Altrincham Football Club News Archive
April, 2007

30 April 2007


Altrincham FC are pleased to announce a third pre-season friendly. It will be away to Runcorn Linnets, the club formed out of the ashes of Runcorn FC Halton. The match will be on Saturday, 28 July at Witton Albion's Wincham Park ground. The previous Saturday, Alty entertain Rotherham United at Moss Lane whilst the week after (4 August), Welsh champions TNS are the visitors to Moss Lane.


For many Conference National clubs, relegation has been their worst nightmare, but not for Altrincham where amongst many supporters there is almost a feeling of relief. After two seasons battling against a division packed with clubs with bigger budgets than ours, many supporters would argue that it has not been an enjoyable period. Last season's points deduction debacle even robbed us of the joy of staying up last season. Indeed, at Saturday evening's Player of the Year awards event the mood was very far from sombre as supporters recognised that the team had given its all, and the overwhelming attitude was one of positive acceptance of the challenges ahead back in the Conference North, (or Blue Square Northern as it will be known next season).

Epitomising that realistic view is Altrincham chairman Geoff Goodwin (right), who, several months ago, had announced his planned departure from the club at the end of 2008. But on Sunday he told the Altrincham FC website that he had had a change of heart. Geoff now wants to stay and help the football club develop as an integral part of the local community. "I've not enjoyed the last two years", he said, "Conference National was a step which came too quickly for the club". He firmly believes that clubs now have to be part-time to survive at national level.

Looking back on the two years, Geoff expressed his thanks "from the bottom of his heart to the players who have done a great job in difficult circumstances". Geoff points out that it is one thing to raise your game for a cup tie but to do it week-in and week-out for two seasons, in which virtually every game was against better resourced opposition was remarkable. The players and management had exceeded their target of 50 points (they got 51), but it was not quite enough. Like manager Graham Heathcote, Geoff accepted that two of the few players signed and placed on contracts last summer had not been successful acquisitions and, as Graham had explained at the awards ceremony on Saturday, this had effectively reduced the effectiveness of the tightly budgeted squad.

The Alty chairman also paid tribute to the fans, who had remained positive despite their disappointment at this season's outcome. Interviewed over the weekend by Jack Dearden on BBC Radio Manchester (GMR), Geoff had confirmed that relegation certainly did not mean that the management would be discarded. In fact, Geoff feels that the club is in much better shape that it was when he took over and that two years in the Conference National actually retarded its recovery by obliging expenditure to be increased because of travelling, etc.

Geoff went on to tell the website that he hoped that the Club would be able to retain the majority of the squad currently at Moss Lane - and several of the players at the Player of the Year awards last night indicated their wish to stay at Moss Lane. One who was not at the awards, goalkeeper Stuart Coburn, who spent yesterday evening in hospital after injuring his back in the Aldershot game was one player whom Geoff singled out as having already committed himself to stay at Altrincham. Both the keeper and chairman recognise that Conference North will be a difficult league to win but will relish Altrincham being, hopefully, one of the stronger teams next season rather than a struggler on the national scene. Geoff now sees Altrincham developing as a family-friendly club and is happy not to follow the route of so many clubs whose future is totally reliant on one major backer.

And Geoff revealed that despite being involved in the Cricket World Cup finals, several of the Aussies - who had become friends of the Alty chairman thorugh his coach contract with the English Cricket Board - had sent him good wishes before and after Saturday's game at Moss Lane. Indeed, World Cup hero Adam Gilchrist had been one who had texted him before the match. After the news of our relegation reached the Aussies, they told Geoff to do as they did in adversity - "Just take the positives". There are, indeed, plenty of positives, said Geoff, "The club is virtually debt free, we have a nice pitch to play on and attendances have been up this season". With new ventures such as the links with junior levels of local football and greater involvement with the community, the Alty chairman is hopeful that the any drop in attendances will be slight.

So, out of yesterday's relegation comes a great deal to be positive about at Moss Lane.


Pictured above is Altrincham FC Secretary and Director, Derek Wilshaw with a group of enthusiastic pupils of the Pictor School in Grove Lane,Timperley. Derek visited the School on Tuesday, 24th April, as part of the "Nationwide Supporters of the Future" initiative, whose aim is to develop disabled football across the country. As well as hosting Derek, Manchester Football Activities' coach Nick Hall was also a guest of the School last Tuesday. Nick gave the boys and girls four enjoyable training sessions in which they were shown footballing skills which should help them when they take part in a Special Needs football tournament in June. All at Moss Lane wish them well in that tournament. Altrincham FC have also donated two sets of goalposts and footballs to the School and the pupils were also invited to attend a Nationwide Conference game at Moss Lane. Derek would also like to thank the staff of the Pictor School for a very informative tour of their premises which impressed him greatly.


After Saturday's game, Alty boss Graham Heathcote told the NL Paper, "I'm gutted beacuse that performance merited a win. But football is a simple game. You have to hit the back of the net to win and we didn't. I can't fault the players for their application and their use of the ball but we sometimes lacked composuire in front of goal... We are a club that is going the right way. We've paid our debts and will only pay out what we can afford. There are some clubs who have money problems who are waiting for the time to go into a CVA and lose their points. My opinion is that any club going into administration should automatically be relegated. I'm sure the fans will have gone home thinking there is something [good] happening at this club. But I'm not sure whether we can attract that sort of attendance regularly". The Shots' caretaker boss Martin Kuhl added, that Gary Scott's tackle on Ryan Scott "was a bit high but the lad was making an honest attempt for the ball. I don't think the referee handled the situation well. It was obvious the player had a broken leg and yet he was left lying on the floor. As for the game, we were generally outplayed and outfought".

The official Aldershot website reports that "Altrincham's two year association with the Conference National ended on Saturday afternoon as Martin Kuhl's side picked up a point in Cheshire. Robins' boss Graham Heathcote remonstrated with the referee at the final whistle but, in truth, he can only reflect on his side's woeful finishing at Moss Lane in front of the [second] largest crowd of the season, 2,005, who were present in the knowledge that the home side had to win to stand any chance of avoiding the drop. Alty had chance after chance to seal the victory they needed to secure Conference status but it was the visitors who could have stolen all three points at the end when Kirk Hudson blazed over the bar. However it was the 81st minute injury to Ryan Scott that soured the whole afternoon. The Aldershot born midfielder who signed a new contract last week broke his fibia and tibia bone in a challenge with Gary Scott. Refereee Waugh played on amidst protests from the visiting bench who were directly in line with the challenge. Immediately Ryan Scott shouted to the bench "I've broken my leg" and after extensive treatment on the pitch he was taken away in an ambulance where he will have an operation on Sunday. The team coach drove straight to the local hospital after the match and the players and management spent most of Saturday evening with the Shots' youngster. Manager Heathcote immediately withdrew Gary Scott from the field of play after a lengthy stoppage... It was all about soaking up pressure in the first half. Alty created a succession of chances with Colin Little the main culprit in spurning opportunities". The site also has photos of the game whilst the Aldershot unofficial site has a match report, too.

Before the game Altrincham received many messages of support and Forest Green Rovers' Colin Peake was one person who rang the club. He assured the Robins that, despite having nothing to play for, Forest Green would give their all on Saturday. They were true to their word, winning their game against Stafford Rangers. But sadly Alty could not take advantage...

This site's match report is here.


After Saturday's game, the Altrincham FC ballboys and girls held their annual presentation ceremony. Full details of the prize winners are here. After the boys and girls had received their awards, Alty Vice-Chairman Grahame Rowley made a presentation to coordinator Ray Armstrong who is handing over the mantle of running the ballboys and girls' team at Moss Lane to his deputy Mike Antrobus, after 35 years of sterling service. Above, Grahame (left) announces that Ray (right) is to become a Life-President of the Club in recognition of his great service. Also pictured is the voice of Altrincham FC, tannoy announcer Steve Raftery. A full list of the prize winners is here.

Pictured above is Daniel, one of the many deserving recipients of awards from the ballboys and girls' team.


The winners of the April draw for the Friends of Altrincham FC were:
  • 1. No.30 John Brennan - £100
  • 2. No.27 Campbell McLay - £35
  • 3. No.47 Terry Surridge - £15


    Spare a thought for the one man at Moss Lane who expects to be out of a job following Alty's relegation. He is Youth Team coach and matchday commentator for the DVD recordings, Tony Spilsbury, as he fears matches may not be routinely recorded for sale next season!


    The average Altrincham FC attendance at Moss Lane for Conference games in 2006-07 was 1,166. This was the highest average since 1990-91 when Alty were chasing the league title. The Club is grateful to everyone who came to the matches this season and hope to see you all again next season. The Board is meeting this Tuesday to discuss the admission prices for the next campaign.


    On Saturday evening, despite the disappointing result against Aldershot which had meant relegation, there was a record turnout at the STAR Race Night and Player of the Year Awards event. As ever, the Race Night was compered by Alty Matchday Secretary, Youth Team manager, club licensee and bingo caller, George Heslop, with the expert assistance of Toni of FundRacing. The last race alone, an auction event, raised an excellent £300 and the winning owners, The Flaggers along with several other prizewinners, generously donated their winnings back to the Football Club but the Altrincham FC website had no such good fortune. Betting its shirt on horse no.3, called Crawley Creditors in the third race, the official website found that reality was repeated as the Creditors remained out of the money at the finishing post.

    As reported yesterday, the players' prizes were awarded as follows:

  • Players' Player of the Year: Joe O'Neill.
  • STAR Supporters' Player of the year: Joint winners: Stuart Coburn and Joe O'Neill. Runner-Up: Karl Munroe (seen, below, left, receiving his award from Dalton Steele)..
  • Internet Player of the Year: Joe O'Neill
  • Clubman of the Year selected by Graham Heathcote: Warren Peyton (seen, above)

    The Internet award was made to Joe O'Neill by Gary Warrington, who runs the Alty Fans' Forum, and his fiancée Zoe, whilst Rod Thornley, with his own beautiful assistant, Gary Scott, oversaw the Players' Player award. The management duo of Graham Heathcote and Dalton Steele presented the Clubman of the Year award. On behalf of the players, Rod thanked the directors, backroom staff and the fans for their support this season. Kitmen Danny and Charles Heathcote, and Dave Mitten were all given a deserved award. Rod also revealed that the name of Race 4 in the Race Night, "F*** this s***, I'm going home" was a direct quote from Graham Heathcote when he entered the dressing room at half-time during Alty's 5-0 defeat by Dagenham at Moss Lane early this season!

    Making his award of Clubman of the Year which went, for the second successive year, to Alty's left-back, Graham said that the winner, Warren Peyton, had done excellently playing in a position he does not like. He praised Warren's commitment and hard work before going on to discuss the club's future next season. Graham said that doing well in Conference North "will be no easy task". He admitted that he was "gutted" by relegation and felt that two of his signings (and he did not need to name them) had handicapped the team this year by tying up team wages whilst not performing to the hoped-for levels on the pitch. On the positive side, Graham pointed out that since our last season in Nationwide North, the club had been put on firm financial foundations. The Alty boss felt that if the squad continued to improve as it had done in recent seasons, it should be able to push for a place at the top end of the league, but he was making no promises about winning the title.

    STAR chairperson Brian Flynn presented the Supporters' Player of the Year awards. He announced that there had been a tie in the voting between striker Joe O'Neill and goalkeeper Stuart Coburn. Stuart was one of the few first team players not at the ceremony as, sadly, he had been taken to hospital with a back injury after the Aldershot game. His injury also robs the club's Staff football team of its ball-playing centre-back for the clash this Thursday with the Supporters on the Moss Lane turf.


    In Sunday's NL Paper, Dave Pace reveals that owning Droylsden, now promoted to the Conference National, has so far cost him £3.5 million pounds. However, the Bloods intend to remain a part-time outfit. Meanwhile, Southport are weighing their options of reverting to part-time after they were relegated back to Conference North.

    One of the grounds that Alty will visit next season is Worcester City's St George's Lane but the club is now likely to sell the site and move to a new ground.


    Steve Hawes's Stocksbridge PS just missed out on the UniBond Premier play offs on Saturday. Chris Timons's Harrogate Town also just missed out in the Conference North scramble for a play-off place. In Wales, Carl Furlong scored for Caernarfon but Dave Swanick netted an own goal for Connah's Quay. Kieran Lugsden of Altrincham's 2006-07 squad and former Alty captain Mark Maddox started for Leigh yesterday. Mark was awarded the RMI Manager's Player of the Year award.
    29 April 2007


    Some excellent news for Altrincham FC this morning is that chairman Geoff Goodwin has told the website this morning that he would now like to stay at Moss Lane. Geoff had previously announced that he would leave at the end of 2008 but he is now keen to see the club develop further within the community. There will be more on this, later in the day....


  • Match report here

    Photos to follow...


    Having seen their team relegated a couple of hours earlier, Altrincham fans might have been expected to be in glum mood for the STAR Player of the Year awards on Saturday evening. But that was far from the case. Though Graham Heathcote expressed the view that he was "gutted" at relegation he caught the mood of the evening by reiterating that the club was now on solid financial foundations and could look forward to the future from a firm basis - unlike several of the clubs we have left behind in Conference National who sail close to the wind in their financial affairs. There will be more on the Player of the Year event later today on the website but for the time being, here is a summary of the main prizewinners:

  • Players' Player of the Year: Joe O'Neill. Pictured, right, Joe receives his award from Steve Bushell and Rod Thornley.
  • STAR Supporters' Player of the year: Joint winners: Stuart Coburn and Joe O'Neill. Runner-up: Karl Munroe.
  • Internet Player of the Year: Joe O'Neill
  • Clubman of the Year selected by Graham Heathcote: Warren Peyton

    Sadly Stuart was unable to attend the ceremony as he had to be taken to hospital by ambulance after the game. He had played just 13 minutes before collapsing with a back spasm and was still having problems as the game continued. However, despite the pain, during the prize-giving event the Alty goalkeeper texted team-mate Peter Band from hospital to enquire about the prize-giving, saying "Who's won what? Still in hosp. I'm f*ck*d!" We all hope that Stuart will make a speedy recovery.


    Altrincham FC extends its best wishes to Aldershot midfielder Ryan Scott who broke his leg yesterday just before the end of the match at Moss Lane. It was good to see the Aldershot fans gathering in numbers round the ambulance after the game and chanting the injured player's name as he was stretchered into the vehicle. Many of his team-mates stayed at Moss Lane after the game to await developments. The Aldershotwebsite says that "It has been confirmed that he has a broken fibia and tibia and will require an operation on Sunday".

    It was also appreciated by the Altrincham supporters that their counterparts from Hampshire were supportive of our club's league plight both before and after the game. We wish them well next season under whoever their manager will be, following the recent departure of Terry Brown.

    28 April 2007


    Alty had a hatful of presentable chances to win this game, which they largely dominated, with the best chances coming when Colin Little missed an open goal in the closing minutes and when Steve Bushell was unable to turn in Little's cross from barely two yards in the first half. Results elsewhere would have kept Alty up if they could have scored but a goal just would not come despite goalmouth scrambles and more than one strong penalty appeal against the visitors. Alty lost goalkeeper Stuart Coburn after a quarter of an hour when his back went into spasm and he had to be replaced by Richard Acton but there was a more sickening injury minutes from the end of normal time when Aldershot's Ryan Scott broke his leg in a challenge with Gary Scott. With more than two thousand fans creating a great atmosphere and Alty attacking from start to finish it was a memorable afternoon - apart from the result. Alty may have gone down but they went down with a spirited performance. Report to follow.

    Right: Karl Munroe contests possession with John Grant.

  • ALTRINCHAM 0 Aldershot T. 0
  • Burton A. 1 Rushden & D. 2
  • Cambridge U. 1 Tamworth 0
  • Crawley T. 0 Kidderminster H. 0
  • Dagenham & R. 2 Gravesend & N. 1
  • Exeter C. 2 Southport 1
  • Halifax T. 2 Stevenage B. 1
  • Morecambe 1 Grays A. 0
  • St Albans C. 1 Weymouth 0
  • Stafford R. 0 Forest Green R. 1
  • Woking 3 Northwich V. 2
  • York C. 1 Oxford U. 0
  • Howard Watts's Through the Years for 28 April

  • League table
  • Alty line-ups
  • Alty statistics


    After their game with Aldershot today, Altrincham FC were relegated from the Conference National to Conference North. It is the third time that the Robins have been demoted in a decade, following relegations in 1997 and 2000. In all three cases, the club had looked reasonably safe in the preceding weeks, only to encounter a run of reverses towards the end of the season. But it is not all doom and gloom at Moss Lane as the least two years in some respects have been a bonus after the club had suffered financial traumas in the early 21st century before securing last-day promotions from the UniBond Premier to the Nationwide North in 2004 and then a play-off triumph in 2005 to regain their Conference status. With the club adopting a sensible regime of living within its means it was always going to be difficult to compete against big-spending full-time outfits in the National division. A run of injuries during the closing games also did not help the cause this season. On the positive side, returning to Conference North will allow the club to look forward to some enjoyable re-encounters with old rivals, to visit some new grounds and it will hopefully produce more victories on the field for the supporters to enjoy after two difficult seasons competing against better resourced opposition.


    After today's match, supporters are urged to show their appreciation to the Altrincham FC ballboys and girls at their presentation event on the pitch after the final whistle. Following that, there is the Friends of Altrincham FC Monthly Prize Draw at around 5.30pm in the bar and there will also be the annual STAR Player of the Year and Race Night event, with doors opening at 7pm for a 7.30pm start.


    As in 2000, Altrincham need to win a final game in a Conference season to stay up; then the opposition were champions elect Kidderminster Harriers; this time it is Aldershot Town who stand between Altrincham and survival. Alty won the corresponding match 5-1 last season but three points of any description will be more than welcome this time around. If Alty win they will then rely on one of Crawley Town, Cambridge United, Stafford Rangers, Grays Athletic or Halifax Town losing, or in the case of Stafford Rangers, who have a worse goal difference than Alty, either drawing or losing. All five clubs have 52 points compared with Altrincham's 50. Anything less than a win for Altrincham means certain relegation.


    Altrincham FC have arranged a pre-season friendly at Moss Lane against Welsh Premier champions, TNS (The New Saints), who are managed by former Alty striker Ken McKenna. It will be on Saturday, 4 August. The only other friendly to be announced so far is on Saturday 21st July at home to Rotherham United.


    At Oxford United, a loss of a quarter of a million pounds a year is the target as This is United reports. "Ian Lenagan, for so long the 'silent partner' at Oxford United, last night formally introduced himself to supporters – and went down a storm. The Harlequins Rugby League chairman, who has a 50 per cent share of Woodstock Partners Ltd – who own Oxford United FC – wowed a 400-strong crowd at the fans' forum. Many turned up at the Kassam Stadium expecting to get brief details of the club's plans, but instead got chapter and verse of the long and short-term aims of United, with figures to support every claim. Lenagan's speech was greeted with a rousing reception, with supporters rejoicing that they now have owners of their club who are prepared to hide nothing. 'I had only been chairman of Harlequins Rugby League club for nine months when we bought the club, and did not feel that it was right to show people I was branching out into football straight away. I am not the kind of person who likes the spotlight, but Nick, Kelvin (Thomas) and Jim (Smith) told me that now was the time to let people know who I am. We have nothing to hide, and hopefully people will now see that the club is in safe hands', he said. 'The club lost £640,000 last year, but that's good news because we thought it might have been £720,000. But we obviously cannot lose that sort of money every year, which is why we have a strategic plan. The main aims of that are to lose not more than £250,000 a year, and, of course, to acquire the stadium and conference centre. Firoz Kassam wants £13m for it, and we hope to be able to get the stadium within two years – we will not get it next year unless something miraculous happens. I will be meeting with potential partners to see what can be done about raising that money, because it is not financially-viable for me or Nick to just throw our money at it'. Lenagan also revealed that his sons, Simon and Adrian, will have more involvement in the club, and announced exciting plans for a £25m training complex at Peers School".

    The Cambridge Evening News reports that "Jimmy Quinn believes Cambridge United will complete their great escape in style with victory at home to relegated Tamworth at the Abbey tomorrow. A win would keep United up, while even a draw is likely to be good enough with Altrincham needing to win by five clear goals at home to Aldershot if that happened. But Quinn wants nothing less than three points to end the season on a high note and hopes it will be a case of the Lambs to the slaughter. He said: 'I've never played in a relegated team but it would knock the stuffing out of you and their players will be concerned about their future. That's probably a lot better than Tamworth coming here fighting for their lives. There was a buzz after the Aldershot game and I think Courtney Pitt shouted 'let's finish it off next week', so they're all on a high and looking forward to the game. We're going to have a big crowd here and two most important things are that we do a professional job and entertain the fans. We need to be relaxed and show the fans what we can do, and we've shown in the last few home games we're more than capable of doing that. Everything is in our favour but there's no room for complacency and we'll need to give 100 per cent'".

    From This Weymouth we read that "When the final whistle blows on the Terras' last game of a roller-coaster season at relegated St Albans tomorrow, boss Jason Tindall still doesn't expect to be in a position to tell his players where their futures lie. 'I have signed my own contract but I still have my hands tied behind my back because I haven't been told I can talk to any players yet which is very frustrating', said Tindall. 'Here we are approaching the last game of the season and we still don't know what is going on. It's far from ideal because one would have thought we would be able to have sorted something out by now. But St Albans won't be the last time I will be seeing the players because their contracts run into May and I will be having them in next week for a couple of days. That will give me an opportunity to speak to them all next week and hopefully the situation will be clearer then as to what we can afford and what we can't'".

    At the top end of the table, This is York says that "City boss Billy McEwan has revealed how the 'four Cs' can catapult the Minstermen into the Conference play-offs. As City prepare to face Oxford in their make-or-break end-of-season encounter at KitKat Crescent tomorrow, McEwan called on his players to focus on his keys to success - confidence, composure, commitment and concentration. The Minstermen know a draw against Jim Smith's outfit will guarantee their place in the Conference post-season. But McEwan said his side would not be sitting back trying to settle for a point. What happens if...City lose - they will miss out on the play-offs if Exeter and Burton both win their home games against Southport and Rushden & Diamonds respectively. The Archbishop of York John Sentamu will join Happy Wanderers heroes Norman Wilkinson and Gordon Brown at York City's crucial Conference home match with Oxford".

    Relegated Tamworth have "reduced admission prices for 2007-08 and there is also a big incentive to buy season tickets now... In addition, the introduction of a family ticket will also give an opportunity to save money. General manager Russell Moore said: 'Careful consideration has been given to the pricing structure for next, irrespective of what level we will be playing at. We pride ourselves on a reputation of being a family club and we believe that the reductions not only reflect that but show we do listen to the constant feedback we get from our supporters. For next season, an adult main stand seat will be £12, with concession (u18, over 60) at £7, and admission to the terraces will be £10 and £5 respectively. Season tickets (league games only) will be pegged at current prices for those buying before July - £228 adult seated, concession £133; adult standing £190, concession standing £99. After July 1, the prices will be as follows: adult seat £240, concession seat £140; adult standing £200, concession standing £99. Supporters aged 12 or under will have the option of becoming a Junior Lamb - main stand seat at £90 and £70 for the terrace... The new family match ticket, covering one adult and two under 18s, will be £20 for the main stand and £16 terrace. These will be available for league games only and must be purchased 48 hours before the fixture".

    Fellow relegated team Southport say that manager "Peter Davenport is looking to finish the season on a high on Saturday. Davenport wants to get up to fourth from bottom in the Nationwide Conference at 5pm on Saturday night. The task is a difficult one against an Exeter City side who need points to confirm a Conference play off spot and who boast the best home record in the Conference".

    N.W. NEWS

    NL Daily reports that "Lancaster City, relegated from Nationwide North, finally got some good news this week when club officials were told that they will probably only drop two steps down the non-League Pyramid. The Football Association have written to City saying that they recommend the Giant Axe club go into the new Division One North of the UniBond League. That was what the club were hoping for and they are now waiting for it to be confirmed at the UniBond League AGM in June. Chairman of City's shareholders, Mick Hoyle, said: "It is great news. We could have gone down to the North West Counties Division Two. 'This takes us back ten years to when we won the league and cup double but will mean that we can get the club on a level footing next season and build for the future'".

    Stalybridge Celtic"New Chairman Rob Gorski has announced that John Reed and Mark Atkins will part company with the club after tomorrow's game with Gainsborough Trinity. The Board have made the decision not to renew the managerial duo's contracts after a season that saw the Celts go uncomfortably close to dropping to the UniBond League". Also, the Peter Dennerley adds that "Most of you will know Rob Gorski as the director from Monaco. I can tell you he is a Stalybridge lad, his family still live in the town and he lives, eats and breathes Stalybridge Celtic".

    The race to join Conference North is as intense as that to avoid dropping into it. The Northwich Guardian says that "Mathematicians have had a field day working out the possible permutations in tomorrow's UniBond Premier title chase. Burscough travel to Telford, while Witton host Frickley... If AFC Telford United win, they are champions and take the automatic promotion spot. If Burscough win, they are champions and take the automatic promotion spot if Witton fail to win by more than two goals. If Witton win, they will be champions if Telford and Burscough draw or, if the Linnets win, they outscore them by at least two goals. If Witton draw they can't win the title, regardless of what happens at The New Bucks Head".


