Altrincham Football Club News Archive
31 May 2006
YOUNG ROBINSIf you are 16 years old or younger and support Altrincham FC, why not join either the Junior Robins (for supporters under the age of 12) or the Club Robins (for ages 12 to 16)? There are lots of benefits to be had for just £5 a year. For full details, please click here or follow the Junior Robins/Club Robins link at the top of the page
ALTY YOUTH FALL AT FINAL HURDLE
Alty's Hassan Zareh-Ourang (7) latches on to a loose ball against Morecambe.
Altrincham Youth have won three cups this season but, sadly, they were unable to win the inaugural Neil Thomason Trophy last night against Morecambe at Woodley Sports FC, a game they played without captain Richard Gresty and Players' Player of the Year, Andy Keogh. Anthony Davies's goal had put Alty ahead at the interval but Morecambe came out strongly in the second half. Alty's cause was not helped by injuries to Hassan Zareh-Ourang and Matty Williams which saw both players have to be substituted, whilst Ben Deegan also suffered an injury. Morecambe got level with a penalty after the ball had bounced up against Ashley McGrath's hand and then went 2-1 up. With Alty chasing an equaliser, two late goals made the score 4-1, which was a little harsh on the Altrincham side. Report to follow.
CONFERENCE NEWSThe BBC confirms that "Halifax Town have released seven players in the wake of their defeat to Hereford in the Conference play-off final. Town had already announced long-serving midfielders Steve Bushell, 33, and Craig Midgley, 29, would be leaving. Steve Yates, Dean Howell, Brenton Leister, Lee Tuck and keeper Jon Kennedy have been told they will not be offered new deals. However, Shaymen's boss Chris Wilder has secured the services of 15 players for next season."
The Halifax Courier adds that "Goalkeeper Jon Kennedy... was an ever-present in the side after joining the Shaymen... in January" Manager Chris Wilder stated, "I want to keep the majority of last season's squad together. It will be a matter of three or four out and three or four in. We will be looking for someone to play wide left and for a central midfielder to replace Steve Bushell". The article adds that "Brian Smikle and Danny Forrest returned to West Bromwich Albion and Bradford City respectively after loan spells... Ryan Toulson, who made just one Conference start in his first season as a professional, has been offered a new deal as have Matt Doughty, Greg Young, Ryan Sugden, Chris Senior, John Grant and Peter Atherton".
The Football Conference board which condemned Alty to an 18-point deduction and a four figure fine, "will meet on Friday to determine Scarborough's fate. Scarborough have been asked to provide the Football Association and the Conference with information on ground, financial and ownership issues. That will then be considered by the Conference board before the make-up of next season's league is rubber-stamped at the Conference AGM on Saturday. Scarborough are confident they can give the guarantees sought by the Conference and earn a reprieve from relegation", says the BBC.
30 May 2006
NOT CHANGEDDespite The Manchester Evening News saying on Saturday that the friendly at Moss Lane between Altrincham and FCUM had been switched back to 26 July (7.45pm), this is not the case. It is still scheduled for 19th July!
RULES ARE RULESThe Bodleian Library, Oxford, has today published a reprint of the first Football Association Rule Book from 1863. It costs just £5.99. Bobby Charlton says in the preface that the Rules "do not simply make it possible to play football, they embody the spirit of the game". Seems like something changed between 1863 and 23 May 2006.
SUPPORT THE YOUTH TEAMThere may be only 33 days to the first-team's first friendly of the 2006-07 pre-season but the Altrincham Youth Team has yet to complete the 2005-06 campaign. Tonight (Tuesday) they attempt to win their fourth cup of the season as they take on Morecambe "A" in the first final of the Neil Thomason Memorial Trophy at Woodley Sports (7.45pm k.o.). Neil was formerly the coach of Alty Youth and winning the trophy would mean a lot to manager George Heslop and the lads, so please come along and support them if you can - entry is expected to be free. Alty will, however, be without captain Richard Gresty who played in the English Colleges' first match of their international tournament in Italy this weekend. England beat Spain 2-1 and meet Northern Ireland in their next match. If they win that, they will play the hosts, Italy.
CONFERENCE NEWSThe BBC reports that "Utility man Matt Bloomer will wait to consider his options following his release by Lincoln City. Bloomer, 27, is a target for Cambridge United, after a successful loan spell there last season. But he told the Lincolnshire Echo: 'There's no rush. I enjoyed my time at Cambridge, but ideally I want to stay in the League. I will assess the offers - as and when they come in'".
"Former Kidderminster striker Ian Foster was overjoyed to be asked to return to the club as their new physiotherapist... [He] won the Conference title with both the Harriers and Chester City. When the call came from (boss) Mark Yates, I nearly broke his wrist in trying to snap his hand off', Foster, 29, told Kidderminster's website".
Meanwhile, the BBC also reports that "Forest Green Rovers boss Gary Owers has snapped up former Bristol City and Barnet midfielder Simon Clist. Clist, 24, has signed a two-year deal at The Lawn after being released by Barnet.
"Defender Ashley Vickers has joined Conference newcomers Weymouth after being released by Dagenham & Redbridge. The 33-year-old played under Weymouth boss Garry Hill at Heybridge and St Albans, as well as with the Daggers. Meanwhile, Hill told the Dorset Echo he recently made a 'tentative enquiry' for Bournemouth striker Steve Fletcher, who is currently out of contract".
OLD BOYSNL Daily reports that "Bradford Park Avenue boss Phil Sharpe and assistant Clive Freeman [both ex-Alty] have been handed the task of lifting the club back into the UniBond League Premier Division. Both will be in charge for the 2006/07 season and the announcement ends weeks of speculation over their future at Horsfall Stadium. Director of Football Alan Hirst confirmed that their appointments had been made permanent... Despite being unable to keep the club in the Premier Division Sharpe and Freeman did enough to suggest, given more time, they could turn things round. Last season Avenue suffered a second successive relegation" says their website.
29 May 2006
AFTERMATHThe NL Paper reports on the Altrincham points deduction and quotes chairman Geoff Goodwin. Geoff says, "We will go down to Conference North and we will carry on. It will be business as usual for us. If no one has any common sense when making decisions like this, I cannot do anything about it. The whole affair is ridiculous. I object to being made to look like a criminal. In three years I have pulled this club back from a £700,0000 deficit and, in five months' time all debts will have been cleared. We've proved we were good enough to play in the Conference. Changes must be made to the way players are registered. Why don't they insist on football passports each containing a list of player's clubs over the past two years? There is no point taking any further legal action because they've made their minds up". The article repeats the FA statement that "During the hearing the club dropped all grounds for appeal other than that the penalty imposed by the Conference was excessive". This is "economical with the truth" which was that the club was required to drop its other grounds for appeal because the FA ruled them out of order.
The NL Paper's leader article on the subject bemoans the time taken to sort out the Alty case and the resulting disruption to football; it does not, however, pass any judgement on the rights and wrongs of the FA and Conference's treatment of Altrincham, who have paid a very large price for another club's failings.
Tony Sheldon, a correspondent in the NL Paper writes, "The members of the FA appeals board approved the 'holier than thou' decision of the Conference alumni that Altrincham should be hung out to dry... The FA, at least, did what they believed to be right, which is not what you can say about some members on the boards of Tamworth, Forest Green and Southport... Southport didn't say a lot publicly but often the latent are more dangerous than the overt. Forest Green were happy to let the football world know 'where they were coming from', but to me the most unpleasant behaviour came from Tamworth... So the only relegation this season [after Canvey's resignation] will be Altrincham - decided by little men in darkened rooms".
PATRONS' CLUBAlty director Grahame Rowley writes, "Following the successful Patrons' Scheme started last year, we have decided to re-launch it for the coming season 2006-07. For the cost of £50 your name will appear throughout the coming season in the matchday programme as a Patron of Altrincham Football Club. At the beginning of the season, every member will be entered into a prize draw, with the winner being match sponsor for an appointed game along with 9 guests. Second prize will be hospitality for 5 people and third prize hospitality for 3 people in the Sponsors' Lounge. If you are interested in becoming a Patron, please speak to Grahame Rowley or Barry Pond on 07720-606897 or 07957-456375 or email Grahame.
Details of Altrincham FC's current fundraising schemes are here.
TWO TO WATCHIn its review of last season, the NL Paper identifies Kieran Lugsden as one to watch, "Young, full of promise and with pace to burn, 20 year-old Lugsden could be the ingredient Alty need to bounce straight back".
In its "Colleges' Soccer" column, the NL paper refers to the English Colleges' recent goalless draw against a Watford Academy side. The College team's administrator, Gordon Staniforth, talks of newcomer "Richard Gresty, a centre back from South Trafford College. Richard is six foot plus and Watford became more than interested in his future when he appeared against them". Richard is the captain of the Altrincham FC Youth team.
MARK'S VERDICTSAM has Mark Maddox's column. "I was absolutely gutted about the FA's decision but I can't say I was completely surprised about it... At the end of the day, this clearance that Robbo needed was just a piece of paper so how much does that really matter, it definitely didn't make a difference to how we played on the pitch. When you look at the likes of Crawley it makes you realise just how harsh this is. They seem to have consistently broken financial regulations and gone over the wage cap but they got away with a three-point deduction. It just doesn't seem right. Something is definitely not right in the Conference for this to keep happening every year, but maybe they want full time clubs for a full time league. It's all left a bad taste in the mouth and I couldn't believe the attitudes of some other clubs to the whole situation. So it was good to see that Scarborough didn't celebrate us going down, although staying in the Conference could work against them... Even if we do get a reprieve if their financial situation isn't sorted out, it will still show what a shambles this league is at the moment. I think I'm just resigned to the fact that I'll have the worst Conference record in the history of Alty, each time I've got to the Conference we've been relegated straight away... We've got to be confident going into the Conference North next year because we are good enough to be in the Conference so we should be good enough to challenge for promotion in the division below... A few of the players Graham's been looking at were waiting to see which league we were going to be in so now we can start planning properly. Graham's planning on having a smaller squad so a few players will be leaving too and nobody can be sure of their future at the club yet, I've not even been told whether I'll be staying on! A big forward has got to be one of our priorities but they aren't exactly easy to come by. One good thing to happen this week was finishing my level two coaching badge".
CONFERENCE NEWSWorcester City "have announced that they will be holding Season Ticket prices for the 2006-07 season... Ground Admission goes up by £1 for adults to £10 the Stand goes up by £1 for adults to £2... All paid admissions on the day of a game, will be entered into a free prize draw, with the chance to win Match Tickets, Replica Shirts, Signed Footballs, etc".
28 May 2006
FRIENDS OF ALTRINCHAM FCThe savage points deduction by the Conference which appears to have condemned Altrincham to relegation back to Conference North will mean a decrease in gate and advertising revenue. So regular income from fundraising schemes becomes ever more vital. Alty director Grahame Rowley launched a new Friends of Altrincham FC Monthly Draw scheme on Thursday night and invited all supporters to join. For just £5 a month a minimum prize of £100 can be won, with all profits going to the football club for strengthening the playing budget. Full details of the scheme and an application form are here. Please do join if you possibly can; it will be very much appreciated.
And don't forget, you have till 30 June to get your £10 discount on your 2006-07 season ticket. The season ticket will get you free admission to all the pre-season home friendlies, (which include visits by Manchester City, Bolton Wanderers, Oldham Athletic and FC United), as well as representing great value for league matches. Details of the season ticket prices are here.
LINKSThe website links page has reverted to Conference North links, albeit updated. As previously it includes links to maps of each Conference North ground as well as to their official and unofficial websites. Many other links are included to local football club sites and to general football websites.
CONFERENCE NEWSStevenage Borough "have confirmed the appointment of Mark Stimson as their new Manager on a 3 year contract. The highly rated Stimson resigned from his position at Grays Athletic two days after winning the FA Trophy for the second successive year and taking them to 3rd place in their first season in the Conference, stressing his desire for a fresh challenge after 4 years at Grays. Boro chairman Phil Wallace said 'We had a strong list of candidates for the job lined up a week or so ago but when we heard Mark was available there was never going to be anyone else as our first choice and we were determined as a Board to do whatever was necessary to persuade him to join us. He doesn't have as much managerial experience as some of the other candidates but we believe he is destined for the top and is capable of taking this club into the Football League during the term of his contract, playing the type of football our fans love to see. His talent for getting players playing to the best of their ability has been proved time and time again over the last 4 years. This, together with his current knowledge of the level and his desire to play football in a certain style, was the main reason he was our prime target when we heard he was available. We were fully aware there was interest in him from Football League clubs but I'm delighted to say that we were able to persuade him that Stevenage Borough was a challenge he couldn't resist - one which, if he were successful on the pitch, would allow him to take the club through to the Championship without the need for significant stadia or infrastructure development. In short, we were able to persuade Mark that a financially stable club with an ambitious board and Football League facilities was the right career path to follow for the next 3 years. We're delighted he's joining us'".
But Grays Forum, Athletic's owner Mick Woodward says, "As some of you may be aware, Mark Stimson and Scott Barrett have joined Stevenage Borough on a three year contract... I am disappointed as I thought he wanted to better himself and go to a league club. However, I wish him all the luck... I'd like to reassure every one of you that all players at the club that are currently under contract will not be sold out sideways, no matter what amount is offered... We still have a great set-up here and great prospects with our new management team. So please, as Chairman, I'm asking all of you to get behind Frank Gray, Gerry Murphy and Steve Snelling".
The BBC confirms that "Margate have signed Gravesend and Northfleet midfielder Jimmy Jackson on a two-year contract".
27 May 2006
Right: Alty's trophies, the Open Cup, the Cheshire County FA District Cup and the shield for winning the Subsidiary Cup.
Thursday witnessed the fifth annual Altrincham FC Youth Team Presentation Night. Though not successful in the league, the Youth team have lifted three cups this season and have the chance of a fourth next Tuesday when they play Morecambe in the Neil Thomason Memorial Trophy Final at Woodley Sports (7.45pm). As manager George Heslop said, he is especially keen to win that cup as it commemorates his former colleague, Youth team coach Neil Thomason who died last summer at a young age. Please come along and support the lads in their attempt to honour Neil in the best way they can.
A full report and pictures from the Presentation Night are in the Youth section.
FA COMPETITION DATESConference North clubs are set to join the FA Cup at the 2nd Round Qualifying stage (30 September) and the FA Trophy at the 3rd Round Qualifying round. Subsequent rounds are as follows:
STAR WORLD CUP BADGESWith the World Cup approaching, don't forget that STAR has for sale an Altrincham / England World Cup badge, with proceeds going to the club. STAR's Ian Harwood says, "See how many you can sell to friends or workmates. Just one email around the office sold six badges and made £18 for Alty. You can buy the badge by going to the following eBay link. If you aren't an eBayer you can order them direct from me by sending a cheque made payable to STAR to Ian Harwood (Alty badge), 30 Clarence Road, Hale, Altrincham, Cheshire WA15 8SF. Add £1 for p&p and don't forget to include your address".
CONFERENCE NEWSFrom Oxford we read that "The decision to grant Oxford United special dispensation to play in the Nationwide Conference National has sparked uproar in Altrincham. Having been docked eighteen points for fielding an unregistered player, which will almost certainly see them relegated, Altrincham chairman Geoff Goodwin has hit out at the league for allowing United to play their matches with a three-sided ground. League rules state that supporters must be able to watch football from all four sides – an obvious problem for Oxford. However, Conference chief executive John Moules says that the rule enables officials to use their judgement when it comes to new teams. 'There is [I think he means "are"] criteria which says [I think he means "say"] spectators should be able to view a game from all four sides', said Moules. 'The rule exists in the Football League as well, but gives discretion to the board of directors to make their own judgement.. Obviously, they are going to be one of the best-supported clubs, and probably one of the most successful as well'. It is not a view shared by Goodwin, however. He said: 'I have got nothing against Oxford at all and it doesn't matter who the club is, but what I would say is surely rules are rules? You either have them or you don't – it's as simple as that. I have had to sit through a hearing which lost us 18 points and cost us relegation because we broke the rules. It has left me with a bitter taste in my mouth and a poor view of football. I'm not really bothered about Oxford's ground, to be honest, but they didn't let Marine in under the same ruling, so why is that? It seems to me like part-time clubs get punished while full-time ones get away with it. But that will sound like sour grapes after what has happened'", quotes This is United.
NL Daily confirms that "Weymouth have officially been deducted four points from last season's total over the Solomon Taiwo affair. Football Conference officials informed Terras of the long-awaited decision after Altrincham lost an appeal over a separate eighteen-point penalty for fielding an ineligible player. Terras` punishment means Garry Hill's men officially won the Nationwide South championship by four points, finishing on ninety points. Chairman Martyn Harrison said the Wessex Stadium outfit still believe the penalty, which does not include any financial fine, was harsh but do not plan to appeal".
Altrincham and Weymouth are not the only ones feeling hard done by the Conference. Noel Kelly, ex-chairman of Nuneaton Borough has written to the Altyfans Forum saying, "I designed and donated the Conference Championship trophy - that Altrincham have won - and the Conference have removed my life membership. He has written , "I've always has a strong affinity with Altrincham. You were the kings of Non-league when I ran NBFC, we finished second to you twice in the days before automatic promotion! Please point your fellow Alty fans to my website and ask them to send me their comments".
The BBC quotes Aldershot boss Terry Brown on "his biggest ever signing... the recruitment of Jason Lee. The former Nottingham Forest frontman, 35, has joined the Shots after leaving Northampton at the end of last season. 'It is a commitment from the club to state that we are trying to win something next season', Brown said. Meanwhile, "Cambridge winger Courtney Pitt and defender Mark Peters have signed new contracts... leaving the U's with 11 players under contract for next season. Boss Rob Newman has also verbally agreed a deal with an unnamed experienced goalkeeper, who will sign when he returns from holiday. In addition, Newman plans more talks with ex-Lincoln man Matt Bloomer". But "play-off champions Hereford United have parted company with midfielder Stacy Coldicott".
From Scarborough we learn that "Ian Scobbie took the reins at the McCain Stadium today to enable erstwhile Chairman Malcolm Reynolds to concentrates on Boro's [ground] move. Reynolds... will still remain as a Director and as the Club’s major shareholder. ’Ian has kindly offered to take the Chairman’s role from me. The day to day management of the playing side does not sit comfortably with the sometimes prolonged negotiations over the new ground. Those negotiations are now in the home strait and I need to concentrate on the discussions with our development partners and Scarborough Borough Council', said Reynolds... Scobbie is a solicitor by profession. A partner at leading Leeds law firm Godloves, he has been a director at Boro for over 3 years'". Meanwhile, "Boss Neil Redfearn is looking to a positive future after his side's stay in the Conference was confirmed. 'We have been given a reprieve now and it is time to start looking forward', he said. 'We have cleared the decks, we have a clean slate and now I want to bring in players who want to win... There were mistakes made last season and we have to learn from them and start pushing on'".
Harrogate Town "boss Neil Aspin has begun the process of reshaping his squad... To make way for anticipated exciting ew signings, 6 players have been let go. Those departing are goalkeeper Michael Price, club captain Paul Stoneman, Gareth Grant, Jamie Heard, Chris Mason and Jason Wray. Heard is heading to Australia, whilst Mason is understood to be going to Sweden [let's hope they have international clearance!] . The Harrogate Advertiser reports that "Stoneman's place has been taken by [ex-Alty captain] Chris Timons". Aspin said, "I've said to the chairman if we don't improve the squad we will stand still or fall back... Nobody asked to leave and it was the decision of myself and Lee Philpott... We are also in the process of trying to sign a very highly rated player from another non-league club [believed to be a striker]... My early thoughts are that we'll be in a stronger position at the start of next season than we were at the start of last season".
At Moor Green "The following players are the only players not to have retained their contracts... Sean Dowdall and [ex-Alty keeper] Ashley Timms... [and] Chris Nurse has decided not to retain his contract for next season... Gary McPhee has now been put on the Transfers list and is 'open to offers'. Gary ended up as last season top scorer for the Moors, ending up with 14 league goals".
Stalybridge Celtic "have announced that striker Jody Banim has been sold to Tameside neighbours Droylsden".
Worksop Town announce that "Worksop Town Director Howard Raymond is hopeful of further ground developments at Sandy Lane which will see a Sports Injury Clinic, Health Club, Gymnasiam and Swimming Pool being included in a new planning permission application to the Bassetlaw District Council. The original plan to provide a new ground with top class facilities at Kilton Forest is now on hold as the club look to also provide further seating to the main stand by moving the seating at the woodyard side to the end of the main stand and behind the goal at the Rockware end".
"Striker Gary Ricketts has signed on the dotted line to play for Hucknall Town next season... Having missed most of last season with injuries, tall targetman Ricketts will hope to regain the form that saw him become one of the first names on the team sheet under previous boss Dean Barrick. But one name that won't be on the team sheet is that of the club's only ever-present last term, defender Alistair Asher. For he has shocked everyone by leaving Watnall Road for Ilkeston Town. No fee is involved... He was offered a new contract, although that entailed a drop in wages, and he has decided to move on. He will team up with Town's top scorer last season, Robert Gill, who joined The Robins for £1,000 in March... Hucknall boss Kevin Wilson said: 'We've got a budget to work to and there is no way the club is going to go over that'. Wilson revealed that he has had to cut back on his budget and every member of the squad has had to take a pay cut... Another defender, Gary Sucharewycz, has also decided to reject the offer of a new contract and has moved to local-derby rivals Alfreton Town... But Wilson has made one new signing this week, that of young Sutton Town midfielder Danny Naylor, 21" reports Hucknall Today.
"Danny Forrest, who spent last season on loan with Nationwide Conference National play-off final losers Halifax Town, has been told he can leave Bradford City. And the news is bound to spark speculation about a permanent switch to The Shay... Wilder will formally start the process of planning for the 2006/07 campaign when he meets up with his players on Friday. Only five of last season's squad are signed up although offers are likely to be made to a number of others" claims Halifax Today.
