to command a fee... The likely departures come as Town look to cut back on expenditure ahead of the new campaign, with loan signings rather than big-money buys likely to be drafted in as replacements. But... top scorer Marc Smith... joined winger Colin Hunter in pledging his immediate future to the club".
CHESHIRE NEWSThe BBC confirms that "Northwich Victoria manager Steve Burr ... and his assistant, David Moss, have both signed two-year deals at the Victoria Stadium. 'First and foremost it was important that I would be given assurances that the ground would be done. The chairman told me that was not a problem so I had no hesitation in signing a new deal'". Burr "has brought in former Cheltenham and Aldershot midfielder Hugh McAuley, 28, and signed midfield man Richard Battersby from Radcliffe Borough. The Vics boss has also agreed new deals with eight of his existing players with talks going on with a number of others. Kristian Rogers, Jon Allan, Paul Grayson, Kieran Charnock, Jon McCarthy, Danny Mayman, Michael Carr and Chris Gaghan have all signed up for next season".
13 May 2005
THE OPPOSITIONEastbourne Borough and Altrincham, who meet on Sunday, are each largely unknown quantities to their respective supporters. Here is a quick introduction to their squad. For more information please visit their excellent website
Our squads have many broad similarities. Both Eastbourne Borough, known as The Sports (as the club was called Langney Sports till 2001) have used 33 players in cup and league games this season. But both squads have a core of regular players. Alty and The Sports both have 6 or 7 players who have made 45 or more appearances (inc. sub appearances) this season; for Alty the six are Adams, Aspinall, Hussin, Little, Potts and Scott for Altrincham and for Eastbourne, the seven are Baker, Hook, Ramsay, Rowland, Simmonds, Smart and Tuck. The Sports have 3 current players who have more than 200 club appearances under their belts (Baker 643, Crabb 231, Stevens 340), Alty have four (Coburn 264, Maddox 316, Scott 210 and Talbot 234).
One link between Alty and Eastbourne is Marc Whiteman, the former Manchester United reserve striker who played 3(+3) games for us in 2002-02 and played for Eastbourne four times this season on loan from Lewes.
After failing to win any of their first 5 league games this season, The Sports have finished strongly, losing once in their last 9 games and scoring in all of their last 16 games. Alty have lost 1 of their last 10 games and have scored 103 goals this season in league and cup, with Colin Little hitting 38.
The Eastbourne side which beat Cambridge City last Saturday was:
Hook, Warner,Tuck, Smart, Playford (Chapman), Austin, Odubade (Williams), Crabb, Ramsay (Fazakerley), Simmonds, Atkin. Unused subs were Featherstone & Lightwood.
The manager is Scotsman Garry Wilson formerly the Hastings boss. He has been at Eastbourne since 1999.
COLLECT YOUR T-SHIRTSThe special play-off T-shirts (right), supplied by Ian Senior's Sensports company, are now available for collection at Moss Lane. If you have ordered one, please call at the club after 10am tomorrow to collect it. Otherwise, please collect before 2pm on Saturday or let the club know that you want the shirt retaining for later collection. Any unsold or unclaimed t-shirts will otherwise be sold on the coaches on the way to Stoke.
NOT A DAY AT THE SEASIDESAM's website quotes Graham Heathcote; "There could be no better end to the season... No-one can deny we have earned the right to be in that final. The players have also earned the right to run out to a huge cheer. Anyone who has seen these players in action knows they put their bodies on the line every week. The one thing I have to do is make sure this does not turn into something like a day out at the seaside. I need to keep the players focused on this - one more game that needs winning. Hopefully the spirit between the fans will carry on from the Nuneaton and Kettering games. I want Altrincham's reputation to be enhanced after this match. We have a chance to command the same respect that Altrincham's name used to command among non-league football circles".
Confguide describes Sunday's Alty v Eastbourne Borough game as "arguably the ultimate north v south battle!". Neutrals can get tickets by calling Stoke City on 0178 259 2204". By lunchtime Thursday, Alty had sold 800 tickets but the local newspaper has only just appeared today with the details for those who don't use the internet.
SECOND TO NONEIn Thursday's MEN, Alty director Grahame Rowley says, "Graham Heathcote's knowledge of non-league is second to none and we can count ourselves extremely fortunate to have such a shrewd and dedicated manager. The board felt, when we appointed him, he was ready-made to take the club forward and what we've achieved on limited finances has only confirmed that view".
TROPHYVictorious Altrincham Supporters' captain Frazer Thorley has kindly sent a photo (left) of the trophy won by his side against the Altrincham FC Staff last Monday. Alongside it is the individual trophy given to every player who participated.
STARSTAR has made a £1,500 donation to the Football Club towards pitch renovation and maintenance. STAR is also inviting e-mails to the team in advance of Sunday's game; these can be sent here - they must be sent by Friday night, please.
FA DECISION UPHELDCeefax reports that Burscough and Farsley Celtic's High Court action to challenge the FA's decision not to expunge Spennymoor's record has been unsuccessful. Beforehand, Burscough chairman Chris Lloyd spoke of the case to BBC Radio Lancashire: "As a club, we can't afford it, but it's me personally and my fellow directors who feel such outrage that we've come to a decision that we feel we must take this on". Burscough have now therefore lost their place in the play-offs. NL Daily says that "The High Court ruling is subject to an appeal to The Court of Appeal. Unless such an appeal is forthcoming, Hyde United are the Premier Division champions with the Play-Off semi finals - Workington v Prescot Cables and Farsley Celtic v Whitby Town - to be played on Saturday 14th May". On Leeds Today, "UniBond League chief executive Duncan Bayley insists... even with hindsight, he wouldn't have acted differently to prevent the farce that has left the UniBond League promotion race in chaos. I'm relaxed in the whole event, in terms of my own personal contribution. I've no reason to feel uncomfortable on a personal basis. I'm here to guide and advise and I feel I've done that well". He added that Farsley and Burscough "really have to accept it is a democratic process ≠ that's what the FA is there for... It was the FA's decision to award three points for each game unplayed and I haven't got an opinion on that one way or another".
NATIONWIDE NORTHNL Daily says that as regards Southern League Division One West, "there are now doubts over the position of Solihull Borough following discussions on a possible merger with Nationwide North neighbours Moor Green". The Moors finished the season at Solihull due to repeated arson at their Moorlands ground.
"Hinckley Unitedís central defender Adam Willis has decided to retire from the game to spend more time with his family... Manager Dean Thomas said of Willis: 'I think Adam has become disallusioned with the game and wanted to spend more time with his daughter. I thought that sometimes during the season he looked a little bit uninterested", as their website reports.
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