    The BBC confirms what many people expected, that West Ham United have suffered no points deduction. "West Ham have been fined £5.5m after being found guilty over the transfers of Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano. But the Hammers have avoided a points deduction which could have ended their hopes of staying in the Premeirship. The club was found guilty of acting improperly and withholding vital documentation over the duo's ownership... The fine is the biggest in English football, dwarfing the old record of £1.5m imposed on Tottenham in 1994 for financial irregularities. A West Ham statement read: "The club believes that promotion and relegation issues should be decided on the pitch and we are pleased that the commission agree with that view'".
    >27 April 2007


    Tomorrow's tense final day of the season is nothing new to Altrincham who, in the last three seasons have faced five other "sudden-death" games at the end of the league campaign.

    In 2004, Altrincham had to beat Runcorn FC Halton to clinch a place in the new Conference North; (the post-match celebrations are shown, right). In 2005, results on the final day had to fall our way to ensure a place in the Conference Promotion Playoffs. Then, three successive play-off games had to be won to secure a place in the Conference National for 2005-06. In 2006 things should have been different as Altrincham had secured enough points to stay up before the end of the season. But the 18 points' deduction applied to the club meant that, once again, on the final day of the campaign no one knew where our next match would be. And, now Altrincham find themselves yet again in a state of uncertainty as they kick off their final match, unsure at which level they will be competing next season. Let us hope that, as in the last three seasons, it all turns out well in the end!

    Please do your bit by making the effort to come to Moss Lane tomorrow if you possibly can. Then, you can also show your appreciation to the ballboys and girls at their presentation event on the pitch after the final whistle. Following the Friends of Altrincham FC Monthly Prize Draw at 5.30pm, there will be the annual STAR Player of the Year and Race Night event, with doors opening at 7pm for a 7.30pm start.


    The Sale & Altrincham Messenger reports that "Graham Heathcote has called on the people of Altrincham to show pride in their football club as they battle for their Conference lives. The Robins must beat Aldershot at Moss Lane on Saturday and hope results elsewhere go their way if they are to survive in non-league football's top flight. And manager Heathcote is hoping a bumper crowd will give his players just the lift they need. Altrincham took more than 1,500 people to Stoke's Britannia Stadium for their promotion play-off final in 2005 and will be banking on a similar show of strength on Saturday. Speaking exclusively to SAM, Heathcote said: 'This is Stoke revisited. We need everybody to get behind the lads and make it a special atmosphere on Saturday. We still have a chance to stay in the Conference. I would be astonished if another team didn't have a hiccup but in order to make it count, we need to win. That's all we can do. We just need to do our job and win the game and then wait to see what happens elsewhere. The nature of football is so dramatic that it's likely something will happen, so we need to be ready to take advantage. I'm hoping the town shows the players they care. The support has been fantastic this season and we've been averaging more than 1,100 at home. But we need a crowd of at least 2,000 to give the lads a lift when they walk out onto the pitch. Football is about elation and deflation - hopefully we will experience the former after Saturday's game. I'm optimistic because the reality is that this football club is still progressing. I believe 100 per cent that this team is better than last year and play better football, even though we are fighting at the bottom of the table. These players have done a good job and they've got nine points more than they did last season. I know they will give their all in every game they play. When you consider we were fourth bottom of the Unibond four years ago and getting crowds of 350 but now we're fighting for survival in the Conference with crowds of 1,100 it tells you all you need to know. No matter what happens on Saturday, this club is still on the right'">

    SAM adds that "Altrincham fans are planning to create a carnival atmosphere at Moss Lane for Saturday's must-win game against Aldershot, with the game declared a 'Red and White Day'. Supporters are being encouraged to wear red or white clothing and bring balloons and flags to the game to create a special atmosphere. Gary Warrington, the supporter behind the idea, said: 'This is our cup final. I urge anyone who has supported Altrincham in the past to show their support again. The club deserves to be rewarded for all the hard work they have done by getting support from the people of Altrincham. So if you have nothing to do between 3 and 5pm get down to Moss Lane. Or even if you have plans, cancel them and come along to support the team. If Tamworth can get more than 2,000 people down to their last home game then so can we. Let's create a carnival atmosphere to give the lads a real lift as they run out onto the pitch'".

    From the other side The Aldershot News and Mail reports that "Former Peterborough boss Keith Alexander is a frontrunner for the vacant manager’s position at Aldershot Town. The 50-year-old has applied for the job — alongside a lengthy list of candidates thought to include the likes of Graham Westley, Graham Rix and Frank Gray — and will be considered a strong candidate to replace Terry Brown, who left the club last month. He refused to confirm or deny his interest to the News earlier this week, but admitted he had applied for the job previously — only to see it go to Brown — and would welcome a return to football management. Alexander has been out of work since January, when he left The Posh by mutual consent".


    Rotherham United have confirmed that they will "visit Altrincham's Moss Lane ground on Saturday 21st July. The tidy ground holds just over 6,000". Former Alty player Nicky Daws is a fitness coach at Millmoor.


    Our neighbours Trafford report that "31 year old Ged Kielty (right), Trafford's midfielder has been named as the new club manager, following in the footsteps of Danny Johnson who has decided to moved up a level to join Unibond League Premier Division side Ashton United as their manager. Ged started his football career as a youngster with Manchester City. He then moved on to Irish side Cork Ramblers returning to England to play for Southport, Barrow, Altrincham, Leigh RMI, Hyde United and after a 22 month 'retirement' he returned to football this season by joining Trafford. Ged has also won International caps with the Eire Under 18's, a runners-up FA Trophy medal with Southport and a Unibond Premier League Championship medal with Altrincham. Ged who was born in Urmston was voted last night's Trafford's Man of the Match by our opponents FC United in our magnificent 4-4 draw at Gigg Lane, takes charge for this Saturday's final game of the season at Silsden (Keighley)".


    Nehru McKenzie hit a hat trick for Jackson's Boat last weekend and Anthony Hargreaves scored a brace for Lisbon St Anthony's in the Altrincham & Distrcit Sunday League. Their teams meet in the League Cup Final at Moss Lane, this Sunday at 11.15am.


    The BBC says that "Boss Chris Wilder has warned Halifax that unless they deal with his concerns over the club he may leave. Wilder has steered the Shaymen to near safety from relegation. He told BBC Radio Leeds: 'I can't have another season like I've had that's certain, for my own sake, for my family's sake and for everybody else. In the summer there were a few things flying around but I've stuck with it, I want to stick with it but other people have got to sort things out'".

    "Boss Gary Mills is determined to lead Tamworth back into the Conference top-flight after their relegation was confirmed with one game to go... He said:'The disappointment will go away because this is a great football club to be at. We all need to stay proud and positive and I will now prepare a squad for the start of next season'. Mills told the Tamworth Herald: 'We will all work as hard as we possibly can to get the club back into this league'" .

    UK Sports announces that Boston United, on the brink of relegation to the Conference, have had some good news. "Crisis-torn Boston's home game against relegated Torquay will be played at York Street after a court hearing ruled on the matter.The Malkinson family, who have been connected with the club since the 1930s, own the stadium and wanted the lease forfeited because the club is in rent arrears. But after legal argument the hearing was adjourned to a date no earlier than June 26, dictating that Saturday's crucial League Two fixture will definitely be played at Boston's home ground".

    26 April 2007


    Events on the pitch at Moss Lane on Saturday will be crucial but please remember that, regardless of the result, after the match there are three important events at the ground:

  • Immediately after the end of the match, there will be the Ballboys and Girls' Presentation Ceremony. Under the guidance of Ray Armstrong and Mike Antrobus the team of ballboys and girls does an excellent job in all weathers to keep the games flowing and in retrieving balls hoofed out of the ground. Full details of the ceremony and prizewinners will appear on the website. It will also be the last presentation to be organised by Ray Armstrong who is handing over as Co-ordinator to Mike Antrobus. Please show your appreciation to all concerned by staying behind after the match for the presentations.
  • The Friends of Altrincham FC draw will take place at about 5.30 on Saturday in the bar. For a list of participants and details of the scheme, click here. Organizer Steve Foster announces that "Due to the numbers topping 60, there is an increase in the prize fund, the prizes are now:- 1st prize :-£100. 2nd prize:- £35 3rd prize:- £15".
  • The STAR Player of the Year Race Night, compered as ever by George Heslop will be at 7pm (for a 7.30pm start) in the Noel White Suite. Entry is free to everyone, with the player presentations occurring half way through the evening. The event is a great fundraiser for the club and whatever the outcome against Aldershot on Saturday, the club will still need your support.

    Alty supporters all over the world are preparing for this Saturday's match as this e-mail, received yesterday, from Peter Spragg confirms... "I now live in Canada - since 1980 - but I follow the Robins all the time. I was a regular at Moss Lane for many years, and really enjoy following them on the web. Please wish the team all the best for Saturday's game, from one of their Canadian supporters! Best Regards, Peter Spragg".

    Amongst other Alty fans who work many miles from Moss Lane are:

  • Howard Watts, who has once again kept the website supplied throughout the season from the USA with his fascinating Through the Years data. His latest file, for April 28th is here.
  • Likewise, Terry Rowley, based in Egypt, has sent the Conference Attendances updates regularly to the website throughout the season. And the statistics show that, at last, Altrincham have recorded the highest away gate of the season for another team in the Conference...

    I am very grateful to both Howard and Terry for their updates.


    Not strictly Conference news, but it soon could be, is the plight of Boston United. The BBC says that "Creditors and shareholders of Boston United have agreed in principle a deal which could save the club. They plan to enter into a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) which would see them paid back just under half the money they are owed. A formal vote on the issue will take place when the Pilgrims' future on the pitch is decided, as entering into a CVA incurs a 10-point deduction. Boston are two points from League Two safety with two games remaining. 'Although there's been no formal vote, we had an indication that there is a sufficient majority of both creditors and shareholders to support this arrangement and allow football to continue in Boston', said former Leeds chairman Gerald Krasner, who is overseeing the process. Krasner said the vote could be taken on the final whistle of Boston's last game of the season on 5 May. Earlier on Wednesday, it was revealed that Boston have had their share of a cash hand-out withheld by the Football League. Around £100,000 normally paid to League Two clubs from television and sponsorship revenues has not been paid due to the 'uncertainties' at York Street. A Football League spokesman said: 'As in previous cases of this kind, the League has withheld the payment. This is due to current uncertainties as well as the club's outstanding debts to the League and fellow clubs'. Boston have reported debts of over £1m and are two months behind in paying staff wages. The club had less then 11 fully fit professional players for their game against Chester City on Saturday and could name only three substitutes. They have also travelled to some recent away games in cars to cut costs'".

    From Bullsnews we hear that "Boston have been refused permission to play their last League Two game of the season at Peterborough. They had requested the move as they fear being locked out of their own ground. Eviction proceedings are due on Thursday. Barry Fry, who is the Peterborough managing director, told Sky Sports that his club's holding company had rejected the idea. 'Boston don't even know themselves yet and I am hugely disappointed that this hasn't been allowed to happen', said Fry. 'I've been going round the houses getting permission from the police, safety officers, doctors, and crucially the Football League. But I've just heard the holding company have blocked it for reasons I cannot even fathom and I'm left gob smacked by it. In this day and age football people have got to help out other football people. It doesn't matter if it's Macclesfield or Accrington Stanley, if anyone was in trouble and I could help out I would, and I can't believe these plans have been blocked. You can't help but fear for the future of Boston United now'".

    In the Conference itself, "Boss Justin Edinburgh is hesitant about Saturday's final game of the season after Grays beat Kidderminster to be one point away from Conference safety. Grays' 3-0 win on Tuesday means they now need only a draw against Morecambe. Edinburgh said: 'My assistant manager Jimmy Dack and I will sit down on Thursday and discuss Saturday's game and plan our tactics. I don't know whether to go looking for the one point or the three points', Edinburgh told the Thurrock Gazette.

    There is not good news below for Alty, who will be hoping for a Kidderminster win at Crawley on Saturday. The Kidderminster Shuttle says that "Harriers complete their disappointing Conference campaign at Crawley Town on Saturday when the final whistle will signal the start of a major assault on Wembley battle plans. Yates said: 'Once we couldn't get into the play-offs we've toned down training a little bit to give the players a bit of a breather with a view to stepping it back up next week and going at it really hard. It'll be a two week build-up for us. We'll be going down to the game a couple of days earlier and the day before we'll go and look around Wembley'... Yates describes the new £757 home [I think they missed out the word 'million'!] of English football as 'awesome' and promises Aggborough fans that 'it will be a day to remember for everybody. We've got to keep pushing the club forward and we've got to strive to be better all the time. We need to be more consistent... We've also got to try to make our pitch better because it's no coincidence that when we play at the Stevenages and Oxfords, and places like that where the pitches are decent, for some reason we're considerably better'. Harriers will have midfielder Russ Penn and goalkeeper Scott Bevan available for Saturday's clash at Crawley. Penn has completed his three-match ban for accumulating 15 yellow cards while Bevan served his one-game suspension... [But] Harriers' manager Mark Yates has been summoned to appear before an FA disciplinary panel on Tuesday, May 15, after being charged with misconduct following an alleged altercation with Exeter City's Lee Elam at Aggborough on February 17".

    "Kidderminster assistant manager Neil Howarth apologised to fans who endured the 3-0 defeat at Grays. FA Trophy finalists Kidderminster have won just once in their last six games and next face a Crawley team who need a point to guarantee Conference survival. Howarth told Harriers' website: 'I'd like to apologise to them because a lot of them made the trip for nothing. We have to make sure we give them a performance to remember at Crawley on Saturday now'". The BBC adds that "Crawley assistant boss John Yems believes his side will bounce back to get the result they need to stay in the Conference after losing 2-1 at Halifax. Crawley are two points above the drop-zone with one game to go, and Yems said: 'We know what we have to do now and all the players are determined. This defeat makes us pig sick but we will come back stronger like we have all season and get the result'".

    The Woking News and Mail says that "Liam Daish and Terry Brown are thought to head the shortlist of four as the race for the vacant Woking manager’s job gathers pace. Gravesend manager Daish, who is said to be looking for a new challenge despite taking his club to the verge of the play-offs this season, is yet to sign a new contract offer at Stonebridge Road. Both he and former Aldershot boss Brown would be popular choices — while Neil Smith will also be interviewed and is understood to have been told there will be a role for him at Kingfield next season. Incoming director Colin Lippiatt and Phil Ledger have been handed the responsibility of selecting Glenn Cockerill’s replacement — with the new manager due to be in installed by the end of next week. With the club reluctant to lose Smith’s experience, spirit and passion for the club, a new manager may be brought in and told to work with the current joint caretaker boss — or Smith may just get the nod himself with Lippiatt acting as a mentor. With the shortlist from around 30 applications now down to four — Smith among them — the emphasis is on appointing a man who believes in an entertaining brand of football, seen as a must to bring back the club’s lost fans... Former Cards’ boss Lippiatt — who has returned to Kingfield for the fifth time since he began life in football 29 years ago, this time as a director — will begin his new role next week once his commitments as team boss of St Albans have been fulfilled this weekend. With the title of ‘football technical director’ undecided but mooted as a possibility, he will work closely with Ledger, with his position being 'between 90 and 99% football orientated'... The irony is he was refused entry to the Woking boardroom at a recent Conference match, because of the club’s stance in not allowing rival managers in to the room...'I’m really chuffed to be returning... working with the new manager in an advisory capacity, on things such as player recruitment, and being there to give any advice and recommendations and ideas... We will sit down and examine all four candidates, interview them, and invite the one we want, but of course, in football you don’t always get your number one choice so we need a back up'.... Lippiatt is aware of the current squad’s shortcomings and the list of players being retained is not believed to be a long one. The likes of Matt Ruby and Jerome Maledon are likely to be invited to sign, while goalkeeper Nick Gindre, winger Goma Lambu and inspirational centre back Tom Hutchinson are among others approached. One thing that’s certain is there won’t be a repeat of last summer, when Cockerill signed on virtually the entire squad following an underachieving season. St Albans’ midfielder Tom Davis is an obvious target, given his connection to Lippiatt, and there are one or two others who could be approached. 'Having spent this season in the Conference national there are a number of players I’ve seen who would be real assets, but of course they have to fit into the budget structure we have'".


    NL Daily says that "It was a big and significant night in the UniBond League Premier Division on Tuesday as AFC Telford United took a giant stride towards the title by beating fellow contenders Witton Albion at Wincham Park. Richard Teesdale capped a fine individual performance by scoring the only goal of the game for the Bucks after 78 minutes, taking his side to the top of the table and setting up a mouth-watering home clash with second-placed Burscough on Saturday".


    "Mario Daniel bagged a brace as Woodley Sports beat bottom-markers Bridlington Town 4-2" on Tuesday.
    25 April 2007


    Wednesday 25th
  • Northwich V. 0 Stevenage B. 0
  • League table

    After Wednesday night's draw at Vics, watched by just 515 people, Stevenage now have no possibility of making the play-offs.


    SAM reports that "Graham Heathcote remained surprisingly upbeat after watching his side suffer a 1-0 defeat to relegation rivals Tamworth on Saturday... But despite the odds stacking up against his team, Heathcote believes a win against Aldershot on Saturday will be enough to avoid the drop... The Alty boss said: 'Tamworth were the better team and more hungry in the first half and I think we were second half. But they stuck one chance in of the few there were and their keeper made a very good save off Colin (Little) to keep us out. It was not a good game of football but the pitch was very poor. You couldn't have played passing football on that pitch. In a league that prides itself on its pitches that was very poor. But it was the same for both sides so I have no qualms with that. Tamworth were celebrating after the game but they're not safe, they've just got a chance to stay up. If we win our last game we'll stay up and we're at home so I don't know what they're all cheering about because they've just won a game that's given them a chance. We're already in that position, it's just a chance of whether we can take it. They're still two points behind us so I wouldn't want to swap with them, I'd rather go in with our position into the last game. I'm still confident. We've got one game to win and we're more than capable of doing that. Hopefully we'll get a good following at Moss Lane and that will lift everybody. There's a lot of if and buts. We've got to see how the midweek results go and work on that basis. At the moment we're not in the bottom four".

    The referee for Saturday's vital clash at Moss Lane is Mr P. Quinn.

    Last night's results (see below) condemned both Southport and Tamworth to relegation.


    There is now a report on Altrincham Reserves' fine win over Farsley Celtic on Monday in the Reserves' section. Congratulations are due to Neil Brown and the Altrincham Reserves' team as the Lancashire League table confirms that they finished second in the Eastern Division, behind champions Farsley Celtic.


    Interesting news from financially troubled Boston United who are in danger of relegation to the Conference. Bullsnews says that "Boston, who face a court date on eviction proceedings on Thursday, are reported to have earmarked Peterboro's London Road ground for their final home match with Torquay on Saturday if they are locked out of their York Street home". Things are so bad at Boston that even the water supply has reportedly been cut off for non-payment of the water rates. Bullsnews adds, "Meanwhile, it may come as little surprise to Bulls fans to note that the runaway leaders in the race to accumulate the most cautions is Accrington Stanley with 102 yellows and 10 reds. John Coleman’s squad not only head the bottom tier statistics but also those of the entire Football League".


    Looking ahead for those who suffer football starvation over the summer... After Saturday's game at Moss Lane, Alty's last of the season, it will only be eight weeks before they can attend a UEFA InterToto Cup match. NL Daily confirms that "Principality Welsh Premier clubs Rhyl, Llanelli or Welshpool Town will face a trip to Vetra Vilnius of Lithuania in the first round of the UEFA InterToto Cup, following Monday's draw in Nyon, Switzerland. Tuesday night's clash between Rhyl and the Reds at Belle Vue could well decide which of the Welsh Premier duo travels to Lithuania for the first leg on 23/24 June, with the return scheduled for the following weekend. The Lillies need one point from the game to ensure they qualify again for the UEFA Cup, which would leave the Reds almost certain to take the InterToto spot. If a Welsh club is successful in the first round, opponents from Poland await in the second round".


    Confirmation comes from Confguide that "Northwich Victoria skipper Stuart Elliott has been cleared of allegations that he racially abused Halifax Town midfielder Tyrone Thompson in November. The incident in question took place during the second half of their clash and Thompson claimed that he was subjected to racial abuse by Elliott. The FA charged Elliott in December with using 'racially aggravated abusive language' towards Thompson but have now ruled that he be cleared of all charges. A statement on the Halifax Town official website read: 'Halifax Town would like to commend Tyrone for his conduct in this matter. He has conducted himself and the club well, but after the result of the hearing want to now put this behind the club and concentrate on the final two games of the season'" .

    From This is United we learn that "Oxford United have chosen not to erect a temporary fourth stand for the home second leg of the play-off semi-finals. .. 'We looked into it very thoroughly, but after considering the size of the stand, the fencing around it, proper turnstiles, toilets and refreshments, we have found that the cost would be considerably more than the revenue generated – and that's assuming we could have sold it out in its entirety', said secretary Mick Brown. The hope was that, by putting up a temporary new stand for the visitors behind the goal at the car park end at the Kassam Stadium, it would free up the whole of the North Stand for Oxford fans, and give them around 12,500 supporters at the game. But competition rules determine that they have to give the opponents ten per cent of the capacity, which would necessitate the temporary stand being approximately 1,400 seats. And tickets for the away team could not be sold at a higher price than those for the home fans – for example, £14 for adults. 'We looked at the maths and it just doesn't stack up', Brown said".

    This is Weymouth says that "Weymouth skipper Trevor Challis believes it would be a 'huge shame' if the club's current squad of players were forced to disband. Manager Jason Tindall's men, who are all out of contract at the end of season, were told a fortnight ago that the club's future is secure but since then they have heard nothing more. Challis said: 'I think the next week or two is going to be very interesting. I think Jason wants to work with a lot of the players and he wants to get the situation sorted as soon as possible. We have also got to know what is going on ourselves because if things carry on like they have been we could all be out of work in a fortnight's time. It would be a huge shame if the squad had to disband. We have shown a lot of potential and everyone wants to go into next season together to see what we can do. We were informed a fortnight ago that the future of the club is secure but nothing else been mentioned to the players since. It has just been a waiting game".


    Altrincham FC have received the following letter from the organiser of last Monday's Independent Schools' international match at Moss Lane.

    Just a note to thank you once again for everything yesterday. It was a fantastic day from our point of view – it could not have gone better. To have an “international” match to climax the season is a real boost to our organisation and, if you had not agreed to stage it when I asked you in January, it almost certainly would not have come off this year.

    As I mentioned to you yesterday, the success of these occasions depends to a huge degree on the welcome and co-operation that we receive from the host club and Altrincham were outstanding in the department. We really are extremely grateful to everybody who took so much trouble to make us feel at home and, in particular, to everybody who took so much time to prepare the food which was excellent. We could not possibly have asked for more from a host club.

    As requested I am attaching an action picture (right) of the game. It depicts Ollie Osbaldeston of Manchester Grammar School (ie a local lad) in action. If you do use it in a programme, please could you acknowledge the copyright of RWT Photography.

    Finally, could you just remind me of the name of your club doctor – I would like to drop him a note to thank him for coming along.

    Very many thanks once again – and the best of luck on Saturday.

    Best wishes,

    Mark Dickson

    24 April 2007


    Most of Altrincham FC's supporters spent as much time tonight watching Ceefax as the live TV coverage of Trafford's other club, Manchester United playing AC Milan. They were anxious to see how much of a target they would have for Saturday's game, as that depended on the outcome of the two Conference matches played tonight. As it turned out, to stay in the Blue Square Premier (Conference National) next season, Altrincham will have to win on Saturday and then rely on one of Crawley Town, Cambridge United, Stafford Rangers, Grays Athletic or Halifax losing, or in the case of Stafford, who have a worse goal difference than Alty, drawing. All five clubs have 52 points compared with Altrincham's 50. Anything less than a win for Altrincham means certain relegation. The league table is here.

    So get down to Moss Lane - and bring a friend or two - on Saturday for what manager Graham Heathcote describes as a cup final. All under-14s will be admitted free. As a reminder of the sort of atmosphere that Graham has called for, below is a photo from Andy Boyers of the Play-Off Final win at Stoke in 2005!

    Tuesday 24th

  • Grays A. 3 Kidderminster H. 0
  • Halifax T. 2 Crawley T. 1


    Altrincham FC are hoping for a bumper gate at Moss Lane for the biggest game of the season. Depending in the outcome of tonight's matches involving Halifax Town, Crawley Town and Grays Athletic, Altrincham may start Saturday's game needing a win to have any chance of staying in the Conference National. So manager Graham Heathcote has called on all Alty fans to repeat the magnificent support that they gave at Stoke for the Play-Off Final which earned Alty promotion in 2005. With free entry for all under-14s and some of the lowest prices to watch national football in the country, ther is every reason to come to Moss Lane to help Alty get the result that they need. "This is Stoke revisted" said the Alty boss, "The Aldershot game is just as important and strong support can make the difference". Although it could be the case that an Alty win on Saturday would still leave them relegated, Graham says that by Saturday "There could be as many as five other teams with two points more than us. I would be astonished if one of them does not slip up. But we have got to win, first and foremost. Bring along a friend and children under-14 will be admitted free", added Graham. "We've got to keep positive. On Saturday at Tamworth the difference was that we didn't score in our good spell and they did in theirs" said the Altrincham manager.

    Graham had some relaxation on Monday night as he oversaw a fundraising penalty shoot-out by a group of local Brownies before giving them a tour of the ground. Then, he watched the Reserves take on Farsley Celtic at Moss Lane.