LOCAL NEWSNL Daily reports that "Runcorn Linnets FC have agreed in principle a deal that will see them ground share at Witton Albion's Wincham Park stadium next season.. within the boundaries of the Cheshire FA. Linnets' press officer Steve Pritchard said: 'This is a great step forward for us in fulfilling our ambition of fielding a team next season in the North West Counties League'... This isn't the first time that Runcorn have ground shared with Witton. There was a spell some years ago when their Canal Street ground in Runcorn was out of action for repairs".
26 May 2006
CHARITY GAMETwo more first teamers will take part in the Charity Game being organised by Neil Brown and Alan Ainsley in which an Altrincham supporter will be able to play alongside players from our first-, reserve- and youth-teams. The new recruits are Peter Band, who is rumoured to be playing some of the game in goal (the only position he has never played in for the first team) and striker Kieran Lugsden. Follow the link above for details of the game .
CONDOLENCESThe FA decision against Altrincham this week pales into insignificance alongside the news that John Whitehead, an Altrincham supporter, has died at the age of 45. Alty fans will know John as a "gentle giant", a tall, bearded man with a pony tail who until recently often accompanied one of our oldest supporters, Norman Brown, on trips to away matches on the STAR supporters' coach. We offer our condolences to his family and friends.
YOUTH NIGHTAltrincham FC Youth team held a very enjoyable Presentation Night on Thursday. Details and pictures of the award winners will follow.
Above: Altrincham Youth team with their three trophies. L to R back row: Tony Spilsbury (coach), Michael Risk, Rick Crawford, Reza Zareh-Ourang, Ashley McGrath, Stefan Fielding, Ben Deegan, Andy Keogh, Lewis Bishop, Kieran Raynes, Tom Barclay, Julieann Gresty (physio). Front row: Hassan Zareh-Ourang, Matty Williams, Astley Mulholland, Richard Gresty, George Heslop (manager), Anthony Davies, Danny Browne, Dean White.
Above, Peter Band, Altrincham FC first team Player of the Year, presents midfielder Andy Keogh with the Youth Team Players' Player of the Year Award. Andy is on crutches, having emulated Wayne Rooney by fracturing his metatarsal. More on the presentations and more pictures to follow...
WORLD CUP DRAWThe Altrincham FC World Cup Competition draw was held last night - details here, with Dalton Steele and Peter Band the men making the draw, ably assisted by Sarah Rowley.
JAMES ROBINSON SPEAKSThursday's Manchester Evening News has an interview with James Robinson, the other innocent party in Altrincham's loss of 18 points and £1,000 fine administered by the Conference and supported by the FA. "I heard the news from my dad and I'm gutted for the club", he told the paper, "I don't feel it was their fault and I'm devastated for them. A lot of things have been said about me in the press but, as far as I'm concerned, I didn't do anything wrong. Both Geoff Goodwin (the Altrincham chairman) and Graham Heathcote (the manager) have told me they don't blame me for what happened. I knew about international clearance regulations because I'd played in Iceland after leaving Crewe. And both Accrington and Altrincham asked me for my playing history before I signed for them. As far as I was concerned I was free to play. It's only when Richmond [his new club in Australia] applied for my clearance that the FA told them my registration was still in Iceland. I really enjoyed my time at Altrincham. It was a great club to be part of. Everyone worked hard and battled for each other".
The article adds that "Alty's last hope of staying up rests with long-standing rivals Scarborough, who face a reprieve after finishing bottom of the table. They have until May 31 to prove to the Conference they are financially solvent after recently coming out of administration. Boro Director Ian Scobbie said: 'We've got about 12 pieces of information we need to show to the Conference about our financial situation. Some they accept are out of control. We're confident this will be done by Friday but just what the Conference makes of it after that, I'm not sure. I asked them at a meeting last week what breach of rules we would be charged under if we failed to provide the information and they couldn't tell me. But there would be no complaints from us if Altrincham ended staying up. To be honest, the whole thing stinks. We feel terrible about what's happened. It's a mistake that could happen to us all'".
What a pleasure to hear Scarborough's comments, which contrast with those of certain other clubs who finished below us in the Conference table.
THE BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO FOOTBALL ADMINISTRATION: Lessons 1 and 2
Lesson One: HOW A CLUB GETS DOCKED 18 POINTS
The Sale & Altrincham Messenger gives over its front page to the FA and Conference's punishment of Altrincham. It quotes chairman Geoff Goodwin "I just feel sick. We had gone down there hoping that justice would be done but not long after the hearing had started I knew they were just going through the motions. They told us rules are rules but I just feel like they have stuck the knife in because they didn't even consider that we had never knowingly done anything wrong. At the end of the day, I'm still baffled that we have got a letter that the FA sent us when they first found out about this incident that says we have no charges to answer and then we have to go through all this nonsense". Alty director Grahame Rowley added, "We have dealt with Accrington many times in the past and when we signed James Robinson we expected Accrington to have done the right thing. In an ideal world you would always phone the FA to check for international clearance before signing a player but if every team did that they would need a call centre to deal with the amount of calls. They told us they couldn't overturn the Conference's decision because those were the rules. But we can't understand why didn't they tell us that an appeal would be useless, because we wasted a lot of time and money going through with this when they knew all along it would come to nothing". The appeal was heard by a panel comprising three County FA representatives.
Lesson Two: HOW A CLUB GETS DOCKED ONLY 3 POINTS
In Sussex, The Argus confirms news that "Sacked Crawley Town managing director Steve Duly has been awarded almost £35,000 for unfair dismissal as the crisis-hit football club considers going into administration. Mr Duly, 35, told an employment tribunal he was forced out of his £28,600-a-year job soon after his father John sold the club to the SA Group last summer. The group, led by Azwar Majeed and his bankrupt brother Chas, then launched a smear campaign, criticising Mr Duly's management skills and wrecking his chances of getting a new job, the Croydon tribunal heard. He is the third former member of staff to successfully sue the club after being sacked, following in the footsteps of former manager Francis Vines and his assistant Dave Swindlehurst. Mr Duly spent five months without a job after he was shown the door at Crawley Town last November and now has a casual job as an £11-an-hour sports club bar manager. He said: 'Chas Majeed went to the press and said I had left the club in a huge mess which has made it very difficult for me to find another senior job in the sports and leisure industry, where I have worked all my life'... Mr Duly said: 'They told me they were bringing in a new general manager but were making me director of football and that I would be more involved in the playing side in terms of scouting and strategy. Shortly afterwards former England captain and Brighton and Hove Albion manager Alan Mullery was drafted in as a consultant. Mr Duly said: 'Effectively he was director of football and I no longer had a role'. That month his wages were docked £50-a-week with no explanation and Chas Majeed asked for his resignation, he added. When he refused he was ordered off the premises and told he was on 'gardening leave'... Later he received his P45 in the post informing him his employment had ended on New Year's Eve, the tribunal heard... The tribunal found Mr Duly was wrongfully and unfairly sacked, the club had failed to follow statutory dismissal and grievance procedures and withheld £5,133 in wages plus £1,980 for holiday entitlement. He was awarded £25,000 compensation, £2,115 for unfair dismissal plus a further statutory payment of £375... The Majeeds were not at the tribunal to contest the claim. A statement issued by the club later said: 'His decision to sue the club contradicts his claims to have the best interests of Crawley Town at heart because it is the club who will suffer the financial repercussions of his claim'. Crawley Town have admitted they are in serious financial trouble. The Nationwide Conference has docked them three points from this season's table and fined them £5,000 for exceeding their agreed annual players' budget. Spokeswoman Gil Roberts said yesterday the club was considering administration".
Lesson Three: HOW TO APPLY RULES CONSISTENTLY (OR NOT, AS THE CASE MAY BE)
The points deductions continue as now League Two side Bury have been deducted one point for fielding Colin Marrison as a substitute after his loan from Sheffield United had officially ended. The game in question ended in a draw. Bury were also given a suspended fine of £5,000 only payable if they commit another offence before the end of next season. Interestingly, Bury say that they are "disappointed by this outcome as all past precedents of similar/more serious offences, in our opinion, made by clubs in the same division as us and also League One & Championship level, have never had any points deducted and only received fines or suspended fines".
ALTY IDOLSAs promised, here is the link to the Alty Idols website - for more on the Idols see below in yesterday's news...
CONFERENCE NEWSNL Daily says that "Terry Brown, manager of Aldershot Town, has added two more players to his squad for next season. Experienced striker Jason Lee arrives at the Recreation Ground after leaving Northampton Town. The 35-year-old former Nottingham Forest forward has agreed a two-year contract and has appeared for a number of Football League sides, including Charlton Athletic, Watford and Grimsby. Also joining the playing staff for next season is former Reading youngster Louis Soares, who is a midfielder from Barnet. Soares, who has signed a one-year deal at The Rec, made twenty-five appearances for the Underhill outfit last season and had a loan spell in the Conference National with Tamworth in 2004/05".
"Striker Darryn Stamp has signed a new contract with managerless Stevenage Borough. Stamp, signed from Chester City in 2005, has this week agreed new terms... Meanwhile, the club have confirmed that the following players have not been re-engaged for next season: goalkeeper Shane Gore, defender Micky Warner, midfielders Simon Weatherstone and Rob Quinn and forwards Jefferson Louis, Olly Berquez and Tunisian Dino Maamria. An announcement on the appointment of a new manager is expected at the weekend" adds NL Daily.
"It will be a short summer for Nuneaton Borough players as they are set to return to training on July 1st as manager Roger Ashby strives to make it third time lucky in the club's Nationwide North promotion stakes... Ashby insists he's leaving no stone unturned in their bid for title honours in 2006/07 and he reckons fitness is a major key to that ambition, hence the appointment of James Ellis recently as the club's fitness coach... 'I'm one of the old school who insists on players looking after themselves all year round and not just the nine months they are playing. Preparation is crucial and I want the players in good shape when they come back for pre-season. They owe it to the club, fans, me and themselves'. Ashby has scotched rumours linking him with moves for ex-Boro striker Mark Quayle, released by Scarborough at the weekend, and Tamworth striker Kirk Jackson" reports IC Coventry.
"Oxford United have failed in a bid to sign former Oxford City and Wycombe striker Jermaine McSporran. The 29-year-old was released by Doncaster Rovers last week... 'Oxford have already said that they want me, but I have turned them down as I do not want to go back into non- League'", he said.
"Forest Green Rovers have announced their second new signing for 2006/07. Manager Gary Owers has secured the services of Liverpool-born, 22-year-old wide player Les Afful... Afful has been at Exeter City all his football career, playing in the Football League and the Conference for the Grecians".
"Weymouth have clinched the signing of Hereford United captain Tony James. The Welsh semi-professional international defender has penned an initial one-year deal... [He] spent eight years at Edgar Street before he was released following an injury-hit campaign" reports the Dorset Echo
25 May 2006
GEOFF'S RALLYING CALLAs he prepares to go on a well-earned week's holiday, Altrincham chairman Geoff Goodwin (right) spoke to the website today about his positive vision for next season. "Although what happened on Tuesday was a travesty and an injustice, it was not life-threatening. It's not a disaster; a real disaster was when our youth team trainer Neil Thomason died at a young age last year. As a Conference National team relegated on a technicality, everyone in Conference North will be out to beat Altrincham, as we will be the favourites for the title. We need to get ourselves dusted down now, come back fighting and go into next season in a positive way". Geoff wants the club to respond to the challenge of being favourites, whereas last season economics alone dictated that we had had to aim at mere survival in Conference National. Next season, he believes, gives us an opportunity to assert ourselves once again. Geoff wants the whole club to get together, act professionally, and get the job done. He wants the players to go out and win games, the supporters to get behind the team and enjoy themselves and for everyone to show the footballing world what Altrincham FC is all about - that we will overcome what happened to us at the hands of the FA last Tuesday. Geoff is refusing to talk publicly about the efforts of other Conference clubs to get the points deduction enforced, saying "We're bigger than that".
Although the inevitable drop in attendances next season will affect the budget, the Board is doing its best to ensure that the effect on the playing budget is minimal. In this respect there is a role for everyone who supports the Club. Geoff is concerned that the club's fundraising gets sorted out immediately rather than becoming delayed in the process of sorting out the relationship between STAR (the supporters' trust) and the Club. "We can't afford to wait to get this sorted out. I want to see it resolved by the time I come back from holiday", said the chairman. As director Grahame Rowley revealed at the STAR SGM, on Tuesday night, a "Friends of Altrincham FC" is to be launched to bring in regular income for the playing budget and everyone is urged to support this and the other fundraising ventures of the Club. Everyone needs to do their bit to maximize the fundraising effort. (The Friends scheme will be launched at tonight's Youth Team Presnetation Night, details of which are below).
Geoff confirmed that both he and manager Graham Heathcote are committed fully to the club for next season despite what happened at the FA this week. Leading scorer Colin Little, amongst others, has rung Geoff to express his continued dedication to the club despite the relegation. And even Australian cricketer, Shane Warne, has rung Geoff today to express his support for Altrincham.
YOUTH PRESENTATION NIGHTThe Youth Team's presentation night will take place tonight (Thursday 25th, 7.30pm for 8pm) at Moss Lane. Everyone is welcome; entry is £2 and a buffet will be provided. Peter Band will be there to present one of the trophies and STAR will be presenting the Jackie Swindells Trophy to the Player of the Year. The event will also witness the draw for the Altrincham FC World Cup competition.
THIS SPORTING LIFE?The shambles that passes for the relegation process from Conference National deepens. Not only have Canvey Island had to resign from the Conference and accept demotion for financial reasons and Altrincham have been deducted 18 points for another Conference club's failure to get international clearance for a player whom they subsequently signed, but now both Scarborough and Crawley Town have financial problems which possibly threaten their future in non-league's premier division.
The Conference is demanding financial assurances from the Seadogs, despite the Yorkshire club's recent emergence from administration. The BBC quotes Scarborough chairman Malcolm Reynolds "following Altrincham's enforced relegation. Scarborough finished bottom of the table but could now stay up... 'It's a hollow feeling the way it has come about. But we are going to take it and make the most of it', he said. Scarborough will beat the drop if they meet the Conference's demands. There are some details over the ground and financial issues which must be satisfied"
Meanwhile the Crawley Forum reported yesterday that Crawley Town's "Steve Duly successfully won his claim for unfair dismissal at his employment tribunal earlier today. He was awarded [damages totalling] £34,228.33" of which £25,000 was for breach of contract. "There was no representation from the football club at the hearing. After the hearing Steve said, 'I am proud and privileged to have have held the position of Managing Director and Director of Football at Crawley Town Football Club for a period of 6 years, especially as they were the most successful period in the club's existence. I would like to thank the numerous messages of support from supporters and officials of the club leading up to todays hearing. There has been a lot of scurrilous accusations of mismanagement of the club over the past few months and this decision exonerates any blame on my part". The club is now believed to owe some £65,000 to ex-employees as well as a £3,000 fine to the Conference for previous financial irregularities which cost them a three-point deduction.
On the Crawley forum a Woking fan writes, "Apologies if any of these assumptions are wrong. It would seem that those running Crawley FC have broken rules by employing a non-discharged bankrupt as Chairman, have breached players' contracts, have broken rules regarding the wage cap, and have the club in a precarious financial position. If all of that is correct, and the rumours of administration are true, do you think that it is possible that Crawley may have difficulty in retaining Conference membership at the Conference AGM?". So far, Crawley have suffered a "maximum penalty" for their offences of a three-point deduction. If they now go into administration a 10 point penalty would apply, but only next season. It is "interesting" to compare this catalogue of failings (and playing advantage gained by exceeding the wage cap) and the punishment meted out to Altrincham on Tuesday following Accrington Stanley's failure to get clearance for James Robinson before he moved on to Moss Lane.
It is also worth noting that Altrincham have steadfastly refused to use the administration route (i.e. paying your creditors only a percentage of what you owe them) and have instead battled on with fundraising and prudent financial management to repay their inherited debts. If deducting 18 points is the price the footballing authorities levy for playing James Robinson (without gaining any advantage on the pitch) whilst deducting a mere 3 points is the price for committing financial irregularities over a long period, then it is a pretty sorry state of affairs for what is supposed to be a sport whose outcomes are decided, on merit, on the pitch. Indeed, the FA has explicitly ruled that the 18 points deduction was "not excessive" and does not seem to be taking any steps at all to prevent a recurrence of Altrincham's "offence" by amending its rules - unlike the UniBond League which has set an example by revamping its registration forms to try to prevent such an occurrence.
The Football Conference reports on the dismissal of Altrincham's appeal by the FA. All it has to say is that "Following the FA's announcement that the club's 18 point penalty must stand and that they must play next season in Conference North, chairman Geoff Goodwin struck a defiant pose", before going on to quote from an article quoted elsewhere on this page from the Sale and Altrincham Messenger.
Conference fixtures for 2006-07 are expected to be issued on Thursday 29th June - that is assuming that they know who is in which division by then.
GEOFF'S RESPONSEThe Sale & Altrincham Messenger reports on the FA appeals panel's rubber stamping of the Conference's deduction of 18 points and fine of £1,000 levied against Altrincham following Accrington Stanley's failure to get international clearance, for which Stanley were fined a mere £200. "Despite this major setback, club chairman Geoff Goodwin remains positive about the Robins' immediate future. He told SAM Sport: 'We are angry at the moment but we can use that to our advantage. This decision will bring everyone at the club together and we are determined to bounce straight back again. I want to go into this league now and steamroller it. We are still going to strengthen the squad and we will still go for the same players we would have done if we had been in the Conference. You get these kind of knocks from time to time but it's how you deal with it that counts and we are going to come back from this even stronger. People better watch out. I hope the community will really get behind us now. It's important that people don't put us to one side just because we have dropped down a division now. They need to get behind us more than ever and make sure that we get back to where we belong as quickly as possible. We were good enough to stay in the Conference this year and that won't change next season. As far as I can see, we are a Conference side playing in the Conference North. Our support has been fantastic this season and I hope that doesn't change, people need to come down and support the lads again next season'".
YOUTH FINAL RESCHEDULEDFriday night's Neil Thomason Memorial Trophy Final involving Altrincham Youth and Morecambe at Woodley Sports FC has had to be postponed due to a double-booking at Woodley. The game will now be played at Woodley next Tuesday (30 May at 7.45pm)
BANDY HITS THE HEADLINESPeter Band was the subject of an article in the excellent new North West weekly newspaper The Enquirer last week. With a full colour photo of Peter in Alty action, the article consists of an interview in which he reveals that he has been a "salesman at a flooring company for the last five years. I'm the man to come to if you need a cheap rug!". As for combining football and work, he says, "We train twice a week and work tirelessly the rest of it! It can be quite exhausting to play away in London in midweek and then be at work early the next day". Asked about pay, he reveals that "The average at the club is around £250 per week, but some full-time clubs in our league are paying upwards of £1,600 a week". As for his biggest achievement, he says (ironically in the view of the club's being shafted yesterday), "Keeping Altrincham in the Conference on merit, as well as winning three player of the season awards. Personally, it's been an excellent season". But his biggest regret is "Leaving Altrincham to join our Cheshire rivals Northwich Victoria. I'm glad the fans forgave me when I returned". His ambition is "to play in the Football League but at my age the chance has probably passed me by". His toughest opponent has been "Kevin Parr at Stalybridge. We kick ten bells out of each other for 90 minutes and then go for a drink aftewards". Asked about who is Alty's dressing room joker, Bandy says, "Gary Scott does unspeakable things in the shower that you couldn't possibly publish! And his dress sense is appalling!. I'll be at Altrincham next season. I'd love to lead them out in the Trophy Final at Wembley".
STAR REPORTThe STAR website has Mark Murray's detailed report on Tuesday's SGM of the supporters' trust at Moss Lane.
MEET THE ALTY IDOLS
Alty fan Daniel Martell - you may recognise him (above, second from right) from Moss Lane where he sells programmes on match days - has formed a five-a-side side with some other Alty fans. Daniel has sent in the above picture of the team, whom we wish good luck for the future. The Idols also have a website, the link to which will be added here later.
CONFERENCE NEWSOne of the Conference National's "good guys", Grays Athletic "have appointed former Farnborough Town manager, Frank Gray, on a 2 year contract... Mick Woodward, Grays Athletic Chairman, said that he is extremely happy with the appointment. Frank will be bringing in Gerry Murphy as his No. 2. Frank is a former Scotland international who had a top flight career as a defender with Leeds United and Nottingham Forest and was the only player to line up for two different English sides in two European Cup Finals".
Assuming we are heading for Conference North, this website will once again start to cover that division as well as Conference National (at least for the time being). NL Daily says that "Alfreton Town have unveiled plans to expand their links with the local community, offer rewards and discounts for regular supporters to the Impact Arena and the formation of a `Junior Reds` section over the next few weeks... Alfreton chairman Wayne Bradley commented: 'The club accepts that communication with its support base is of paramount importance and it takes seriously comments, ideas and articles from the official website forum and through articles produced in the matchday programme... Very few clubs at this level have got a Football in the Community Scheme never mind anything else. This will be a two-way scenario with the club being taken to the community and vice versa... People will be able to meet the players, management and question the people in attendance about the club's plans'. Reds` manager Gary Mills completed the signing of experienced centre back Mark Barnard last Saturday and is "delighted" to have persuaded midfielder Matt Fisher to stay with the club for what will be his fourth season... Meanwhile, Alfreton Town are delighted to announce an England call up for one of their talented youngsters. Messiah McDonald, 16, has been invited for a five-day trial in mid-August with the England under-18s Schools side".
Stalybridge Celtic have "announced that striker Jody Banim has been placed on the Transfer List. Banim made just 28 appearances for the Celts following his move from Tameside neighbours Droylsden. A serious knee injury was a major factor in preventing him making the impact he wanted and Jody feels that it would be in his and Celtic's best interests to restart his career elsewhere".
"Colin Lippiatt, manager of Nationwide Conference National newcomers St Albans City, has made further moves in the transfer market over recent days with the signing of central defender David Theobald from Kettering Town, while Patrick Ada has been released" reports the club website.
"Goalkeeper Adam Collin has committed himself to Workington next season by signing a new contract... Collin was named in goal in the UniBond League’s `dream team` last year, after keeping twenty-one clean sheets in fifty games, helping Workington to win promotion to Nationwide North. “The rest of the squad seem happy enough and all will be returning, apart from Marc Green", chairman Dale Brotherton told the News and Star.
"Long-serving Cambridge United defender Andy Duncan has signed a new 12-month deal at the Abbey Stadium... The 28-year-old started his career at Old Trafford but did not make a senior appearance for Manchester United. Defensive colleague Mark Peters and midfielder Courtney Pitt are expected to follow suit and sign new deals".
LOCAL NEWSA league manager with Cheshire connections and a great advocate of non-league players, Keith Alexander has left Lincoln City after his club lost promotion play-offs for the fourth successive season recently.
24 May 2006
CHANGE OF DATEAltrincham's pre-season friendly against FC United of Manchester will now be on Wednesday, 19 July at 7.45pm and not a week later as originaly announced. The change is at the request of FCUM. For a list of all of Alty's pre-season games, click here.
SOME GOOD NEWSGeoff Goodwin announced last night that Australian Test cricketers Jason Gillespie and Darren Lehmann last night agreed to attend a fundraising event for Altrincham FC later this year. As Alty supporters know, Geoff drove the Australian cricket tourists' coach last year and established a close relationship with the Aussies.
STAR MEETINGTuesday's STAR Special General Meeting in the Noel White Suite on Tuesday attracted a full house, though the news a few hours earlier of the FA's support of the Conference's "draconian" [the Conference's own word] punishment inevitably cast a cloud over the proceedings. The Altrincham FC Board of Geoff Goodwin, Andrew Shaw and Grahame Rowley had all got back from the hearing at Soho Square and Geoff confirmed that no further appeal to legal process would take place. Yesterday's fiasco and the lead up to it had already cost the club £5,000 in legal fees (and that is after the Grays Athletic chairman had very kindly assisted in this area) and to pursue the case further would have cost the Club money it can ill afford, with little chance of success against the FA and its big guns.
The start of the STAR SGM was delayed by half an hour to allow those present to hear an interview on Five Live with Geoff Goodwin in which he affirmed the club's determination to act with dignity over the FA's upholding of the Conference's punishment of Altrincham. Geoff also expressed his best wishes to Scarborough, who survive as a result of our deduction, as unlike certain other clubs who were "stabbing us in the back", the Seadogs had indicated that they would not have appealed had the FA exonerated us yesterday. But, of course, Scarborough's survival in the Conference is itself at the mercy of football's officials who are probing their finances. There was plenty of feeling amongst supporters that we were at least back among genuine friends in Conference North next season rather than dealing with certain National teams with excessive views of their own importance.
The first surprise at the SGM was to learn that STAR Chairperson Brian Flynn was not present and that he had resigned in the last few days. Likewise, Treasurer Paul Daine had also left the STAR Board. So, the STAR Board now comprised three members, Jacqui Forster (acting chair), Dawn Abbott and Phil Taylor. Also with the STAR Board at this meeting, as an adviser, was Dave Boyle, Deputy Chief Executive of Supporters Direct. The second surprise was the withdrawal of the last of the three motions which the meeting had been called to discuss.
STAR's official minutes of the meeting will, no doubt, appear in due course and it is not the role of this website to provide a detailed record of the meeting. Suffice it to say that there was lengthy debate about the first motion, proposed by the STAR Board and whether it could be voted on in parts or otherwise. There was also much discussion about the compatibility of the two motions on the table and whether voting for one would preclude voting for the other. Members of the Football Club Board expressed their view that STAR had done a lot of good work but that its procedures meant that the transfer of its fundraising profits to the club was often slow and that funds were often earmarked to specific projects rather than being given the Board to use as it saw fit. After it had been revealed that the Club now faced a £5,000 bill for legal costs of appealing to the FA (on top of a £1,000 fine), STAR handed over a cheque for £2,000 to the Club. Following numerous contributions from the floor, it was agreed that the STAR Board and the Football Club Board needed to get together and try to thrash out a more cooperative future for the benefit of the Club as a whole. In this context the voting on the two remaining motions was unanimously (I think) against the first motion and therefore the status quo remains as regards STAR's role. The second motion was approved, allowing STAR to offer its shares for sale, should this be necessary. One particular concern in this regard was that if STAR were to be disbanded, it was possible that its 3,000 or so shares in the Football Club would be donated to a sporting charity outside the Club. Jacqui Forster appealed for volunteeers to join the STAR Board as, with just three members, the load was excessive on the remaining Board members.
After the meeting, Grahame Rowley announced the formation of a Friends of Altrincham FC, details of which will appear on this website in the near future. George Heslop also invited everyone to attend Thursday's Youth Team Presentation Night at Moss Lane (entry £2) and to support the team in the Neil Thomason Memorial Trophy Final at Woodley Sports this Friday at 7.45pm.
KEEP GOING!Altrincham fans are 100% behind manager and club secretary Graham Heathcote and will hope that he enjoys a well-earned holiday for the rest of this week - his departure was delayed by the FA hearing. Also, spare a though for captain Mark Maddox; three seasons in the Conference and three relegations (1997, 2000 and 2006), though this last one must be the bitterest to swallow. And to the rest of the players, Dalton Steele and the backroom staff, though officialdom's badly written rules may have robbed them of their deserved second season in Conference National, their efforts last season in finishing outside the relegation places was one of the club's greatest achievements in recent years.
If the rule makers now actually do something about international clearance and amend the punishment so that it affects the real offenders and so that the penalty for falling foul of the clearance rules is lower than the maximum which clubs, (such as Crawley Town who were only deducted 3 points), suffer for breaking financial guidelines, our likely relegation may have some benefit for football. After all, playing James Robinson gave Altrincham no material advantage on the pitch whereas breaching the salary cap clearly may be advantageous. At the moment, yesterday's decision just makes the game a laughing stock to the outside observer. And there is no suggestion, to date, that any of these ill-framed rules will be amended.
THE FA VIEW ON THE APPEALThe FA reports that "At an Appeal Board hearing today, Altrincham FC's appeal against a disciplinary decision by the Football Conference was rejected. Altrincham were deducted 18 points and fined £1000 by the Conference in April for fielding an ineligible player, James Robinson. The sanction was based on the points won by the club in the 13 matches Robinson played. This sanction was upheld by the Appeal Board today.
During the hearing, the club dropped all grounds for appeal other than that the penalty imposed by the Football Conference was excessive. The Appeal Board therefore had no option but to reject the appeal as Football Conference rules do not allow discretion on the matter of sanctions for specific breaches of rules.
Robinson joined Accrington Stanley from Iceland without gaining international clearance and subsequently moved to Altrincham in November. He has since joined Australian club Richmond Eagles".
Though Grays Athletic chairman Mike Woodward kindly assisted Altrincham's legal case, the club's other legal costs amounted to £5,000. A collection held at Tuesday's STAR meeting raised £260 towards these costs.
WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE...Whilst Altrincham FC is keeping its counsel on what went on behind the scenes, For The Good Of The Game contains alleged correspondence between Forest Green Rovers' secretary Colin Peake and Conference supremo John Moules regarding the James Robinson affair. If true, as it certainly appears to be, the correspondence suggests that Peake pushed Moules to ensure that "the strongest approach has been taken to ensure the rules are upheld" against Altrincham. Peake allegedly writes: "We would remind you finally that we reserve our rights, particularly in respect of any recourse to the Freedom of Information Act should we suspect that this matter is not dealt with in an open, fair and consistent manner. Further, we are considering how best to deal with this matter which may have a direct bearing on the future of our own club and other members of the Football Conference Ltd.". Peake also allegedly writes, "Both FGRFC and Tamworth FC received a letter from the Operations Director, stating that unless we made an official complaint about the matter, the Conference would withdraw the charges and place it before the Board. Both FGRFC and Tamworth vehemently rejected such a demand, clearly advising the Operations Director that the Conference did not need any club to complain to bring charges under Rule 6.1. and in any case they already had laid charges and called a commission. A copy of that letter is also attached and both FGRFC and Tamworth consider the letter to have been almost a threat".
Many Altrincham fans, whilst outraged at the decisions of the Conference and FA to punish Altrincham for the failings of Accrington Stanley (who have still yet to contact Moss Lane about the James Robinson affair), will not be sorry not to be visiting certain clubs next season. On the contrary they will be returning to play old friends in the North, who may be longstanding rivals on the pitch but are open and above board in their dealings.
STAR SGMAfter an anxious day waiting for the FA to deliver its verdict on Altrincham's appeal against a £1,000 fine and 18 points deduction, many Alty supporters turned up for a pre-arranged STAR (supporters' trust) Special General Meeting last night (Tuesday). The meeting ended at 10.40pm, after almost three hours of often "frank" discussion over relations between the Club and the Trust. Before the meeting, members were surprised to learn of the resignation of STAR Chair Brian Flynn. More on the meeting to follow...
CONFERENCE (and CONFERENCE NORTH) NEWSNL Daily "Liam Watson has resigned from his job as manager of Southport, citing family and career reasons for his decision... 'With a career outside football, a wife and young family I had to make a major decision', he said. 'I have been juggling too many balls... I have experienced great times at Southport and leave with my head high plus my friendship with the chairman intact... By securing our Conference National status my time has come to an end but the club will benefit greatly by going full-time'. Chairman Charlie Clapham added: 'This has been a sad day. Liam remains my friend but we both recognised a part-time manager in a full-time club was not going to work no matter how we tried to look at it'".
We look likely to be playing Stalybridge again next season (barring Scarborough being demoted for financial reasons) and NL Daily reports "Barrie Keeling, Stalybridge’s Celtic Player of the year for the last two seasons, is reunited with his father Alan, the Nationwide North club`s new Academy Director... Alan Keeling is the only Academy Directors Licence and Brazilian Pro Licence and UEFA ‘A’ Licence holder working in the non-League set up across the country and also works at Oldham Athletic`s highly successful Centre of Excellence... The new Academy, in conjunction with Tameside College and Navigation Education, offers players the opportunity to train as full-time professionals whilst gaining a valuable varied educational opportunity over a two-year period. The team will play in the new Conference Youth League, progressing to the new reserve team playing in the Mid-Cheshire League".
On the Conference North Forum it is reported that "Kettering Town skipper Craig McIlwain says he had a number of decisions to make before finally agreeing to stay on for next season's Nationwide North campaign... McIlwain said he had to think matters over because of the squad turning full-time for the new season... 'I had a lot to think about because my job as a lecturer is a good career for me'".
23 May 2006
ALTY DOWNAfter the decision today by the FA to uphold the Conference's 18-point deduction and fine of £1,000, Altrincham FC has issued the following statement:
After the FA today upheld the Conference's earlier decision, the Altrincham FC Board are deeply disappointed with today's decision by the FA Appeals Panel. After a successful season on the pitch, this decision has come as a complete shock. On the positive side, the management and Board are totally committed to take the club onwards and upwards on the foundations set over the last four years. We can but thank our own fans for their loyalty and also the supporters and clubs throughout the English football community for their support".
The deduction of 18 points, fine of £1,000 and consequent relegation of Altrincham follows their playing James Robinson in the Conference this season. Robinson was signed from another English club, Accrington Stanley, who failed to get international clerance for him. Last week Stanley were fined by the FA the princely sum of £200 for this offence.
DECISION DAYMonday's Manchester Evening News stated yesterday that "Altrincham chairman Geoff Goodwin rates his team's chances of staying in the Nationwide Conference as no better than '50-50'.... Altrincham believe a precedent has already been set following a £50 fine for NW Counties' side, Leek Town, following a similar offence... Accrington Stanley have also been hit with a modest financial penalty for their part in the Robinson affair...Manager Graham Heathcote, who will consider his position after the hearing said, 'We can only hope justice will prevail'. Heathcote... has had to cancel his holiday to attend a three-man tribunal and is expected to give evidence... Goodwin says, 'other clubs ganging up on us has left a bad taste in the mouth... If we go down then we'll have to try to bounce straight back up with a squad of quality rather than quantity'. A top London barrister, paid for by the chairman of Conference rivals Grays Athletic, will fight Altrincham's cause in which a near 9,000-name petition ... has also been submitted".
YOUTH FINAL OFFTuesday night's Neil Thomason Trophy Final between Alty Youth and Morecambe "A" Youth has been postponed as the Robin Park pitch is waterlogged. Instead, the game will take place at Woodley Sports at 7.45pm on Friday (26th).
STAR SGMA STAR Special General Meeting will take place tonight (Tuesday) at 7.30pm. All STAR members are urged to attend to discuss important proposals about the Trust's future.
CONFERENCE NEWSNL Daily says that "Terry Brown, manager of Aldershot Town, has hit out at rumours linking him with the vacant hotseat at rivals Stevenage Borough while pledging his future to the Shots. Brown was looking to re-assure his loyal army of fans of his commitment to the cause after a sensational week of comings and goings involving rival Conference clubs. The week saw the shock resignation of Mark Stimson from FA Trophy winners Grays Athletic, Jim Harvey parting ways with Morecambe after twelve years at the helm and former Farnborough Town boss Graham Westley announcing he is to leave Stevenage... He said: 'There is no truth in the rumours. I don’t know where this has come from to be honest. I am 100% committed to Aldershot and I’m looking forward to the new season... The board have backed me all the way with the budget they’ve handed me and hopefully we should be able to get in some new faces this summer to strengthen the squad for a promotion push next year'. After signing up experienced left back Darren Barnard for another season, Brown now has his sights firmly set on securing the future of David Lee, while talks are ongoing with Gary Holloway and Matt Somner... The club have also been linked with Barnet pair Giuliano Grazioli and Ben Strevens, while Canvey Island striker Lee Boylan is also available for transfer this summer... Brown though has flatly denied any links with the free-scoring Boylan... Brown stated earlier in the week that talks with up to twenty players were on-going, with loan favourite Jonny Dixon and young Bognor Regis Town striker Ben Watson definitely two of them" reports This Is Aldershot.
"Simon Russell is expected to be the next player to commit his future to Kidderminster Harriers for next season... He has told Yates he will finalise a deal for next season... Russell will join Jake Sedgemore, Russ Penn, Gavin Hurren, Luke Reynolds, Jonny Harkness and Michael McGrath in the squad for next term. Michael Blackwood is still to make up his mind on the offer of a one-year deal and Johnny Mullins is attracting interest from a string of clubs other than Harriers, including Chester and Bury, following his release from Reading". Yates added that "I started with a long list of players I might be interested in... We're at the stage where clubs are doing all the chasing and unless you offer players the earth they reckon they are holding out for better offers. But give it a few weeks and the situation will change with the players doing the chasing", he told the Harriers' website.
"Speculation linking AFC Bournemouth's Steve Fletcher with a move to Weymouth have been scotched by Terras' boss Garry Hill. 'It's just a rumour and I don't know where it started', said Hill. 'But that's what happens at this time of the year. Names are linked with clubs left, right and centre'. Since releasing ten of his Nationwide South championship squad a fortnight ago, the Terras' boss says he's spoken to a number of possible transfer targets... 'Trouble is these days, many lads who are out of contract or considering their futures leave it until the last minute to see if any offers come along. The summer is going to be very much a waiting game for me and most other managers... I won't do is to be rushed into making snap decisions'", he told the Terras' website.
Morecambe "are delighted to announce that Garry Thompson and club captain Jim Bentley have signed new 2 year contracts. Thompson rejected the chance to move into the football league, turning down offers from Bury and Accrington Stanley to commit his future to the Shrimps. Midfielders Jimmy Kelly and Michael Stringfellow have also been released".
"Sammy McIlroy, in his first interview since being appointed the new manager of Morecambe FC, has pledged to do all he can to secure Football League status at Christie Park" reports Morecambe Today. McIlroy said, "We have got to get everyone tied up again. We will look at what we can add but I won't bring anyone in that I don't think will add to the squad". As for the sackin go Jim Harvey McIlroy asserted that "I was as shocked as anyone when Jimmy lost his job. I hope he realises that I had nothing to do with it". Also, "The club also announced on Friday a £1million development on the east terrace of Christie Park, the 'Carwash' side". It is currently a narrow, open terrace, with a car wash and derelict social club behind it.
22 May 2006
BANDY DOES WELLCongratulations to Altrincham's Peter Band (right), who finished 110th out of 25,000 competitors in Sunday's Manchester 10km Run. He finished the race in 36 minutes and 20 seconds.
TUESDAY WILL BE A BIG DAYOn Tuesday, 23 May, there are three important events affecting Altrincham FC:
RULES ARE RULES?A Blackpool correspondent writes to the NL Paper claiming that one of the Conference rules is that "no club will be accepted into the Conference with a three-sided ground. A few seasons ago, Marine won the NPL and were excluded from the Conference because their Rossett Park ground was three-sided... So what is the situation regarding League drop-outs Oxford United? They have an excellent new stadium but, horror of horrors, it's three-sided. Rules are rules, Mr Moules...".But elsewhere in the Paper, John Moules "laughed off suggestions Oxford United could be refused entry to the Conference... 'There is a criterion which says spectators should be able to view a game from all four sides', he said. 'However, any situation is considered at the discretion of the directors and there is no hesitation on our part in welcoming Oxford to the league'".
Meanwhile, Carshalton Athletic are appealing against the decision to repreive Leigh RMI from relegation from Conference North, as a consequence of Tamworth's reprieve, which in turn follows Canvey Island's resignation. Carshalton finished in Conference South with one more point than Leigh RMI got in Conference North but are being relegated whilst RMI are reprieved, even though Carshalton claim the rules say that the team with the higher number of points should be saved.
It is perhaps no wonder then that an exasperated Mr Corbould of Crawley writes in a letter to the NL Paper:
Thanks, Mr Moules, I'm watching parks football next season.
Thanks, Mr Moules, I'm watching parks football next season.
STUART - TOP QUALITYColin Little nominates Stuart Coburn (right) as Goalkeeper of the Year in the NL Paper. "Stuart's an absolutely brilliant goalkeeper - top quality. Week in, week out, he's been in top form and won us a lot of points this season. He's had a phenomenal year. I'd say he was the best shotstopper in the league and I knew how good he was before I joined Alty. I live locally and had been to a few games. Stuart always stood out. On the rare occasions he makes a mistake we all look at each other in disbelief, because it's so rare". The NL Paper reports that last week the English Colleges' side drew 0-0 with a strong Watford Academy side which included three seniors as they warmed up for their tournament in Italy. Alty Youth captain, Richard Gresty, is in the Colleges' squad.
CONFERENCE NEWSNL Daily reports that "Former Worcester City and Weymouth left sided midfielder Adam Wilde has signed for Nationwide Conference National newcomers St Albans City from Southern League champions Salisbury City. Wilde joined Cambridge City during August 1999 after surprisingly being released by neighbours Cambridge United... City [accepted] a £7,500 bid from Worcester City in October 2002 and [he then had] a five-figure move to the Terras in June 2004".
"Exeter City manager Alex Inglethorpe wanted to sign Woking's Justin Richards following talks with the out-of-contract player this week. But Richards... is understood to have turned down the Grecians to play in the Football League... [He] is thought to be on the verge of joining a League Two club... Richards confirmed he was genuinely tempted by Exeter's offer... 'I had a chat with Alex Ingelthorpe about coming to Exeter and he is a really nice guy and it seems that everything at Exeter is moving forward very quickly. But I really want to get back to playing in the Football League, and I have got to give myself the best chance of fulfilling my ambition and not rush into things'", reports This is Exeter.
"Striker Billy Beechers, midfielder Josh Kennett and defender Andrew Gunn have all been rewarded for their performances for Oxford United's reserve and youth sides with professional deals. But there was heartbreak for Chris Roberts, Daryl Harris, Ryan Brooks and Kyle McCoy, who were all told that they would not be taken on" reports NL Daily.
21 May 2006
BULLS PROMOTEDPlay-Off Final:
BBC Sport says that "Ryan Green's extra-time winner secured Hereford's rise into League Two after they overcame heartbroken Halifax in the Conference play-off final. A 20-yard Lewis Killeen strike put Halifax ahead but Andy Williams quickly levelled with a stooping header. John Grant's flicked near post shot restored the lead for the Shaymen only for a Guy Ipoua header to again level. And, just as it seemed penalties loomed during a cautious extra-time, Green floated in a left-foot shot".
OLD BOYFormer Alty centre back Adam Farley has renewed his contract at Marine for a further two years.
CONFERENCE NEWSNL Daily reports that "Damon Searle has rejected a new deal at Forest Green Rovers and signed for Newport County. The Welshman, who missed only five games for Rovers last season and captained the side during the final month of the campaign, had been keen to stay at The Lawn. But Searle explained: 'I was offered a new contract which was worth substantially less than what I was on already. I spoke to Newport and straight away they made me feel really wanted, and that's what swayed it for me. A few little things didn't feel quite right at Forest Green'", he told the Gloucestershire Citizen.
"Rushden and Diamonds chairman Richard Palmer says the club is in a good financial position despite being relegated to the Conference. Palmer told BBC Radio Northampton: 'The plans looks like we have made a small profit moving into next year. And that will be in spite of having one of the biggest player budgets in the league'. Meanwhile the club hope to have appointed a new manager to replace Barry Hunter in the next few days".
The Football Conference says that "York City's on loan 23-year-old centre-back David McGurk has been offered a new one-year deal by his current employers Darlington. The Middlesbrough-born defender proved a pivotal part of the Minstermen's rearguard last term after making 39 senior appearances and scoring twice... The North East club could also claim compensation should the player decide to take up an alternative offer from one of several other interested parties. Meanwhile, McGurk has not ruled out a permanent return to KitKat Crescent".