    Alty boss Graham Heathcote has pointed out that the statement in the NL Paper on Sunday that he had refused to talk to the NLP ws not correct. He did refuse to talk to the local Tamworth Herald but was not asked for a quote on behalf of the NL Paper.

    The Tamworth game is the subject fo an report in the Sale & Altrincham Messenger which says that "The prospect of relegation looms large at Moss Lane. Alty went to Tamworth on Saturday knowing a win would virtually seal survival, but instead suffered the worst case scenario... Now they almost certainly need a win in their final league game of the season against Aldershot if they are to stand any chance of staying in non-league's top flight. Nobody expected the trip to Tamworth to be easy but this was a relegation scrap of the worst sort. Grit and passion were valued higher than skill and composure and, perhaps unsurprisingly on a pitch that would hardly be fit for pub football, genuine quality was almost non-existent. Alty never looked entirely comfortable with such an out-and-out battle and the writing was on the wall very early on. Spurred on by a bumper crowd, the home side started with plenty of purpose and, aided by some sloppy Alty defending, were ahead within 14 minutes. Karl Munroe made a mess of his headed clearance, sending the ball straight to John McGrath. The Tamworth midfielder looked up before whipping a delightful ball across the box that Atieno stooped to head home. From that point on, it always appeared to be an uphill task for the Robins, who have not managed a single win all season in games where they have conceded the first goal. Indeed, their only effort on target in a dire first half was Peter Band's header from a Lewis Chalmers long throw. And that too barely tested home stopper Jose Veiga. But, in truth, Tamworth fared little better... It was a different story after the break, although this too failed to provide a happy ending. Rod Thornley... added spark up front and the chances soon began to come... And when Graham Heathcote threw on big defender Gary Talbot to make a nuisance of himself up front, the pressure continued to mount".


    The Cambridge News reports on our opponents, Aldershot Town, who lost to Cambridge United last Saturday."Despite a terrific performance from Jimmy Quinn's side, it was almost matched by a sublime display of keeping from Aldershot stopper Nikki Bull. This could easily have turned into a repeat of the Weymouth rout had it not been for the lightning reflexes of Bull, who made at least half-a-dozen brilliant stops to deny United....United got back to the kind of fast-paced, high-pressure game that has killed off all-comers (except Halifax) in recent weeks. Wolleaston, Danny Brown and Stephen Smith dominated the middle of the park, closing the ball down quickly with Smith, in particular, making intelligent runs into the box, which the Shots defence found hard to deal with. Pitt and Dan Gleeson again showed just how effective the use of wing-backs can be as they commanded their flanks both defensively and in attacking play. Meanwhile, captain Andy Duncan was brought back into the side in place of the injured Aidan Collins and helped keep Aldershot's front pair John Grant and Jonny Dixon under wraps much of the time... If something was going to break the deadlock, it was not going to come from Aldershot. They may be nicknamed the Shots, but Ryan Scott's early second-half effort showed why as it nestled in a tree behind a stand. More Scud missile than Stealth bomber. It is easy to say Aldershot were not up for it, having already blown their chances of a play-off place, but they had a caretaker boss in Martin Kuhl, who will not have been impressed by what he saw in his outfield players if he is given the job permanently".

    The BBC says that "Bolton have signed former Exeter City youth product Mark Ellis on a one-year professional contract. Central defender Ellis, 18, spent three years with Exeter's academy but moved north after a successful trial. Ellis told the Exeter Echo: 'I haven't any regrets about leaving Exeter, I moved on to develop my career but they helped me get where I am now'".

    No talk of the impending financial decisions due at Crawley next Monday in the Argus which says that Crawley Town "should have no fear going into tomorrow's relegation showdown with Halifax. Reds need a point at The Shay to secure their place in the Conference for next season. The odds will be against them as they face another side fighting for their lives, a boisterous crowd of passionate Yorkshiremen and the fatigue of a five-hour journey. But they will have every confidence of getting the job done after a battling performance at Grays... The caretaker management trio of Ben Judge, Dave Woozley and John Yems should take a lot of the credit. They bravely decided to go head-to-head with Grays' attacking 4-3-3 formation and it paid off in the first half... Judge said: 'Our belief as a management trio is that we play best when we match up with teams. We believe that individually we are as good as anyone in this league so if you match up, tactics then don't come into it. It is down to hard work and who the better player is in that position on the day... There is still work to be done but it is another week gone and another week we are not in the relegation zone. There is only one more week to go, thank god'".

    From the Lancaster & Morecambe Citizen we learn that "Michael Twiss is targeting a play-off return - and says he is itching to get back in action. The talismanic Twiss hopes to play in Wednesday's reserve game at Woodley Sports and would like to feature for the first team on Saturday against Grays Athletic. Boss Sammy McIlroy feared that Twiss would not play again this season after he suffered a reaction to his long-term knee injury after playing for 85 minutes in the reserves. But his recovery is back on track. 'Hopefully I am not too far away', says Twiss. 'I would like to have a run in the reserves and if that goes to plan play some part on Saturday. I want to get back for the play-offs - but we will just have to see how the knee is'". Twiss was one of five players fielded by Morecambe Reserves against Farsley Celtic Reserves last week who were not eligible for the Lancashire League Cup and the Yorkshire club has lodged an appeal against the Shrimps.

    23 April 2007


    In his last game as Altrincham Reserves' manager, Neil Brown bowed out with a good win from his side against Lancashire League (East) champions Farsley Celtic tonight. Alty won 3-1 thanks to two goals from Scott Metcalfe and one from Rick Chetcuti.Report to follow.


    Monday 23rd
  • Rushden & D. 1 Northwich V. 0


    Both Joe O'Neill (left) and Val Owen (right) will join Chris Senior in missing Altrincham's last game of the season against Aldershot Town this Saturday, through injury. Indeed, Val is having an operation this week whilst Joe's hamstring injury sustained at Tamworth will rule him out.


    In the Independent Schools international at Moss Lane on Sunday, England beat Scotland 7-1. The match officials included Steve Bennett and Mike Riley.


    Don't forget tonight (Monday) there is a hastily re-arranged Lancashire League (East) match at Moss Lane between Altrincham Reserves and Farsley Celtic Reserves (7.45pm). This is Alty's last match of the season and their last under Neil Brown, whose resignation from the manager's post was announced over the weekend (see below).


    Speaking before the Tamworth defeat, Colin Little told SAM "We've got a real battle on our hands now... I must say though, I'm not worried. I've been in this position before with Crewe when we needed to win our last three to stay up and we did it. People say at this time of the season that football goes out of the window but that's not the case. I think our problem recently is that we've believed that too much... You have to do what's right for the team and if you have a 6ft 5ins geezer up front then direct football works... Going to Tamworth won't be easy. It's not a nice place to go to at the best of times and they wouldn't have it any other way... People have called it a must-win for us as well but I don't agree. We can afford to draw this as long as we beat Aldershot on the last day of the season... But no matter how you look at it, we've had a remarkable season. We might still be fighting off relegation but we've given ourselves the best possible chance to stay in this division and that's really good as a part-time club on a shoestring budget. I've not had the best of seasons myself but it's been really enjoyable for the club as a whole. I know I keep saying this but we really are going in the right direction. We are beginning to establish ourselves as one of the top non-league clubs in this area again. Throughout my career I always knew I wanted to finish at Alty. I might be a Blue but there was always a place in my heart for this club because they had such a great reputation. We're starting to reclaim that reputation and respect we had in the 1970s and 1980s but we're doing it without spending shedloads of cash. Wherever I go, I'm getting recognised now. When I'm in the supermarket I have people coming up to me who I don't know, asking who Alty are playing that week. When I was at Alty bus station recently, some kids came up to me and started asking questions about the club and wishing me luck. There's a real buzz around the club again and it's good to see. Everyone deserves a pat on the back - Graham, Dalton, the board, the players, the fans. If we can stay up again this year it would be massive for the club".


    Altrincham Youth were beaten 3-0 on Sunday by an impressive Morecambe "A" youth team. There is a report in the Youth section.


    The NL Paper reports that Halifax Town have to survive the next fortnight before the completion of their takeover. Genral manager Angie Firth "has been left managing The Shay since chairman Geoff Ralph stood down five weeks ago in an attempt to hasten the arrival of investment... The investors... plan to pump more than £200,000 into the relegation-haunted club. The club has asked the supporters' trust to help meet March's bills but there is a shortfall. She said, "I need some income to deal with the short-term bills" which include players' wages.

    Woking chairman Chris Ingram "says the next 9 months will determine the club's future. In that time they will discover if plans for vital redevelopment of Kingfield will be given council permission" according to the NL Paper. The developments are aimed to improve the club's income streams. Woking have had 22 applications for the manager's job at the club, following Glenn Cockerill's departure. Ingram added that "We are staying full-time for next season but if planning does not go through then the financial tap will be turned off. I'm not walking away but nor am I going to continue with the current level of funding".


    Right: Altrincham are limping towards the finishing line as Joe O'Neill became the latest casualty at Tamworth on Saturday, when he suffered what seemed to be a hamstring injury.

    22 April 2007


  • Match report here

    The NL Paper says that a "seething" Graham Heathcote" refused to talk to the press after the defeat at Tamworth. The Lambs website quotes Tamworth boss Gary Mills: “It was a magnificent performance all round, both individually and as a squad, and the result was just as good. I thought we dealt with their threats extremely well and José Veiga made some unbelievable stops. We can go home happy tonight knowing that the ball is in everyone else’s court, at least until midweek. It is tense and we have to live with the pressure but the lads have shown maturity today and I thought we could have had a couple more goals. ”The situation is still out of our hands and Tuesday night may detract from what we have done today but we’ve all got our fingers crossed that we can go to Cambridge on Saturday and get the result we need". In the NL Paper, Mills added, "I felt we had the majority of the ball and were worthy winners. There were more long throws and freekicks into our box in the second half and we dealt with that very well. José Veiga made an unbelievable save as well".

    There is more on the match in yesterday's news, below...


    Congratulations to Dave Pace's Droylsden who were promoted to the Conference (Blue Square Premier) when they beat Harrogate yesterday but commiserations to Scarborough, relegated to the UniBond League.

    Our final opponents this season, Aldershot Town "are delighted to announce that Ryan Scott, Dave Winfield and Kirk Hudson have all signed new contracts that enurse that all three players will be at Aldershot Town for season 2007/08... Striker John Grant received the Player of the Season Award from the Supporters' Club prior to Saturday's final home match of the season against Cambridge United... John, who has scored 20 goals in his first season at Aldershot, recently signed a new two year deal. Caretaker Martin Kuhl said, 'I would endorse that award. I think Ryan Williams has done well this season but John is a goal scorer and he has become a crowd favourite and rightly so because he has scored goals and done well for the club'. Midfielder Ricky Newman received the Players' Player Award... The former Millwall player has made 44 appearances this season". Meanwhile "Shots ended their home campaign with a disappointing defeat against Cambridge United at the Rec... Nikki Bull was undoubtedly the Aldershot hero at the Rec on Saturday afternoon despite ending up on the losing side... Cambridge, spurred on by the largest visiting contingent at the Rec this season, knew that any thing less than a victory would seriously jeopardise their Conference status and Jimmy Quinn's side deserved their victory courtesy of Robbie Simpson's late goal. Caretaker Manager Martin Kuhl told 'The Shots' afterwards, 'We looked tired and we weren't sharp. There was not enough quality on the ball today. Nikki pulled off some outstanding saves and that is what he is all about. There is no excuse though and I have no complaints. As well as the players have done for me so far we were lacking today. We put out a team to win the game and changed our system but it wasn't a fluent performance and Cambridge deserved their win'. Midfielder Ricky Newman was sidelined through injury and replaced by Ryan Scott whilst Anthony Charles' injury continued to prevent him from playing... It was all Cambridge. Quinn's side showed intent that they came for victory and looked comfortable against the home side who struggled to find any rhythm to their game... It is not certain that Cambridge have survived although victory against Tamworth next Saturday will be enough and, in truth, the Conference needs clubs like Cambridge United in it."


    NL Daily says that Marine "beat Lincoln United 2-1... Eddie Hussin grabbed the winner for Alvin McDonald`s side just past the hour". The NL Paper described it as a "wonder goal". Also in the UniBond League, "Kendal went down to a 2-1 defeat at Frickley, whose Callum Selby cancelled out Peter Wright`s first-minute opener for the Cumbrians". Alex Hay and former Alty reserve Connall Murtagh played for Rhyl as they seek qualification for the UEFA Cup next season. Others in action yesterday included Mark Maddox (Leigh), Chris Timons (Harrogate), Lee Hendley (Radcliffe) and Colin Potts (Barrow).


    The UniBond League reports that "The fine stately home of English cricket came to the rescue of Bradford Park Avenue as they sought a thousand seats to improve their Horsfall Stadium. Having contacted all the football clubs in the area without any success Avenue spotted an advert out of the blue in which Lords cricket ground stated they were replacing their seating and were offering their old ones on a come and remove them basis. Five Avenue volunteers went down to Lords and spent three days dismantling 1,600 seats working up to sixteen hours a day. Kevin Hainsworth, who led the volunteer force, said 'The fact that the seats match our home colours is an added bonus and they will look great when we’ve installed them in the summer'".
    21 April 2007


    Right: Action from today's game.

    After a poor first half in which Alty failed to muster a shot on target and lost Joe O'Neill with a hamstring injury, Alty brought on central defender Gary Talbot after an hour, to form a three-man attack, and went on to dominate the second half. But they could not score, though Little had a well-taken goal ruled out for offside and goalkeeper Veiga threw himself in front of a point-blank effort from the same player. In the first half Tamworth, led by Atieno had been the more threatening and took the lead after 13 minutes when Atieno's header beat Coburn, and went in just inside his right post. So, it looks as if a win will be needed next Saturday to avoid relegation.

  • Match report here

  • Alty line ups and bookings
  • Alty player statistics
  • Relegation run-in

    In Saturday's other matches, Aldershot's defeat did nothing to help Altrincham but Halifax, Southport and Stafford all lost, whilst Grays and Crawley drew. Midweek matches involving Halifax and Grays will be vital for Altrincham's future.

  • Aldershot T. 0 Cambridge U. 1
  • Forest Green R. 2 Halifax T. 0
  • Gravesend & N. 3 St Albans C. 2
  • Grays A. 0 Crawley T. 0
  • Kidderminster H. 0 Morecambe 1
  • Northwich V. 0 Burton A. 3
  • Oxford U. 2 Stafford R. 0
  • Rushden & D. 2 Woking 0
  • Southport 0 York C. 1
  • Stevenage B. 0 Exeter C. 0
  • Tamworth 1 Altrincham 0
  • Weymouth 1 Dagenham & R. 1
  • Through the Years


    Before today's vital clash at The Lamb, the BBC announces that "Tamworth boss Gary Mills is expected to name an unchanged squad. Midfielder Ludobic Quistin is still suspended while Jon Stevenson (hamstring) and fellow striker Steve Burton (stomach) remain sidelined. Altrincham have a doubt over goalkeeper Stuart Coburn (ankle) and Richard Acton stands by to deputise. [However, as reported on this website yesterday, Stuart is now fit for selection]. Val Owen is still hoping to overcome the foot injury that has kept him out since mid-March but Chris Senior (knee) will not play again this season".

    The Tamworth Herald says that "'Back us like never before' was the message emanating from The Lamb this week as Tamworth prepare for Saturday's must-win home game with Altrincham. Gary Mills and his side will be relegated from the Conference on Saturday if they fail to win or other results conspire against them. And that has prompted general manager Russell Moore to make an impassioned plea for support. He said: 'This is the biggest game of the season for this club, regardless of the FA Cup run we had. We have to win to have any chance of maintaining our Conference status, it's as simple as that. We need a 12th man on Saturday and the supporters can be that for us. There have been some nerves around the place in the last few weeks and I think that affects the players. They are giving 110 per cent, busting a gut to keep the club up and the fans can really lift them this weekend. We need them to roar the team on and they can help blow that ball into the back of the Altrincham net for us. There is no place for negativity at this time. We want the supporters to turn up in their droves, support the lads and believe we can stay up. A couple of thousand people in The Lamb makes for an intimidating atmosphere for rival sides. I want the fans to be loud and proud and prove they want a football club playing at as high a level as possible. What will be will be at the end of the day but we are going to give it our all in these last two matches. We won't lie down and go out without a whimper. The fans need to do the same. I have stood on the terraces as a fan and know how loud this crowd can be".

    The Herald also reports that "Proud new dad John McGrath is hoping he will have a double reason to celebrate at the end of this month and believes Tamworth fans hold the key to survival. The Tamworth playmaker celebrated the birth of his second child - daughter Mia - on Sunday. Now he wants to cap a perfect week with three points against Altrincham on Saturday. A packed out Lamb, he insists, is the key to ensuring a victory which, other results permitting, will take the relegation issue to the last day of the season. 'The fans have got a massive part to play for us this weekend', said McGrath. 'When we played St Albans I thought The Lamb was a bit like a morgue in the first half. But the fans came to life in the second half and we equalised and could have won the game. If they get behind us from the word go on Saturday, I'm sure we will get the right result. It's been such a frustrating season for us because I honestly believe we have a squad capable of making it into the top six or seven in the Conference. We have beaten top sides like York and Gravesend so we know we are capable. But for whatever reason it just hasn't happened. We got on a great run under Gary Mills but injuries to people like Simon Weaver and Adie Smith - big players for us - affected us. And our lack of goals has also been a massive factor in our struggles lately. We need to start finding the net and we are running out of games. Hopefully that will change this weekend".


    Altrincham Reserves manager Neil Brown (right) has announced that he will be moving on from his post after the Reserves' last match of this season, which is at home to Farsley Celtic. This game has been moved forward from Wednesday to Monday 23rd April at 7.45pm at Moss Lane.

    Neil has done an excellent job in his three seasons in charge of Altrincham FC Reserves. He came to Moss Lane with an excellent track record at Fletcher Moss Junior FC, whose graduates included Lewis Chalmers and Pat McFadden. Being Reserves' manager is a very difficult job as it entails fitting in the requirements of the first team players to regain fitness after injury or to retain sharpness after being regulars on the first-team bench. So the side is constantly changing with some matches featuring large numbers of first-teamers and others featuring the normal reserves' squad alone. Under Neil, playing for the Reserves has also proved to be the route into the first team squad for the likes of Lewis and Pat. The Reserves also provides an excellent intermediate stage between the Youth team at Altrincham and the first team with the likes of Kieran Lugsden being another player to benefit from Neil's coaching. The current Reserves' squad is developing such ex-Youth players as Ben Deegan, Astley Mulholland, Andy Keogh, Michael Risk and Adam Walker who all aspire to graduating to the first-team, as well as players spotted in local football like Danny Heffernan and John Maloney.

    But Neil has not been content with a single job for, as well as managing the Reserves, he has been the Altrincham FC groundsman for the last couple of years, a task which has occupied many hours of his time in baking heat and pouring rain alike. Fortunately, Neil is staying at Moss Lane in this capacity. And as if these two jobs were not enough, Neil is also an employee of chairman Geoff Goodwin, driving his coaches on school-runs and other trips. Neil's family have also become involved with the club, with Michael and Ashley both regulars in the Reserves, whilst their younger brothers and sister have done their bit helping with the kit and on ballboy/girl duties.

    From a personal point of view Neil has been an excellent communicator with this website. Many is the time he has rung from pitchside on a midweek night at Guiseley or Ossett to report on the outcome of an Altrincham Reserves' game. He has decided to move on from Altrincham Reserves to further his football management aspirations and is actively looking at applying for vacancies which may arise in the NW Counties League or higher and we wish him luck in that respect. His knowledge of local football is extensive and he will be an asset to any club that he joins. All at Altrincham FC wish him well in his management career but will no doubt continue to rib him for his aspirations to emulate Premiership groundsmen with his intricate mowing patterns on the Moss Side pitch.


    Graham Brady, the Conservative MP for Altrincham and a product of Altrincham's Grammar School, has kindly donated for auction by Altrincham FC a tour of the House of Commons and House of Lords for two people. In addition, tickets will be provided to the House of Commons Chamber and afternoon tea with Mr Brady. The Football Club is most grateful to Mr Brady for his donation. The auction will take place at the Altrincham FC End of Season Ball on Friday 4th May. Anyone who is not attending the Ball may make an advance bid by contacting Grahame Rowley - you can also book places at the Ball with Grahame or his wife, Karen. Details are here.


    There is a report on the Youth team page of Thursday night's international friendly betwen the youth teams of Altrincham FC and Wuhan FC from China.


    The Football Club is most grateful to Louise and Darren Gregory and all those who helped to make this week's sale of children's clothing at Moss Lane a success. £90 was raised for the Club which is very much appreciated as events such as this are hard work to organise successfully.


    Our last opponents of the season will be Aldershot Town where "Caretaker Manager Martin Kuhl looks ahead to Saturday's visit of Cambridge United... Jimmy Quinn brings his Cambridge United side to the Rec with the knowledge that a victory is imperative if his side are to enter the final week of the season with destiny in their own hands... Martin Kuhl is aware that the defeat at Cambridge in September was one of Aldershot's poorer displays of the season. He told, 'The Shots' 'There are teams at the bottom who didn't expect to be there and Cambridge are one of those clubs. Few would have expected Grays, Halifax and Cambridge to be where they are but this league has thrown up some strange results this season... Their fans will be coming down in numbers. They want to stay in the Conference but there is no given right to stay in this league. It is not easy... It is a strange situation really because I am looking ahead for the club in terms of possible signings, contracts and the pre season too. I have given this my best and I have said that I want the job. The majority of the team is here for next year but you deal with your job as it is at the moment but you also have to be aware that if you do get the elbow then you will be going somewhere else. I want to stay here though. We have a decent team that are gutted that they haven't performed as they should have done but with the addition of three players this will be an excellent team next year'... Quinn told the Cambridge Evening News, 'We should go to Aldershot thinking we've got a chance. We played Weymouth, who were out of the play-offs, and we turned them over... A win would go a long way towards making us safe'".

    "Former Woking manager Colin Lippiatt is to re-join the Cards as a director once he has stepped down as St Albans boss. Lippiatt told BBC Southern Counties Radio: 'I've had 29 seasons in non-league football. You don't profess to know it all but I hope I have a lot of experience to offer, in terms of player recommendations and negotiations. The club are trying to find a new manager, so there are quite a lot of aspects to be sorted out'".

    Meanwhile, "Millwall striker Chris Zebroski will stay on loan at Oxford for the rest of the season, and will be available for the Conference play-offs" states the BBC. "The 20-year-old, who was initially to stay with the U's for one month, scored his first goal for the club in the 4-1 home win over Weymouth on 9 April. Oxford will finish second in the league if they beat Stafford on Saturday".

    Nearer home, the Northwich Guardian says that "Vics will nurture their own homegrown talent in the future. The club have formed an alliance with Northwich Town Junior Football Club, which will eventually see youngsters from the age of six up to academy level playing under the Vics' banner. Vics' general manager Dave Thomas is delighted to have sealed the deal".

    This is Weymouth confirms that "Player-boss Jason Tindall has put pen-to-paper on a new one-year deal at the Wessex Stadium. The contract is a reward for the fantastic job the 29-year-old has done since taking over at the helm in January when the club undertook a huge cost-cutting exercise... Tindall has rebuilt the side and has been getting huge praise for the attractive football he has managed to get his squad to produce. Commenting on his new deal, Tindall said: 'It was always something I had in mind in regards to the long-term and I am just glad it has been sorted...There are a lot of very good players here that I want to keep for next season... I can see there are some exciting times ahead'. Club chairman Martyn Harrison... when asked for an update on how talks are progressing behind the scenes in terms of the club's future, added: 'There is still lots of talking going on. Solicitors are trying to put together little packages at the moment and things are getting closer but these things always take a long time'".

    Cambridge United report that Charles Ademeno has returned to the club to complete his loan spell from Southend.. but fellow loan player Chris Flynn has returned to Crewe Alexandra after injury whilst Craig Hughes will return to Colchester after this weekend.


    Congratulations go to local manager Danny Johnson who is leaving Trafford FC for Ashton United. NL Daily says that "Danny Johnson will be the new first-team manager at Hurst Cross and that the Trafford boss will be joined by his Shawe View assistant, Danny Jones. A former Preston North End junior, Johnson has developed a wealth of coaching experience after his own playing career was ended prematurely through injury; under his management Trafford have enjoyed one of their most profitable seasons for some while, having gone on an unbeaten run since early February in the North West Counties League... Robins’ chairman John Milne was delighted - 'In the end Danny was a unanimous choice from the Ashton United board despite the quality of those short-listed for the post; he interviewed very well, comes with strong references from within non-League circles and has done a fine job at Shawe View. Out of loyalty to Trafford, Johnson will remain with the club to steer them through their few remaining matches this season whilst starting to work with the Ashton players at midweek training sessions; we respect his principles in doing so'. Assistant Danny Jones will be taking control of playing matters at Hurst Cross in Johnson’s absence... The Robins still hope to gain enough points from their remaining fixtures to avoid the lottery of the club with the worst record that finishes fourth-bottom in the three level 7 leagues being demoted".
    20 April 2007


    Goalkeeper Stuart Coburn is expected to be fit for selection for the match against Tamworth tomorrow.


    Altrincham Youth were beaten 3-0 last night by a skilful Wuhan FC side from China, in a match played as part of the Manchester/Thailand Sports & Cultural Festival at the Manchester Regional Athletics Arena.. Match report to follow.