20 May 2006
PRE-SEASON OPPONENTS"Woodley Sports chiefs are targeting the Nationwide Conference following some significant off-the-field restructuring at the club this week. Former chairman Ian Campbell has been replaced by Peter Sullivan, while Steelmen fans will be delighted to hear that team manager Ally Pickering is staying following a number of meetings with Sullivan, and club owners Mike Clarke and Stuart Vann... A club statement said: 'Woodley Sports will also strive to achieve Conference standard in the not-too-distant future'... Manager Pickering, meanwhile, who, along with his players and backroom staff, will now continue at Lambeth Grove next season after initially quitting last week, said: "The mood around the club is very positive as everyone behind the scenes will now try to drive the club forward. We’ve got four or five pre-season games booked [one against Altrincham] and I’m already looking forward to them'", reports the Stockport Express.
For a list of pre-season Alty friendlies, click here
CONFERENCE NEWS"Morecambe FC are pleased to announce the appointment of Sammy McIlroy as their new Manager. Sammy has agreed a 2-year contract with the club. Chairman Peter McGuigan said: 'We are pleased that Sammy has accepted the position as Manager and trust that our supporters will continue to give him their usual backing. On a separate note, I can confirm that details will shortly be announced for a £1 million redevelopment of the East Terrace at Christie Park which should be completed in time for the 07/08 season. The Board is confident that Morecambe Football Club will continue to progress both on and off the field'. Sammy McIlroy said: 'I am delighted to accept the position as Manager of Morecambe Football Club since I believe it is an ambitious club looking for success and I wish to play my part in that success'”.
The Argus reflects on the news that "Crawley Town have been deducted three points and fined £5,000 by the Football Conference for exceeding their playing budget. Crawley must pay £3,000 immediately, with the rest suspended for twelve months unless they breach the rules again next season. The league opted against a maximum £10,000 penalty in recognition of the club's hard work in trying to solve their financial problems. The Football Conference sets an annual budget based on the income of their clubs from the previous two seasons. The punishment does not affect Crawley's league position. Conference chief executive John Moules said: 'We gave them until this week to explain what happened but it did not alter the fact that they have breached the agreed playing budget. They could have faced a much stiffer penalty but we took into account that there has been a change in personnel behind the scenes. General Manager Barry Munn has come in and worked very hard to sort things out so we decided against the maximum penalty of three points and a £10,000 fine. If there is repeated breach of rules then expulsion from the competition is even a possibility' . Munn, who took up his position in February, said: "When I took over, one of the things I realised is that the budget was all wrong since day one. From the very start of the season, it was always going to exceed the amount. We have had to come in and pick up the pieces... Administration has been an option since day one. Everything has been considered, including selling the club and trying to find new sponsors because the owner's pockets only go so deep".
Above: Action from Scarborough v Alty, last February
Scarborough Today reports that Scarborough FC "have axed 15 players from last season’s squad.Boss Neil Redfearn has decided to keep just seven players on his retained list, which includes himself, centre-back Denny Ingram, full-back Ashley Lyth, young defender Carl Cook and the teenage trio of Michael Coulson, Jimmy Beadle and Ryan Blott. Among the culled players are long-serving keeper Leigh Walker, defenders Kevin Nicholson and Steve Baker, as well as striker David McNiven", who rejected a move to Altrincham last season. Redfearn stated, "The club needed a blank canvas to work with and this has given us exactly that. A lot of these players have been here for a while and if that is the case it sometimes starts to get a bit stale. We did things wrong last summer, which was why the club struggled throughout last season". And "Boro met up with Conference officials yesterday to discuss the club's financial stability. Chairman Malcolm Reynolds and director Ian Scobbie attended the meeting at Leicester City's Walker's Stadium to confirm to the Conference that they had come out of administration... Reynolds said: 'We believe we have satisfied every criteria and we will meet up with them again at the AGM next month'".
"Mark Stimson has emerged as the early front-runner in the race to become the next manager at Peterborough United... Peterborough`s director of football Barry Fry admitted he has spoken to Stimson about the vacancy at London Road. Fry said: 'I have contacted Mark and I have spoken to the owner of Grays, Mike Woodward. I have not offered him or anyone else the job, but Mark's record is very impressive... His teams play excellent football and he is clearly one of the up and coming managers in the game".
Recent transfers include:
NL Daily says that "Kettering Town have snapped up former Spurs midfielder Darren Caskey from A6 neighbours Rushden & Diamonds amongst six new signings announced on Friday".
LOCAL NEWS"Officers of the proposed Runcorn Linnets Football Club, born out of the ashes of Runcorn FC Halton, expect to finalise negotiations over a ground deal in the next week or so. Once a home has been secured they can apply for membership of the Football Association. The club hopes to find a base in the Cheshire FA area while working towards returning to its home town... Runcorn FC Halton have resigned from the UniBond League and chairman Dr Dave Robertson must now decide whether to continue by applying for a place in the North West Counties League", says the NL Daily.
19 May 2006
RESERVES CHANGESAltrincham FC Reserves' manager Neil Brown has the difficult task of remodelling his Reserves' squad for next season and this has inevitably led to the release of a number of players, whilst one or two others are unavailable in any case due to work or other commitments. Those who will not be playing for the Reserves at the start of next season include James Marsden, Paul Monaghan, Dave Roberts, Byron Jenkins and Mike Brown. On behalf of Altrincham FC, Neil would like to express his sincere thanks to all of thes players for their dedication and hard work for the Reserves over the last season and, in several cases, two seasons. The website would also echo the club's best wishes to all concerned that they go on to enjoy a successful footballing career.
Those reserves from last season who will be staying with the Club include goalkeeper Craig Ellison, defender/midfielder Ashley Brown, midfielder/defender Danny Heffernan, left-back Keith Wedge and defender Colin McAllister. The Club is looking to bolster the link between the Youth team and the Reserves and it is expected that a substantial number of this season's youth team will graduate to the Reserves next season. In addition, trials will be held on 17 and 24 June at Mersey Bank to further bolster the squad.
Neil Brown and Reserves' physio Alan Ainsley are also arranging a charity match involving Altrincham FC for the benefit of Manchester's Christie Hospital. This is likely to involve players from all levels of the club, including chairman Geoff Goodwin, and is likely to be played on the football pitch at East Levenshulme Cricket Club. More details of this will be posted here when confirmed.
PRECEDENTSThe Sale & Altrincham Messenger reports that, as regards the appeal to the FA, to be heard next Tuesday, "Graham Heathcote is still hopeful of a positive outcome... 'We have done as much as we can and have been totally transparent throughout this whole issue. Now we can only hope that justice will prevail'", said the Alty boss. The paper cites the cases of Leek Town, recently fined £50 for failing to gain international clearance, and of Accrington Stanley whose failure to get clearance for James Robinson directly led to Altrincham's current predicament earned them a fine of just £200 this week. SAM concludes, "If the FA were to uphold the harsh penalty imposed upon Alty, not only would it be contrary to previous decisions regarding international clearance, it could set a worrying precedent".
SEASON TICKETSFull details of Altrincham FC season tickets for 2006-07 are here. Don't forget a £10 discount applies if tickets are bought before 30 June.
CONFERENCE NEWSTamworth report that their season tickets will go up from 1 June and "Matchday admission will rise by £1 next season. TFC general manager Russel Moore said: 'This is the first increase the club has imposed for a couple of seasons. The decision reflects the Board's ambitions to move the club forward towards a more full time operation, which obviously means increased costs". The new price for a stand season ticket will be £260 - £50 more than at Moss Lane. Terrace season tickets will cost £220. "Turnstile prices for 2006-07- Adult seated £13 Adult terrace £11"
And "Lambs' boss Mark Cooper has today completed the transfer from Alfreton Town of striker Jon Stevenson. He joins on a 12-month contract and manager Mark Cooper is delighted that the chairman and board allowed him to sign a player who Alfreton and ex-Tamworth manager Gary Mills were very sad to lose. The gaffer has also agreed a deal with Dave Bampton and he, too, has put pen to paper to stay at The Lamb".
Halifax boss Chris Wilder has spoken to BBC Hereford and Worcester about the Play-Off Final. He said, "We're deeply determined to get into the Football League and we're not going for a day out. I want to manage at that level and the players want to play at that level so we've got another hurdle to overcome but I'm sure we can do it". Speaking to Halifax Today, he added, "If Gretna can take 12,000 supporters to the Scottish Cup final why can't we have 10,000 at the Walkers Stadium? The players certainly deserve the best possible support for their efforts this season. It is a major cup final. This club has never been in anything like it in its entire history...The fans have not had a better opportunity to get behind the team than this. It should be a great day out and it is only a couple of hours down the motorway... My ambition is to manage in the Football League and I know that the players want to play there".
Bullsnews says that "Kidderminster's hopes of signing long term loanee Johnny Mullins have been dealt a blow with Chester making the ex-Reading man an offer. Aldershot are also unlikely to sign Barnet's Guiliano Grazioli without a fee being involved. The Conference top scorer last season has failed to set League Two alight and appears surplus to requirements at Underhill. Forest Green have lost the services of Abdou Sall, with the player signing a one year deal for St Pauli in Germany's third tier". Bullsnews also confirms that "Hereford United have confirmed that 7,900 tickets have been sold by them for Saturday's playoff final. ... The total confirmed sales to date are now at 11,968 (7900 from Hereford and 4068 from Halifax)".
Stevenage Borough "have so far seen 4 of the 6 applicants short-listed [for the manager's post] and expect to move towards an appointment over the next week or so. Boro chairman Phil Wallace said "Our interview list for this week was drawn up on Monday morning, but the announcements that Jim Harvey and Mark Stimson are now available has added 2 more attractive names to that list. So far the board have been very impressed with the quality of the people seen and it's going to be a difficult choice.The board acknowledges the need to make an appointment at the earliest opportunity and are working hard towards seeing all the potential candidates by the weekend". Bullsnews adds that "Mickey Warner, Rob Quinn, and Ollie Berquez have all been released after failing to agree terms on new deals at Stevenage. This trio makes it fifteen player departures in two weeks at Broadhall Way. The new Stevenage manager will start with just eight players. Local paper The Comet has revealed a list of applicants for the vacant manager's job: "Names known to have also applied are Brian Talbot, Jim Harvey, Dean Austin, Jimmy Quinn, Steve Bleasdale, Peter Morris and John Cornforth".
The BBC confirms that "Canvey Island's request to be relegated from the Conference to the Ryman Premier League has been approved. The Conference board accepted Canvey's request, a decision which means Tamworth will not now be relegated. Canvey gave written confirmation that they were seeking election to a league lower down the pyramid".
NL Daily says that "Midfielders Steve McKimm and Lee Protheroe, who were recently released by Gravesend & Northfleet, have both signed one-year contracts at Margate.".
"Garry Hill has urged Weymouth supporters to keep their feet firmly on the ground as they prepare for life in Nationwide Conference National. 'What we achieved last season was absolutely first class and there was no one more delighted than myself when we won the championship... But while we should treasure those memories, it's also important that our supporters are realistic as we head into the Conference. No disrespect to other clubs in Nationwide South who we faced last season, but come August we won't be the big fish in the pool anymore... And that why it's important that after seventeen years away from the Conference, people don't get carried away'... Hill plans to operate a full-time squad numbering a slightly reduced eighteen or nineteen first-teamers next season... The move is because of Conference salary cap rules which mean the Wessex Stadium outfit can only spend 65 per cent of their income on wages... Hill said: 'I've sat down with the chairman and gone over the figures and the cap won't be a problem... I've been given the same budget as last season, the only difference being that we'll be looking to have a squad of eighteen or nineteen rather than twenty-two or twenty-three first-team-players. The difference will be that I want those eighteen or nineteen to be more experienced than those who were on duty in Nationwide South'" reports the club website.
The Football Conference reports that "Mark Stimson, former manager of Grays Athletic, has thrown his hat in the ring for the vacant managerial post at Millwall... 'That is an opportunity I would very much like to take up', Stimson told Skysports.com.
The LDV Vans Trophy has been replaced for 2006-07 by the Johnstone's Paint Trophy and will NOT include any Nationwide Conference clubs. It will solely ionvolve League One and Two clubs with sanctions being taken agsinst any side not including six of its most regular players in the line-up.
THE PITCHAs promised, here is the concluding part of former Alty director Len Pollitt's 1967 account of events on Moss Lane's pitch
From the Robins' Review:
Tonight we continue where we left off from Saturday's programme with the second instalment of Len Pollitt's Moss Lane memoirs. Len celebrates 25 years this year as a member of the Board of Directors, but his recollections of the Robins go back much further than that.
In the first of my articles I was talking a Iittle about the state of the ground. It was known as a quagmire for years and looking back I am not surprised really after what was thrown on it!
At one time sheep grazed on it and their manure was used to fill the stands. I remember former chairman Ernie Odlin, the Broadheath butcher, having loads of sewerage manure thrown on the ground. When it was wet it used to get all slimy and the water could not get away. Then, to break this mess up, the directors had coke breeze (a fine coking dust) sprinkled all over the manure. This dust was brought from the nearby Altrincham Gas Works, but things went from bad to worse, and every time a player fell down he got a septic sore. Both the sewerage and the breeze all had to be eventually scraped off again and dumped, and the lethal concoction was used to form the spectators' standing area at one end of the ground.
Many players in local teams will remember this episode because everyone who played soccer locally played in the rounds of the Hospital Cup. Football boots were rarely used and hundreds played in ordinary working boots.
For some of these games and Altrincham's league matches I can remember hundreds of spectators arriving on bicycles from miles around. My pals and I used to store the bikes for a penny up an entry in School Road, and then many kids used to climb the trees which used to line the Moss Lane side of the ground to get a free look at the games. All these trees have now disappeared.
The club also owes a debt of gratitude to Mr. Jimmy Brookes... for providing a goat as a mascot and for giving the ground its first ever tea hut! And so I could go on and on.... but to conclude, in 1963, and bring the story more or less up to date, I bought 100 tons of riverwashed sand and had it sprinkled all over the ground during the big freeze up of that winter. We had about 12 weeks of frost and snow and no-one played football except Altrincham . . . but the pitch looked like Blackpool beach!
After the thaw set in I got a vote of "No confidence" against me from Freddie Pye who was the manager at that time and he let it be known in no uncertain terms what a mess he thought I had made of it. However I got Eric Warburton from Ashley to deep spike the ground for a full day and the sand trickled down the spike holes, broke up all the bog-like clay and soil and since then the ground has been second to none. Today if we have a torrential downpour it takes only minutes for the pitch to drain and we have not had to call off any of our matches from a weather point of view since that day.
18 May 2006
STANLEY FINED £200I am informed that Accrington have been fined £200 (two hundred) by the FA for failing to get international clearance for James Robinson (right). As everyone will know, James subsequently moved to Altrincham who were then docked 18 points and fined £1,000 by the Conference for playing him in 14 Conference matches. Altrincham's appeal to the FA against the Conference decision is being heard on Tuesday 23 May.
MARINE YOUTH 3 ALTRINCHAM YOUTH 0Congratulations to Marine "A" Youth, who beat Alty 3-0 on Tuesday night, to clinch the NW Allied Trophies Premier Division title. More on this on the Youth Page.
THEN AND NOWThe work to improve the drainage of the pitch at Moss Lane has now been completed and the surface has been re-seeded. This summer's pitchworks are planned carefully to ensure a good surface but it has not always been so organised at Moss Lane - for which current Alty groundsman (and Reserves' manager) Neil Brown must be grateful. The following account is taken from The Robins' Review of 11 September 1976.
The day the Circus came!
Len Pollitt celebrates 25 years as a director of Altrincham Football Club this year and is the longest serving member of the present Board of Directors. In today's programme Len looks back over the years at Moss Lane, recalling some of the many stories associated with the Robins
When I look round Moss Lane nowadays it is hard to realise that at one time sheep grazed on the pitch and, to keep the grass down, a horse was kept at one end of the ground by an ex-groundsman to pull the mower and the roller, and even elephants and lions have graced the Moss Lane turf!
Yes, it has all happened at Moss Lane. Since I began to support Altrincham as a youngster all sorts of weird and wonderful things have happened down at the ground and in these two articles I hope to revive a few memories for some supporters and to show others that this great little soccer stadium which is a "home" to the Robins did not just happen overnight. It took a lot of hard work and effort to bring about.
One of my earliest memories is that of a circus which was allowed to pitch its "Big Top" on the ground and to bring in lorries and trailers. I vividly remember seeing elephants walking about and lions, and the result of this rather bizarre happening was that the lorries and trailers broke all the land drains.
As a kid I remember the old grandstand which had gaps between the wooden planks so that consequently all the underneath of the stand was full of toffee papers and litter. One of our favourite pastimes looking for toffees and dropped money under this old stand... and I bet there are not many remember me walking round the ground selling cigarettes and toffee from a tray provided by Mr. Harry Bickerdike who used to run the shop at the corner of Stamford Park Road and Moss Lane!
One of Altrincham's famous boxing "sons", Eric Neill, made a name for himself on the ground in the old fashioned boxing booths. He was a member of Kid Furness's boxing troupe at the time, and was one of the best boxers Altrincham has ever had. He eventually took up training the lads at the Seamons Moss Boxing Club.
As well as my anniversary year as a director, it is also another jubilee year.. 50 since the barriers round the ground were erected. A certain Mr. Feswitt, known to everyone locally as Mac Bar, enlisted the aid of Joe Coombes, Billy Warrington and a Mr. Johnson and, between them, they put up the present concrete barriers round the ground. Mac Bar got his name from being a traveller for a firm of that name selling corn.
The ground had the reputation of being a quagmire in wet weather and there is many a time I can remember spending Saturday mornings digging channels from the middle towards the running track to get rid of the water. It was of course built on almost a swamp and most of the land at the football ground end of Moss Lane was bog. It is only in recent years that the drainage has been improved.
Part 2 to follow...
CONFERENCE NEWSOn the Confguide Forum a Crawley Town press release says that "A conclusion has been reached by the Football Conference Board, in response to their meeting with Crawley Town Football Club, at Burton Albion last month. The Club exceeded their Annual Player Budget, for the 2005/2006 season, which was directly linked to the problems within the player’s contracts and bonus structure. Following a full enquiry by the Conference, the following penalties have been incurred;
- Crawley Town Football Club is to be deducted 3 points from this season’s playing record.
- The Club are fined a total of £5,000.
The fine is divided into two elements. £3,000 is required with immediate effect and £2,000 is suspended for 12 months. This may be invoked should breach of the Annual Player Budget occur for 2006/2007. The Club will maintain their position in the Conference Division despite the deduction of points and The Reds look forward launching into the league next season".
The Football Conference reports that "Terry Brown, manager of Aldershot Town, is still keen on aquiring the services of Barnet pair Ben Stevens and Giuliano Grazioli... 'I have been looking at Barnet over the last few weeks, both at the senior squad and the reserves, and there are a number of players that would interest me if Paul (Fairclough) decides to release them', manager Brown told Skysports.com. 'Barnet won our league last year so we are looking at one or two players there to come in and strengthen our squad. Overall I am looking to bring in a mix of experience and some hungry, quality youngsters'".
The NL Daily says that "Chester City have received a hands-off warning from Southport after attempting to plunder star man Gary Brabin. Haig Avenue chairman Charlie Clapham has rebuffed an approach from City, who were reportedly keen on acquiring the veteran defender as a fitness coach... The 35-year-old has already agreed a player-coach role at Haig Avenue next season... City chief Stephen Vaughan. [said] 'I don't blame Southport for wanting to keep Gary. He is an extremely capable coach. Our relationship with Southport is still strong and I have agreed to play a pre-season friendly match against them'".
At Burton, "Nigel Clough is hoping to make Scarborough skipper Lee Fowler his first summer signing... And the Brewers' boss has lined up Crewe Alexandra goalkeeper Stuart Tomlinson for a long-term loan at the Pirelli Stadium... Nigel Clough tried to take Fowler on loan last autumn, but the 22-year-old Cardiff-born player had already accepted a move to Scarborough. Fowler has another year to run on his McCain Stadium contract, but... Seadogs' chairman Malcolm Reynolds said: 'Lee asked to leave in the proper manner and we have agreed to release him'... Meanwhile, Clough has confirmed that 21-year-old Stuart Tomlinson is the goalkeeper likely to replace Saul Deeney at the Pirelli Stadium... 'He's been on the bench for Crewe this season and actually played in their final Championship game... If all goes to plan, he will stay with Crewe for the first couple of weeks of pre-season and then join us once the games start. He'll train with both clubs, which is an ideal arrangement because it means Crewe will be able to keep an eye on his progress. He is what I would call an active keeper. He comes for crosses and he's a good kicker and thrower'", Clough told The Burton Mail.
Barrow report that "Boss Phil Wilson has signed former Lancaster and Southport keeper, Jamie Speare on contract forms... Speare, signed by the Sandgrounders in March 2005, was released as part of the move to full-time status at Haig Avenue. Speare will replace long-time favourite, Simon Bishop between the sticks after the Barrow manager reached his reluctant decision to part company. With Bishop now the only member of the squad left in the North East and unable to drive, getting to games, never mind training, was going to prove extremely awkward".
The Football Conference says that "After handing in his resignation at Grays on Tuesday, Mark Stimson has admitted he is taking a huge career gamble in a bid to land a job with a league club... and he has since admitted that he did so without another job lined up. 'My wife thinks I'm mad but I can now speak to people, whether my phone rings or not, only time will tell', Stimson told BBC Essex, 'I would like to manage a team in the Football League. It's a massive gamble but the way it's gone at Grays has given me a chance to speak to other people and put my ideas across'".
17 May 2006
WORLD CUP DRAWThe draw for the Altrincham FC World Cup competition will be held on Thursday 25 May at the Youth Team Presentation Night at Moss Lane, to which all are welcome. Further details of the Presentation Night will be posted here when finalised..
OLD BOYGraham Barrow has joined Chester, as assistant manager to Mark Wright.
RESERVESMorecambe have won the Lancashire League, in which Altrincham Reserves play, for the seventh successive season. A writer on the Morecambe FC forum explained: "With four games left and Accrington Stanley's James Robinson enforced resignation from the league we needed to win them all and overhaul a goal difference where we were 20 behind. We managed to win 7-1, 4-0, 11-2 and 6-0 (last night). We pipped Marine on goal difference by five in the end".
CONFERENCE NEWSThe managers of the two Conference play-off losers left their clubs yesterday in very different circumstances. Morecambe FC "have announced that they have released manager Jim Harvey from his contract with immediate effect... Chairman Peter McGuigan commented: 'The Board would like to thank Jim for his significant contribution to the development of Morecambe Football Club during the last 12 years and wish him every success for the future'". The BBC added that "Harvey was forced to stand down last November when he suffered a heart attack but after returning to health was expected to resume his duties. Sammy McIlroy was appointed caretaker manager in Harvey's absence". BBC Lancashire says "The Memorable [a misprint for Morecambe?!] manager, Jim Harvey was sensationally sacked today after 12 years service at Christie Park. The former Northern Ireland number two, who has been out of action for six months recovering from a heart attack, said he was devastated by the announcement. Club Chairman, Peter McGuigan said it was time for change after The Shrimps failed to gain promotion to the football league this season, but was keeping counsel over the exact reasons behind the decision... The Morecambe Board will meet tomorrow night to discuss the appointment the appointment of Jim Harvey's successor".
Meanwhile Grays Athletic confirm that "Manager, Mark Stimson is to leave Bridge Road with immediate effect after handing in his resignation to Chairman, Mick Woodward following a meeting at the ground this morning... Despite the F.A. Trophy victory on Sunday Mark feels he has taken the club as far as he can and now feels the need to seek a fresh challenge". The BBC added that "Grays Athletic boss Mark Stimson has quit the Conference side just days after clinching the FA Trophy. Stimson, who led his side to the play-off semi-finals, handed in his resignation to chairman Mick Woodward following a meeting on Tuesday morning. Assistant manager Scott Barrett has also left the club. Woodward told BBC Essex: 'Mark's been here four years and he's done a phenomenal job. He's entitled to be a Football League manager'... Woodward added: 'I think losing in the play-offs knocked us all sideways. I think he wants a new challenge and the best way to put yourself in the shop window is to let people know you're available. I don't think people would approach us because of the relationship we have and I would say to any League Chairman, contact Mark Stimson because he's one hell of a manager. Mark will take his next club to a new level. His footballing knowledge is second to none and the way he plays the game is different gravy. We shook hands and I wish him and Scott all the best. I tried to talk him out of it, you've got to try to do that'".
BBC Sport reports that "Woking boss Glenn Cockerill has secured 13 members of his squad for next season but strikers Mark Rawle and Malik Buari are being released. Shwan Jalal, Gary MacDonald, Tom Hutchinson, Karim El-Salahi, Matt Ruby, Neil Smith, Karl Murray and Steve Evans have all agreed 12-month contracts. Steve Ferguson, Liam and Sam Cockerill, Craig McAllister and Giuseppe Sole have also signed one-year deals. Woking will also speak to on-loan pair Stuart Nethercott and Shola Oyedele. The duo have returned to Wycombe and MK Dons respectively, but the Cards boss Cockerill is keen to hold talks with them".
The Football Conference confirms that "Hendon have narrowly avoided relegation from the Ryman League Premier Division after it was announced that Canvey Island had dropped from the Nationwide Conference to Ryman Division One North". As reported here yesterday Canvey will now join the Ryman North rather than Ryman Premier division.
"Tamworth are reportedly keen on capturing the services of former England semi-professional international striker Kirk Jackson. The striker was released by Weymouth after his request for a new two-year deal was rejected... 'We've spoken to Kirk and offered him a decent deal', Tamworth boss Mark Cooper said. 'He's moving back to the Worksop area to live, so travelling wouldn't be a problem. He has a top pedigree at this level, but I know he has three of four other deals on the table".
"Moor Green have secured the signature of forward Dale Anderson following his release from Burton Albion". The Moors also are "in talks with his former Aston Villa and Blackpool goalkeeper Adam Rachel, who stepped in for Manchester-based [ex-Alty keeper] Ashley Timms at the end of the season", reports the Conference.
NL Daily confirms that "Dagenham & Redbridge midfielder Paul Bruce has agreed to extend his stay... and he has penned a new twelve-month deal at the Glyn Hopkin Stadium. Bruce joined the Daggers from QPR, where he played forty-nine matches, in August 2002".
16 May 2006
10 FRIENDLIESSo far, Altrincham FC have arranged ten pre-season friendlies. Details of these are here.
Malcolm Bailey, the man who scored the goal which took Altrincham to their first FA Trophy Final, in 1978, is offering for sale by auction his winner's medal from the Wembley Final, in which Altrincham defeated Leatherhead, 3-1.
Graham Heathcote said, "The winner's medal is just like the FA Cup winner's medal; it is solid gold. We are hoping that the auction price will reach at least four figures". If you wish to make an offer for this magnificent memento of one of Altrincham FC's greatest moments, please e-mail Graham Heathcote or ring the club on (0161) 928-1045.
Mal started his career with Northwich Victoria and Port Vale, before going to Runcorn where he spent four years, during which time he won a Northern Premier League Championship Medal. He joined Altrincham in the 1977-78 close season.
ANDY BANNEDAlty Youth midfielder Andy Keogh has picked up a bizarre suspension. He has been suspended for a sending-off against Bootle and under new FA rules he is banned until the Alty first team (for which he has never played) has completed three of its matches next season! So, he will miss the final Youth team league and cup matches this season and, also, however many Alty Reserve games, (for which he would be eligible in 2006-07), that may take place before the first team complete three matches in August!
ROD & ROONEYMonday's Manchester Evening News has a picture of Wayne Rooney and girlfriend Colette McLoughlin at Alty striker and England masseur Rod Thornley's recent wedding.
OLD BOYThe Stockport Express reports that after Woodley Sports ex-chairman Ian Campbell left the club last week... Team boss Ally Pickering initially joined Campbell in quitting the club. However, following the subsequent meeting with the owners last week, the former Coventry City, Rotherham and Mossley man is now mulling over a renewed offer to stay.
CONFERENCE NEWSThe Surfing Seadog Forum quotes from the Scarborough Evening News: "Boro will not appeal against the Football Association’s decision if they rule to clear Altrincham of fielding an ineligible player... If the FA uphold the Conference’s decision then Boro, who finished bottom of the Conference, will receive a relegation reprieve... Chairman Malcolm Reynolds said: 'We finished bottom of the table, so we deserve to go down and we would like to get back into the Conference by on merit next season. If the FA do penalise Altrincham then we will feel very sorry for them, but at the same time accept the decision and take the reprieve. At the same time though, if Altrincham are let off then we wouldn’t actively seek to persue the matter anymore. We would leave things as they were and prepare ourselves for life in the Conference North'".
"Scarborough officials must give assurances about state of the club if they are to have a chance of preserving their Conference top-flight status. The Seasiders announced last week that they had exited administration in a bid to meet Conference rules. But the Conference and FA want answers regarding their financial position and their plans for a proposed new ground. 'They have to convince us they are in a position to retain their membership', a Conference spokesman told BBC Sport.
Canvey Island were allocated a place in the Ryman Premier League last weeek, folowing their resignation from the Conference but "the position has now changed and the League will announce later today that in fact we are in Ryman North. When resigning from the Conference we were told we might be placed in the Essex Senior League and we specifically asked to be placed in Ryman North. It was unexpected to be placed in the Premier Division as our financial situation was more suited to the Ryman North at this particular juncture. In the light of those circumstances our position has been reconsidered by the Ryman League, who have now confirmed our position in the League of our choice".
The Football Conference says that "Kidderminster Harriers manager Mark Yates has made his first summer signing with the capture of former AFC Telford United goalkeeper Steve Taylor. The 20-year-old shot-stopper has agreed terms to a one year deal at Aggborough after spending the past few weeks training with the Harriers" Assistant manager Neil Howarth told the Harriers website, "Had we not had an experienced and established goalkeeper in Stuart Brock last season, Steve would easily have been playing every week".
Also, "Midfielder Matthew Gill has re-signed with Exeter City... Gill joined the Grecians on a short-term deal from League Two side Notts County in the middle of January and went on to make thirteen appearances. 'There was interest from league clubs, but the Football League finished a week later than the Conference, so I had a week off to think things over', Gill told The Express & Echo... 'For footballing reasons I am convinced I made the right decision. I am joining Exeter because I want to be part of a successful side and I am confident I can get back into the Football League with Exeter'".
Nearer to home, "Northwich Victoria have decided to release two players as they prepare to play in the Nationwide Conference next season.Manager Steve Burr has wasted no time in rebuilding his squad by releasing club captain Mark Devlin as well as left back Ben Chapman. 'Mark has been a remarkable servant to the club and it is very rare at this level that you get a player like him', Burr told The Winsford Guardian. 'He had a few niggling injuries this year and was kept out of the team by Stuart Elliot and Michael Carr... Ben was unlucky that he was dropped as part of changes I had to make and never really got back into the side. He did nothing wrong and anyone will tell you he had an excellent start to the season. I would highly recommend both players to any other club'".
Gravesend & Northfleet FC "has now finalised its retained list for next season which means a further five players are to be released. Those players are Aaron Kerr, Ashley Fuller, Danny Glozier, Scott Gooding and Jimmy Jackson. Acting Chairman Jason Botley commented: 'These are difficult times at the club but we are in a major transitional period, we have invested in the process of going full time and as a club we are committed to it. Life has been made more difficult at this time with a reduction in resources but the club does not have a deficit and will never spend money that it does not have'. Manager Daish says: 'Life has become more difficult than it might have been but it is my job to bring the players into the club that can buy us a bit of time as the new stadium project progresses and we find potential investors. I am sad to see any player go but it is particularly the case with Jimmy Jackson as he is a ‘Fleet’ man through and through. I would have tried everything within my means to keep him had he been able to fit into daytime training but unfortunately he is unable to do this'".
Also "The works on the Northfleet end of the ground are provisionally expected to start in a fortnight’s time... Once this is completed, the stand will be erected, and this will start no later than the end of June".
York City "is pleased to announce 17 year-old striker, Alex Rhodes, has signed a professional contract. The player, who is a local lad and hails from Kelfield near York, was a regular in the reserve team last season and made his first team debut away at Altrincham in April".
FOUR NATIONSFor the Four Nations Tournament the England squad includes "Accrington Stanley's midfield duo Ian Craney and Gary Roberts, who like Andy Bishop, will be playing in The Football League next August". The tournament schedule is:
Tickets for England games will cost £5 for Adults and £1 for children U16 and OAP's. Tickets can be bought in advance by calling 01323 743 561, with a special deal also being available, which enables fans to attend all three England games for the price of two - £10. The three games at Worthing FC and Bognor Regis Town FC will be free. The England squad also includes Northwich players Kieron Charnock and Michael Carr.
15 May 2006
LAST SEASONMost appearances (league and cup):
Most goals scored:
OLD BOYEx-Alty midfielder Stuart Scheuber, a member of Nantwich Town's FA Vase winning side, has a column in the NL Paper this Sunday. "To be honest it was a bit overwhelming ...To get my name on the score sheet was special... My future isn't decided. I love Nantwich but I've moved back to Chester and that makes it difficult for me. Nantwich could be too far to travel and at the moment I'm out of pocket. Some days I'm working 12-hour shifts and then off to training or to play. It's a lot of travelling and I need a club who can at least cover my petrol".
CONFERENCE NEWSIn the NL paper, Russell Moore, general manager of Tamworth FC, writes "I would like it known Tamworth FC did NOT toast or celebrate the collapse of Canvey Island FC. On the contrary, your reporter Colin Mafham telephoned myself on Friday May 5 offering his congratulations on Tamworth maintaining their status as a Conference National club. He received the reply that neither I nor Tamworth FC would, in any way, want to celebrate the demise of ANY club... Let me assure Canvey Island supporters and supporters of other clubs, Tamworth FC would not and will not glorify at other clubs' off the field misfortunes. Come August 2006, we may or may not be starting our season in the Conference National. If we do, part of me on that day will be looking for the fortunes of others". The NLP replies that "Colin Mafham was referring more to the fans than the officials".
NL Daily says that "Grays Athletic made up for the disappointment of missing out on the Nationwide Conference National play-off final by beating league rivals Woking at West Ham to retain the FA Trophy after a tremendous advert for the game at this level. No doubt goalscorers Dennis Oli and Glenn Poole will grab the headlines, or perhaps even man-of-the-match Michael Kightly, who looks sure to follow fellow winger Mitchell Cole back into League football. However, the Essex outfit owe a big debt of gratitude to goalkeeper Ashley Bayes, playing against one of his former clubs, who pulled off at least three brilliant saves to keep a clean sheet,,, The 13,800 who attended the game and the watching Sky television viewers cannot fail to have been impressed by the efforts of both teams in one of the best finals for years".
14 May 2006
WORLD CUP FUNDRAISERThere are just a few places left in the Altrincham FC World Cup Competition. Once all the slots have been sold, the teams will be allocated by a random draw.
Grahame Rowley writes: Following an idea by Alty supporter Bryan Ford, Altrincham FC are holding a "Who Will Win?" World Cup competition. For a £10 stake you will be randomly allocated one of the 32 teams competing in the World Cup this summer. The person with the winning team, come 9th July, will collect a prize of £100. Please either ring the club (928-1045) to join the scheme or, better still, send or deliver your payment to the Club at Moss Lane, or you can give your money to me (John Laidlar) or to Grahame Rowley.
ALTY FRIENDLYMarine report that manager Alvin McDonald "has arranged the following pre-season friendlies: [including] Saturday 29th July - Altrincham (H)". I will try to confirm this with the Club.
10,000 SUPPORTERSThe Help Alty petition now has nearly 10,000 signatories. If you have not already expressed your support on this petition, started by a York City supporter, you can follow the above link to do so.
GATES UPOn the excellent website of Tony Kempster there is a list of last season's attendance for more than 700 clubs from the Premiership downwards. Altrincham are placed 117th in the country terms of their average attendance last season:
GREAT VALUE TICKETSAs well as there being no change in season ticket prices next season, the gate prices at Moss Lane will also remain unaltered next season; for full details click here.
FRANK SIDEBOTTOMFriday's Manchester Evening News had a feature on Timperley comedian Frank Sidebottom. It says, "He's also enjoyed a strong connection with the beautiful game. The Timperley Big Shorts, the club he founded in the mid 1990s is still going strong in the Manchester Publicity League. Slightly higher up the football chain, Frank was at one point assistant manager to Tommy Docherty at Altrincham Football Club. [Jeff Johnson may be interested to know this]. 'But he got the sack and then I did... I learnt that after the game, if they didn't win, they got shouted at'". His "finest hour" came when he "appeared on Match of the Day when his beloved Altrincham were enjoying a run in the FA Cup... 'I've been on Match of the Day seven times'", he stated.
CONFERENCE NEWSStevenage Borough confirm that manager "Graham Westley will leave his role as Manager at Stevenage Borough when his contract expires at the end of June. Westley has led the club to successive top 6 finishes and to within 90 minutes of the Football League in the 2005 Play Off Final after joining the club when they were desperately fighting relegation in January 2003. Westley said 'The board and I have been in discussions for the past couple of weeks about all aspects of my role at the club. We both held opinions about the future and we have both eventually decided that it is the right time for us both to change direction. Above all else, because of the geography of the club and my expanding business interests, there is no way that I can give the club the time that it needs as it builds upon its Academy structure and fully integrates football at all levels. I have enjoyed my time at Stevenage where I have met some great people and enjoyed a fair degree of success. I leave the club with a fantastic squad of young players and wish the club every success in the future'".
Bullsnews reports that "The ticket news for the play off final at Leicester has been released by the Official Hereford United website, on the forum. The following is taken from there.
Canvey Island confirm that "Jeff King has resigned as manager of CIFC and taken over as manager at Chelmsford City. Jeff has agreed the sale of CIFC Limited to include the lease of Park Lane and other assets to nominated representatives of Canvey supporters and so will end all his financial and managerial connections with CIFC".
The Football Conference confirms that "Hinckley United have made their first summer transfer dealing with the capture of veteran striker Carl Heggs from Tamworth... 'Carl played about forty games for Tamworth last season so his fitness is not in doubt', Hinckley boss Dean Thomas told hinckleyunitedfc.co.uk. 'He sees what we are trying to do here and he's joined for that rather than money, which is a refreshing change'". Meanwhile, "Tamworth FC have confirmed that defender Adie Smith has signed a new contract... Matt Redmile has also signed a new deal, while offers to Dave Bampton, Kyle Storer, Mick Tuohy and Alan Neilson have been agreed. Boss Cooper is waiting on a response from Graham Ward and Tommy Johnson on offers made to them".
13 May 2006
SEASON TICKETS AT DISCOUNT PRICEAltrincham FC season ticket prices for 2006-07 have been held at last year's prices, which mean they are great value. Indeed, if we stay in the Conference National, you will have two additional home league games for the same price as last season. Full details here. Discounted prices apply if tickets are bought before 30 June.
YOUTH PRESENTATIONSThe Altrincham Youth team has had a successful season, winning two cups as Altrincham FC and a third as the Altrincham & District FA side. They also have another final to contest on May 23rd, the Neil Thomason Memorial trophy at Robin Park, Wigan (8pm). On May 25th there will be a Youth Team Presentation Night in the Noel White Suite starting at 7.30pm (for 8pm). It is hoped that a first team player will be available to make the Players' Player award, whilst a STAR rep will present the Manager's Player of the Year award. The event may include a hot pot supper, in which case a charge will be made but details will be clarified in due course.
The Youth team's last league fixture has now been set for Tuesday 16th May, away at Marine.
RICHARD'S TOURAs previously reported Alty Youth captain Richard Gresty is playing for the English Colleges team on their tour of Italy. Before then the national side plays a friendly against a Watford side on the 17th May as a warm up game. The Colleges' squad flies out to Italy on the evening of Sunday 28th May. The tournament in Italy brings England up against sides from the host country as well as Malta, Northern Ireland, Poland, Romania, San Marino, Slovenia and Spain before the players return home late on Monday 5th June. Hopefully Richard will obtain international clearance before he returns to Altrincham! Thanks to Julianne Gresty for this information.
TAMORTH NOT REJOICINGTamworth FC says that it "has sent a strongly worded letter to the editor of the Non League Paper over an article in last Sunday's edition which claimed their Conference National survival due to the expected resignation of Canvey Island was a cause of celebration at The Lamb. The headline, 'Tamworth toast the great escape' and reference to champagne corks popping were totally contrary to the sentiments expressed by the club's general manager Russell Moore when he was approached by the NLP to comment on avoiding relegation on the strength of another club's demise. The situation regarding Canvey wasn't even official at that time. Both Mr Moore and his chairman Bob Andrews were quick to disassociate themselves with the report which portrayed Tamworth Football Club in a bad light and tarnished its reputation. 'Let me assure Canvey Island supporters, and supporters of other clubs, Tamworth FC would not and will not glorify at other clubs' off-the-field misfortunes' stressed Mr Moore in his letter which he expects to appear in full in this weekend's edition of the NLP".
This is the same Tamworth FC whose boss Mark Cooper recently told the NL Paper, "Altrincham used an ineligible player so I cannot see how the FA can possibly overturn the decision made by the Conference. There will be lawsuits flying around if they do".
CONFERENCE NEWSCarshalton Athletic report that "Relegation was confirmed today in a letter from the Conference, however Harry Driver confirmed that Carshalton Athletic are due to appeal against the decision, which sees Tamworth survive relegation because of Canvey Island's resignation and therefore Leigh RMI survive relegation from Conference North, as Tamworth would have dropped to the North Division".
Aldershot Town report that "Defender Darren Barnard signs new deal at the Rec to keep him at the club for season 2006/07".
The Cambridge Evening News states that "Scott Howie has left Cambridge United to leave Rob Newman in search of a new keeper for next season... Howie, 34, has decided to leave the club to concentrate on building up his tax consultancy business... With non-contract keeper Jamie Waite due to undergo chemotherapy for cancer and former youth stopper Matt Mann being released, it leaves Newman with at least one pair of gloves to fill for next term... But Newman said he hoped to have made some new signings by the end of the week to boost the United squad... He said they included full-backs and a striker. He said: "It's a players' market at the moment and I won't say who we're speaking to because I don't want to alert other clubs'. Newman also said that he hoped to receive an answer from Courtney Pitt over the offer of a one- year deal made to him by the end of the week. He added that he hoped to be able to make firm proposals to club captain Andy Duncan and team skipper Mark Peters".
Gravesend & Northfleet have "agreed a new one year deal with Danny Slatter"
The Conference Play-Off Final between Hereford U. and Halifax T. will be at Leicester City on Saturday, 20 May k.o. 5.30pm.
The Football Conference confirms that "Hucknall Town have completed the signing of former Burton Albion striker Christian Moore. 33-year-old Moore turned down a new deal to stay with the Brewers as he cannot commit to training full-time and is also keen to get more first-team football".
Meanwhile, "Kidderminster Harriers have beaten off interest from various other clubs to capture the signature of striker Luke Reynolds. The 26-year-old former AFC Telford Striker has penned a one-year contract with the Harriers". And NL Daily says that "Former youth teamer Michael McGrath has penned a one-year professional deal with Kidderminster Harriers. McGrath, 20, is the first to sign out of five players offered new contracts by player-manager Mark Yates ".
12 May 2006
LEIGH REPRIEVEDAccording to the new "Club Allocations" on the FA website, Leigh RMI have not been relegated from Conference North - this reprieve being a consequence of Canvey Island's resignation for the Conference National. Why they were reprieved rather than Conference South side Carshalton Athletic is not explained. The list also confirms that Tamworth remain in Conference National and that Canvey are in the Isthmian League Premieir Division next season.
CONFERENCE NEWSThe Football Conference confirms that "Canvey Island have formally confirmed that they are withdrawing from the league. The club have also confirmed that they are seeking election to a league lower down the non-league pyramid next season and if their withdrawal is approved by the Conference board next Tuesday, Tamworth will avoid relegation. This follows financial backer and former manager Jeff King's resignation as well as his decision to scale down his investment. Meanwhile, Fans of Canvey Island FC have voted in favour of forming a Supporters' Trust after nearly 150 people turned up at the town's Civic Hall for a meeting". It is believed that Canvey Island will be accepted into the Ryman Premier Division.