    Right: Alty Youth in action against Wuhan in the shadow of Manchester City's stadium at Eastlands.


    In SAM, Graham Heathcote compares Saturday's game at Tamworth with Alty's play-off final against Eastbourne Borough at Stoke's Britannia Stadium in 2005. "Stoke was a big game but this is just as big because it can decide whether or not we will play in the Conference next season", Heathcote told SAM Sport. "Back then everyone was up for it and we need exactly the same attitude now. We need to get at least three points from our last two games to make sure we stay in this division so we have got either one or two cup finals coming up. If we win the first game, the pressure might be off for the second game but there are 11 teams all in the same boat as far as I can see. I don't need to tell the fans how important Saturday's game is because our support has been great all season. We've averaged more than 1,000 at home and we always take good numbers with us on our travels. But we do need all the support we can get". The paper reminds us that "From looking dead and buried at the beginning of March - when a 2-1 defeat at Burton left them second from bottom - the Robins have engineered a remarkable turnaround, winning six of their past 11 games... 'We have got a group of lads who will give it their best shot', Heathcote said. 'Colin Little is looking like his old self again. Both he and Rod (Thornley) looked a real threat in the first half against Dagenham, although we didn't control the ball well enough to give those guys a chance after the break. But we have got to have 11 players with big hearts out there on Saturday. If Tamworth draw they will go down, so they are going to have to go for it big style. It'll be tough but we need to be ready for them and set our stall out to get a result'".

    SAM adds that all under-14s will be admitted free at Altrincham's final game of the season, a week on Saturday, against Aldershot Town.

    And from the other side this Saturday is this from The Tamworth Herald: "Calling all Tammies - your football team needs you! And the Herald has paved the way for the biggest ever giveaway of tickets at the Lamb. Tamworth FC face a do or die survival battle and the Herald has teamed up with manager Gary Mills to issue a rallying call to the people of the town to flock to the Lamb Ground on Saturday and roar the team to Conference survival. The Herald and Tamworth FC have teamed up to make TWO sensational offers to encourage Tammies to back the boys as they face Altrincham in a must-win game. The first 500 fans aged under-16 who bring the voucher printed on today's front page to the Lamb clubhouse between 7-9pm today (Thursday) or club reception between 10am-6pm tomorrow will get a FREE ticket. Every adult who presents a Herald voucher at the ground between the same opening times will be given a TFC club voucher which will give them HALF PRICE admission at the turnstiles on Saturday... 'This is the biggest giveaway of tickets we have ever done', explained general manager, Russell Moore. 'We want as many people in the ground as possible on Saturday to get behind the team. We know watching football is not cheap sometimes and we believe this offer will give everyone the opportunity to come down and enjoy the day. It is a massive game for the club - one of the most important in our history - and as a supporter myself for many years I know the difference a big Lamb crowd can make. Gary will have the players fired up but they will be nervous. A packed crowd that gets behind the team will be like an extra player for us. I have witnessed Tamworth crowds suck the ball into the net for the team in the past and I want to see it again'. Manager Gary Mills said: 'It's a time for strong hearts and minds from the players, officials and supporters. We all have to stand up and be counted. The supporters can play a massive, massive part this weekend. The players know what they have to do and the fans can really make a difference in doing that'".


    This is South Devon says that "One of the men behind Exeter City's recovery from the brink of collapse has warned Torquay United: 'You're in for a culture shock in the Conference!' Paul Morrish, City's commercial director, stressed: 'The last thing you can afford is to think you have a divine right to be back in the Football League at the earliest opportunity'. Morrish also revealed that two South Devon companies who used to sponsor United have just signed up with the Grecians. And City... will announce a new club shirt sponsorship deal with Flybe which will dwarf anything that the Gulls have managed to agree. Morrish said: 'The season City went down (2002-2003) had so many parallels with the one Torquay have had - uncertainties over the ownership, changes of managers and too many loan signings. If the club is wrong, the football side goes wrong. When I arrived, my observation was that City had gone down with the wrong attitude, which allowed them to wallow a bit in self-pity, but also an underlying feeling of a divine right to be back in the League at the earliest opportunity. There are still other ex-League clubs in the Conference with that attitude... As a fan of City at the time we went down, I don't think anybody realised how demoralising it is to go to Forest Green, [wait for it...] with all due respect, on a Tuesday night in February or to see St. Albans turn up with 13 fans. You have got to get to grips with the financial realities of being in the Conference. The away support is pitiful, and it's a much harder job selling the club to the business community, not just the fan base... We invented the brand of 'The Pride Of Devon'. We have used that as a statement that we won't be rolled over any more. It was about taking the volunteer ethic, building on it without throwing it away, and taking it to a new level where professionalism was what it's all about. It was a long, hard piece of work. But we had to do it'... City employ two full-time commercial staff, plus others on a commission basis, and their non-football income is larger than United's. This season City have increased their turnover from £1.3 million to £1.75 million. Last season United's turnover was slightly down on the previous year, to £1.46 million. City will also announce a new deal with shirt sponsors Flybe. It's believed that it will more than double the current deal to around £60,000 a year".

    This is Exeter confirms that "Exeter City have received a huge cash boost after budget airline flybe agreed to renew its shirt sponsorship deal with the club.The Exeter-based airline, City's main sponsor, has extended its backing until 2009. Over the next two years flybe will plough more than £120,000 into the club - a substantial increase from previous years. And the budget airline has also promised a cash bonus should the Grecians claim promotion back into the Football League... The new deal will also involve a greater focus on community development, with two major initiatives and a host of grass-roots projects already planned. flybe will join forces with City's Football in the Community coaches to stage a 'Flybe Community Cup'. The annual competition will offer schools from across the region a chance to compete against each other, with the final being played at St James's Park... flybe director of marketing Simon Lilley said: 'Exeter is a club that belongs in the Football League and we would like to think that flybe can play a part in helping the club grow and achieve promotion'. The Grecians recently revealed that their accounts are more than £60,000 in the black for the six-month period up to November 1, 2006. With £108,000 currently pledged annually by the Exeter City Supporters' Trust, the club are hoping to break even during the next financial year before the Trust money is factored in".

    The ever-informative Bullsnews tells us that "The Football League have voiced concerns that Boston will be unable to complete their final three fixtures this season. The club have been contacted for assurances that their future, at least until the final game on May 5th, is certain with an April 25th date set to discuss a proposed CVA. Sources close to the club suggest the meeting will be merely be adjourned until their league future is resolved. Speaking to the Lincolnshire Echo, midfielder Stewart Talbot said: 'The league and club have unresolved issues about fulfilling fixtures. The league are going a bit over the top about it and should be trying to help us out a little bit. I've no worries we'll complete the final three games'...The club's players [including Boston captain and former Alty defender Paul Ellender] are now close to two months since being paid. The club have also had their water cut off at York Street, meaning they cannot water the pitch for the remainder of the season".

    "Rushden and Diamonds have recalled defender Glenn Wilson from a loan spell with Conference rivals Kidderminster. Wilson, 21, returns to Nene Park to cover for injuries after making six appearances for Kidderminster. Boss Mark Yates told Harriers' website: 'Gary Hill wants to make sure Rushden are safe from relegation. They've got injuries so we haven't got a problem. We're disappointed to lose Glenn, but we understood this kind of situation when we took him'.

    Meanwhile, "Ron Atkinson has left his post as director of football with Conference North side Kettering Town. Poppies' chairman Imraan Ladak said the former Manchester United, Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday boss has left Rockingham Road by mutual consent. Atkinson's departure followed the dismissal of manager Morell Maison after the defeat to Hinckley. Ladak told Kettering's website: 'Ron didn't agree with the decision to change our managerial approach'. The defeat to Hinckley dented Kettering's automatic promotion hopes and Ladak said: 'I believe it is our best chance of achieving our promotion aspirations and have made this decision in the best interests of the club. Ron felt it would be better for any incoming manager to be able to work from a clean slate'... Kettering, who lie second in the Conference North table, have placed coach Danny Nicholls in temporary charge but are set to name a caretaker manager until the end of the season". Later it was announced that "former Stevenage Borough and Rushden & Diamonds manager Graham Westley has today been named as caretaker manager of Kettering Town".

    The BBC reports that "Boss Liam Daish says Gravesend and Northfleet will not give up hopes of making the Conference play-offs until it is mathematically impossible. Fleet must win their remaining three games and hope other candidates above them slip up. Daish told BBC Radio Kent: 'We're not out of it, but things are more difficult for us. We have worked hard to get ourselves in a position but we can't rest on it and we have to keep raising the bar."

    From This is York we read that "York City boss Billy McEwan has been overwhelmed by the gesture from fans and sponsors to provide his players with an overnight stay ahead of Saturday's crucial match at Southport. The City boss said: 'The York fans never fail to surprise me with their loyalty, support and backing of the team. It's staggering and I'm thankful for their help in the preparation for this big, big match. I've always said that 50 per cent of our job is preparation and, although the stay will not guarantee a win, it will give us a nice night over there to relax and an extra hour or two in bed. It shows the team effort off the pitch and the fans are a big part of the success story at this club'".

    19 April 2007


  • Gravesend & N. 3 Northwich V. 0
  • League table
  • Relegation Run-In


    Altrincham FC Youth play their international match against Wuhan of China tonight (7pm) at the Regional Arena (see the Youth Page for full details). Then, on Sunday, they are at home at Wythenshawe Town FC against Morecambe A (k.o. 2.30pm). Meanwhile, an Independent Schools' under-18 international between England and Scotland takes place at Moss Lane, also on Sunday (22nd), at 2pm. Admission is £3 including a programme. The Manchester Evening News adds that amongst the Premiership players to have attended Independent Schools are Frank Lampard, James Beattie and Quinton Fortune.

    The Independent Schools FA report that "It will be a case of 'Into the Unknown' when the England Independent Schools team take on Scotland in the first Independent Schools International match for the a2om Cup on Sunday 22nd April. This Under-18 match will take place at Altrincham FC, kick-off 2.00 pm, with the England team selected from those who have represented the ISFA Under-18 team during the season. Goalkeeper George Ellis has been ruled out with an ankle injury for England but, with ESFA goalkeeper Nick Jupp, who missed the Poland tour, returning, England are expected to be at full strength... The game marks the debut of a2om in their new sponsorship agreement with ISFA and they have kindly arranged for the players of both teams to receive international caps in recognition of their selection, as well as presenting the a2om Cup which will be collected by the winning captain at the end of the match. It promises to be an historic and interesting afternoon at Altrincham FC on Sunday afternoon. Admission to the match will be £3 cash (inclusive of match programme), payable on the day Executive tickets are now sold out. The following squad has been selected for the match:

  • Nick Jupp (Hampton), George Ellis (Charterhouse), Richard Bray (Brentwood), Sam Pinching (Chigwell), James Aldred (St. Bede's, Hailsham), Ben Lenders (Bolton). Michael Geggus (Brentwood), Matthew Aldred (St. Bede's, Hailsham), Paul Yiannakas (Highgate), Ollie Osbaldeston (Manchester GS), Matthew Roberts (St. Bede's, Manchester) , Shane O’Neill (John Lyon), Zac Attwood (St. Bede's, Hailsham), Theodore Ohene (John Lyon), Alex Garcev (Alleyn's), Tom Hampson (Hulme GS)".

    Alty chairman Geoff Goodwin is providing coach transport for the England squad from Manchester Airport's Radisson Hotel.


    Altrincham Reserves went down 7-4 in an amazing match on Wednsday night at Farsley Celtic in a Lancashire League Cup quarter-final. Alty trailed 6-1 at one stage before getting back to 6-4. More details on the Reserves' Page.

    Meanwhile, it has been a big week for Ben Deegan, who has graduated this season to Altrincham Reserves having been the youth team's leading scorer last season. After joining the first team for their trip to Dagenham last Saturday, he scored twice in the Altrincham Sunday League Challenge Cup in their 4-1 win over Old Alts at Moss Lane. Also on the scoresheet was Anthony Hargreaves, the ex-Alty striker, whilst Alty Reserve John Maloney was Man of the Match.


    Please don't forget that tonight (Thursday 19th April) Altrincham FC is hosting a "Top to Toe Kidswear Party", where items for sale will include ex-chainstore & branded kids' clothes, brand new children's wear, as seen in the following high street stores: GAP, NEXT, BHS, M&S, ADAMS, GEORGE, MOTHERCARE, ETC. Huge savings are promised for the age-range 0-14 years. All items are under £10. The sale is in the Noel White Suite and doors open 7.30pm. Admission is just £1 including raffle ticket, refreshments available on the night. This event has been kindly arranged by Louise and Darren Gregory and proceeds go to Altrincham FC.


    Altrincham's next and last Conference match of the season at Moss Lane is against Aldershot Town.

    Aldershot Town's "Caretaker Manager Martin Kuhl was disappointed that his side didn't convert possession into goals after Tuesday's goal-less draw at Kidderminster. Indeed the visitors threw everything at Mark Yates's side after Johnny Harkness was dismissed by over fussy referee Russell Fletcher midway through the second half. There were eight cards issued in a match where you were stretched to recall a fierce challenge... Martin said, 'I'm bitterly disappointed. We had enough possession and enough chances to have won that game. I said to the lads afterwards that whoever is in charge next season then teams like Kidderminster have to be beaten if you have hopes of winning the lead'... Dave Winfield started his first league match since November replacing the injured Anthony Charles and slotted in well... At the break you really fancied an away victory for the 52 hardy Shots supporters gathered behind the goal... Barnard limped off and was replaced by Kirk Hudson. Louie Soares moved back to right back, as he did against Stafford Rangers whilst Dean Smith continued a fine performance moving over to left back... Boss Kuhl added, 'I don't want the season to finish really.... To be truthful I am just focussed on the next game at the moment. If I am here next season then great and I would love to be here with this group of lads. With a couple of changes I think we could have one hell of a team for next season... It is getting the right players to add to that and I have put names forward of the players that I think will enhance this squad.... We have plenty of legs in the squad but it is apparent that we need that killer touch'".


    The BBC reports that "Stafford Rangers manager Phil Robinson insists his side still has work to do to guarantee their Conference safety. Tuesday's vital 2-0 win over Northwich took the R's up to 15th place and four points clear of the drop zone... He told the Stoke Sentinel: 'We're not safe yet. We don't know whether 52 points will be enough. There is no way we are getting too excited. The performance was good but there is still a lot to play for'".

    After losing to Halifax at the weekend, The Aldershot News and Mail reports that "Caretaker boss Martin Kuhl said: 'The first goal was such a disappointment, especially at the time of the game that we conceded. I warned the players before the game that, at Halifax, you have to earn your points... Halifax are fighting for their lives but have only lost three matches at home all season. I can’t fault the lads, though. They have built up a reputation recently of expecting to win and that adds to a bit of pressure but when you play for Aldershot you have to get used to that'"

    "Halifax boss Chris Wilder was left unhappy with referee Andy Hendley after his side lost 1-0 at Burton Albion. Wilder was critical of the red cards shown to Halifax striker Andy Campbell and Burton defender Danny Holmes. 'The game was too big for the referee. We needed the points - so did Burton', Wilder told the Halifax Courier. 'If you want to have a look at a referee do it at Christmas or before, not a week before the end of the season in a big game'".

    The Cambridge Evening News claims that "Three Championship clubs are believed to be on the trail of Cambridge United's Robbie Simpson... [scorer of] 13 goals in his last 14 matches. Ipswich Town, Norwich City and Leicester are all thought to be keeping a close watch on United's top scorer, who is out of contract this summer... Manager Jimmy Quinn said: 'We don't want to lose him. He'd be better off playing for Cambridge in the Conference, hopefully with a bit of success, rather than in someone's reserves for a Championship club. I think it's vital for Robbie's experience and development that he has another season with us and, with a bit of success, it could be the making of him. If he goes to the wrong club, it could set him back, but if he does leave he should be thinking about going to the Championship because he is that good. Robbie isn't only a terrific player, but he's a nice person to work with and he's in my plans to take this club forward. He knows what I'm all about now and what I want to do next season'".

    We read in This is Glos that "Goalkeeper Ryan Robinson will return for Forest Green in Saturday's massive relegation battle with Halifax Town at the New Lawn. Manager Jim Harvey has confirmed that Robinson, who has missed the past two Conference games with sciatica in his back, will replace rookie reserve stopper Ryan Harrison".

    Northwich manager Steve Burr "says he is sick of certain fans picking on his players. The Vics' boss told the Northwich Guardian he was disappointed to hear Carlos Roca getting stick off supporters during the weekend win over Crawley. 'We're only talking a small part of the crowd', he said. But we went a goal down on Saturday and they seem to want to get on people's backs - on this occasion it was Carlos. I reckon 95% of our fans come to watch us and get behind the team. They've been terrific home and away this season and have given the boys a real lift when they've needed it'", reports the Northwich Guardian.

    From the Northants Evening Telegraph we learn that "Garry Hill argued that Rushden & Diamonds were unlucky to suffer a fourth successive defea [on Tuesday]. They lost out to a second-half penalty away to FA Trophy finalists Stevenage Borough... However Hill insisted: 'That was probably the best 90 minutes I've seen since I've been at the club. In the first half we were very bright. We moved the ball well to create chances for Jon Ashton and Danny Williams. "I thought we were unlucky not to get a penalty while Lee Tomlin was also causing problems up front. I felt we were the better side and certainly should have been in front. But in the second half they got the break with a penalty and I've got no complaints over the referee's decision'".

    The NET also reports that "Ron Atkinson has ruled himself out of the running to become caretaker-manager of Kettering Town... following the sacking of Morell Maison on Monday. But Atkinson said: 'I don't think I will be taking over. It (the sacking) was a controversial decision that I didn't really agree with. I think the chairman (Imraan Ladak) has somebody else lined up to take over, so we'll see'. Ladak has already said the new manager will be named ahead of Saturday's trip to Stalybridge Celtic and it is believed former Rushden & Diamonds manager Graham Westley is still the favourite for the post".

    This is South Devon reports on Conference-bound Torquay United. "Ian Atkins, the manager jettisoned in mid-season by Torquay United, has spoken of his 'sadness and anger' at the way the club has plummeted out of the Football League. Atkins said: 'There's sadness, because I'm a football man, but there's also anger because there's 80 years of football history gone down and it should never have happened'. As caretaker manager Atkins, 50, hauled United back from the brink of relegation last season, turning a six-point deficit with five games to go into safety... before new chairman Chris Roberts effectively sacked him in November to bring in Czech manager Lubos Kubik". Torquay "were still in the top ten when Roberts took over from major shareholder Mike Bateson - Atkins came in for some criticism for his style of play". Atkins continued "When Chris Roberts took over, from day one you knew you were never going to be there. The first time Chris Roberts opened his mouth to me, he said 'I don't like diving'. I said 'You'll be OK then, because we haven't got any divers'. The next thing he said was 'I'm not a Romanov'.".


    From the Northwich Guardian, we hear that Witton Albion "are to discuss a stadium switch with their fans. Chairman Mike Worthington has called a meeting to tell Wittoners what choices they have should they wish to relocate from Wincham Park. 'The board feel that supporters of the town's family club should be fully aware of the facts and opportunities involved in such a decision' says a statement on the club's website. The meeting takes place next Thursday". It is rumoured that Witton are looking at linking up with Northwich Rugby Club and the local Council.
    18 April 2007


    Why not come along and support Altrincham Youth as they take on Chinese opposition on Thursday night at the Manchester Regional Athletics Stadium?

    Above: Manchester's National Squash Centre & Regional Athletics Arena, scene of Altrincham Youth's international match against Chinese side Wuhan this Thursday (k.o. 7pm).

    Altrincham FC Youth have been honoured to be chosen to play an under-18s team from Manchester's twin city in China, Wuhan. The game is this Thursday (19 April) at 7pm at the National Squash Centre & Regional Athletics Arena, Gate 13, Sport City, Manchester (next to Manchester City's Eastlands stadium.) The match is part of the Manchester/Thailand Sports and Cultural Festival.

    On the following Sunday (22nd), at 3pm, there is a match between a Thailand team and Wuhan, at the same venue. Indeed the Sunday, from 11am to 6pm, is a Cultural festival which is followed at 7pm by a Thai Town Concert and Party "till late". For more details ring the organisers on 0161 236-5183.

    Right, is the poster for the Manchester/Thailand Sports & Cultural festival. The price shown on the poster relates to the Sunday festival. Tickets for the match are available in advance at the club and cost £4 with concessionaries costing £2 - or can be bought on the night. Please ring the club on 0161 928-1045 for further details. Proceeds from the club's sale of tickets go to Altrincham FC.

    Directions to the stadium:

    By car from the south:

  • Follow signs for city centre on the M56, which becomes the A5103 (Princess Road)
  • Continue to the city centre, turning right onto the elevated A57(M). Follow this to the end, through two sets of lights and turn right onto Every Street.
  • At the end of Every Street turn right onto A662 (Ashton New Road). The Stadium will be found on the left - use gate 13.

    Or from M60 junction 23 - Exit right on to A662 (Ashton New Road) The Stadium will be reached on the right after the junction with the A6010 (Alan Turing Way).


    Graham Heathcote has described the last two matches of the season as "two cup finals", as his team seek the three points that should ensure Conference survival. The players were training on Tuesday night in preparation for the trip to Tamworth - their fifth visit to The Lamb inside two seasons. Meanwhile, Dalton Steele was travelling last night to watch the Kiderminster v Aldershot Town match as The Shots visit Moss Lane for the final match of the season. Kidderminster Harriers report that "Aldershot are like us, [they] have given up on the play-offs and will want to finish as high as possible. They'll have to do it without the man who scored a stunning hat trick against us at their place earlier in the season. Marcus Gayle got injured in a County game in February and hasn't played since. They will also be without defender Andy Edwards who remains out for the rest of the season recovering from a broken leg and also have Darren Barnard waiting to go into hospital for an operation".


    Altrincham FC Board has confirmd that it is lodging a planning application for new floodlights at Moss Lane. As reported in last Saturday's programme, this is necessary even though the plans are for lower lights than those currently in place. Sadly, Football Foundation grants are no longer available for floodlighting so the club will have to raise the funds itself. Though the lights meet existing lux levels for the Conference, better lights are ideally required for televised matches.,


    Are you or do you know a carpet-layer? If so, Altrincham FC would like to hear from you as it plans the recarpeting of the bar and the offices at Moss Lane. Please e-mail Grahame Rowley if you can help or ring the club on 928-1045.


    The Altrincham FC executive coach to the FA Trophy Final at Wembley on 12 May will leave Moss Lane at 8.30am. The Club will be attempting to buy a block of tickets for the match and these are likely to cost £25. However, the tickets are not immediately available so watch this space for confirmation of their purchase. The only concessions are for children (i.e. not for OAPs).


    Those who saw the match at Dagenham last Saturday will have seen the managers, Graham Heathcote and John Still, receiving awards from the Middlesex Wanderers for their support of the touring football side, for whom Stuart Coburn played last summer. This year, from 4-14 June, the Wanderers are visiting Tanzania and three Altrincham players are in the party. They are Karl Munroe, Lewis Chalmers and Stuart Coburn. The Altrincham FC Board has agreed to meet some of the costs of the plaeyrs' involvement .


    The Cambridge Evening News says that "Cambridge United boss Jimmy Quinn will be keeping an eye on the Conference table tonight with fellow strugglers Stafford playing host to Northwich while Halifax travel to Burton Albion. United will slip down a place to 20th if Stafford draw or beat Quinn's former club. United are just one point clear of the bottom four going into Saturday's crucial trip to Aldershot". Nevertheless, "Quinn is set to offer professional contracts to Cambridge United youth-team players Michael Hyem and Josh Coulson for next season. The United manager is also considering whether to offer a deal to their under-18 team-mate Jordan Collins... Quinn said he was hopeful both youth-team captain Hyem and centre-half Coulson would agree terms once United's safety is assured... Quinn said: 'I feel Josh and Michael are well worth a contract, and that's because I think they can push for a first-team place. They train with the first team and they're comfortable with that. Sometimes youth-team players are very nervous and take a while to settle, but they both took to it like ducks to water and have come in and done a good job."

    Halifax Today reports that "Calderdale Council will spend what it needs to complete the East Stand at the Shay. Exactly how much will depend on a detailed survey but it will be enough to finish the roof and install thousands of seats. It is thought likely to be in excess of £1 million. Councillors last night agreed to underwrite the work and cover it by releasing land at the stadium for commercial development, which should provide the town's professional football and rugby clubs with fund-raising opportunities. Roger Simpson, chairman of the Shay Stadium Trust, said: 'I am confident that in working closely with the council, we will provide a scheme of which we and Calderdale Council can be proud'... That is expected to involve a £300,000 "draw down" from the Football Stadia Improvement Fund... He said: 'We hope people will be patient. We want to ensure the work is completed at the earliest opportunity but with no repeat of the problems of the past'. The old East Stand was pulled down in May 2000 and work on a replacement came to a halt four years ago. The council's acting director of regeneration and development, Phil Cook, told last night's cabinet meeting: 'The incomplete stands and deteriorating structures are a sorry sight'".