CONFERENCE NEWSOxford United say that "The LDV is no more, and will be the Football League Trophy, but Conference Clubs will not be involved".
The Aldershot Newsand Mail" states that "Terry Brown looks to have suffered his first major blow of the summer months after conceding defeat in the race to re-sign Nick Crittenden.... The 27-year-old now looks certain to join Conference newcomers Weymouth as a result of talks and a medical with boss Garry Hill this week... He was linked with a move to join Jon Challinor at Exeter City earlier in the year, but the lure of a big money full-time contract at the Wessex Stadium proved too tempting. Brown said: 'There are family issues at stake here as well and we knew that there was always a chance he would be moving on this summer... I think there's a good chance that Critts has played his last game for us'... Crittenden's imminent departure is indeed Brown's first major blow of the summer, but if more West Country rumours are anything to go by, then it might not be his last. The speculation surrounds Nikki Bull, with Bristol City boss Gary Johnson allegedly targeting the popular hot-stopper ...for next season... Brown, however, played down the speculation, saying: 'Hand on heart, this is the first I have heard of this. Nikki is my club captain and certainly not somebody I'll be looking to let go this summer'... The boss is confident that left back Darren Barnard will be staying at the Rec next season after ongoing talks went well this week, while Gary Holloway and Matt Somner are thinking over new deals... Brown is also in talks with no fewer than EIGHT new faces about signing on for next season — one of which being on-loan favourite Jonny Dixon".
NL Daily "Burton Albion boss Nigel Clough expects to know in the near future whether Tom Curtis and Justin Richards will be moving to the Nationwide Conference National outfit this summer. Clough opens talks with Chester City midfielder Curtis this week and will make his move for Richards after the prolific striker's last appearance for Woking in Sunday's FA Trophy Final against Grays Athletic. Clough said: 'I'm expecting quick decisions from both players because we don't want to be hanging around until June while people make up their minds'.... The Brewers' boss has long been an admirer of 21-goal hitman Richards, and had club record bids of £25,000 rejected last summer and in the January transfer window... Clough said: 'We can offer him a fantastic ground, the best training facilities in the country (FA Centre) and the chance to play alongside another top striker in Daryl Clare... We're getting calls from all over the place every day. We've probably already turned down the equivalent of an entire team good enough to play in the Conference'.... Among those who Clough has disappointed is former on-loan defender Michael Briscoe, who has been released by Macclesfield Town reports the Burton Mail.
11 May 2006
SCARBOROUGH EMERGE FROM ADMINISTRATIONScarborough have confirmed that "The High Court in Leeds today discharged the administration order. Boro are now out of administration and are compliant with the Conference's rules on insolvency proceedings. Chairman Malcolm Reynolds was in court to hear the case and was delighted with the result. 'We have worked hard towards this development and the way should now be clear for us to stay in the Conference if we are fortunate enough to receive a reprieve due to events elsewhere'. Although Boro finished bottom of the Nationwide Conference, Altrincham’s points deduction and the possibility of Canvey Island resigning from the competition have given Boro the potential to escape relegation.Altrincham were deducted 18 points due to a player registration technicality and will be appealing to the FA against the Conference’s judgement'".
SHAYMEN BEAT GRAYS
RICHARD'S INTERNATIONAL HONOURSCongratulations to Alty Youth team's captain and centre-back, Richard Gresty (right), who has been selected for the English Colleges team and will leave on 28 May for the Colleges' one-week footballing tour of Italy.
SCORER CONFIRMEDThere was some doubt about who scored the winning goal for Alty Youth in the Open Cup Final last Sunday. The goal has now been credited to Ben Deegan, rather than Anthony Davies, whose freekick was touched in by Ben.
MAD DOGSAM has Mark Maddox's latest column. He says of the wait for the Appeal to be heard by the FA , "It's just doing my head in and I don't know how I'm going to be able to cope with the wait. As far as the football's concerned, we are finished for the summer now and then we'll be back in training again by July. But the squad are all in limbo at the moment because a few of the lads might not be coming back for the start of the new season... There were no surprises about who was named player of the year. Bandy has been our most consistent player throughout the season. But that said, anyone who scores 17 goals in the Conference in a team struggling near the bottom deserves massive credit and Colin has been excellent all season. Stuart has been brilliant as well and what Val does is absolutely amazing at the age of 35... A few of the lads were off to the Staff v Supporters match on Friday but unfortunately the staff team have been denied their star keeper. I'm always saying to Stu if he gets injured during games, 'Don't worry mate, you go off, I'll fill in for you', but he never lets me. So with him playing in midfield for the staff I was going to go in net, but I've already booked a little break so it just wasn't meant to be".
MANDY LURED BANDYSAM has awarded Peter Band with its player of the year award with Val Owen the runner-up. It reveals that Band's "success would not even have been possible had it not been for the help of his manager Graham Heathcote's wife, Mandy. He told SAM Sport: 'Two minutes after I had signed for Northwich I had second thoughts about the whole move. I had never really wanted to leave Alty but thought that stepping up a division would be a good career move at the time. I kept on coming back to watch Alty games though and when it came to the summer I really wanted to come back here. The problem was that both Graham and I were too stubborn to approach one another. That was until his wife stepped in and told me to just go and speak to him because even Graham came back to the club after going elsewhere... Stuart (Coburn) told me I had come back a different player after my time at Northwich, so something good obviously came from my time there... I go running with lads from Sale Harriers every week and although I can never keep up with them, that's really helped with my fitness and recovery between games. That said, I was still exhausted when I played in midfield at the end of the season, it's been a tough year... I think the points deduction business has brought the club closer together and everyone is doing whatever they can to help the club out. We have had almost the same squad of players for the past three years or so and it's our tremendous team spirit that has allowed us to achieve what we have. I know Graham's looking at improving the team now and no matter what level we are playing at next season we will be aiming for success'".
GEOFF'S VISIONAt Monday's volunteers' meeting, Graham Heathcote revealed that he was looking to add more quality to the squad, even if that meant having fewer numbers in the squad. After that meeting, chairman Geoff Goodwin told SAM Sport, "My vision is for Altrincham FC to become a family club, closely tied in with the local community and particularly youngsters... The club has come a long way, a couple of years ago we were in the Unibond and £700,000 in debt but now we are in the Conference and have virtually cleared our debts. I was overwhelmed by the turnout at the meeting and it's good to see we've now got a constructive plan for the future".
CONFERENCE NEWSThe Interlink Express Stadium is no more as Accrington Stanley "have renamed their ground the Fraser Eagle Stadium after securing a new sponsorship deal... worth a six-figure sum per year", claims The BBC.
Weymouth's' website says that "Kirk Jackson..., the Barnsley-born striker, is expected to return north after departing Terras following talks with boss Garry Hill. Ex-Yeovil Town goalgetter Jackson, who scored in crucial end-of-season wins over Bishop's Stortford and Lewes, is one of ten players leaving the Conference National-bound outfit. Hill has also parted company with skipper Matt Bound and released defender Terry Parker, midfielders Steve Clark, Brian Dutton, John McGrath, Shaun Wilkinson, Darren Wheeler and lan Hutchinson and striker Craig Q'Connor". The website adds that "Garry Hill believes keeping the same defensive faces will stand promoted Terras in good stead next season. The Weymouth boss has handed fresh deals to goalkeeper Jason Matthews and defenders Trevor Challis, Roy O'Brien and Simon Downer. With goalkeeper Aaron LeeBarrett and Steve Tully already under contract, Hill also plans to recruit a new centre half to replace outgoing skipper Matt Bound. 'We were extremely strong defensively when we won Conference South last season and I've got no doubt we've got the players who can step up and adjust to the higher standard next season', said Hill... In midfield, winger Lee Elam has been handed a new one year deal, Andy Harris has taken up a one year option on his contract, while Ben Smith will also be in Terras colours come August... 'This season we had a squad of around 22 players at all times', said Hill, 'but I think that may change for the Conference next term. We're going to need a slightly smaller squad of say 18 or 19 but everyone of them will be that bit more experienced... I'm paid to make difficult and not necessarily nice decisions and parting company with this group of players is one of those times'". NL Daily adds that "Eastleigh have announced the signing of Matt Bound from league champions Weymouth."
The Argus reports that "The players of Crawley Town are worried they will not be paid during the summer break. Up to ten players did not receive their April money on time, although all have now been reimbursed and were reassured at a meeting on Monday there would be no more problems. Two months ago the whole squad had their wages temporarily cut in half when the club was plunged into a financial crisis. They have also been promised their bonuses, which have remained unpaid since January 21st. But defender Dave Woozley, the Reds' union representative, says the players are 'sceptical' about being paid during pre-season. He said: 'We had meetings and were told the club will try to pay all the money owed over the summer. We are still owed personal bonuses, which date back to the Hereford game. They involve things like appearance money and amount to a substantial figure... The biggest issue for the players is that most are sceptical that we are going to get paid. The club will not generate gate money over the summer because there are not any games so the biggest worry is that we will not get money when we are on holiday'... They have been threatened with a maximum £10,000 fine and three-point deduction by the Conference if they fail to resolve their problems. Manager John Hollins said: 'We could still be fined and have three points taken away, which is the maximum you can receive... It is going to be a long summer'". Woozley added, "Any player is still entitled to hand in a 14-day notice because of what happened. But there are lots of players out there who are free agents now and are struggling to find clubs. Most of the players don't want to put themselves in that position voluntarily. We have contracts and as long as they are honoured, I would think most want to stay".
From This is York, we learn that "York City boss Billy McEwan has confessed the club will not be able to compete with the likes of Oxford United and Exeter City in the Conference transfer market this summer. McEwan scoured neighbouring reserve sides, part-time football and his native Scotland to recruit the likes of Clayton Donaldson, Mark Convery, James Dudgeon, Emmanuel Panther, Jamie Price, Nathan Peat and Joe O'Neill on free transfers before the start of this season. And the canny Scotsman is likely to explore those same sources as he looks to strengthen his squad during the next three months. McEwan offered new contracts to ten senior professionals at the end of this season but Conference top scorer Andy Bishop has already left for Bury and the City manager has also signalled his intention to bring 'six or seven' new faces to the club for the 2006/2007 season... McEwan said: 'I'd have liked to have kept some of the players we released, who did well for me, like Dave Merris, Joe O'Neill and Steve Thomas, but simple economics meant we couldn't afford to because we can't have a big squad and I need to look for better players... I don't imagine we will be competing with the likes of Oxford, Exeter and Hereford if they stay in the division'". McEwan has also "expressed dismay at the contract clause that will see Conference top scorer Andy Bishop leave KitKat Crescent for nothing... Bishop, at the age of 23, is too young to exercise the Bosman ruling... McEwan said: 'He can walk for nothing because of a contract agreed with a previous manager. Who would sign that type of contract? I've never seen it during my management career but maybe he (Bishop) would not have come here under any other circumstances. He didn't make any form of contact with the club, which is disappointing. He could have been a man and spoken to us first but that's players and it's his prerogative. Jason McGill (City's managing director) was in negotiations with him so he was surprised to hear that he is joining Bury. The player's advisors also tell me they didn't know he was going there. I asked him in my office last week if he wanted to stay at York City and he said yes... I can't believe he's decided to sign for anybody just over a week after the end of the season and I can't believe he's signed for Bury. No disrespect but I don't see that as a career-enhancing move. If he had stayed with me another year, I could have made him a better player and got him a bigger club. We've worked hard on him and he's doubled his goal tally this season. I'm proud of that because he's not the easiest to work with. I understand he wants to be a Football League player but, if he's ambitious, then why sign for a club who are struggling to stay in it? We understand, however, that he's had a super offer and there's no way we could have matched it. We would have needed to sell a stand to keep him. He nearly went at Christmas as we had to try to turn him into money, considering his contract. His agent was touting him everywhere but we only got two enquiries. One came from Southport and was £2,000 and the other was from Bury - when the former manager [Chris Brass] was involved at both clubs'".
10 May 2006
VISION FOR THE FUTURELast night's meeting at Moss Lane was much more than the general call for volunteers which most of the audience of sixty or so had expected; it was a well structured meeting entitled "Vision for the Future", which had three main themes each of which was detailed in turn by Graham Heathcote, Barry Pond and Carole Hassan. Geoff Goodwin was also present, along with director Grahame Rowley. Carole is the former Chief Executive of Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council and is now on the regional board of Sport England. She has been working with the Club for some time and was a great help in the incident involving the "travellers" who camped on the Club car park last summer.
Firstly, Graham spoke about the playing side of the club's future. He stated that the success or otherwise of any Football Club's first team sets the tenor for the club as a whole. He is keen to see a structure in place in which there are Altrincham FC teams from under-8 level through to the first team. The club might also run a ladies' team as part of this structure but there would need to be better facilities for training and development before such plans could be realised. Graham is also keen to see the Reserves used more as a staging post for Altrincham Youth players to progress through the club. He also confirmed that much is going on behind the scenes in liaison with Trafford MBC to improve the training facilities, be it through links with Blessed Thomas Holford School, which is having an all-weather pitch laid, or through drainage work on pitches such as that at Stamford Park.
Barry Pond outlined his vision for developing the club's commercial potential. These plans ranged from continuing the hard work which already goes on on matchdays in entertaining sponsors and on weekdays in selling advertising at the ground and other ventures. Barry's dream is to revamp the Sponsors' Lounge area, ideallly extending it to encompass where the current club offices are sited to make a bigger sponsors' lounge which could generate more income. But in the interim, all offers of help and new ideas would be welcomed.
Carole referred to the club's work in conjunction with the Trafford Leisure Trust to create a partnership between the FC and the local leisure centre. She also pointed out that the club would be eligible to apply for a number of grants but was not currently geared up to do so. Carole explained that tonight's meeting would be the first step in getting the club more organised to ensure, as Graham Heathcote had said, that the development of the club was not jeopardised because a particular individual might leave the club or otherwise be unavailable.
The meeting broke into three groups, each looking at one of these three themes (the playing side, sponsorship/commerce and the community role and club organisation) and all those present left their contact details. A follow up meeting is planned for July. Pre-season groundwork teams will also be organised later in the summer to spruce up the ground.
I am grateful to Sarah Rowley for this picture (right) of the tractor in action on the pitch
CONFERENCE NEWSThe Football Conference reports that "Scarborough have revealed that they could turn part-time after finishing bottom of the Conference table. Chairman Malcolm Reynolds is awaiting the ruling on Altrincham's points penalty appeal and Canvey Island's battle against financial problems before making a decision. 'If we are relegated then there is a compelling argument for turning part-time', Reynolds told scarborougheveningnews.co.uk. 'On the other hand we could stay full-time for one more year and have a real good go at bouncing straight back into the Conference National... Turning part-time wouldn't really affect the wage bill as such, but we won't be able to afford the £30,000 per month that we finished the season on. We can't carry on with a bill like that because the club can't cope. One advantage of turning part-time will be the logistics of things because we wouldn't have the problem of players travelling over to Scarborough every day for training... We only have Lee Fowler, Denny Ingram and Michael Coulson on contract at the moment, with the youngsters such as Jimmy Beadle, Carl Cook and Ryan Blott also being tied to the club. The rest of the players' contracts have now expired, so over the next week or so we will have to have a think about who we want to come back'".
"Bobby Bowry has joined Ryman League Premier Division club Bromley as player-coach after being released by Gravesend & Northfleet", reports the Conference.
NL Daily says that "Dean Moxey has ended months of uncertainty over his future by signing a new one-year deal with Exeter City... Moxey's signature is a further boost to Inglethorpe's young squad after Danny Seaborne, Jamie Mackie and Martin Rice all struck deals to remain... Only Danny Clay rejected the one-year deal on offer after citing his desire to find first-team football elsewhere as the major reason behind his departure" reports This is Exeter.
9 May 2006
NEARLY 9,000The number of signatures on the Help Alty petition against our threatened points deduction is now approaching 9,000. Meanwhile the club awaits its FA appeal hearing on May 23rd.
WELL DONE, COLINWith 17 goals, Colin Little finished joint third top scorer in Conference National; a great performance in an Altrincham side which generally found goals difficult to come by.
STAFF v SUPPORTERSGavin Rathbone played in the recent Staff v Supporters game so the photos of the game were taken by his brother and father, Scott Rathbone and Les Rathbone. Two excellent samples are below but more are on Gavin's website.
Above, Stuart Coburn as you've never seen him before, goes for goal from his midfield position in the recent Alty Staff v Supporters game.
Right, the Supporters' captain, Frazer Thorley, holds the trophy aloft as a smiling Graham Heathcote looks on.
CONFERENCE NEWSSunday's NL Paper confirms that Steve Bushell is leaving Halifax Town though whether Altrincham, where he had a successful loan spell last season, will be his destination remains to be seen.
Gravesend and Northfleet are believed to have released eight players - Jackson, Saunders, McCarthy, Drury, McKimm, Kerr, Skinner and Bowry.
York City striker Andy Bishop has signed a two year contract with Bury. The BBC quotes Shakers' boss Chris Casper, "Now are safe we've jumped on it straight-away. It's a reflection on what I am trying to do next season".
Boston United "are pleased to announce that striker Anthony Elding has signed a two-year contract with the Pilgrims. Elding had rejoined United from Kettering Town after a hugely successful period with Stevenage Borough".
"Tamworth have completed the permanent signing of former Derby and Aston Villa striker Tommy Johnson. Johnson, 35, joined the Lambs on loan from Scunthorpe in February and has now agreed a 12-month deal. Matt Redmile, Michael Tuohy, Carl Heggs, Dave Bampton, Graham Ward and Kyle Storer have also signed new deals". according to the BBC.
NL Daily says that "Accrington Stanley`s Ian Craney has been nominated for the Nationwide Conference National player of the month award for April... Craney finished the season having scored sixteen goals in forty-seven appearances, with three of those goals coming from cup games". Also nominated are Grays Athletic's Michael Kightly,Grays' top scorer, Halifax Town goalkeeper Jon Kennedy, Morecambe's Danny Carlton and Southport centre forward Steve Daly".
"Welsh semi-professional international defender Chris Todd is poised to commit his future to Exeter City by signing a new two-year deal... His signature represents a huge coup for the club, given his consistency this season coupled with the news that fellow centre half Gary Sawyer looks set to return to Plymouth Argyle... With Todd on board for next season Inglethorpe will now step up his search for an experienced centre half to shore up his back-line... Meanwhile, Santos Gaia has not been offered a new contract and is unlikely to return to St James's Park next season". Manager Alex Inglethorpe added, "Santos will be be looking at other clubs and we will be looking at other centre halves" reports This is Exeter.
"Former Nottingham Forest winger Gary Crosby is set to return to Burton Albion to assist manager Nigel Clough on match days. The 42-year-old quit as Albion's number two in January of last year because of work commitments". Clough said, "Gary will be with us next season... He can't do the daytime training but we would love to have him around for matches". He added that: "I'll be involved again as a player next season and I'm already looking forward to my 22nd pre-season. We've got fourteen players signed already and we hope to bring in three more, with me and goalkeeping coach Martin Taylor continuing to provide the cover for any injuries". Also, "Midfielders Neil Edwards, Oliver Hancock and Tom Liversage, and winger Alex Britton have been offered terms. A deal is also on the table for striker Karl Wayte if he does not take up a scholarship in America" reports th Burton Mail.
Bullsnews reports that "Forest Green manager Gary Owers has confirmed that Guy Madjo has quit the club. Speaking to The Citizen newspaper, Owers stated: 'It will be interesting to see where he ends up'... Abdou Sall also seems likely to depart, with Owers adding: 'Abdou has gone off without permission, and once I catch up with him, I will have words. He has been great in recent weeks, but I am disappointed that he has gone off three hours after the last game without a word'".
OLD BOYSFollowing TNS's withdrawal of sponsorship, the club has released a number of players including former Alty man Marc Lloyd-Williams.
8 May 2006
YOUTH PICTURESThere is a ten-picture special on the Youth team's winning of the Open Cup on Sunday to be found in the Youth section.
INJURIESOver the summer Colin Potts will have a hernia operation whilst Colin Little will have a leg scan to identify an injury which affected him at the end of the season.
CONFERENCE NEWSThe Conference says that "Oxford United's veteran manager Jim Smith insists he will stay on at the club he rejoined in March in order to steer them towards a promotion bid... 'I am totally committed and I will do all can to turn things around. I am here for the long haul and will stay on as manager', he insisted. 'The Conference will be new territory for me but when you see the support this club has, and the stadium it has, we have to be very hopeful of bouncing straight back'".
LOCAL NEWSThe NW Counties League reports that "In the Second Division Paul Wright of Flixton has claimed this month's Manager of the Month Award after seeing his side winning seven and drawing one of their eight league games and winning the Division Two Trophy Final.
OLD BOYSThe Welsh Premier reports that in the Welsh Cup Final, "favourites Rhyl overcame Bangor City 2-0 at Wrexham's Racecourse Ground... it was Rhyl's day as manager John Hulse [ex-Alty] made light of rumours it could be his last game in charge. The win guarantees Rhyl a place in next season's Uefa Cup and means that fourth-placed Carmarthen Town will represent Wales in the Uefa InterToto Cup, against Tampere United of Finland".
7 May 2006
ALTY YOUTH LIFT ANOTHER CUP
Alty display the Open Cup.
Alty Youth scored two late goals to clinch the Open Cup Final 2-1 against Marine this afternoon at Ashton Athletic's ground. The goalscorers were Andy Keogh and Anthony Davies (though Ben Deegan may also be claiming the latter goal). They have now won two cups inside a week and on May 23rd meet Morecambe in the Neil Thomason Trophy final, so could win a third trophy this season. The Altrincham FA side has also already won the Cheshire FA District Youth Cup, comprising a complete team of Altrincham FC's players. Report and more pictures to follow
St Albans beat Histon 2-0 to win promotion to Conference National from Conference South.