    On the field, yesterday, "boss Chris Wilder [was] looking for his side to take a giant stride towards safety when they travel[led] to Burton Albion... 'We can make the big move tonight', said Wilder, buoyed by his side's 2-0 win over Aldershot on Saturday which lifted them three places up the table. 'It was a big step at the weekend, and we can take another giant stride tonight. If we can get a result at Burton it will puncture a lot of people around us. Our games in hand come into effect tonight and next Tuesday at home to Crawley and it is up to us to take advantage'. Town, who have not won away from home since the middle of February at Stafford, go into tonight's game on the back of three successive away defeats. .. 'We had a disappointing result at Grays, a disappointing performance at Gravesend and I changed it at Morecambe', he said. 'We haven't got the results we have deserved on the road although there have been times when the players have let themselves down away from home this season and they know that'".

    Meanwhile, Shaymen Online adds that "The Nationwide Conference have issued the threat of demotion if improved facilities were not provided by March 2008 whilst HRLFC are unable to apply for a place in Super League due to the stadium... Councillor Baines expects the works to be completed or be thereabouts this time next year. What is not yet known is to what extent the East Stand will be completed. Will the Council go all the way and spend around £4.5m on fitting out the stand with facilities for both clubs and the Calderdale community as a whole. Or will they spend as little as possible just to get the shell finished with limited facilities underneath?".

    This is Staffs reported yesterday that "Stafford Rangers manager Phil Robinson will rally his troops for tonight's crucial Conference game with Northwich at Marston Road by telling them: 'We have a great chance of staying in this division'. Rangers were bolstered by a goalless draw with high-fliers York at the weekend... Robinson said: 'My players can hold their heads up high for what they have done already this season. Football people didn't give us much of a chance (in the Conference), so there is no pressure from outside. With three games to go, we have a great chance of staying in this division and we are confident we can do it.. The supporters respect us for what we are doing and they realise what we are in', said Robinson".

    This is South Devon says that "Businessman Keith Richardson is hoping to make a return to Torquay United as part of a consortium bidding to buy out want-away owner Mike Bateson. Richardson had a 10-day spell as chairman of the Plainmoor club as Chris Roberts' reign descended into chaos in March.But the Grand Hotel owner was ousted when Bateson returned as his deal with Roberts fell apart. Richardson, a multi-millionaire, insists he has no interest in buying the club outright, but is hoping to work with a group of 'honest, loyal and committed local businessmen' to help the Gulls move forward. He said: 'I'm in touch with Mike Bateson, he's aware of what I'm doing. I personally don't want to buy the club outright- I don't want to put a million pounds of my own money into it. Because I don't know much about football I need some help, so I'm acting as a leader to bring together people who want to put money in. The club is important to Torquay. It helps tourism, and that's why I'm happy to work for nothing - I'm not looking to get paid for my efforts. I'll be happy to play whatever part people want me to play. I got 750 people to the Riviera Centre for the fans' forum, I'm quite well-known in the area and I can help move the club forward'... It is understood that Richardson's consortium are not the only potential bidders... During his short time at the helm, Richardson - a chartered accountant - had stemmed the flow of cash running out of the football club. Richardson found himself controlling a business heading for an annual trading loss of close to £300,000, although some of that was offset by the sale of Jamie Ward. At the time, around £13,000 per month was flowing out of the football club and into Torquay United Holdings Ltd, the company set up by Roberts' consortium. That money was being used to buy Bateson's shares, to pay interest on the consortium's initial £341,000 loan from Michael Sadler, and to pay Roberts' £60,000 per year salary, or 'management fee'. The football club was also paying Roberts' £1,250 per month rent on a home Richardson owned - the two had met through United's use of the Grand Hotel. Richardson's actions effectively brought the Roberts era to an end, but despite his unceremonious removal from the Plainmoor hot seat, he is not bitter. 'That's life', he said. 'If I get kicked out because nobody wants me then I'm happy to go. I didn't own the club so I had no power. I was just trying to be an honest broker and trying to bring some rationality to the whole business'".

    This is United reports on another loss-making club. "Oxford United made a loss of £486,221 in the year ending June 30 2006, the season when they lost their place in the Football League. The total loss, when a pension scheme deficit is included, was £560,069. This compares with a profit of £69,000 the previous year. The figures were revealed in the club accounts, which were released at the weekend. They relate to the first three months of Nick Merry's ownership and show how much money was poured in to try to get the U's to bounce back at the first attempt... United have already indicated that they will need to operate a much tighter ship next season, and will not have a reserve team as such... Merry said: "We certainly can't have the budget that we've had because the league won't allow us to do that anyway".

    "Sky TV have confirmed they will be screening live three of the four Nationwide Conference play-off semi-final matches. Both first legs will take place on Friday, May 4, and the match selected by Sky will kick-off at 8pm. The satellite TV channel will then screen both second legs, with one taking place at 5pm on Bank Holiday Monday, May 7 and the other at 7.45pm on Tuesday, May 8".

    Stevenage Borough say that "Three points against Tamworth was just the result that manager Mark Stimson had demanded... 'In the end it was an emphatic victory, but we had to work hard to get it, because they put us under a bit of pressure', he said. “We have experimented this week with playing Luke Oliver up front, but that doesn’t mean that we have to play it long, on to his head all the time, because he has got good feet and he showed that with his composure in front of goal when he did score. It was important in the second half that we came out and did that... Whether Oliver turns out to be a centre forward or a centre half, time will tell, but he is so young that he doesn’t have to make that decision yet'".

    17 April 2007


    Tuesday 17th:
  • Burton A. 1 Halifax T. 0
  • Kidderminster H. 0 Aldershot T. 0
  • Stafford R. 2 Northwich V. 0
  • Stevenage B. 1 Rushden & D. 0


    Above: On Saturday at Dagenham, Pat McFadden could not quite get on the end of this cross which had been nodded on by the prostrate Joe O'Neill. Colin Little and Peter Band are the other Alty players in view.

    Above: 80 minutes and 51 seconds is the time on the clock as Richard Acton gets his hand to Dagenham's penalty - and third goal - last Saturday.

    It is the bottom ten clubs in the league table who look the most likely group to supply the four candidates for the drop from Conference National this season. The top six of those ten clubs are covered by just two points so any of them can easily drop into the bottom four. To try and ensure that 17th-placed Altrincham are not one of those four, Robins' fans are rallying behind their team for the last two games of the season with the supporters' coach bookings for this Saturday's game at Tamworth going well. Details of the STAR supporters' coach are here. After that match Alty entertain Aldershot Town at Moss Lane on April 28th.

    Meanwhile, the Tamworth Herald reports how "Stevenage kept their slim Conference play-off hopes alive with a comfortable 3-0 win over doomed Tamworth... and they made the most of a lacklustre Tamworth display to take all three points... With that Tamworth's relegation was also all-but confirmed". The Lambs' site adds that "Nothing less than two wins from their final games will go some way to deciding the league Gary Mills's Lambs play in next season. Mills largely inherited squad find themselves 4 points off safety and second from bottom in the soon to be renamed Nationwide Conference. With Halifax and Stafford both playing in midweek they need to net all three points in their final home game of the season [against Altrincham] at the weekend to give themselves any chance of staying up and even then it could hinge on the Aldershot v Cambridge result on Saturday as to whether the final trip of the season to Cambridge is last of the Lambs seasons in the non league top flight, at least for the time being. It is for this reason that everyone at Tamworth FC is urged to get behind their side in the run up to and at the clash with Graham Heathcote's side who are just five points ahead in 17th place".

    Things may be a bit clearer after tonight's matches:


    Bullsnews reports that "Speaking to the local press, Boston boss Steve Evans asked for an award for the club if he were to keep the club in the Football League this season. The Scot saw his side crumble at Edgar Street, and revealed that neither Stewart Talbot nor youngster Jamie Stevens were likely to play again this season... Evans said: 'People will say "here he goes again", but if this club stays in the Football League, forget about Mourinho or Ferguson, we will deserve an award. No other club in the Football League has endured what we have to cope with. The destruction of our team was not in the second half on Saturday, it was on transfer deadline day when we were refused permission to bring players in on loan. But what do we do? Do we blame people who are looking to come into the club or at the top of the club? There can't be a blame culture with three games to go. Those issues will be raised in the summer when some people will have to explain to the Boston public what has happened'. Evans has also called on the cash-strapped board to give free admission for the forthcoming game with Chester, hoping that an increased attendance will give his side a boost. Meanwhile, the PFA is waiting on the outcome of the club's court date with the Malkinson family over unpaid rent on April 26th before helping the club to pay its players. Captain [ex-Alty centre-back] Paul Ellender admitted the players' increasing frustration at the situation: 'It's two weeks since we should have been paid - I doubt most people in other walks of life would keep coming into work after that. People think because we're footballers, it's fine, but it's not'".

    "Runcorn Linnets are happy to announce that 'Linnets Legend' [and former Altrincham manager] John Williams will be attending the Linnets’ Presentation Evening at Pavilions, Sandy Lane, on Friday 4th ... John Williams, as manager of Runcorn FC, presided over possibly the two best seasons in the club’s history in 1981 and 1982 when the it won the Northern Premier League by a mile, and went on to win the Alliance the following season, which is now the Conference.... Tickets cost £5, and are available via the club’s website.


    The BBC says that "Southport are staging a version of the Great Escape which threatens to leave Steve McQueen looking like a novice... Stuck to the bottom of the table, eight points adrift of possible safety and with only seven wins to their name all season there seemed no way back for Peter Davenport's side. But four successive victories and 15 goals later the tunnel they have dug for themselves has definite light at the end... 'It's still a massive test to stay up. We are still behind everyone else, but you never know', Davenport told BBC Sport. 'If you look at it in cricket terms we needed 100 off the last seven overs and now we need 25 off two... I said before the Halifax game 'let's go unbeaten between now and the end of the season. I said 'forget about everyone else and whatever else is going on and just concentrate on playing good football and go and produce what you can', because there is quality in the dressing room and they have responded magnificently. Most teams have targeted 50 points but that might not be enough', Davenport said. 'We have got to try to get two wins out of our last two games which would give us 53 points and that should be enough'... Training has been scaled down to keep players fresh with a laugh and a joke key ingredients to sustaining spirit and sparking the fightback. 'We have tried to be optimistic all the time', Davenport said. 'People have written us off left, right and centre, but in the dressing-room we have always believed we can stay up'.. . Southport's final two games see them play York and Exeter City, two more teams looking to secure their positions in the play-off places... 'If we could have something riding on the last game that's all I could hope for', he said".

    "Oxford boss Jim Smith is running the rule of over Southampton's Sean Rudd and ex-Saints' team-mate Craig Richards. Rudd, a third-year scholar with the Saints has been given the all-clear to play as a trialist for Oxford in a reserve team game on Monday night... Richards was recently released by Southampton and has been playing for Conference South side Eastleigh", says the BBC.

    Surprising news from Kettering Town who "have sacked manager Morrell Maison, despite the club lying second in the Conference North table. A weekend defeat to Hinkley effectively ended their automatic promotion chances to the Conference, but they are still set to feature in the play-offs. A club statement confirmed: 'It is with great disappointment we can confirm Morell Maison has been relieved of his duties as first-team manager'".

    From the Burton Mail: "Bring on Halifax! That was the battle cry of manager Nigel Clough after Burton Albion returned to winning ways to cling to their dream of promotion to the Football League... They will narrow the gap between themselves and the crucial fifth place to just two points with two games to go if they can repeat October’s FA Cup victory over Halifax. Clough said: 'Halifax is our game in hand over the teams immediately above us in the table and we’ve got win it, simple as that... I just wished our fate was in our own hands, but we’ve got ourselves back in the shake-up. If we win our last three games, it will put Gravesend and Stevenage out of the equation and put a bit of pressure on the teams above us'".

    This is Exeter confirms that "The trial of former Exeter City football bosses John Russell and Michael Lewis has been delayed for a day.Former Grecian chairman Russell, former vice-chairman Lewis, and Russell's wife Gillian, had been due to face trial at Bristol Crown Court on Monday... The trial concerns alleged financial irregularities at St James's Park and is estimated to last at least a month. Lewis, 65, of Loughor Road, Gorseinon, Swansea, and John Russell, 51, of Cannon Hall Close, Brighouse, West Yorkshire, face four charges. It is alleged that between February 1, 2002, and May 15, 2003, the two men dishonestly conspired to defraud the directors, shareholders and creditors of Exeter City. It is also claimed that the pair dishonestly obtained by pecuniary advantage membership of the football club by falsely representing they had access to substantial funds.They have denied all the allegations. Russell's wife and former club employee Gillian Russell, 51, also of Brighouse, faces a charge of theft and another of false accounting. She has denied both".

    In Essex, the Thurrock Gazette states that "Grays Athletic dropped back into the bottom four of the Nationwide Conference as they fell to defeat against play-off chasers Burton Albion at the Pirelli Stadium. And for the second Grays match in a row there was late red card drama. This time defender Anthony Tonkin was sent-off in stoppage time for a professional foul on Brewers' substitute Shaun Harrad with manager Justin Edinburgh also dismissed from the touchline for his protests. A clearly disappointed Edinburgh said.. 'We got punished at both ends, we didn't take our chances and we have got caught out twice from set pieces. The penalty decision at the end looked five or ten yards offside. If you have incapable referees it can cost you points and players because we now have a suspension to deal with'".

    16 April 2007


    Alty Vice-Chairman, Grahame Rowley, has confirmed that the coach trip to the FA Trophy Final will be going ahead. He will be trying to obtaain stadium tickets in the next day or two and, after that, details of payment will be confirmed. If you want to join the trip and have not already advised Grahame, please e-mail him.


    The Prescot keeper is already going the wrong way as Anthony Davies, partly hidden, strikes the ball from the penalty spot.

    Alty Youth drew 2-2 on Sunday at home to Prescot Cables. Altrincham were chasing the game but equalised through Anthony Davies's penalty and Danny Browne's header. Report on Youth Page.


    Altrincham FC Youth have been honoured to be chosen to play an under-18s team from Manchester's twin city in China, Wuhan. The game is this Thursday (19 April) at 7pm at the National Squash Centre & Regional Athletics Arena, Gate 13, Sport City, Manchester (next to Manchester City's Eastlands stadium). The match is part of the Manchester/Thailand Sports and Cultural Festival. Tickets for the match are available at the club and cost £4 with concessionaries costing £2 . Please ring the club on 0161 928-1045 for further details. Proceeds from the club's sale of tickets go to Altrincham FC.

    On the following Sunday (22nd), at 3pm, there is a match between a Thailand team and Wuhan, at the same venue. Indeed the Sunday, from 11am to 6pm, is a Cultural festival which is followed at 7pm by a Thai Town Concert and Party "till late". For more details ring the organisers on 0161 236-5183.


    Altrincham FC hope shortly to confirm that the planned coach trip to watch the FA Trophy Final at the newly complete Wembley Stadium on 12 May will go ahead. They are endeavouring to obtain stadium tickets and once this is confirmed, details will appear on the site. If you are interested in the trip which will involve a return coach trip for just £25, please contact Grahame Rowley.


    The Relegation Run-In chart has been updated. There are two crucial matches on Tuesday involving our rivals Stafford Rangers and Halifax Town. At the moment Altrincham have the fifth lowest maximum achievable points total and two of the other sides below us (Cambridge and Tamworth) have to meet each other on the final day of the season, so our fate is still in our own hands. Although 50 points was the target for survival set by several of the Conference managers (including Graham Heathcote), it seems very unlikely that that total will now be sufficient and 53 seems more realistic to guarantee remaining in the division, though a slightly lower total may be enough.

    Alty face their fifth visit to Tamworth in just two seasons on Saturday and the outcome could go a long way towards deciding one or both club's fates as regards relegation. The Lamb has not been a happy hunting ground for Alty. In 2005/6 Alty drew the Conference match there, 1-1 but went out of the FA Cup at The Lamb, losing 3-1. This season Alty lost there in an FA Trophy replay, 2-1, after an earlier attempt to play the game had been abandoned at half-time due to fog with Alty leading 2-1.

    Like Alty, Tamworth lost by three goals last Saturday. In their case they went down 3-0 at Stevenage Borough. The Tamworth website says that "Ludovic Quistin started the first of a three match ban which would rule him out for the rest of the season, while Jon Stevenson was on the injured list after a clattering against St Albans on Bank Holiday Monday. Boss Gary Mills... made two changes to the starting eleven from Monday with Michael Tuohy coming in for Emmett Friars who took a place on the bench alongside boss Gary Mills, and Simon Heslop coming in for Simon Weaver". Tamworth's team was (from front to back), "Edwards, Atieno,Taylor, Tuohy (Williams 59), McGrath, Heslop,Law (Weaver 69), Bains, Briscoe, Smith,Veiga. Subs: Friars, Storer, Mills". Opponents Stevenage Borough reported that "An emphatic victory against a rugged Tamworth side ensures that Borough’s dream of play-off football remains alive... There was just one change from the side that conceded a late goal at Forest Green on Monday to throw away two vital points and that was to partner top scorer Steve Morison with Luke Oliver. And what an inspired change that proved to be with the giant centre back proving to be a constant thorn in the side of Tamworth. But it was not just his aerial ability, but his pace, vision and nimble footwork that had many wondering if indeed his better position may be up front... Tamworth, however, were not without their own threat. Former Borough triallist Taino Atieno burst through the Stevenage rearguard and unleashed a low drive that Alan Julian took two attempts to save and his strike partner Jake Edwards outmuscled Ronnie Henry and Santos Gaia but was again denied by Julian... Tamworth, with their Conference lives hanging by the slenderest of threads, fought all the way, even hitting the post with a low shot from Matt Williams in the later stages".


    Alty boss Graham Heathcote will be glad that last weekend was the last overnight trip for Altrincham this season after the shock of finding someone between the sheets of his bed at the Essex hotel used by the team last Friday night. A reliable source tells me that when Graham went to his hotel room on the eve of the match at Dagenham, he found someone already asleep in his bed. The "intruder" turned out to be Altrincham FC Reserves' player Ben Deegan who was making his first ever trip with the first-team after a place in the hotel had become available due to kitman Dave Mitten's illness. Seemingly, when Ben decided to turn in early for the night, certain unidentified Altrincham first-teamers gave him a room number which was the manager's! Graham obviously forgave the youngster his mistake, as Ben was with the team during the warm up at Dagenham, as is seen above left. Ben is the no.21 in the photo.

    ....And that wasn't the only strange enconter at Dagenham on Saturday. Outside Dagenham's ground before the match were uniformed British Army soldiers holding a recruitment drive. They stopped at no lengths to add new members to HM Forces as this picture (above, right) shows. Octogenarian Alty supporter Tommy Maguire is seen as he attempted to talk his way out of conscription when he was confronted by two of the uniformed military, whilst fellow Alty supporter Roy Johnson (left) adopted a cunning disguise, using a plastic cup, to avoid being enlisted!


    After Stafford's goalless draw with York, "We set out to try and win the game but we feel it is a good point" said Stafford manager Phil Robinson, according to Rangers website. "It was a battle...The lads gave everything and I think it was a good result, a positive result and a point in the right direction. It was great to have the crowd behind the players today. I think the supporters respect what we are up against and what we are in at the moment. They did everything they could to back the players out there which was really pleasing".

    At relegated St Albans City, departing manager Colin Lippiatt is reported as saying, "With nine players under contract it could be said that the club has its nucleus of players for next season but clearly that will depend on how the new manager views these individuals. But Colin did confirm that three players will be leaving the club at the season's end... 'Djoumin Sangare won't be staying at the club, I can confirm that, he is going to stay in Conference National. Ahmed Deen will not be staying at the club, an excellent signing by me if I might add. I chased him for three weeks. And Malik Buari won't be staying. You've got nine players [on contract]. Without being personal, if you take Ricky Perks, Ben Martin, Scott Cousins and Dean Cracknell, they are all yellow and blue right through and I don't see changes with them. But a lot depends on the new manager, which John and I have just discussed, how he is going to approach it, I don't think he knows at this stage to be fair as I have only just come out of the room. I have said that I am quite happy to produce my own shortlist of any help I can give them, people I think it would be worth chatting to".

    15 April 2007


    Taylor nets the Daggers' first goal.

    After playing well in the first half, Alty were second best in the second half of a game played in very warm conditions which tested the part-timers.

  • Match report here.

  • Alty Line-Ups
  • Alty Player Statistics


    Right: Daggers' keeper Tony Roberts sees off this challenge from Peter Band.


    Torquay were relegated to the Conference National yesterday after a 1-1 draw with Peterborough.

    St Albans City manager Colin Lippiatt has announced that he is leaving the Saints to join another Conference club in a non-managerial role.


    Lance Key gained promotion to the Conference National yesterday with Histon from Cambridgeshire. At least three ex-Alty players hit the woodwork yesterday - Colin Potts (Barrow), Eddie Hussin (Marine) and Steve Hawes (Stocksbridge). Danny Adams conceded a penalty for Morecambe. Other players in action yesterday included Chris Timons for promotion-chasing Harrogate Town and Mark Maddox for Leigh RMI.


    Another points deduction for fielding an unregistered player has hit Liam Watson (ex-Southport manager) as the UniBond League reports. "Burscough’s appeal against the League’s decision to deduct a point from the club’s record for playing Adam Wade as a substitute in their away fixture against Lincoln United on 9th December 2006 was dismissed by an FA Tribunal on Thursday. The game had ended in a 1-1 draw".
    14 April 2007


  • Burton A. 3 Grays A. 0
  • Dagenham & R. 4 ALTRINCHAM 1
  • Exeter C. 2 Cambridge U. 0
  • Gravesend & N. 0 Southport 4
  • Halifax T. 2 Aldershot T. 0
  • Northwich V. 2 Crawley T. 1
  • Rushden & D. 0 Kidderminster H. 1
  • St Albans C. 0 Oxford U. 2
  • Stafford R. 0 York C. 0
  • Stevenage B. 3 Tamworth 0
  • Weymouth 2 Morecambe 1
  • Woking 3 Forest Green R. 3


    Left - Colin Little. Right - Steakhead a.k.a. Gary Talbot

    Colin Little has written in SAM that "We've had a week off from training and I can tell you now, I needed it. My body was in bits after the Gravesend game on Easter Monday and I know quite a few of the lads felt the same way. That's just how it is when you're a part-time team in this league, it's so difficult to keep up the pace week in, week out. I trained every day for 10 years as a professional but when you go part-time, the fitness slowly ebbs away over time. At first I could maintain it because I had a good base fitness but now it's really difficult - especially when you're getting older!... Against Gravesend, there was no snap or energy to us, a lot like when we'd played Stafford... There was that one chance which fell to Warren (Peyton). But he couldn't take it and they immediately went downfield and made it 2-0. You can't blame that on Warren though, he took his chance well enough, just didn't hit the target. Personally, I reckon he's been one of our best players this season. His fitness levels are good, he's got two good feet and he's a threat when he gets forward. I know he doesn't always get the credit but I reckon he's been super". At St Albans, "I was pleased to get a hat-trick too, it's my first in a couple of years, although I couldn't be bothered to take the matchball home with me this time. I should've had four really as well because there was one chance when I saw their keeper come out and tried to volley it into the roof of the net, but it just went over. The goals I scored were just a case of being in the right place at the right time. How can you miss when you get a flick-on from Steakhead (Gary Talbot) in a position like that? You always know when you're in a bit of trouble you can throw his steak up there and you'll get something... It's going to be tough but we just have to try and hold it together for the last three weeks and hope we can get the results we need to stay in this division again".


    This is Local London says that "John Still believes Dagenham & Redbridge's historic Nationwide Conference National championship victory has 'righted the wrong' which saw them cheated out of promotion by Boston United four years ago. Still celebrated into the early hours with fans last Saturday after dedicating the side's historic achievement to the memory of his late father Len - a devoted Daggers' fan. And he said: 'This is also for those fans who were here then and were let down when Boston got promoted although they had financial irregularities. This has righted a wrong, I think... It does mean more to me because my Dad was a fan. He brought me to Dagenham years ago. It would have been his birthday on Tuesday, as well, so it's funny how it has happened... We weren't a little bit nervous, we were a lot nervous and that's understandable because the apprehension was immense. But we overcame it and that sums up the attitude this season. Whatever we've faced, we've managed to overcome it. That's been very important. Before the start of the season, I thought that we would improve on last year, but to what extent I didn't know. It wasn't that many games into the season that I realised that we could be a force. Now we all take a deep breath and relax for a week or two and then we've got to get back into looking at where we go from here and ahead to the new season in the Football League. There are things that I have already set in place, but we won't be doing anything for a week or two. It's important that all the players enjoy the rest of the season - they've earned that right. They could have been waiting on the last game of the season to try and get something to decide where we go, but they've done fantastic and won it at this early stage and they need to enjoy it".


    Right: Stephen Rose returns from suspension on Saturday.

  • Through the Years from Howard Watts.
  • The Relegation Run-In


    The Burton Mail says that "Nigel Clough is not prepared to throw in the towel on Burton Albion's promotion hopes just yet... Clough told Mail Sport: "In a strange way, our scenario is a lot simpler than it was before the York game, because we now know we can't afford to drop any more points. 'Even before Easter, we said we thought we would need four wins — and that is still the target. The difference between now and last week is that there is no longer any margin for error if we want to be in a position to capitalise on any slip-ups by teams above us in the table. We can't control other results, but we still have the chance to make sure our last game against Rushden will be of some significance — even if it means us winning it and then relying on someone losing'. After taking only two points from their last four games, seventh-placed Albion hope to return to winning ways against Grays Athletic... Clough said: "Grays have had a few managerial upheavals since losing Mark, but they look too strong to go down to me. That means it's going to be a difficult game for us, just as it will be when Halifax come to the Pirelli on Tuesday. Both clubs made the play-offs last season, but now find themselves fighting a relegation battle. That just shows what a fine line it us between our position in the table and where they are'... With skipper Darren Stride and striker Jon Shaw still injured, Clough will have to make another enforced change because of the suspension of full back John Brayford".

    We learn from the Cambridge Evening News that "Jimmy Quinn believes Cambridge United can take advantage of Exeter's play-off nerves to boost their own prospects of survival... He said: 'It's going to be a hard game, but everything is positive at the moment and the players are expressing themselves and enjoying playing the game. Exeter will be more nervous than us. I know what it's like at that end of the league and they'll be looking for the win they need to cement their play-off place. We can go there and relax as long as we do the basics right such as closing the ball down and keeping good possession, which are paramount when we're away, to stop the home team building up momentum. We've got to be the best team without the ball and where we were closing people down as individuals earlier in the season, now we're doing it collectively and working hard for each other. It's a good pitch down there and a big park that will suit us with the way we've been playing'".

    But on This is Exeter we read that the Grecains' "Assistant manager Paul Buckle took a moment to assess tomorrow's vital end of season battle with Cambridge United before admitting: 'This is crunch time'. City are desperate for three points to further their claims for a play-off place while the resurgent visitors arrive in the midst of a battle to stave off relegation.

    The Argus tells us that "Crawley caretaker boss Ben Judge has urged his tired players to make one last push for survival. Judge says "A lot of the boys are absolutely shattered. You can see in training that the ones who have played 30-40 games are almost dead on their feet. But we need to make one last effort and put it in for another 90 minutes and then hopefully we can relax a bit. I think one more win will do it, so this is a massive game. If we get the three points we should be okay but if we don't we will be looking over our shoulders again. We are desperate to get it over with so we can enjoy the other three games. We don't want to be going to places like Halifax having to get a result, so we will treat this game like a cup final".

    Down in Essex, the Thurrock Gazette says that "Grays picked up another invaluable three points against Northwich Victoria, to edge the Blues closer to league survival, bouncing back after a defeat to Woking. Burton continued their stuttering form, losing both games, which now stretches their winless streak to four games, to put their play-off bid in severe jeopardy. Blues' boss Edinburgh expressed his reaction over the two games, saying: "I was disappointed against Woking, but we then had a good go against Northwich Victoria. 'The response was what I have come to expect of the players. We have a good group of players that trust each other and are working hard'. Grays' man of the moment, Aaron O'Connor, is in a rich vein of form and has hit four vital goals in five games, but is a doubt for the game with The Brewers with a tight hamstring. Fellow front-man Dennis Oli also has a question mark over his fitness with a sore ankle'... Edinburgh said: "To be honest I would take a point now at Burton. I expect a hard and open game, but any point away from home is important. It will be tense and there is probably more pressure on them to win than us. As long as we win our home games then I believe that we will be safe, I anticipate that six more points should be enough'".

    The Lancaster & Morecambe Citizen says that "Morecambe boss Sammy McIlroy has been rocked with the news that loan striker Matty Blinkhorn has been recalled from his successful Christie Park spell by Blackpool. The 22-year-old strike star was called back by Bloomfield Road chief Simon Grayson after the Tangerines were hit by an injury crisis. 'It's a blow for us', says McIlroy. 'But at the end of the day Matty is Blackpool's player... The lad is disappointed as he was enjoying his time here and was doing very well for us. But at the end of the day we have Danny Carlton, Wayne Curtis, Garry Thompson, David McNiven and Paul Lloyd itching away and Michael Twiss is getting closer to a return to the side. Twissy will be ready for the play-offs if we make it and he played most of the game for the reserves on Tuesday and did well, although he is a little sore after that'".

    In the Northants Evening Telegraph is a story that "Rushden & Diamonds have released Michael Bostwick from his contract. The former Millwall midfielder was signed by Diamonds from the Coca-Cola League One side during the January transfer window by Graham Westley following a loan spell at Crawley Town.During his time at Nene Park, Bostwick made five starts and three substitute appearances. However, since the arrival of Garry Hill as manager, Bostwick has been unable to keep a regular place in the squad".

    This is Staffs says that "Stafford Rangers face a crucial test at home to York as they bid to stay out of the Conference relegation zone. Three defeats on the trot have plunged Rangers perilously close to the bottom four. But with four games to go - the next two at Marston Road - Rangers have the opportunity to dig themselves out of trouble. And they will be bolstered by the return of midfielder Ged Murphy following a two-match absence... Veteran Neil Grayson could also be back leading the Rangers attack... York have yet to cement their place in the Conference play-offs, but their recent form is hardly better than Rangers, with just two wins from their last six matches. Rangers, though, need a win to make sure of not falling into the relegation pit for the first time this season."

    Woking reports that "Further to this morning's board meeting, it has been agreed that Chris Ingram will return as Chairman of the Football Club with immediate effect".

    Stevenage Borough "have confirmed that influential midfielder Adam Miller has signed a new two-year contract. The 25-year-old, who was signed from QPR two years ago has been a key figure in Borough's success and is keen to stay and help the Club fight for promotion".


    The BBC says that "Scarborough could be rescued from closure even though they are still facing a compulsory winding-up order. The Conference North strugglers have debts of £2.1m and administrators are petitioning to force the club to close. But Scarborough chairman Ian Scobbie said: 'We have finalised with a local developer the terms of an agreement to dispose of the McCain Stadium site. This releases funds to repay creditors and thus to secure the immediate future of the football club', he said. 'This also enables us to work closely with all relevant parties to deliver a new stadium. We will issue a further update on the situation at the end of next week with the hope of avoiding the wild speculation of the past few days'. Administrators Begbies Traynor said it would force the closure of the club because it was unable to meet the terms of a Company Voluntary Agreement to repay creditors. That agreement has now failed so the club intend to secure a new agreement to pay off creditors, which include HSBC Bank and the Inland Revenue. Boro's plan to build a new, smaller stadium on the outskirts of Scarborough. Scobbie told BBC Radio York: 'Once we further through the planning process further monies will be released to help us build a new stadium with the aid of grants. Perhaps all the publicity this week about our immediate demise has helped push us over the finishing line. The next challenge will for us to work with the local council to help get the developer the best deal possible for the McCain Stadium site'".

    This is York reports that "Scarborough, beset by off-the-field financial problems, simply must win tomorrow if they are to realistically have a chance of Conference North survival. The Seadogs take on struggling Stalybridge Celtic at the McCain Stadium knowing that a defeat - and a win for Redditch - would all but condemn them to relegation. Following their excellent 2-1 win at Moor Green on Easter Monday, Boro go into the game in good heart despite the threat of a winding-up order... Off the pitch, club secretary Derek Megginson said the Seadogs were still planning for the future: "We are fairly confident and we are carrying on as normal', he said. 'We are already planning for next season and we shall see what happens'"

    13 April 2007


    In Wednesday's Reserves' win at Moss Lane, Alty hit the woodwork six times before winning 4-1! There is a match report in the Reserves' section..


    SAM says that "A gruelling season is beginning to seriously take its toll on Altrincham, as they approach the final stages of their battle against relegation. The Robins enter their final three games probably needing at least one win to avoid the drop. But the rigours of the Conference have left the club's part time squad battered and bruised. Manager Graham Heathcote was down to just 14 available squad members for Monday's 2-0 defeat to Gravesend and was forced to select Gary Scott (left) and Stuart Coburn (right), who were both still suffering with injuries, on the bench. Val Owen is likely to be out for at least another week and will definitely miss Saturday's trip to champions Dagenham and Redbridge. Chris Senior will miss the remainder of the season with an ankle ligament injury, while the fitness of both Coburn and Gary Scott remains in doubt. Alty will at least welcome back Stephen Rose after he served a three-match ban for his sending off against Stafford Rangers. And after giving his troops the week off from training, Heathcote... told SAM Sport: 'We basically had three substitutes on Monday so we are really stretched at the moment. It's not just an Altrincham scenario though, all part time clubs in this league will be facing the same problems. It's a horrendous situation as a part time club in this league, especially at this stage of the season because the schedule is so demanding. So it makes our results recently even more impressive. I'm really pleased that we've been able to turn things around and win six games in the past month. Everyone’s under pressure down at the bottom of the table now because there are 11 teams who could still fill the last three relegation places... We'll need a couple more results if we're going to stay in this division... The work we have done away from home has been undone by home results. Our season's been turned on it's head. I think we're suffering from a bit of a fear factor at Moss Lane.and the way we play away has crept into our home perfomances. Maybe the expectation at Moss Lane has started to weigh on the players' minds recently and subconsciously they feel under less pressure away from home... We just need to go down to Dagenham and set our stall out in the right way and hopefully we can get a result'".


    Our next opponents, Dagenham& Redbridge reported before last night's defeat at Northwich that "For John Still's men there is still a lot to play for, before the season ends with the 100 points still possible and Paul Benson will be looking to add to his 28 league goal tally. The BBC adds that "Northwich boss Steve Burr is looking to keep his side in the top half of the table after beating Conference champions Dagenham and Redbridge. Wednesday night's 2-0 win lifted the Vics up to 12th place as they secured a fourth win in five matches with seven games still to go. Burr told BBC Sport: 'The performance and the result were quite special'".

    Only 757 watched Northwich's game on Wednesday and at "Gravesend & Northfleet chairman Jason Botley says attendances for home games must improve if they are to progress. Fleet are getting just over a 1000 fans at their matches which is less than Dartford who are three divisions lower. Botley told BBC Radio Kent: 'If we got crowds of 1500 or 1600 every week it would make a massive difference. It would take some of the pressure off from the directors and we would not be so reliant on some of those directors as sponsors'".

    On Halifax Today the Shaymen's boss "Chris Wilder has admitted he is having to perform a balancing act with winger Steve Torpey as he prepares for Saturday's game against Aldershot at the Shay. The former [Altrincham and] FC United of Manchester wide man, who crossed the Pennines in mid pre-season, is a firm favourite with the Shay crowd. He cemented his place in their hearts with a run of six goals in five games earlier in the season and bagged the winner against Cambridge United seven days ago to become the outright leading scorer at the club again. But in between he spent four months on the sidelines through injury and that has severely restricted his appearances in recent weeks. 'It is his first season in full time football and that's a big step up', said Wilder. 'You have seen his undoubted quality and people are asking why I don't play him more often. But it is a balancing act with Steve. In the last 10 minutes on Monday he runs out of steam and gets overpowered because he is not physically strong enough yet. But if we can work on him he will be okay'". Wilder explained another absence; "Neal Trotman had not played any football for eight weeks before last Saturday. He would have been out for the rest of the season had we started him on Monday". The report adds that Wilder "has warned the players that they are not only playing for the club's future, but their own... 'I don't care if they are players who have just come in to the club or players who have been here a long time', he said. 'Decisions will be made'".

    The Lancaster and Morecambe Citizen" reports that "Morecambe's Mr Magnificent Michael Twiss made his long-awaited return to action for the reserve team to hand a huge boost to Sammy McIlroy ahead of the Conference play-offs. The talismanic Twiss has been absent since damaging knee ligaments in February... The Shrimps Reserves.. also gave a comeback to full-back Michael Howard, while first teamers Craig Stanley, Fraser McLachlan, Ged Brannan, Danny Meadowcroft and Jamie Burns also featured". Morecambe Today adds that "Morecambe travel to Weymouth on Saturday to face a side who have nothing really to play for...After that, the Shrimps travel to Kidderminster before hosting Grays on the last day of the season. Sammy McIlroy said: 'It would be good to come to Grays with it all done and dusted so there will be a party atmosphere – that is what we are aiming for'".

    From The Northwich Guardian we learn that "The Vics boss has his eye on more victories in the final three weeks of the season. 'I'm delighted to see us move int the top half at last', he said. 'We've beaten Oxford and Dagenham this week to get there - I don't think that's too bad do you? I think we played better tonight than we did on Saturday against Oxford. Some of our football was excellent". However, the same website's match report says that it was "A soporific game was permeated with flashes of quality. Dagenham, in the absence of manager John Still, came closest to scoring in the first half". Before the game, the VIcs chief executive Liz Wolstenholme wrote in the programme "I would like to welcome John Still and the Team of Dagenham and Redbridge to the Victoria Stadium... Congratulations on your promotion to the Football League – there is a case of champagne in the changing room for you all to enjoy before the game!... Great news on our current trading position. Just finalized our quarterly 2007 management accounts showing a great improvement on last year’s position. Prior to taking over, the Club was losing £250K per annum. In the year of administration when we could only help the administrator and cut costs, which was the 2004/2005 season, we decreased the loss to £133K. For the 2005/2006 season we decreased the loss even further to £36K. Our current management accounts and trading forecasts show that we are looking to break even for this current 2006/2007 season. This shows a great turn around, which we are extremely proud of".

    The Comet says "Tickets for the FA Carlsberg Trophy final at the new Wembley on May 12 will be sold to the general public on Sunday, April 22, from the club turnstiles in Broadhall Way. Boro chairman Phil Wallace said: 'The FA expect up to 80,000 to be at this historic match and we need to play our part in making it the most successful event to date. We will be playing in the first ever cup final at probably the finest stadium in the world. That's history in the making and ticket prices have been set to encourage people to visit, especially youngsters. We expect to have up to 15,000 tickets and after a few days, tickets will also be available online at There are different amounts to pay for tickets for the big day. They are £25 for level one (lower and mid level seats), £20 for level five (high level seats) and under-16s tickets at both levels will be £10... It is expected that tickets will be available online from the FA at the end of April". But in the Conference Stevenage's "recent form has seen them take just five points from a possible 21.... Boro boss Mark Stimson said: 'We will carry on and try to win every game to the end of the season. Until it's mathematically impossible not to, we'll still aim to get into the play-offs'".

    This is York says that "York City captain Manny Panther is certain the Minstermen will grasp their Conference play-off opportunity with 'both hands'... 'The play-offs are in our hands. We are not relying on other teams to get beat... We can handle the pressure. I believe we perform at our best when we are under pressure... I am sure we will grab the opportunity we have got. There are three games to go and we won't let it slip away - we will grab it with both hands. These games at Stafford and Southport (April 21) will be tough. They are fighting for their lives to stay in the league and we need points. We know they are going to be hard but we will approach them the way we approach every away game. We should be confident. When we go away, teams like to leave the door open and that suits our style of play. We have been excellent away from home all season and we want to continue that... For the first time in my short career, I want to keep playing on because I am enjoying it. We are winning games. We've got a good young squad, a good manager, good coaches and great fans. I just want to continue what has been a tremendous season... I believe we have got the best squad in the league and we are playing the best football in the league. So why not push on?'".

    12 April 2007


    Stephen Rose has completed his suspension so is available for Saturday's game at Dagenham. But Val Owen and Chris Senior remain sidelined by their injuries. As for Stuart Coburn and Gary Scott, both are classed as 50/50 by Graham Heathcote.


    After a hatful of chances had gone begging in the first half, largely due to excellent goalkeeping from BPA, Alty scored four second-half goals before the visitors scored a late consolation. The Alty goals came from Deegan, Mulholland (penalty), Mannion and Walker. Report to follow

    Right: The Reserves warm up before the game.


    A Run-In Chart has been created to show the remaining fixtures for the bottom nine clubs in the Conference National.


    Grahame Rowley has indicated that another 10 passengers are needed to make the coach trip to the FA Trophy Final (Saturday May 12th) between Stevenage Borough and Kidderminster Harriers at the new Wembley Stadium a viable proposition, at a price of £25 return for the coach fare (plus the Wembley admission price, believed to be £25). If you would like to join this trip which will give you a great chance to be one of the first to visit the new ground please e-mail Grahame as soon as possible. Grahame writes: To date the following people have notified me of their intention to travel. So, iIf your name is not there and you would like to come along, please contact me: Mike Ainsworth x 4, Dan Yarwood x 3, Graham Heathcote x 3, Grahame Rowley x 4, Steve Foster x 1, Steve Raftery x 1, George Heslop x 1, Bill Coop x 4, Alex Jukes x 2 Pete Lewis x 3, Alan Johnson x 1, Mike Ford x 1.


    The Sale & Altrincham Messenger says that "Alty can be under no illusions about the task ahead after... the Robins were brought right back down to earth by Gravesend... It leaves Alty needing at least one win from their remaining three games to avoid relegation. And with games against newly-crowned Conference champions Dagenham and Redbridge and fellow strugglers Tamworth up next, it will be anything but easy. The Robins just did not seem their usual selves on Easter Monday. They usually fly out of the blocks at Moss Lane but this time they mustn't have heard the starter's gun... Gravesend were sharp, physical and direct - exactly the kind of team Alty struggle against - and it was no surprise when they took the lead six minutes in... For the remainder of the half, the Robins were simply overrun... Substitutes Rod Thornley and Pat McFadden injected energy into the Robins, but they too had no luck in front of goal


    "Grays Athletic chairman Mick Woodward has warned a section of the club's fans not to risk driving captain Stuart Thurgood away from Bridge Road" reports the BBC. "Thurgood has been offered a two-year extension to his current contract but has been the victim of strong criticism from some supporters. Woodward told the club's website: 'I know the season hasn't gone how we'd have liked and fans are frustrated. But to vent your anger against one of the club's stalwarts is beyond belief. If this abuse continues and Stuart or indeed any other player feels that they can no longer stay with Grays Athletic I can personally ensure you all that this will have dire consequences on this club. Stuart is committed to Grays. He has only recently returned to the game following a serious injury and gives 100% out on the field'".

    Altrincham's last game of the season is at home to Aldershot Town, whose "caretaker boss Martin Kuhl hopes an impressive end to the season will help him land the manager's job on a permanent basis". Kuhl has "led the Conference club to three wins in four games to add weight to his application. 'I have told them that I want the job and things are going quite well at the moment', Kuhl told BBC Sport. 'All the chairman has said to me is to get my CV in, which I have done. It's a big position with a lot of people involved and they will go through the procedures. But I have got the position at the moment, the lads are playing for me and if they keep doing that it will strengthen my position... I am in charge and I am making the decisions, although I have to rely on the players and they are working well... I feel I have done my apprenticeship. I have done my badges and qualifications and worked up from the youths and I feel comfortable doing the job. I don't fear pressure. That does not bother me. I am used to that and I think I work well under pressure. I get on well with the lads and the media, so why not give it a go? People talk about experience but even the top managers had to start somewhere'. A number of other names, notably Graham Westley, have been linked with the vacancy". Kuhl continued "The team is not far short. Tel and I put a team together to play good football and win and it just needs tweaking. One or two players have under-achieved but if we get the right ones in we will not be far off. You are just looking at three or four players and then it's not a bad team. This is a big club. The Conference is full of ex-League clubs who are trying to get back in and have not found it easy. We are no different here but we have taken it one step at a time and hopefully we will go through the leagues".

    The Cambridge Evening News says that "Cambridge United may be hitting form at the right time but they may need to call in favours from other clubs to secure their survival... It would be almost unthinkable for United to go down to the largely part-time Conference South (or North) given their recent history in League football. After high-scoring wins over Northwich, Weymouth and newly-crowned champions Dagenham & Redbridge on Monday, United seem to be on the right course. Just how much better the table would have looked though had Jimmy Quinn's side beaten fellow strugglers Halifax on Saturday instead of coming away from the Shay with a 1-0 defeat... Halifax, Grays and Stafford are all below United, but crucially, could overhaul Quinn's side if they claim maximum points from their games in hand. And with a run-in that includes tough trips to Exeter and Aldershot followed by what could be a crucial finale at home to Tamworth, United are by no means certain to have it their own way. But with Robbie Simpson going into Saturday's trip to the play-off hopefuls on the back of 13 goals in as many games, they have a striker who has suddenly turned into a lethal weapon... Quinn said: 'Everyone wants success yesterday, but I've always had faith in my ability as I know what this league entails. You wait for the transfer window to open and because you're near the bottom, nobody wants to come to you and it takes time to get the way you want to play into the team and for people to believe in what you're doing. I had to do my homework and get people in that I knew were going to roll their sleeves up and have a go for you and I was lucky that Dan Gleeson and Dan Chillingworth had played for the club before and knew what it was about. I'm still getting used to the players and what makes them tick as individuals to get the best out of them.".

    Also looking over their shoulders are debt-ridden Crawley Town. The Argus reports that their "Caretaker boss Ben Judge has told Crawley not to rely on other teams to help them stay up... They have to play three of the teams below them away, starting with Saturday's trip to Northwich Victoria... He said: 'It is still so tight down there and we definitely cannot rely on other teams to do us any favours. We need another win to be certain I think and we have three away games in a row now to get it. With the way we have been playing away, we feel we are more than capable of doing that and more'. Reds have decided not to extend the loan deal of Brentford defender Darius Charles for a third month and have released winger Hassan Sulaiman".

    The Northants Evening Telegraph says that "Garry Hill has told Rushden & Diamonds to play with pride and not make excuses over the final two weeks of the season. His mid-table side suffered a second successive defeat last night after going down 3-1 at play-off contenders York City – despite taking an early lead. The Diamonds boss admitted: 'I'm not looking for excuses and I can't have any complaints with the scoreline... I was looking forward to half-time when out of the blue they equalised. We came in and it was very similar to Grays a couple of weeks ago as I honestly believed we could come through the first 10 to 15 minutes of the second half and get a result. But we gave away cheap goals and we got punished. The boys are working hard but at this level against teams in the top five you can't give them opportunities. We shot ourselves in the foot'".


    Sad news about our old Northern Premier League and Conference rivals comes from Scarborough Today. "The 128 year-old Scarborough Football Club is expected to fold within four to six weeks. Boro have been served with a winding-up order which effectively spells the end for the club although it will be allowed to complete its fixtures this season. Administrators now say there is no hope of a rescue and Boro's final game will be away to Hucknall Town on April 28. The administrators, Begbies Taylor [of Crawley Town fame], are already preparing to sell the McCain Stadium with the proceeds being used to pay off the club's debts which have risen to £2.1 million. A winding up petition will be presented to the High Court of Justice, Chancery Division, Leeds District Registry, possibly before the end of the week. A High Court judge will then set a date and a venue for the hearing of the petition to take place. The administrators expect the judge to grant the petition in four to six weeks which means the end for Boro. Boro chairman Ian Scobbie says he will continue to fight to find a solution, but the administrators say it is impossible for the club to survive. The administrators say the club collapsed because it was unable to meet the terms of the current creditors voluntary agreement (CVA) despite two extensions. Boro had hoped to escape their financial crisis by selling the McCain Stadium for housing and moving to a new ground on the outskirts of Eastfield. However, despite talks involving Persimmon Homes, Caddick Developments and Scarborough Council it has not been possible to cement a rescue package in time. Boro's final match at the McCain Stadium will be against Leigh RMI a week on Saturday".
    11 April 2007


    Wednesday 11th

  • Northwich V. 2 Dagenham & R. 0
  • League Table


    The Football Conference "have announced online betting company Blue Square as their new sponsors for the start of the 2007/2008 season. A three-year contract has been signed which will see the end of Nationwide's nine-year partnership with the three Conference leagues. The Conference will be known as Blue Square Premier from next season, while the Conference North and South will be known as the Blue Square Northern and Blue Square Southern.

    Football Conference chief Bill King told BBC: 'Our league is the gateway to the clubs in the professional structure in the UK and is an established part of the UK football scene. I'm delighted to be seeing a piece of non-league football history in the making and am extremely excited about what this partnership with Blue Square can achieve'".


    Altrincham Reserves play a Lancashire League match at Moss Lane tonight (Wednesday) against Bradford PA Reserves. Kick off is at 7.45pm and entry is free to season ticket holders and just £2 for others.


    Whoever held the winning ticket in Saturday's raffle for two free tickets to the Altrincham FC End of Season Ball has yet to claim his or her prize. The winning ticket was Green 676-680. To claim your prize, please contact the club (928-1045).


    As previously announced Altrincham FC is hoping to run a Go Goodwins coach trip to the FA Trophy Final on May 12th at the new Wembley Stadium. A few more participants are needed to make the trip viable at a return fare of £25. If you are interested, please contact the club (928-1045) or e-mail Grahame Rowley.


    Kent Online says that on Saturday, Gravesend "got off to the perfect start after just six minutes when Peter Hawkins' throw-in was helped on by Onome Sodje and Joal Ledgister was on hand to slip the ball under advancing keeper Richard Acton. The home side were given a let-off in the 28th minute when Gary Talbot was only shown a yellow card after tripping Sodje when the striker seemed to be through on goal. But Gravesend doubled their lead in the 58th minute when excellent work by Sodje ended with him cutting the ball back for Chukki Eribenne to score his first goal for the club".


    The UniBond League reports that "Bradford Park Avenue this week... announced the appointment of Benny Phillips as full time manager to take over from [ex-Alty duo] Phil Sharpe and Clive Freeman who will remain with the club. The Board made the decision to go with a full time manager in order to achieve their aims of progressing up the National League System and developing its ties with the local community but neither Sharpe or Freeman could commit to full time employment with the club due to their own business commitments".