RESERVES' REPORTFor a report on the Reserves' 5-0 win over Barrow, see the Reserves' Page
GEOFF PRAISES GRAHAMWhilst today's NL Paper fails to make any retraction of its call for Altrincham secretary and manager, Graham Heathcote to resign over the threatened points deduction, it does give Alty chairman Geoff Goodwin a column in which to underline Graham's dedication and achievements. It also prints a letter from Alty supporter Nigel Hennerley condemning Tamworth boss Mark Cooper for threatening law suits if Altrincham do not have points deducted as a consequence of Accrington's failure to get clearance for James Robinson before he joined The Robins.
In his article, Geoff writes "All of us believe Graham is blameless in the entire affair... Our battle against the punishment goes to Soho Square on May 23 when we trust justice will be done. But whatever happens, we all stand four-square behind Graham. He is the foundation behind Alty's success and should be Manager of the Year. The whole affair has been heartbreaking for him as he has virtually worked the impossible by steering Altrincham to Conference safety on a shoestring bdget. To find such hard work being destroyed on a technicality is agony for him and, befitting his strength of character, he is determined to see this through".
Geoff continues, "When I joined the club it was £700,000 in debt and three years later we are looking at being debt free in 2006. A lot of this is down to Graham and the board... At no time did Graham ask for more money for players. The first year, he had a wage bill of £1,850 a week. Then we reached Nationwide North and he received an increase to £2,400 a week. When we got into the Conference National that rose to £3,900. These amounts are all gross. How many managers would work with this budget in the Conference and, what's more, survive in it! Some have as much as five times more.... He is also the secretary of the club. He is there from 9am every day even if we have played away on the Tuesday night and have not returned until 4am. And just for good measure he also works on the pitch... Also, don't be surprised if you find him cleaning the changing rooms. There is no way he can do this for ever... When the club is financially straight next year, it will be time for him to manage the team only and let the club administer itself... I want to get the club firm and stable so that Graham is safe in a job and is repaid for all his hard work over the last three years when he has been dong three jobs for one wage. I would like to thank Graham for being so committed to Altrincham and showing how professional and passionate he is. That is why all the players at Altrincham play for the love of the club not the money... Graham, you are my Manager of the Year.
SUNDAY GAMEAlty Youth contest another Cup Final today (Sunday) when they take on Marine at Ashton Athletic's ground, at Ashton-in-Makerfield (Brocstedes Park) in the NW Allied Trophies Open Cup Final. Kick off is 2.30pm.
NORTHERN NEWSTerry Fearns both scored the penalty which took the Conference North play-off against Stafford Rangers to extra time and also missed the spot-kick which cost the Bloods the penalty shoot out.
In the UniBond League play-offs:
RESERVESThe Lancashire League has a table but with confusion about who is going to finish the season and who won't it is not altogether clear where Alty will finish.
CONFERENCE NEWSBullsnews says that "Danny Williams is one of seven Stevenage players to be released following their failure to make the play-offs... Matt Hocking, Laurie Stewart, Eric Obinna, Justin Gregory and Gary Schillachi are also released while Barry Laker, who joined Stevenage from Farnboro with Graham Westley, has retired. Meanwhile, Westley remains in talks with Chairman Phil Wallace over his own future which is likely to be decided next week".
Meanwhile, "Canvey owner Jeff King has told fans that he will not hand over the club and leases to a Supporters Trust. At a make-or-break meeting last night, King informed supporters that he would only hand over the club and the 15 year lease on the ground to a company to be formed by the current head of the supporters' club and two other backroom staff members. The meeting was also told that the weekly rent on the ground could be up to £1,000. The meeting was also told that every player was now available on a free transfer, including record goalscorer Lee Boylan, leaving the club without any saleable assets. With little prospect of operating a Conference season on current gates, Canvey are expected to submit their resignation to the league within the next week. Supporters' Liaison officer Glenn Eckitt told BBC Radio Essex: 'The majority of next season's team will be made up of our title-winning reserve side. It would be unfair to go into a league where we can't compete. Dreams of staying in the Conference have to be forgotten about'. Canvey's resignation will save Tamworth from the drop, leaving Scarboro sweating on the FA's decision over Altrincham's 18 point deduction".
The BBC Essex says that "Canvey Island are set to confirm their resignation from the Conference in the next week... After a meeting on Thursday to discuss the future of the club, reserve team coach John Batch was appointed manager and a limited company has been set-up. 'Dreams of staying in the Conference have to be forgotten about', supporters liaison officer Glenn Eckitt said. 'The majority of next season's team will be made up of our title-winning reserve side. It would be unfair to go into a league where we can't compete'". If Canvey do withdraw, it could mean a reprieve for Tamworth, who finished second-bottom in the Conference and are set to drop into the Conference South... Eckitt added: 'We now have to apply to the FA and our preferred route would be step eight which is the Southern League East or Ryman Division One. That's what we'd like but obviously it's down to the FA. If we could get into the Southern League East that would bring back derbies with Aveley, Hornchurch and other Essex clubs but I have to stress it isn't our decision'. If Canvey do resign from the Conference, they have to confirm the situation by 13 May".
"Ryman League Premier Division club Chelmsford City have confirmed manager Craig Edwards has been released from his contract after a seventeen-month spell in charge" reports NL Daily... Edwards, who arrived from Redbridge in January 2005, has been a major force in the turnaround of a playing squad which was struggling near the foot of the table". Club chairman Paul Hopkins explained, "The decision to release Craig was purely in keeping with the vision we have for the club". Rumours persist that Canvey Island's former boss Jeff King is set to join Chelmsford. "Cambridge United have been boosted by the news that midfielder Rob Wolleaston has signed a new contract... The 26-year-old started his career at Chelsea but found his chances severely limited and only made two first team appearances in five years... Wolleaston becomes the eighth player contracted for next season, joining midfielders Ritchie Hanlon, Jon Brady, David Bridges, Darren Quinton and Stephen Smith and defenders Adam Davies and Michael Morrison. However goalkeeper Matt Mann will not be offered a professional contract when his scholarship ends at the end of June, and midfielder Max Porter's contract will also not be renewed".
Forest Green Rovers have announced their retained and released playing list. Contracted for 2006/07 are Michael Brough, Alex Meechan, Paul Wanless, Darren Jones and Paul Stonehouse. Contracted but placed on transfer list is Matt Gadsby. Offers made for re-engagement have been made to Julian Alsop, Ryan Harrison, Damon Searle, Bruno Teixeira and Mark Beesley. Two players are believed to be out of the country and we are unable to offer new contracts are Guy Madjo and Abdou Sall. The following players were on loan and have returned to their contracted clubs ~ Ryan Clarke, Michael Taylor, Luke Graham and Liam Coleman. The following players have been released - Adam Garner, Sekani Simpson, Zema Abbey and sadly the Club Captain Jon Richardson".
"Bishop's Stortford have accepted an offer from Dagenham & Redbridge for midfielder David Rainford... A statement from the club reads: 'It is with reluctance that the club allow David to leave but he expressed a desire to play at Conference National level and he feels he may never get another opportunity at his age". Meanwhile, "Daggers' boss John Still explained the situation regarding a couple of players whose contracts are up. 'The situation with Chris Moore is that he was offered a new contract but he declined... Regarding Lee Goodwin, Lee played earlier in the season not fully fit but gave everything he has for this club and in some ways put himself back... I’m happy to report that Lee has agreed to sign a new two-year contract'”. But "Ashley Vickers is going to explore the possibility of being able to train on a more regular basis for the club and will hold further talks with Still", says NL Daily.
"Martyn Rogers, manager of Southern League Premier Division club Tiverton Town, has announced he is close to signing Exeter City stalwart Steve Flack as a player-coach" reports This is Exeter.
The Conference says that "Manager of Aldershot Town, Terry Brown, has released five players after a disappointing season, Club captain Steve Watson... as well as Lewis Hamilton, Hassan Sulaiman, Tobi Jinadu and reserve goalkeeper Dan Weait... The next news on released players is expected to be surrounding the futures of short term loanees Johnny Dixon, Ian Simpemba, Kirk Hudson, Kyle Matthews, Leroy Griffiths and Ryan Crockford".
The Conference also states that "Stevenage Borough Manager Graham Westley has begun his summer clearout after releasing nine players this week. The club have confirmed the release of Justin Gregory, Barry Laker (retired), Danny Williams, Eric Obinna, David Perpetuini, Matt Hocking, Laurie Stewart, Gary Schillachi and Kieron Deane. It is expected that Shane Gore, Michael Warner, Simon Weatherstone, Jefferson Louis and Rob Quinn could all follow next week after further discussions. Among the players retained on contracts are youngsters Chris Sullivan, Ieuan Lewis and Sam Hatton, all of whom have been developed through the youth scheme and could be ready to challenge for First Team squad places next season".
Bullsnews reports that "Weymouth have hiked their prices for their first Conference season since 1989. Matchday terrace prices have risen from £9.50 to £13, and Stand tickets go from £10.50 to £15. £1 Children tickets are now at least £5. The rises put Weymouth amongst the higher charging clubs in the Conference. Only York, Exeter, and Kidderminster have announced higher charges".
BBC Sport reports that "Accrington have released midfielder Steve Jagielka and reserve keeper Danny Alcock, but have offered deals to all the other squad members".
6 May 2006
ALTY RESERVES SIGN OFF IN STYLE
ALTRINCHAM RESERVES pictured before today's game. Back: Carlos Marsden (coach), Neil Brown (manager), Mike Brown, Colin McAllister, Craig Ellison, Danny Heffernan, Laurence Ball, Byron Jenkins, Alan Ainsley (physio). Front: Pat McFadden, Keith Wedge, John Maloney, Ashley Brown, James Marsden (capt), Paul Monaghan, Dave Roberts.
After a goalless first half Alty Reserves completed a successful season with a 5-0 win over Barrow Reserves this lunchtime. Pat McFadden netted four times, after Dave Roberts had opened the scoring. However the game was marred by an early injury to Danny Heffernan, who was taken to hospital with a suspected broken ankle. Alty still have fixtures against Guiseley and Bradford PA to play but these are not now being played as the Lancashire League seems to be heading towards a chaotic finish. Report to follow
UPS AND DOWNSConference Play-Offs Semi-Final First Leg
Conference North Play-Off Final
OLD BOYStuart Scheuber scored one of the goals as Nantwich Town beat Hillingdon 3-1 in today's FA Vase Final.
ALTY STAFF 1 ALTY SUPPORTERS 3
Before a very respectable crowd, including many first and reserve team players, Alty Supporters gained a controversial 3-1 win over the Altrincham FC Staff side at Moss Lane last night. Central figure in the controversy was Alty's first-team left-back Chris Adams. Chris sat in on much of Staff Manager Dalton Steele's tactical team talk before kick off before defecting to the opposition - and what is more, he played before obtaining official FA clearance for his pre-match transfer. And then the Supporters craftily altered their squad numbers and personnel before kick off to confuse the Staff further! Despite these grossly unfair tactics, the Staff took the lead through a great finish from midfielder Stuart Coburn before Chris Adams equalised. Two second half goals from Ian Hussin and Ollie Needham made it 3-1 for the Supporters before the Staff won a penalty in the final ten minutes. But Chairman Geoff Goodwin, who had scored from the spot in last season's game, muscled aside Stuart Coburn, before blasting the ball into orbit over the Golf Road from the penalty spot (seen above).
Before the game, it was reported on the Fans' Forum that "The Altrincham supporters team were rocked by news that manager, and top model, Mark Eckersall has had to withdraw from the fixture. Due to a change of date for his work commitments, Mark is now unable to attend. Speaking from his Chorlton Mansion, Mark today advised 'I knew earlier in the week that because of a change of date with a chocolate fountain booking I would be unable to attend. I didn't tell the lads as I didn't want them crying and begging me to come, it would have been unsettling for them. However I am please to advised that Martin Jordan will be stepping in to the breach, in a Sammy McIlroy kind of way'". Above, Martin is seen with his victorious side, who chanted "Ecky out" as they received their trophies!
Above: Alty physio Andy Hosgood and, right, Stuart Coburn and Chris Rowley, peer into the sun. Below, right, Andy Knott clears his lines.
The game featured three referees, who each officiated for a third of the game prompting one supporter to comment as the officials were changed, "I wish we could sub the referee every week!". All in all, it was a very entertaining evening and a great bit of relief from the uncertainty hanging over the club from the Robinson Affair. The teams received their awards from Alty boss Graham Heathcote. Better pictures of the match than these will, no doubt, be appearing on Gavin Rathbone's website in the near future.
The teams as printed in the programme were:
Staff: 1. Neil Smerdon, 2. Paul Roberts, 3. Steve Foster, 4. Graham Rowley, 5. Bill Coop, 7. Andy Knott, 8. Charles Heathcote, 9. Chris Rowley, 10. Geoff Goodwin, 11. Andy Hosgood. Subs: 12. Gavin Rathbone, 14. Carlos Marsden, 15. Alan Ainsley, 16. John Laidlar, 17. Tony Spilsbury. Manager: Dalton Steele.
Supporters: 1. Frazer Thorley, 2. Wayne Thorley, 3. Chris Edwards, 4. James Harwood, 5. Jeremy Arnold, 6. Rick Jordan, 7. Paul Daine, 8. Noel Shield, 9. Ian Hussin, 10. Gareth Thomas, 11. Lewis Needham. Subs: 12. Ollie Needham, 13. Glyn Dutton, 14. Andy Colbridge, 15. Nick Wright, 16. Neil Faulkner, 17. Brian Flynn. Manager: Martin Jordan.
Officials: Phil Taylor, Andy Coop and Ian Langford.
MORE NEWS TO FOLLOWMore news will be posted here later today...
5 May 2006
ALTY YOUTH WIN CUP IN STYLELeading 2-1 from the away leg, Alty Youth scored five times without reply in Thursday's second leg of the NW Allied Trophies League Premier Subsidiary Cup at Wythenshawe Town. Two goals in three minutes from Hassan Zareh-Ourang (30 and 33 mins) set Alty on their way before Ben Deegan scored from 25 yards or more just before the interval. Second half goals from Danny Gray (62 mins) and Rick Crawford (72 mins) completed an excellent performance. Report in Youth section
Right: As dusk fell at Wythenshawe Town, Alty received the shield for winning the Subsidiary Cup. Pictured, left to right, are Matty Williams, Andy Keogh and team captain Richard Gresty (who missed the match through injury).
THREE TO DECIDE ALTY'S FUTUREThe BBC confirms that the Altrincham's appeal to the FA against an 18-point deduction "will be heard by three members of the FA's sanctions and regulations committee".
THE CLUB NEEDS YOUR HELPOn Tuesday, 9th May at 7pm in the Noel White Suite at Moss Lane, there will be a meeting for everyone who is willing to help the club in whatever capacity over the coming year. Whether you can give half an hour every now and then or can commit to more regular times, Altrincham FC would like you to come along and hear what the club plans to do over the coming year. You might be able to help the club with odd jobs, maintenance, fundraising, or in 1001 other ways, such as by utilising your work-place skills. The club is especially keen for those who stand on the terraces to attend the meeting as it has a proposal for those supporters which would greatly help the club but would not entail a large commitment of time. Please come along on Tuesday if you possibly can. If you cannot attend, but would still like to help, then please ring the club after Tuesday's meeting when the outstanding jobs to be done will be a little clearer.
OLD BOYTotal Network Solutions have released Marc Lloyd Williams, the Vauxhall Masterfit Retailers Welsh Premier's all-time leading scorer. reports the Welsh Premier site.
CONFERENCE NEWSEarly reports on the Confguide forum from a meeting of supporters at Canvey Island say that "the message coming through is this: Jeff King took out a fifteen year lease, he's now gone and our relationship is now 'tenant and landlord'. He will not rent to a trust, nor will he pass over the lease if we form a trust. He wants £1K a week from a PLC owned by the head of our Supporters' Club and two other existing backroom staff, nobody else is allowed to be a director. We are to drop out of The Conference into either the ESL or lowest Southern/Isthmian division. We will have no rights to extend buildings etc and King will always own the lease to the ground, he will recharge us for electricity etc. The only asset the Club has is the contracts to Lee Boylan and two other players, (Joe Dolan and Allan Tait I believe) all players are either released or on free transfer with immediate effect including those mentioned. It looks like he has left but wants to keep control should he want to come back". If all this turns out to be correct, Tamworth would be spared relegation.
Stevenage Borough "Chairman Phil Wallace has notified the Nationwide Conference of his intention to resign as Vice Chairman and Director of the Football Conference. Speaking to Webnews Phil Wallace said : I'm quite happy with my investment and management of Stevenage Borough FC and don't intend to change that, but I do intend to spend more time in the USA over the coming months and years as my US business is now larger than any of my other operations. As such I must face the fact that I will not have the same amount of time available to devote to Conference business in future... It's been a privilege to work with dedicated people who make every decision, without reward, in what they believe to be the best interests of the competition as a whole'".
The BBC says that "York boss Billy McEwan has released eight players following their failure to make the Conference play-offs. David Merris, Mark Hotte, Joe O'Neill, Chris Porter, Stephen Thomas, David Stockdale, Ashley Winn and Steven Baynes are all to leave the club. However, youth team players Nathan Kamara, Arran Reid, Alex Rhodes, Byron Webster and Darren Hollingsworth have all been offered professional deals. McEwan is also in negotiations with several other first-team players".
"Kettering Town have released England non-league international striker Anthony Elding. Elding, 24, has had the remaining week of his existing contract with the Poppies terminated by mutual consent... Elding scored just four times and was sent off twice during his time at Rockingham Road. Kettering have also released assistant manager Alan Biley, and boss Morell Maison has no plans to appoint a successor", says the BBC.
"Grays Athletic defender Lee Matthews is to leave... The 32-year-old, who was signed from Hornchurch in November 2004, has been troubled by a knee injury this season and is out of contract in the summer".
"Jonny Allan and Mike Carr have already agreed new deals with Nationwide North champions Northwich Victoria... as the squad flew off for a Majorcan break on Monday courtesy of owner Mike Connett. Manager Steve Burr said: 'When we get back I have a few more of the squad to sort out'". As for new signings, "I am talking to one or two players,” the manager explained. But I also want to see who is available” states IC Cheshire.
Bullsnews reports that "Forest Green have released four and placed a fifth player on the transfer list. Skipper Jon Richardson, Sekani Simpson, Adam Garner, and Zema Abbey have all been released, with Matt Gadsby being told he can leave despite having 12 months left on his contract. They have five other players already contracted for next season. Exeter midfielder Danny Clay has rejected the offer of a new contract and is considering his future."
4 May 2006
FA HEARINGThe FA hearing to deal with Altrincham's appeal against the Conference's deduction of 18 points has been set for Tuesday, 23rd May. The support and hopes of all Altrincham supporters will be with Graham Heathcote and the Board for a successful and just outcome to the FA hearing.
23rd May will be an eventful day in other respects as well, as it is also the date of Altrincham FC Youth's game against Morecambe in the inaugural Neil Thomason Memorial Trophy final at Robin Park, Wigan and of the STAR Special General Meeting at Moss Lane.
NON-LEAGUE PAPERThe Non-League Paper has contacted Altrincham chairman Geoff Goodwin following his response to various articles in the Paper which were viewed as denigrating Altrincham's registration procedures and, in particular, as suggesting that the club's secretary, Graham Heathcote, should resign. (For background, see this site's news for 30 April). The NLP has now indicated that it did not intend to offend or misrepresent the Club and has apologised if the above impression was given by its articles. Furthermore, it has indicated its "100% support" for Altrincham in the case regarding their points deduction. An article by Geoff Goodwin will appear in a forthcoming edition of the NL Paper, though this will not relate to the Robinson Affair. Geoff added, "Everyone deserves a second chance and I may even be buying a copy of the NL Paper myself this Sunday".
THURSDAY NIGHTAlty Youth take on Woodley Sports in the second leg of the NW Allied Trophies League Premier Subsidiary Cup Final, at Wythenshawe Town on Thursday 4th at 6.30pm. Please come along and help support the Altrincham lads - entry is free. Alty lead 2-1 from the first leg of the Final.
APPEAL LODGEDAltrincham FC lodged their appeal to the FA yesterday against the Conference decision to dock the club 18 points. Meanwhile SAM reports that "Alty must now play the waiting game over their Conference future... And manager Graham Heathcote (right) claims the current situation represents a spanner in the works for the club's future plans. After receiving a six-figure windfall from the sale of the car park adjacent to their Moss Lane ground, Alty are in good shape for the future and are keen to put their strategies into action. Speaking exclusively to SAM, Heathcote said: 'Long term, we are working on what we call a vision for the future to see how we can move forward from this point, with whatever resources we have. We have moved forward a lot in just three years and we need to do whatever we can to make sure that continues. But the whole situation is awkward because we don't know what league we will be playing in next season and only when we know will I be able to reassess the situation properly... Over the course of the season the players have done a great job but now we have to look at how we can improve as a team. We have to look at bringing players in no matter what level we will be playing at next year. I have always believed a part time team can certainly do well at this level but what they need to do to have an impact on this league is to get the best part time players within their area'".
CONFERENCE NEWSThe BBC says that "Veteran striker Bob Taylor is among six players to be released by Tamworth. Taylor, 39, netted 19 Conference goals is his first year with the Lambs but failed to score in an injury-hit season this time round. Also being freed are Scott Stamps, Tris Whitman, Nathan Jackson, Peter Folkes and Danny Davidson. Tamworth finished second from bottom of the Conference but hope to be spared by the drop by Altrincham's possible points' deduction".
Another veteran, "striker Steve Flack is leaving Exeter City after ten years at St James's Park. Flack, 34, has not been offered a new contract by the Conference club but plans to play on elsewhere. He joins Chris Vinnicombe, Craig Farrell and Les Afful in being released with Jake Edwards, who is on loan at Chester, also expected to leave. Defender Chris Todd and midfielder Matt Gill are both currently in talks over new contracts".
"Captain Lee Fowler is likely to leave Scarborough following their relegation to Conference North. The midfielder, 22, is under contract for next season but has been given permission to talk to other clubs. 'We have agreed to release him', said chairman Malcolm Reynolds. Boro are expected to have a clear-out with Denny Ingram the only other senior player under contract for next season".