    Tuesday 10th

  • York C. 3 Rushden & D.1

    The FA confirms that our opponents on 21 April, Tamworth, will have Ludovic Quistin "suspended from all football until the Club have completed 3 first team matches for a Sending Off in a match played on 09/04/2007". Tamworth boss Gary Mills "admits failing to beat relegated St Albans City on Monday has made survival tough for his own side... Mills admitted that his side lacked 'that little bit of quality' against the side at the bottom of the table... Bookings in the game hit double figures including two sendings off and while Mills would not comment on the performance of the man in the middle it is believed that Saints` manager Colin Lippatt will be writing to the FA about their nine-card haul. 'It was probably the worst we've played', Mills said after the game. 'The quality wasn't great. We know we needed to take three points today and the gap at the bottom has opened slightly because we didn't - we've fallen a little further behind - but we will go to Stevenage Borough next Saturday looking to cause an upset. There are still three games left [one against Alty} and as I have said previously, it could go all the way to the wire. I've been there before with Leicester City when results elsewhere went our way on the last day of the season and we stayed up but lots of the lads at this club have never been in this situation before and in the first half especially we looked worried about making a mistake'".. From the Tamworth Herald we read that on Monday "St Albans were relegated as Graeme Law's penalty earned Tamworth a 1-1 draw at The Lamb... The second half was a tense affair with Bastock again keeping out a Weaver header following another dangerous McGrath corner. But Tamworth drew level after 78 minutes... There was more drama as Marwa committed a second bookable offence and was sent off, before Tamworth substitute Ludovic Quistin was shown a direct red card for a challenge on Tom Davis."

    Not only Gary Mills (above) but two other Conference bosses have taken no notice of Football Conference supremo and ex-referee John Moules's recent attack on Alty boss Graham Heathcote for criticising referees. Firstly, Burton Mail reports. "Albion's play-off hopes are hanging by a thread after a costly second defeat of the Easter weekend... as relegation battlers Southport ran out controversial 3-1 winners at Haig Avenue. A hotly disputed Carl Baker penalty wiped out a half-time lead given Albion by Andy Ducros before they succumbed to further goals... Defender John Brayford was red carded after the final whistle for remarks made to referee Steve Cummins... Clough found himself counting the cost of what looked a harsh decision by Runcorn official Cummins to award a penalty against the recalled Lee Bell for a seemingly innocuous challenge. The Brewers boss said: 'We weren’t surprised with the decision at all from the official who was in charge. I didn’t see one Southport player appeal, and all three on their bench said straight away that it wasn’t a penalty. There are certain people who think they know more and better, and the referee in this game was one of them... We've had decisions like that go against us, or not for us, for the last eight-and-a-half months, so it wasn’t really a great a surprise... We’ve got a chance to win the next four, but we’ll have to do that without Jon Brayford, who for some reason finds it easier to talk and shout at a referee than he does a teammate.It’s backs against the wall stuff for us now. To win four games on the spin at this level is difficult at any time of the season, but especially so now. It’s unlikely to happen, but we’ll certainly give it a go'".

    But Mills's and Clough's criticisms are mild compared with Jim Harvey's at Forest Green Rovers as This is Glos reports. "Jim Harvey blasted referee James Linington for the red card which he felt turned a topsy-turvy encounter in Stevenage Borough's favour.Forest Green had led 3-1 at half-time, but were reduced to 10 men five minutes into the second period when Darren Jones was dismissed for two bookings in rapid succession. Stevenage went on to lead 4-3, and Rovers needed a spectacular 92nd minute equaliser from substitute Lee Dodgson to snatch a point. 'The referee changed the whole complexion of the game in the second half', said Harvey.'I'm not allowed to say anything about him but I do know there was a big rumpus in the changing rooms at half-time, with their (Stevenage) officials talking to him, and maybe they got through to him because some of the decisions in the second half were very poor. As a manager, if your team gets beaten, then you can live with it if they haven't been good enough. But I didn't think that was the case - I thought we were good enough, we had them run ragged in the first half, and then he (Linington) got involved and turned the whole game'. However, Harvey agreed with the official's decision to award Stevenage a 76th minute penalty when goalkeeper Ryan Harrison brought down Mitchell Cole. 'The keeper... was a little bit reckless', he said. 'We lost it for 20 minutes, and we maybe needed to stand up to the pressure a bit better and be more professional'".

    A press release has been issued by Northwich Vics, saying "You are all probably aware of the vicious rumours that have been circulating recently plus comments made on the un-official supporters' trust site stating that the Football Club is to be sold or that the Chairman, Mr. Connett would be liquidating the Club. I can confirm as Chief Executive and a member of the board alongside Mr. Connett, that the club is not for sale nor will it be put into liquidation. A full investigation with our Lawyers has been put into force to find out how these rumours have started. The individuals have been recognized and once the investigation has been concluded legal action will be taken. Our Lawyers are also dealing with the comments made on the un-offical Northwich Victoria website forum backed by the Supporter's [i.e Supporters', here and repeatedly below] Trust, which are false, defamatory, abusive, vulgar, hateful and invasive of individuals privacy which is a violation of the International and United States Federal Law.

    Northwich Victoria Football Club do not recognize the Supports [i.e Supporters'] Trust or the Supporters' Trust Board who do not have any connection with the Club. Their website is unofficial and illegally trading as an official representation of Northwich Victoria Football Club. However, we do recognize the recently set up Supporter's Club which is totally independent to [i.e. of] Northwich Victoria Football Club. I can also clarify, to settle any further rumours, myelf pports i.e. myself] and Mr. Connett are not involved in the Supporter's Club apart from recognizing the Supporter's Club as a true fan based operation and allowing the Supporter's Club to use the Stadium facilities. The Supporter's Club have their own bank account which has no connection to any businesses of Mr. Connett and Northwich Victoria Football Club nor do we have access to Supporter's Club funds.

    We are aware that there is a minority of negative support and we know that the positive, true supporters far out weigh this small group that are trying to destroy and damage the reputation of our football club and Mr. Connett. We would like to thank those fans who have stood by us, especially during these recent false accusations.

    The evidence of the Club and Stadium shows the huge investment and hard work put in personally by Mr. Connett his family and volunteers, and to have such rumours put out with the added personal attacks to Mr. Connett his family and the volunteers has caused great upset and unnecessary distress to all involved.

    When the Club went into administration, the only person willing to recover Northwich Victoria Football Club was Mr. Connett despite of the ten point deduction and the financial losses of the Club. Since the purchase Mr. Connett has delivered all that he promised and more. Starting with the build of the stadium worthy of required League standards, promotion back into the Conference and establishing the Club back into the Conference where we belong, playing at a Premiership Football Club at the 3rd round of the FA Cup, reached the semi-finals of the FA Trophy and achieving recognition from our peers including Premiership Manager Sir Alex Ferguson CBE.

    If Mr. Connett's intentions were to be short term, then why after all his hard work and commitment would he choose to sell the Club or even worse, liquidate.

    We have further exciting developments ahead of us with further investment from Mr. Connett including the all weather pitches, marina and hotel.

    Once again, I would like to dispel all the malicious rumours and reassure all of you that Mr. Connett and his family are here to stay and have every intention in pursuing the development of the ground to the benefit of this community and the generations to come.

    Liz Wolstenholme, Chief Executive".

    The Thurrock Gazette says that "Grays' manager Justin Edinburgh has leapt to the defence of club captain Stuart Thurgood. The midfielder, for so long a fans' favourite at the New Rec, has come in for criticism from the terraces and on the club's fans forum website. And when he missed a penalty in Monday's vital Conference relegation clash against Northwich, some of his critics became even more vociferous. However, Edinburgh, is staying supportive of his captain... He said: 'I am disappointed with the comments from some fans that have appeared on the forum in regards to our captain, Stuart Thurgood, Stuart has only just started into his season following a horrendous injury. Stuart is committed to keeping this team where they rightly belong and is doing his level best to ensure we stay up; all this criticism is counter productive'". Elsewhere, "Grays Athletic manager Justin Edinburgh praised his side's positive approach as they beat Northwich Victoria 1-0 to ease their relegation fears. 'We came out with a determination to win this game and should have had three in the first five minutes', he said. 'I'm very pleased. Not just with the fourth home win but in the manner in which we achieved it. We've tried to play and attacked a team that have won three on the bounce. The players gave their all'" reports the BBC.

    On the contrary, "Halifax boss Chris Wilder described his side's performance at Morecambe as unacceptable as they crashed to a 4-0 defeat to stay in relegation danger. Wilder told his club's website: 'We deserved to get beaten. It was totally unacceptable. There are a lot of players who have let themselves down'. Halifax's defeat was their 16th away from home and third in four games. He added: 'There are enough points and it's still in our hands. I've still got belief in my players'".

    "Cambridge assistant boss Steve Castle believes a minimum of four points [i.e. a total of 53] should secure Conference safety after their win over champions Dagenham. Cambridge's 4-2 win was their third in four games and puts them three points and three places above the drop zone. Castle told his club's website: 'I think if we can get something at Exeter on Saturday and then a win out of the next two games that should be enough. At our best we are arguably one of the best teams in this league'. Castle added: 'It's just unfortunate that the penny has dropped in early April'".

    The BBC also reports that "Boss Peter Davenport hopes Southport have not left their escape bid too late as they look to stay in the Conference. Port's 3-1 win over Burton on Monday was their third straight win but still leaves them four points off possible safety with just three games left. He told his club's website: 'We've still got a long way to go. The lads are running through brick walls for us. I just wish we'd done it six weeks ago. But we're still fighting and hope to take it to the wire'".

    Halifax Today says that Shaymen boss "Chris Wilder said some of his players had 'gone missing' in the battle to beat the drop. Defeat at Morecambe yesterday saw the Shaymen slip back into the bottom four... 'When things are going well - and they have on the whole - people are willing to accept responsibility and get on the ball', said Wilder. 'There are players on the missing list at the moment and the true test of a player is that they come to the fore when things are not going well for them and the club. I am not going to name names but there are a lot of players not doing enough consistently.The players have to realise that is not on and they have to do something about it. If they do not they won't be here, either because we won't get the results to keep us in this division or if we are their futures are on the line. Football is not all about the ups, it is about the downs, it is about character, it is about passion. The technical aspects and the tactics help, but it is what is under the shirt that really matters. The exception is Tom Kearney who was absolutely superb. He is leading from the front, unfortunately there are not many following him... Not a lot of things have changed from the last couple of seasons except that one or two have gone under when the heat has been turned up. That will decide whether they have a career in football because it is not all good times... I thought we turned it in in the last 15 minutes and that is not acceptable. It is in our hands and we have to affect the situation. We cannot rely on other results. Yet again we were undone by a rash challenge from an experienced player and a mistake in front of goal when the ball should have been cleared. In the second half we deserved to be beaten... the third goal was a gift and the fourth was an embarrassment. After Morecambe's second goal went in we were mentally weak and physically weak. I thought the last 15 minutes was too easy for Morecambe - men versus boys and I would feel as a player very very embarrassed. If they are not prepared to stand up and accept responsibility when things are not going well we are going to get punished and we were'".

    "Stafford Rangers find themselves back in 20th position following a 4-2 defeat at Aldershot Town.Despite twice equalising through Guy Madjo" says This is Staffs. Manager Phil Robinson said: "Aldershot are a full-time team and have a host of quality players... They have a lot of pace and a lot of energy - not the type of team you want to face so close after another game. I thought we found it a little bit difficult to last the pace. There are a lot of weary legs, a few injuries and niggles. That is what happens with a small squad". However, "Stafford changed their formation at the interval, with Neil Grayson replacing Reid, and started to keep the home side quieter than they were in the first half. However, as tired legs set in, Aldershot regained the lead in the 61st minute".

    From This is Weymouth we hear that "Weymouth player-boss Jason Tindall has been given assurances that he is part of the Nationwide Conference National outfit's plans for 2007-08. The 29-year-old was given the role until the end of the season in January after Garry Hill and his assistant Kevin Hales departed due to a cost-cutting exercise undertaken by the club's current owner Martyn Harrison. An announcement regarding the club's future is expected later this week and it appears the hotelier is still considering his position. Harrison released a Press statement yesterday in which he said: 'We are progressing discussions in more detail with a third party who have put before us a proposal which we believe will safeguard the long-term interests of all concerned. The board and I remain focused on delivering a solution that is in the best interests of Weymouth Football Club. At the same time, I will continue to consider my future role'... Tindall said: 'I have been told that everything has been sorted out and that I am part of the plans for next year, which I am delighted about because when I took the job I was always looking at the longer term. The uncertainty has been going on for a while now but these things take time. When you sell a car you can't expect to sell it the next day... There are a few players I have got my eye on for next season... People have got to realise that a lot of our young lads have never played at this level before. We have had a lot of games recently and for them to go out there week-in week-out and get results has been a big ask but since I took over all the players have been fantastic'".

    On Confguide reports that former Alty chairman "Bill King, [now] Chairman of the Football Conference, will be making a major sponsorship announcement at a press conference on Wednesday 11th April. The new deal, the biggest in non-league football history, will represent a new era for the Football Conference and provide unprecedented support for the 68 clubs within the Conference structure. Also available for comment at the Press Conference will be Paul Parker, the former Manchester United & England footballer... Paul has also managed Welling in the Conference South". Bizarrely Parker will be "available to talk on several football-related subjects, including: 'The Football Conference announcement and the standard of football in Non-League' [fair enough] and Man Utd and whether they can hold off Chelsea in the Premiership run-in The England team and their recent performances' [why?]".

    10 April 2007


    Above, Gary Talbot helps Ray Armstrong with distributing the prizes at the ballboys and girls' awards ceremony last season.

    Ray Armstrong has been the Altrincham FC Ballboys and Girls Co-ordinator for 35 seasons but he is passing on this role for next season to Mike Antrobus. The ballboys and girls are excellently organised and do a great job to keep the games flowing at Moss Lane as well as saving the club a fortune in retrieving balls kicked out of the ground by the players. So, Ray will be greatly missed in this role - though, as he explains below, he will still be a regular at Moss Lane for future seasons and he is leaving the team in excellent hands.

    On Saturday 28 April, there will be the annual awards ceremony for the Ballboys and Girls and details of the prizewinners will appear on the website at that time. In the meantime, Ray himself writes:


    I have now been the Ballboys and Girls Co-ordinator for the last 35 seasons.

    I now find things quite difficult from time to time with the asthma I suffer from and the condition I was born with, which is scoliosis, which is a curvature of the spine. This does not help me and it means that I now have restricted lung function. So, next season, I will be handing the Co-ordinator's responsibilities over to Mike Antrobus, who has been with the ballboys and girls for the last three seasons. I will still be seen around on most Saturday games, I hope, next season assisting Mike Antrobus.

    I have really enjoyed my time as the Ballboys' and Girls' Co-ordinator for Altrincham Football Club and I thank the Club for allowing me to run the Ballboys/Girls for this fantastic football club. I am sure Mike Antrobus will continue to keep the Altrincham FC ballboys and girls going strongly in the coming seasons.

    Thanks to you all at Altrincham Football Club, The Robins.

    Ray Armstrong.


    Details of the STAR supporters' coaches to Dagenham (Saturday, 14th) and to Tamworth (Saturday, 21st) are here. These matches could determine Altrincham's fate this season so please support the team and the supporters' coaches if you possibly can.


    Alty's last away game will be at Tamworth (21 April) where "Visitors will soon be welcomed by a brand new public landmark - the shell of a Reliant Robin, a pile of tyres and an old fridge" states the Tamworth Herald. "But while the borough council says the display is a celebration of the town's past and present achievements, one man has labelled it an 'eyesore'. 'It's lunacy', said a council employee who asked not to be named. 'I don't know why they want to rip out shrubs and replace them with that'. The unusual display, entitled 'a lifetime of waste' will be constructed on the traffic island at the bottom of Lichfield Street which leads to the town centre. It has been designed and created by the borough council's Street Scene team as part of Tamworth in Bloom and will be unveiled in the summer. The Reliant Robin is a symbol of Tamworth's most famous export and the recyclables - the fridge and the tyres - recognise the town's ever improving recycling rates. They will be tied together with an array of flowers... Councillor John Garner, cabinet member for environment and community, explained: 'Tamworth is a very historic town and we should celebrate it'".

    This is Weymouth says that "Weymouth officials are hoping to make an announcement concerning the club's future later this week. Terras' chairman Martyn Harrison has been talking to potential investors since January when he undertook a massive cost-cutting exercise to stop the Nationwide Conference National outfit from going under. Speaking to Echosport after Saturday's 1-1 home draw against Kidderminster Harriers, Weymouth chief executive Gary Calder said: 'We are hoping to make an announcement by the end of next week. Nothing has been finalised but something is very close to happening. I can't say any more than that'".

    From This is Staffs we read if Stafford Rangers' "defeat at the hands of fellow strugglers Crawley on Saturday. Like the cat that stole the cream, Crawley plundered the points when Steve Evans's seventh-minute shot took a wicked deflection off Rangers Richie Sutton. Teenager Richie Duggan, the keeper on loan from Stoke, was wrong-footed and the ball bobbled into the net. And Rangers simply could not redress the injustice. Midfielder Levi Reid and Guy Madjo were each just inches off target in the first half as Rangers attacked the end now boasting a new 1,700-seater stand... Perhaps Rangers missed the suspended Ged Murphy, because Reid, just back from injury, couldn't complete the 90 minutes and neither could full-back Nathan Talbott. Manager Phil Robinson said: 'We are confident we can pick up points if we continue in the same vein'".

    9 April 2007


    Second-best in the first half, an Altrincham side lacking five players (Coburn, Owen, Senior, Gary Scott and Stephen Rose) came back at the Fleet in the second half, especially after the substitutes came on, but despite creating five presentable chances, failed to score.

    Match report here.

    Right: Colin Little sees this early effort saved, before Gravesend opened the scoring.

  • League table
  • Alty player statistics
  • Alty line-ups and bookings

    Easter Monday

  • Aldershot T. 4 Stafford R. 2
  • ALTRINCHAM 0 Gravesend & N. 2
  • Cambridge U. 4 Dagenham & R. 2
  • Crawley T. 0 Exeter C. 3
  • Forest Green R. 4 Stevenage B. 4
  • Grays A. 1 Northwich V. 0
  • Kidderminster H. 0 Woking 1
  • Morecambe 4 Halifax T. 0
  • Oxford U. 4 Weymouth 1
  • Southport 3 Burton A. 1
  • Tamworth 1 St Albans C. 1 .


    The BBC reports that "Gravesend & Northfleet boss Liam Daish stayed positive despite seeing his side drop two points against Forest Green. The draw means Fleet are three points outside the play-offs but they have a game in hand over fifth-placed Exeter. Daish said: 'We wanted the three points but we've gone three games undefeated and you've got to give them credit. We pushed and probed but it never fell for us. The league is strong and you can see from their reaction they were well pleased with a point'".

    Alty are without the suspended Stephen Rose for the visit of Gravesend, whilst Val Owen and Chris Senior are certainly out injured. Gary Scott is also a serious injury doubt though he was on the bench on Saturday.


    Above: Colin Little has just completed his hat-trick at St Albans on Saturday. Colin is hidden behind Joe O'Neill, to the left of goal.

    In Sunday's NL Paper, Graham Heathcote said of Saturday's game at St Albans, "We went out today to play a real basic game and try not to overplay. We thought by turning their back four we would get chances and by getting throw-ins in the last third, with the throw-in we have got, it is like a corner, we would be successful. That basic game proved to be the right one for today. Four wins on the bounce, away at this stage is great".

    MeanwhileSt Albans City have apparently already accepted relegation. Manager "Colin Lippiatt was caught between the devil and the deep blue sea following Saturday's heavy defeat to a resurgent Altrincham. The City manager was encouraged by some of his side's football but was not best pleased by the failure to deal with the direct approach adopted by the visitors... 'In real terms of possession I thought we were excellent, we scored a great goal, one of the best I've seen for a long time. But if you can't deal with long throw-ins and the second ball then you have problems, I can't really recall them creating anything other than that. Thornley executed the fifth goal well but, to be frank and this is not making excuses, we were down to ten men, [Elphick was off injured and all three subs had been used], and we were finished really. [What] you could see it in our body language and our mindset was that we are going to accept what is going to be inevitable in the end. But I am not going to knock our performance, it looks on paper as if it is a stuffing, but I don't see it that way. What I do see is 84 goals conceded in 42 league games represents two per game that isn't good enough. So, at the end of the day, I have just said to the players they have not been good enough over 42 league games and we have not been good enough to stay in this league. That's the way it is... They were disappointing goals from our point of view because, as far as I am concerned, they were not constructed goals. They were very direct at re-starts and we never dealt with them, that was our downfall. We had opportunities to get back into the game and we have missed a penalty as well'... Throughout the match passes went astray and players struggled to kill the ball first time, this was due, in no small part, to a dry pitch and surface that is a good deal more uneven that it appears from the terraces.. 'It proved to me today that the team is not good enough from August until now to stay in this league and the stats, for the goals against, is horrendous for this level'", added the manager. Meanwhile Graham Heathcote admitted that "In the second half we just said, well, they've got to break us down for three goals. The scoreline does matter in terms of goal difference but it was just about getting a result, that was our fourth away win on the trot and we've just got to get another win under our belts. It wasn't a classic for the fans but I am not sure how many classics you will see at this time of the season anyway. We finished quite clinically but to be fair to Bastock the first one took a wicked bounce that slowed it up and looped it over him".


    Altrincham Reserves are at home at Moss Lane in the Lancashire League this Wednesday to Bradford PA Reserves, k.o. 7.45pm.


    Alty are away at Dagenham next Saturday. The Daggers' chairman Dave Andrews... told BBC Sport: "The club is pretty much debt free. We don't have any sugar-daddies and we have to be self-sufficient. But the ground is almost ready - and we should make around £400,000 by going up" . The BBC adss that "Most of the work upgrading Dagenham's Victoria Road ground so it was suitable for Football League status was carried out in 2002. Under previous manager Garry Hill, the club missed out on promotion by goal difference in 2002 and by a golden goal in the 2003 play-off final. 'We were ready then. When Garry got us to the top we put everything in - crash barriers, toilets - the lot - and we did not make it. But it is all there - and it has paid off now because the ground is more or less ready. We have got a police box and CCTV going in and two more years to put in another 1,000 seats. The council has been really helpful and everything is going smoothly at the moment... I will start talking to John Still [manager] as soon as this season ends. We won't be looking for wholesale changes but that is John's domain, not mine... John brought some youngsters in when Garry left in 2004 and they have been together three years now. In all the years I have been in football I have never seen team spirit like it. They are mates, comrades - it is like one big happy family here".

    Another club apparently upgrading its ground is Stafford Rangers who announce that they "celebrated the opening of the two new stands but visitors Crawley Town spoilt the party by recording a 1-0 win... Phil Robinson was left frustrated with the outcome. He said: '“We were beaten by a deflected goal. The pleasing thing for me was that the players kept going forward and trying to score. We had a real go at trying to win the game. I am confident we can pick up points. There are exciting games ahead and we are ready for them', added the manager who confirmed that goalkeeper Dean Williams had left the club".

    Stevenage Borough report on the FA Trophy Final. "The FA have confirmed that a meeting between all parties will take place on Tuesday 10 April at Wembley. Chairman Phil Wallace said ''We're still unclear over ticket prices and allocations and hopefully these will be cleared up on Tuesday. Prices are set by the FA and it seems there will be one price for viewing from the sides and a cheaper price behind the goals. We also believe there will be one price for Under 16s and disabled and another price for everyone else, but we're still waiting for confirmation on that too. However, the most important point we've heard is that the FA may want to control the sale of tickets from their online website, rather than the clubs selling them all, as they are expecting close to the capacity 80,000 crowd that I believe has been set. If that's the case, then we will probably be given a one-off allocation, smaller than we would like and this makes it even more important that fans get to our ground when we expect to sell tickets to the public on Sunday 22 April. The Club expect to issue a further statement concerning ticket and sales information on Wednesday 11 April".

    8 April 2007


    Alty defeated St Albans City 5-1 yesterday...

    Match report here.

    There is more on this match below...


    Under the Altrincham FC Featured Club scheme there will be two local junior football clubs watching tomorrow's match against Gravesend and Northfleet as gust of Altrincham FC. They are Ashton on Mersey JFC from the Timperley & District JF League and Hale United from the Stockport League. South Manchester JFC will be joining us for the final home match of the season on Saturday April 28th.

    Ashton on Mersey JFC were founded 10 years ago and now cater for over 200 youngsters. In February this year Sir Alex Ferguson opened their new £675,400 clubhouse and changing facilities. Hale United play in the Stockport Metro Junior Football League and the club has more than 150 registered players, aged from 4 to 15 years. We hope that they enjoy their visit.


    Robins' supporters who only see their team's home games miss a lot of enjoyment on the road with Altrincham FC. Yesterday, Altrincham fans had an enjoyable day travelling down to St Albans, where they were met by bright sunshine and a friendly club. And STAR travel coordinator Tom Jacobs gave his travellers a pleasant surprise by announcing a reduction in the advertised coach fare as the vehicle was virtually full. Unlike the sometimes featureless modern stadiums to which Conference clubs are increasingly moving, St Albans's Clarence Park ground has plenty of character. Afer a short walk through the park, away supporters enter the stadium via an open-air turnstile attached to a well cared-for wooden hut (see picture). Inside the ground, the two ends are both open to the elements which, on a sunny day like yesterday, was a bonus.

    The main stand is a long wooden construction whilst the opposite side of the pitch is a half-covered terrace. The clubhouse is behind the main stand and has a modern bar, SkySports TV and excellent views on the busy main line railway to London. The pitch itself slopes towards the away end where, before the game, there was a nice touch from the St Albans staff. They came and spoke to Alty fans and asked them which teams' scores they would like to hear at half time in addition to those of the Conference clubs. Macclesfield Town was an obvious choice for the travelling Robins. The tannoy then also named several Alty fans in its welcome to St Albans. Although for Alty it was great day out, with their 5-1 win being their first five-goal haul away from home in the Conference since a trip to Merthyr in September 1994 it was a pity to think that we might not be coming back here next season as St Albans are deep in relegation trouble and we are not yet entirely safe, either.