NL Daily reports that "Trevor Horsley, chairman of Forest Green Rovers, says that Gary Owers position as club manager has never been in doubt... Horsley said: 'Hand on heart we've never discussed Gary's future once. Last year we got rid of nearly everybody so Gary started with nothing really. He's kept going, brought in good players and done a great job'".
At promoted Weymouth, "Striker Raphael Nade wants to make his stay permanent... [after] moving to the Wessex Stadium on loan from Carlisle United in January". He said: "I've really enjoyed my time at Weymouth and it's fantastic to have ended my loan spell by winning the championship... I wasn't getting much first team football at Carlisle which affected my confidence but at Weymouth, I'm nearer my friends and family in London and that's means a lot.. In the Conference, teams punish any mistakes you make straight away. That's why next season we will need to work even harder to take every point we can", he told the Terras website.
BBC Radio Essex says that "Dagenham & Redbridge have failed to reach agreement with this season's leading scorer Chris Moore over a new contract. 'We offered a new contract but he declined', said manager John Still. 'We did everything within our wage structure to keep him at the club'... Meanwhile defender Lee Goodwin has agreed a new three-year contract".
Morecambe's caretaker manager Sammy McIlroy is the Nationwide Conference manager of the month for April.
Bullsnews confirms that "Cambridge United have released four after an indifferent start to Conference life.Severe financial restrictions meant many players were on non-contract and short term deals throughout the season, with 16 players having come and gone through the course of the season. Fola Onibuje heads the list of released players. The gangly 6ft 6in striker was top scorer with 11 goals in 37 appearances. He is joined by Dan Gleeson, Danny Bunce and Gavin Heeroo on the way out of the Abbey Stadium. Seven players have been offered new deals, along with seven already contracted".
NW NEWSThe Runcorn Halton website reports that "The committee of the new "break-away" club met today, and a number of key personnel positions were filled... Originally it was hoped that AFC Runcorn would be a suitable name, but to avoid any possible conflict or confusion with Runcorn AFC, it was decided to adopt 'Runcorn Linnets' as the new club name... Its priorities are to get the Trust in place, raise funds, and get an application into the North West Counties league to play next season in division 2. The application to NWCL2 will be irrespective of the status of Runcorn FC Halton/Runcorn AFC Ltd, and so isn't reliant upon liquidation of the company. This website will soon only be accessible via one of the following URLS:
3 May 2006
SLENDER LEADAlty Youth took a one-goal lead from Tuesday's first-leg of the NW Allied Trophies' Premier Subsidiary Cup at Woodley Sports. Alty took a two-goal lead thanks to Andy Keogh and a penalty from Ben Deegan, the latter arising when Alty keeper Fielding's kick led to Matty Williams being hauled back inside the box. Sports scored a late penalty themselves but Alty went away with two away goals, which would count double in the event of a tie after the second leg, which takes place at Wythenshawe Town on Thursday 4th at 6.30pm. Please come along and help support the Altrincham lads - entry is free.
For more, see the Youth Page.
GATESCourtesy of Terry Rowley, this season's final Conference National attendance grid is here.
CONFERENCE NEWS"Tamworth boss Mark Cooper must wait to see if their relegation is confirmed, after a 0-0 draw with Crawley on the final day left them in the bottom two. If Altrincham lose their appeal against an 18-point deduction, they will be relegated and the Lambs will be spared. 'We now have to wait until sometime in May to find out where we will be next season', Cooper admitted. 'We will be planning as if we are in the Conference National next season and we'll keep our fingers crossed'". But Cooper admitted that his team has "no quality, and we can make no excuses. We huffed and puffed, but we lack that cutting edge... But we only have ourselves to blame - our disciplinary record didn't help, and injuries haven't helped", reports the BBC
NL Daily says that "Former England semi-professional international Christian Moore quit Burton Albion within minutes of the final whistle at on Saturday. The 34-year-old striker revealed he had turned down the chance of a new deal at the Pirelli Stadium because he wants regular first-team football. Moore... expects to sign for a Nationwide North club in the near future. He explained: 'Nigel Clough offered me something for next season, but it was only short-term. It might have gone on to be a season-long arrangement, but at the same time he’s made no secret of the fact he wants to bring in other players. The club is moving forwards all the time with two weeks of full-time training when the players report back and daily sessions in the season. That is something I cannot really commit to, and at my age I do lose a little bit of fitness if I’m not playing regularly'... The Brewers boss said: 'We’re a tad disappointed'". Moore added "It’s nothing to do with the financial side of things because, in that respect, I would probably have been better off staying at Burton" reports the Burton Mail.
The BBC confirms that "Kidderminster Harriers manager Mark Yates has released seven players following a disappointing first season back in the Conference. Terry Fleming, Daryl Burgess, Gareth Sheldon, Wayne Graves and Lee Thompson have all been told they will not be offered new deals. In addition, goalkeepers John Danby and Daniel Lewis have also been freed. But Simon Russell, Michael Blackwood, Michael McGrath, Jonny Harkness and Luke Reynolds have been offered terms"
Forest Green Rovers manager Gary Owers has spoken, after "A last-day win hauled Rovers off the bottom of the Conference table and out of the drop zone to stop them relying on Altrincham's possible points deduction for salvation. 'It's a relief, and stops the uncertainty of what might happen over the summer', Owers told BBC Sport. 'I just wanted to stay out of the bottom two, and then everyone else can get on with it. The chairman said at the start of the season that my job was to take us into the new stadium in the Conference, and we have done that... But there was also pressure on him because he has invested a lot of money. He is a popular figure here and he really drives the club'. Chairman Trevor Horsley admitted that relegation to Conference South would have had major financial repercussions for Forest Green - including a possible switch back to part-time status... Forest Green have not finished outside the bottom four for two years, with relegation only avoided last summer when Northwich were sent down for a breach of rules instead... Rovers are leaving The Lawn for a new stadium this summer ... 'It's one step at a time. From a team that finished third from bottom, we are not going to win the league all of a sudden', Owers said. 'We went full-time last year and hopefully we will get the benefit of that as it takes a while to get a full-time team established'".
"Manager Chris Wilder is relishing leading Halifax into the Conference play-offs for the first time. "We have to enjoy it and then dust ourselves down and look forward to the games," Wilder told BBC Sport. "We are an honest bunch and whatever happens we will stick our lot in. And if we play well enough and get the rub of the green we might give ourselves an opportunity of getting out of this league". In fcat, "Halifax are aiming to become the first club to win promotion to the Football League on two separate occasions... Against a backdrop of financial uncertainty the former Town full-back has twice overseen top-ten finishes in his three seasons at the helm... Wilder added: 'We are not in a situation where we can sign the best players in the league. We don't have the budget to do that. We have to work to get players in and then work hard to mould them into a team... There are lot of teams below us who are a lot stronger than us off the pitch, so we have a lot to be proud of'" .
"Cambridge boss Rob Newman has revealed that forward Craig Westcarr has turned down the offer of a new contract. The ex-Nottingham Forest man, 21, had been on a month-to-month deal all season, and Newman explained: 'His contract ran out on Friday. We offered him terms for the rest of this season and next season, but he didn't like those terms... He turned it down" .
NW NEWSThe UniBond League has announced that "the 2005/6 Play Off finals, scheduled for this weekend (Saturday 6th May) are to be filmed as part of a new broadband TV initiative that will take UniBond League football direct to millions of football fans worldwide. The league has teamed up with Onside TV, who own the television rights to Masters Soccer and who produced Sky’s Non League Football Show, to provide visitors to www.unibondleague.com with the opportunity to download 25 minute highlight packages from both the Premier and First Division play off matches from 9.00am on Monday 8th May onwards. Thanks to support from long-standing league sponsors UniBond, the highlights of both games will be available free of charge... '“This is potentially a very exciting development for the league, but also a very logical one', says NPL Head of Marketing [and former Altrincham chairman] Mark Harris... 'Our league website attracts around three times as many users as attend all the games in a season. The broadband TV service gives us the means to take the game to them and to millions of other fans who follow the non league game'".
2 May 2006
Stafford R. now play Droylsden in the Final at Burton on Saturday.
HOSE GOING TO WIN?Former Alty keeper and current supplier of the official Altrincham FC football kit (through his company, Sensport Kits), Ian Senior, informs me of the following game at Moss Lane this Thursday at 2pm:
Ian adds that "Entrance is free, should anybody want to watch what should be quite a competitive game as both teams have players who play at Unibond/Ryman and Conference South/North level". Ian himself was formerly a member of the fire service and of its representative football teams.
BANK HOLIDAY INDEXAs many of the website's visitors do not have access to the site over weekends, below is a brief headline index for some of what has appeared here over the Bank Holiday period. For the full text of all the weekend's updates, just keep scrolling down the page and you will find it all.
Right: Peter Band, Alty player of the year.
GOAL SPONSORSHIPIf you have sponsored goals this season, please send your cheque to Mark Murray at 65 Fulmar Drive, Sale M33 4WH. Including own goals scored by the opposition, Alty netted 45 goals in all competitions this season.
WHAT NEXT?On the Alty Fans' Forum Phil Howden, the York City supporter who set up the Help Alty website petition asks for advice on the best way to make the petition achieve the desired impact. Phil says the petition now has in excess of 8,000 signatures supporting Altrincham as they face an 18-point deduction following Accrington Stanley's failure to gain international clearance for James Robinson before he joined Altrincham.
RACE NIGHTSTAR's Mark Murray writes that:
"At the STAR Race Night, the following horses were winners (trainers in brackets):
Jimmy Hill and Terry Surridge need to contact STAR's Mark Murray for their bottle of champagne prize. Campbell McLay won the case of wine in the draw for the race sponsors. Grahame Rowley won the £100 prize for Steve Foster's Big Treble Chance and Steve Foster was thanked for his monumental effort in selling the horses and the treble chance. The Auction race raised a staggering £400 with the following horses (bidders in brackets)
The winners Rafo and Fraser donated their profit back to the club...thanks chaps!"
MIXED EMOTIONSThe Sale & Altrincham Messenger has another inimitable column from Mark Maddox. "We achieved our goal of survival in the Conference, even though we lost against Grays, so it should have been celebration time. But I just ended up feeling mixed emotions because of the points deduction, I wasn't even able to enjoy it. It's all doing my head in, it's been playing on my mind since the decision was made and I would just rather we get it over and done with as soon as possible... There have been a lot of sacrifices made at the club this year. Look at the players who went to Dagenham and Grays in midweek and were then in work at 7am the next morning and the effort put in on the pitch. Then you've got Graham and Dalton, who have put in an unbelievable amount of work, as well as Chas and Dave, Andy Hosgood and the fans. But for what we have achieved through all that hard work, effort and commitment to be taken away from us on a technicality is just unbearable. When we got into training last Thursday, the day of the decision, it was hard because we all felt like we'd had a massive kick in the teeth. I'm just hoping the FA can sort it out as soon as possible, it should really have been sorted out this week because it only takes away from the football otherwise. Hopefully they will see sense and overturn the ruling or else the Conference could become a bit of a joke. Every year it is decided on some technicality or another and they can't allow that to keep happening".
BUT INTERNATIONAL CLEARANCE CAN'T STOP TERRASAs Alty sweat on their appeal to the FA, before their title decider against Lewes, the Weymouth website reported that the Terras "will receive the Conference South championship today even though the Terras have now been charged with breaching international clearance rules. Garry Hill's side will be certain of the title if they beat Lewes at the Wessex Stadium this afternoon (3pm), regardless of the threat of a four-point deduction over the Solomon Taiwo affair. Earlier this week Maidenhead United were docked the two points they gained in matches featuring Taiwo this season.Conference operations director John Moules said the punishment came after the Berkshire club failed to take up the option of a seven-day hearing.He said: 'Maidenhead have been deducted the points they had gained when Soloman Taiwo played for them. Weymouth have been charged but we cannot presume they are guilty. They will therefore be crowned champions today because they have won the league. The next stage of the process is arranging a hearing date with Weymouth which we are currently in the process of doing'". Weymouth won 2-0 but had they lost they could have been stripped of the title. "Weymouth chairman Martyn Harrison said: 'We've received a letter from the Conference informing us they received a complaint from St Albans on the matter. We now have our lawyers going over the documents sent to us because we have a number of legal concerns. The letter doesn't set out any detailed charge against us or a run-down of the process to follow with regard to submitting of evidence. We believe the letter from the Conference is somewhat short on detail but at the moment everything is in the hands of our lawyers".
OLD BOY"Experienced former Altrincham player Danny McGoona has been forced to hang up his boots after undergoing surgery last week on a torn cartilage sustained earlier this season. The operation is the third the 32-year-old has had on the knee and doctors say he could end up crippled if he tries to carry on. 'I will see out the season as manager at Conwy and will then decide what I'm going to do', says McGoona, who scored fifteen goals from eighty Welsh Premier appearances for Connah's Quay Nomads, Bangor City, Conwy United and Caernarfon Town. The midfielder, who had a short spell with Altrincham in the Conference and also played for Colwyn Bay, has been player-manager at the Morfa this season" reports the Welsh Premier.
PLAY-OFFSToday's play offs were not good news for most of the home sides involved. In Nationwide North, Droylsden won 1-0 away at Nuneaton thanks to a goal by Morris after 2 minutes; Stafford Rangers host Harrogate Town tomorrow in the other play-off. In Nationwide South, the away team, Lance Key's Histon, won, too - Farnborough 0 Histon 3. Histon now meet St Albans at Stevenage - as St Albans got a bye against Lewes due to the Sussex club's ground being judged ineligble for the second year running.
In the UniBond Premier:
In the UniBond First, the Alty old boys came off badly. At Woodley Sports, who fielded Mario Daniel, Chris Young and ex-Alty trialist Gavin Salmon, the home side lost 0-4 to an impressive Gresley Rovers. And at Kendal the home side only scraped through 4-2 on penalties against Steve Hawes's Stocksbridge PS, after a 1-1 draw in after extra time.
NW NEWSNL Daily says that "There was an open meeting held at the Quayside in Canal Street on Friday night to discuss the future of Runcorn FC Halton. Despite being an open meeting, the chairman did not attend as he felt that he hadn't been formally invited. At the meeting the following decisions were made:
(1) The fans confirmed that after the match against Ashton on 29th April, they will no longer support the entity currently known as Runcorn FC Halton/Runcorn AFC Ltd.
(2) The fans will work towards the creation of AFC Runcorn, a new club that will hopefully be the reformation of Runcorn AFC Ltd when it fails to confirm its ability to participate in the UniBond Division 1, or if it goes into administration.
(3) The fans will investigate the possibilities of returning to playing in Runcorn as soon as possible and as part of the decision of finding a suitable ground for next season, ground options "south of the river" will be given consideration.
(4) The new club's aim is to play in the highest league possible, with a view to that being at least North West Counties League Second Division.
(5) The new club will be formed around the Trust currently known as the Linnets Independent Supporters Trust, but will be subject to a potential name change, and establishment of new personnel.
(6) The Quayside will be the new social base in Runcorn, for AFC Runcorn."
Whilst Marine Reserves contest the Lancashire League title, with Altrincham one of their rivals, the club has confirmed that its Reserves will move from the Lancashire League to the West Cheshire League Division One next season. Meanwhile their Youth side, who play with Alty in the NW Allied Trophies League "face a hectic end to the season as they look to complete their league programme in the Premier Division of the North West Allied Trophies League. But they are setting about the task with a vengeance and beginning to threaten the sides currently at the top of the table. On Sunday 23 April they secured an 8 - 1 victory against Eagley. Yesterday they they won 2 - 1 against top of the league Woodley Sports".
CONFERENCE NEWS"Graham Westley has hinted that he may be about to end his association with Stevenage Borough following his side's failure to make the play-offs. Westley was quick to draw a line under the 2005/06 season, offering some surprisingly stark assessments in the process. 'Whether I agree a new contract or not remains to be seen', he said, 'The chairman has asked me to talk to him on that matter but I wanted to get the season finished first. I shall meet the players on Wednesday and let them know their futures and then I will meet Phil Wallace on Thursday. Two facts cannot be ignored. One, we were not good enough over forty-two games. Two, we finished higher than some very big clubs. I made some mistakes this year and we certainly paid a price for being in the play off final last year. This year's losers will discover the problem. Although our crowds and budgets are smaller than the big lads, I feel that Stevenage Borough can build next year if the club is wise'".
The NL Daily says that "Manager John Hollins has ruled out wholesale changes to his squad this summer, even if the Nationwide Conference National lift Crawley Town`s transfer embargo. Hollins will struggle to sign new players because fourteen of the current squad have a year left on their contracts... Omari Coleman and Gavin Gordon are his only permanent signings. Crawley were hit with an embargo in January after exceeding the playing budget set by the league. They will be docked three points and fined a maximum £10,000 unless they can satisfy the Conference that their money problems are resolved. Hollins, who revealed last week that he wants to extend his stay at Broadfield Stadium, will meet chairman Azwar Majeed this week to discuss his future.
NL Daily also reports that "Player boss Neil Redfearn has recognised the perilousness of his own position, as well as his team's limitations following Scarborough`s relegation from the Nationwide Conference National. "We were always playing catch-up, and left ourselves too much to do. I thanked the players at the end for the effort they have given me, but I told them they were a bit short. I had to be honest with them. I have been in football for a long time, and I know what is required to get to the top and stay there, and it's hard. Whatever decisions are now made must be in the best interests of the football club. The decision as to the manager's job may well be one of those", said Redfearn.
"Danny White has been given a chance to join Cambridge United, six years after the Abbey Stadium-based club released him as a teenager. White currently plays for Diss Town [and] played a trial game for Cambridge against Huntingdon Town last week... The midfielder was part of the youth set-up at Cambridge from 11 until he was released, aged 17" states Bury St Edmunds Today.
the Conference reports that "Gravesend & Northfleet will have to start looking for a new chairman following the resignation of Brian Kilcullen. However, Kilcullen will stay involved with the club as a director and a major shareholder after six years spent with the club". He told the Fleet's website "I firmly believe in this club's potential and want to be around for the long-term to enjoy what could happen on the pitch and see Fleet Leisure and the new stadium project developing as we intend. I want to still be heavily involved with this club in five years time. As a Director and major shareholder I will still be actively involved. It is just that I feel my time is best spent working on the financing of the club and the new stadium without the many other tasks that come with being Chairman".
Whilst Gravesend mull over reverting to part-time, Southport report that "Gary Brabin signed a full time contract with the club on Sunday, the first full time player since Southport went out of the Football League".
The Scarborough site says that "The results of this season's Football Programme Awards have been announced. These awards have now become the responsibility of the magazine "Programme Monthly" rather than the Wirral Programme Club. Once again, Exeter City’s excellent publication "The Grecian" has won the award for best programme in the Conference. This award is richly deserved, though the programme isn’t perfect - on Saturday the list of Boro players on the back page was actually those of Crawley Town!!! Cambridge United’s "Abbey Update" was the runner-up in the awards, with Kidderminster’s "The Harrier" in third place. Scatrborough FC’s programme "The Boro Review" came tenth in the list of Conference clubs. Amongst the poorest in the opinions of the judges were Halifax Town and Hereford United, although bottom place went to Forest Green Rovers".
Bullsnews tells us that "Burton have confirmed that Crewe keeper Stuart Tomlinson will spend next season on loan at the Pirelli Stadium, however the Brewers have lost the services of striker Christian Moore as he is unable to commit to the new full time regime. Dagenham are likely to see the departures of striker Chris Moore and defender Ashley Vickers. Vickers, 34, is yet to decide on whether to turn full-time with the club and Chris Moore, top scorer this season, is attracting interest from other clubs and is yet to agree a new deal". Also "Canvey's future will be decided this week when Jeff King and six others will meet to map out the future. King, who left assistant Glenn Pennyfather in charge for Saturday's match and spent the day drinking with Canvey supporters, hopes the club will remain in the Conference despite the withdrawal of his backing. King told BBC Radio Essex: 'It'll be Tuesday or Wednesday there will be a meeting with myself, people from my companies, and people who have been in the background of Canvey for the last few years to sort out what we can do and where we can go from there. I can't guarantee when an announcement will be made but I hope the club can continue in the Conference as they have done for the last few years. We've improved again this year and now is the time for people who want to help the club because in a week's time it might be too late'".
1 May 2006 Fans' Forum and presented by Gary Warrington.
Above: Peter Band receives his Player of the Year award from manager Graham Heathcote.
The event raised £1375.96 exclusive of bar takings, providing valuable income for the club as it enters the close season. STAR and the club are very grateful to those who organised and attended the event or who sponsored races or horses. Many thanks are also due to compere George Heslop, Toni of www.funracing.co.uk, Jenny Heslop and Helen who ran the bar with their customary efficiency, Brian Flynn who oversaw the awards ceremony, all those who staffed the betting table and Fraser Thorley, who generously donated his £200 prize as winning owner of the final race back to the club. Mark Murray's full report is on the Fans' Forum. Many thanks, too, to STAR for awarding the website a bottle of champagne, which was very much appreciated and may explain any typing errors in today's reports.
Above: Stuart Coburn, with Colin Little, was joint runner-up as Player of the Year.
Above: Peter Band receives his Internet Player of the Year award from Gary Warrington, who runs Alty's Fans' Forum.
The atmosphere at the event was superb, especially considering the threat which hangs over the club of a points deduction. One positive aspect of the current farcical situation is that it has brought together every element of the club even more strongly than it was before. The chairman, board, players and supporters all paid tribute to each other for a wonderful achievement this season which no panel of the FA or Conference can take away from Altrincham FC. Whatever the outcome of the FA deliberations, Graham and Dalton will have the total support of everyone at the club to take us forward next season at whatever level we may be playing.
CONFERENCE NEWS"Alex Inglethorpe, manager of Exeter City, has started shaping his squad for next season by releasing striker Craig Farrell and offering midfielder Matthew Gill a new one-year contract. The City boss also revealed centre half Gary Sawyer is set to return to Plymouth Argyle" reports This is Exeter.
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