    Another facility not found at other Conference grounds was the ice cream van parked outside the ground, which was rather incongruously branded as "Ulster Maid". After the game, several of the Alty travelling fans sampled its wares (see picture) before boarding the Go Goodwins coach, hired from chairman Geoff Goodwin's company, for the journey home.

    Two Alty fans wished they had used the coach in both directions yesterday; they set off by private car only to break down whilst still in Cheshire, near Crewe. Undeterred, they hired a taxi for £218 to get them to St Albans, before taking the only two spare seats on the coach for the return trip!

    If you fancy joining Alty on the road, there are two more opportunities this season. On Saturday next we make our last trip for a while to Dagenham and Redbridge, who clinched promotion to the League yesterday. Though the Daggers have beaten Alty 5-0 two years running at Moss Lane, it was a different story last season at the Glyn Hopkin Stadium at Dagenham where Alty won 4-2. Full details of the STAR coach to Dagenham are here.


    In today's NL Paper, Conference supremo and ex-referee, John Moules condemns Alty boss Graham Heathcote and Stevenage's Mark Stimson for their recent criticism of referees. Moules said, "It is now time to try and repair some of the relationships between referees and club managers". Moules added, "I was disappointed to read Graham Heathcote's post-match comments in the NLP last week. where he laid into referee Ollie Langford for awarding the penalty that saw Exeter win at Altrincham. Heathcote said the result doesn't matter to the officials and that the standard of refereeing in the Conference is poor. I strongly disagree with both statements.... It really galls me when managers highlight one decision to heap criticism upon... We would have a much healthier and productive situation if managers were as quick to praise referees as they are to lambast them... Graham's comments were based on just one decision and every time a comment like this is made, around 50 up and coming refs quit the game... We've reviewed the decision that Graham was upset about and it was clearly a penalty.There can be no argument about it... I am the chairman of the referees' committee in Kent and a county training officer, I know exactly how monitored each referee is". As for Conference referees, "Last season and this season, I believe the standard has risen dramatically".


    Tamworth secretary Russell Moore "has accused the FA of double standards after The Lambs were refused international clearance to play striker Justin Jackson". Moore told the NL Paper, "The rules are utterly ridiculous. It's an absolute nightmare. The FA admitted to me that the whole area is a minefield. There is one rule for one club and one rule for another, consistency has gone out of the window. What happened to Altrincham [who were docked 18 points last season] was absolutely disgusting and then to go and let AFC Wimbledon off, they're just rubbing their noses in it". The failure to sign Jackson is "frustrating becasue we want to play him... I'm not going to launch an appeal at this stage of the season. It's not worth the time, effort or money. But the rules and regulations are wrong and something must be done before it happens next season... just because certain clubs have a certain status they seem to get away with it. The FA doesn't favour anyone north of the Watford Gap".

    Meanwhile Ryman League chairman Alan Turvey is still baffled by the FA decision about AFC Wimbledon. "We don't know how they came up with three points" for a deduction instead of the 18 demanded by the rules. "We need to know where we stand in the future. We can't understand how we can be told we've done everything right and then our decision can be so dramatically overturned".


    After the points deduction applied against Altrincham it was only the enforced relegation of Scarborough by the Conference which saved Altrincham themselves from relegation last summer. It is now with sadness that we learn from the BBC that "Scarborough are likely to be wound up at the end of the season - unless a deal saves them from closure. The Conference North club have debts of over £2m and administrators are petitioning to force the club to close. Boro face a compulsory winding-up order because their voluntary agreement with creditors appears to have failed. The club's directors say they will fulfil this season's commitments but Boro will not take part in competitive football in the 2007/08 season. Administrators Begbies Traynor [the firm so successfully handling the Crawley saga] will force the closure unless there is a valid appeal in the next 14 days. The club's chairman, Ian Scobie, met with the administrators this week... It is thought a request from the club to extend their credit agreement was refused by creditors. Boro had planned to sell their McCain Stadium ground for about £4m which would have enabled them to clear their debts and build a new stadium on the outskirts of Scarborough. But it appears time has almost run out for the former Football League club who played Chelsea just three seasons ago in the FA Cup fourth round. Scarborough lost their League status in 1999 when they were relegated with the last kick of the season. They were expelled from the Conference last season after going into administration for a third time and placed in Conference North with a 10-point deduction this season. The club are facing relegation to the UniBond League because they are currently third-bottom of Conference North with just five games remaining".

    Last week The Guardian's David Conn had an excellent piece on the Yorkshire club. He wrote "This season's football club in crisis has not been West Ham, or Charlton, and certainly not Chelsea, but the club Roman Abramovich's millionaires played in the FA Cup just over three years ago. Since losing 1-0 to a John Terry goal in January 2004, Scarborough have never clambered into solvency. Last season the club, which has debts of over £2m, was compulsorily relegated from the Conference, and started this season in Conference North with 10 points deducted. They then failed to pay several players and, just three days into the season, the FA and Conference imposed an embargo, barring Scarborough from signing any more players until all outstanding wages were settled. They have battled this season, using a squad of only 15 players, including just one goalkeeper, Mark Wilberforce, and six teenagers signed from last season's youth team, but following Saturday's 3-1 defeat at Gainsborough, they still lie second bottom of the table. The manager, Mark Patterson, says they need three wins to escape dropping into the UniBond League, but even if they achieve it, Scarborough could be forcibly relegated again if they fail to pay off their Corporate Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) by the end of the season.

    'We need to promote solvency and good management at our clubs' insists Conference chief executive John Moules - not, it would be fair to say, the most popular man in East Yorkshire. 'According to our rules, if Scarborough are still in an insolvency procedure by the end of the season, they can be expelled'". The current chairman, Ian Scobbie, plans to escape such a fate by selling the McCain Stadium for housing or retail, building a new stadium on a business park a mile away, and paying off the club's longstanding creditors - who include HSBC Bank and the Inland Revenue - with the difference. For now he has imposed the division's highest entry price - £12- £14 in the Main Stand - and made cuts harsh enough to include running with no full-time staff and even sacking the central heating. Derek Megginson, a former languages teacher acting unpaid as the club secretary, works with his coat on.

    'It's a strange situation', Scobbie said. 'We're on the threshold of a major development, while at the same time worrying about paying the water bill'... The Seadogs sailed 12 seasons in the Football League, then were relegated only on the last day of the 1998-99 campaign when Carlisle United were saved by goalkeeper Jimmy Glass's injury-time winner against Plymouth. They have never recovered. In the Conference, losses and debts piled up; the chairman, John Russell, and his wife Gillian, who held the shares, resigned as directors and the club went into a CVA in August 2000. They came out of it in September 2001, and two months later Malcolm Reynolds, a local businessman, took over 52% of Scarborough's shares with an accountant, Philip Webster, who had previously been a Hull City director during a period of financial turmoil at that club. In January 2003, Webster was sentenced to 3½ years in prison for conspiring to cheat the Inland Revenue when he advised clients on the sale of a Hull night club, then he had his conviction quashed on appeal. Reynolds invested heavily as he tried to steer Scarborough around, but the losses mounted and the Inland Revenue pursued a winding-up petition for £289,000 tax owed, and the club went into administration in January 2003. Last year, both Reynolds and Webster were disqualified from acting as directors of any company for five years after admitting the club had been insolvent when they joined the board, but that they continued to trade, 'at an unreasonable risk to creditors'. Both are still officially registered as directors at Companies House, but Webster is no longer involved, whereas Reynolds continues to work behind the scenes.

    Scobbie says the debts awaiting repayment under the latest CVA are above £2m, which will be paid out of the ground sale. Last May the club came out of its CVA briefly to vary its terms, then approved another in June; the football authorities considered it a new insolvency procedure, imposing their relegation and points deduction as a result. Many Scarborough fans nourish a belief that the Conference has it in for the club, but Scobbie himself accepts the transfer embargo, maintained all season, is justified. The club paid the players up in February, but still owes former managers Nick Henry and Neil Redfearn, and Redfearn's assistant Eric Winstanley, for their time in charge. Scobbie enthuses about the plans to sell the ground, which he says are advanced, pointing to the opportunities to earn at the new stadium from a lorry park and five-a-side centre, as well as links to a local sports college. Moules, though, cautioned that the plans have to add up, otherwise the club is "selling the crown jewels," principally to pay off debts run up over years of living beyond its means".

    Meanwhile, the long-suffering creditors of Crawley Town have the pleasure of continuing to have a Conference National club in their Sussex town.


    Monday's visitors to Moss Lane, Gravesend and Northfleet expect to have leading scorer Charlie McDonald back after he missed Saturday's home draw with FGR with a groin strain. Ross Smith had to go off at half-time with a suspected broken nose whilst team-mate Mark Debolla had to go off after 22 minutes with a hamstring problem. The BBC reports that "Gravesend's play-off hopes were dealt a blow when they were held by Rovers who were happy to collect a useful point. The hosts took the lead on 25 minutes... Rovers soon levelled when Paul Stonehouse's cross found Danny Bertram who slotted home from close range... Gravesend: Cronin, Hawkins, Ross Smith (Coleman 46), McCarthy, Opinel, Keeling, DeBolla (Slatter 22), Quinn, Long, Eribenne (Moore 83), Sodje. Subs Not Used: Mott, James Smith".


    The NL Daily says that "Dagenham & Redbridge were promoted to the Football League for the first time ever after victory over Aldershot Town on Saturday... Paul Benson and David Rainford were both on target at the Glyn Hopkin Stadium as the Daggers, now sixteen points clear, clinched the championship. Benson, the division's top scorer, put them on the way with his twenty-sixth goal of the season after 12 minutes and a Rainford penalty settled the game".


    In the NL Paper's "Dream Team" selected by Droylsden's Steve Halford are ex-Alty men Mark Sertori and Lutel James. Of James, Halford says "He's currently living off the mega-bucks he earned at Altrincham and Bury! I think he's living in Leeds and, Lutel being Lutel, has his fingers in a few Yorkshire pies". He adds, "He's a bag of tricks and one that'll score you 20 goals a season from midfeld". For Alty, James never scored but only started three games and was a used sub once.

    Terry Bowker was sent off for Buxton on Good Friday whilst Steve Torpey scored for Halifax Town yesterday. Goalkeeper Ryan McMahon is still playing for Prescot Cables whilst former reserve Tom Baker netted for Ashton United. A brave Goole player was sent off yesterday for punching George Melling!

    7 April 2007


    Congratulations to Dagenham and Redbridge who secured the Conference title and promotion to League Two this afternoon. Alty travel to Dagenham next Saturday.


    A pulsating start to the game saw four goals in 20 minutes, three of them to Alty but with the visitors 4-1 up by the interval the second half was a non-event apart from Coburn's penalty save and a stupendous fifth Alty goal from Thornley. Colin Little hit a hat-trick.

    Match report here.

    The Alty supporters celebrate after Colin Little has netted Alty's second goal at St Albans.

    ... and after Alty's third goal, too.

    Colin Little's hat-trick today was Altrincham's first in the league since 28 March 2005, when Colin hit three against Hinckley United at Moss Lane in the Nationwide North in a 4-1 win. Before that, the last league hat-trick was Rod Thornley's against Gateshead on 26 August 2002. The last away hat-trick appears to be Lee Poland's at Lancaster City in the FAC1R on 27 November 2001.Two weeks earlier, Poland hit four in an 8-1 win at Woodley Sports in the CSC

    The St Albans City website reports: "Colin Little became the first opposition player for more than two years to strike a league hat trick against St Albans City on Saturday when his first half treble paved the way for Altrincham to chalk up a fourth successive away Conference National victory. Alty's win at a sun-kissed Clarence Park increases their hopes of ensuring a part time club lives to fight for another season at the top level of the non-league game but St Albans City are now, in all likelihood, just 90 minutes away from returning to Conference South. Altrincham's finishing was magnificently clinical with five of their seven on-target shots finding the target; Robert Lawton and Roderick Thornley completing the rout, while Leon Archer netted for the Saints".

    Right: Chris Senior - out of action.

    Saturday, 7 April:

  • Burton A. 1 York C. 2
  • Dagenham & R. 2 Aldershot T. 1
  • Exeter C. 1 Tamworth 0
  • Gravesend & N. 1 Forest Green R. 1
  • Halifax T. 1 Cambridge U. 0
  • Northwich V. 1 Oxford U. 0
  • Rushden & D. 2 Southport 3
  • St Albans C. 1 ALTRINCHAM 5
  • Stafford R. 0 Crawley T. 1
  • Stevenage B. 3 Morecambe 3
  • Weymouth 1 Kidderminster H. 1
  • Woking 1 Grays A. 0


    Mathematically, only the Conference's top seven sides in the table are safe from relegation before kick off today and Graham Heathcote told SAM that "his side have a 'massive' weekend ahead of them as they prepare for two games that could make or break their season. Alty travel to bottom side St Albans tomorrow before taking on Gravesend at Moss Lane on Bank Holiday Monday... 'St Albans are battling for their lives now because nobody there wants the next game to be the one that sends them down. They might be bottom of the league but they are not a poor side, they are just not quite strong enough for this league. It's impossible to call at the bottom of the league right now because every team seems to be beating one another. But this weekend is massive and we will come out of it with a clear picture of the five or six teams who will be in the relegation fight until the end'. The Robins have been boosted by the news that Steve Bushell should be fit to start on Saturday after going off at half time in last week's 2-1 defeat to Exeter. There is also bad news on the injury front, however. In-form striker Chris Senior could miss the rest of the season after damaging ankle ligaments during the Exeter game. He will likely be out for three to four weeks. Both Val Owen and Gary Scott will also be missing. The pair went off injured during the 2-1 win at Weymouth on March 10 and are still at least a week away from full fitness".

    As for our opponents, the BBC says that "Chris Watters is a major doubt for St Albans with a hamstring injury. Colin Lippiatt's side could be relegated on Monday if they lose one of their Easter games and other results go against them". The local paper, the St Albans Observer adds that Saints' manager "Colin Lippiatt will meet with chairman John Gibson later this month to discuss his future. The manager had previously told the St Albans Observer that he would extend his stay at Clarence Park by a further season, but the City boss seemed reluctant to nail his colours to the mast when quizzed on the issue on Wednesday. 'I will meet with John between the Oxford game (April 14) and the Gravesend game (April 21)', revealed Lippiatt. 'By April 28 everyone will know what the situation is. I get on well with John and I have requested the meeting in the same way I could at the end of every season. Whether or not we had stayed in this league, and that seems unlikely now, we need to have this meeting to talk about the progression of the club. Questions need to be asked, like which players are going to be on contract and what the budget is going to be for next season'. Asked if he had made his mind up regardless of the outcome of the meeting, Lippiatt replied: 'No comment'".


    Bradford PA Reserves have been ordered to play their game against Altrincham Reserves, which was postponed at their request last week, next Wednesday (11th) at Moss Lane at 7.45pm.


    The planned charity game at Moss Lane on 30 April in aid of Christie Hospital has been deferred till pre-season of 2007-08. This game will be a return fixture of that held last summer against Holdsworth FC, from Reddish which was noteworthy for a cracking goal from Alty chairman Geoff Goodwin, who is keen to repeat the act in the return match!


    Those professing to be supporters of football clubs from the world of the media, politics and entertainment are often only seen at their respective clubs when there is a free ticket going to a high-profile match which gives them some self-publicity but one rising star in the world of British comedy who truly is an Altrincham fan is Laurence Howarth. Though based in the south of England, Laurence attends most of Alty's away games south of the Midlands as a paying spectator on the terraces. As the Manchester Evening News reported last night, Laurence, who has already won the British Comedy Award and a Sony Gold Award for his work as a head writer for the radio comedy series "Dead Ringers", is appearing in Manchester next week in his other role as a stand-up comedian. He is a half of the "Laurence and Gus" comedy duo (seen right, Laurence is the left of the two) and will be performing 'Next in Line' at the Royal Exchange. That is a show they performed successfully at last year's Edinburgh Fringe. Laurence's father, Nigel, is very well known at Moss Lane, where he watches all of the home games from the main stand. For more on Laurence, see the Laurence and Gus website. Laurence is currently writing a new Radio 4 "sports comedy" called 'Look away now' for the recording of which free tickets are available via a link on the above site.


    From This is Staffs we learn that former Altrincham "Midfielder Ged Murphy has been banned for two matches and will miss both of Stafford Rangers' Easter games - against Crawley at Marston Road tomorrow and at Aldershot on Monday.Murphy collected his 10th booking of the season at Southport last Saturday to incur the penalty. Manager Phil Robinson said: 'To a small squad like ours, it is a big loss. With all these games coming up we need everybody'. Robinson is hoping that former Vale midfielder Levi Reid will have recovered from a groin strain... Several other players, including skipper Wayne Daniel and full back Nathan Talbott have been receiving treatment for ongoing niggling injuries, but should make it".

    The Northwich Guardian reports that Vics' chairman "Mike Connett will address fans through a statement in tomorrow's matchday programme. A copy was read out to those present at last night's official supporters' club meeting, although none were distributed. 'We would like to reassure you Mike Connett and his family are here to stay', it read. 'If the chairman's intentions were short term, then why after all this hard work would he choose to sell the club?'. The Guardian has seen the statement, in which Connett and chief executive Liz Wolstenholme discuss a number of topics, inluding Northwich Victoria Supporters' Trust and the new supporters' club. Once more they squashed rumours the club would be sold or liquidated in the summer. Connett also told the Guardian yesterday, Thursday, that it was unlikely he would now meet with the trust, as reported in this week's paper. 'Northwich Victoria Football Club does not recognise the trust or its board," continued the statement. They don't have any connection with the club'".

    At Oxford, This is United says that "The man who could eventually replace Jim Smith as Oxford United manager stepped up to the plate yesterday after a dramatic backroom reshuffle. Darren Patterson was appointed Smith's first-team coach as the club dispensed with the services of Andy Awford and reserve team coach Shaun North. There is no suggestion that 66-year-old Smith is ready to move on yet, but many fans feel former Northern Ireland international Patterson would be the perfect successor... Patterson, who was briefly manager last season, for three games following the sacking of Brian Talbot and before the Nick Merry/Jim Smith takeover... [has] guided United's youth team to the Puma Youth Alliance South West Conference title. One of the main reasons for dispensing with Awford and North, who were brought to Oxford United by Smith from former club Portsmouth last year, is that the club will not be running a reserve team next year. Instead, the reserves will play friendlies at times, and against opposition, which suits them better for developing their own players... 'I'm very excited', Patterson said. 'I'm very disappointed for Shaun and Andy, both good lads, but in football things happen, things change'... Director Kelvin Thomas said: 'Basically we're now in the process of planning for next year, and those plans don't include Andy and Shaun'".

    Halifax's Shaymen Online states that "The supporters of the Shaymen seem to be stuck in no man's land with the uncertainty over the takeover ever increasing. Since the public meeting at Jumping Jaks on March 26th, there has been little new information made available to the loyal diehards... On one side of no mans land is Geoff Ralph, who remains a director of the club and major shareholder following his resignation as chairman. He has agreed to sell his shares to the interested group of businessmen who stand opposite the former chairman... A sum of around £10k has been raised towards the supposed target of £40,000 set by the consortium. Fundraising however has been surprisingly quiet with little coordinated by the supporters' groups. It does leave you wondering just how serious the figure set by the three businessmen looking to come in was. Maybe they were just after a token gesture?".

    6 April 2007


    Whilst certain other clubs show contempt for their creditors, "Altrincham could be debt free within a matter of months after their historic Inland Revenue debt was finally paid off last week" reports the Sale & Altrincham Messenger. "The club made their final payment four months ahead of the agreed schedule and are now looking forward to getting things back onto a completely even keel. Now the only outstanding debts are directors' loans owed to former board members and they too will be paid off when the club receives its share of the money generated by Trafford Council's sale of the land behind Moss Lane's Hale End. Considering the club were on the verge of bankruptcy just five years ago, club secretary Derek Wilshaw believes it is a remarkable achievement. 'Paying off both the VAT debt and the Inland Revenue debt has taken five years' hard work from everybody involved with the club', he told SAM Sport. 'We're ahead of schedule in financial terms as well as playing terms now and that's credit not only to the directors, who have done a remarkable job, but also to the supporters, who have helped organise a number of fundraising events. For the fourth year running we have made a profit. It's only small but it's better to be in the black than in the red. We could have taken the easy route and taken a Creditors' Voluntary Agreement (CVA) or gone into administration but we wanted to do things the honourable way. It's been hard work but at least we can look people in the face. It just proves what can be done if a club sets its stall out properly and lives within its means'".


    "Any St Albans City supporters present for last Saturday's bewildering defeat at Aldershot Town must have been fearful of their side throwing in the towel for the remaining six Nationwide Conference games of the season" states the Saints' website. "St Albans off. Manager Colin Lippiatt was equally concerned by the abject display at the Recreation Ground and was determined that the side would respond positively with Tuesday's visit to Clarence Park by promotion hopefuls Morecambe. Despite being on the end of another reversal it looked a decent performance from the terraces, but did the manager believe he got what he was looking for? 'Yes, I think we got it, not just the management and the players but also the loyal supporters of the club who actually went to Aldershot on Saturday and saw a woeful performance. Tonight I was pleased with the work ethic of my team... Draws are no good to us, as I've said before, we need to be winning games and now we've put ourselves in a position where we've got to try to win five games on the trot. It is not impossible, it can happen and we have to remain positive. It is no good walking around with your head down moping and whingeing, at the end of the day we've got to keep our heads up. We have to come down here on Saturday - and at the all the remaining games - and show a positive attitude and a professional maturity about our play that we haven't just thrown the towel in, because that is not acceptable'... Colin has not been afraid to ‘rest' the players who have been an almost permanent fixture in the side over the past couple of years, as Lee Clark and Matt Hann have discovered. On Tuesday it was the turn of England trialist Tom Davis to find himself on the bench for the first time this season. 'I left Tom Davis out, I think he's had a little bit of a stale period, in my personal view, and I thought Guy [Lopez] and Ram [Marwa] did very well in there [in midfield], they worked hard. But there are some other changes that I've put in place, it didn't come off for us but certainly the performance was decent'... Colin is now facing a player shortage for the holiday weekend fixtures against Altrincham (home on Saturday) and Tamworth (away on Monday). Four players picked up injuries of varying degrees. 'I think Gary Elphick [hamstring] should be ok, I think we have definitely lost Chris Watters [hamstring], Guy Lopez had cramp when his calf tightened up and I am hoping Ram will be OK. Failing any of those what we will have to do is bring in Nick Roddis to sit on the bench because that is all we've got left. We must go out fighting, we must put on a performance we are happy with'... Morecambe manager Sammy McIlroy [said of St Albans] 'They put us under pressure with the long ball but we dealt with everything quite comfortably'".


    Right: Peter Band battles against Exeter last Saturday. Gavin Rathbone's photo and more images of the Exeter game and of other Alty games are on the GR Photography website.


    The Altrincham Youth team fixtures have been changed again, which means that there is now no game this Sunday. For details, see the Youth Page.


    Kent Online says that "Gravesend boss Liam Daish is keen for his side to push on over the Easter weekend after their 2-0 win over Halifax in midweek. Fleet face a home match against Forest Green Rovers on Saturday before travelling to Altrincham on Monday and Daish knows one slip-up could end Gravesend's play-off hopes. Daish said: 'They are both games we can win. I don’t think anyone can afford to slip up'. Midfielder Danny Slatter (foot) and defender James Smith (ankle) are both expected to be available".


    The Sale & Altrincham Messenger asks, "Whatever happened to a level playing field? It's supposed to be the beauty of our fair game, that no matter where you're playing - in the park or the Premiership - everyone is treated the same... But it appears the game is not as beautiful as we first thought. When Altrincham brought in a player, James Robinson, last season from Accrington Stanley, they did so in good faith that he had been properly registered. It later emerged that the relevant international clearance had not, in fact, been obtained for him [before he joined Alty] after he had spent a short spell in Iceland. Alty were slapped with an 18-point deduction and a £1,000 fine for fielding an ineligible player according to league rules and when they appealed to the FA claiming mitigating circumstances it was turned down because, they were told, rules are rules. 'The appeal board 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'. But it seems that isn't exactly the case. When an administrative error saw Ryman League side AFC Wimbledon slapped with an identical 18-point deduction and a £400 fine, also for fielding an ineligible player, it seemed they would suffer the same fate as the Robins. Yet when they appealed to the FA last week, their penalty was reduced to just three points, rubbishing any suggestion that football's governing body could not interfere with individual leagues' rules... So why were Altrincham informed that mitigating circumstances could not be taken into account? Perhaps Ryman League rules are less rigid than those governing the Conference. But not even that seems to be true, since the Ryman League have themselves expressed their disappointment over the FA's decision... Surely the fact that Altrincham brought in Robinson in good faith is an unusual' circumstance. Do they not deserve to be treated the same as AFC Wimbledon? 'It seems that it's not what you know, it's who you know - Tony Blair stood up in support of them and then they get a reduction in their punishment', said Alty chairman Geoff Goodwin. 'I was told rules are rules, so if they are, why are there two sets of them? We wasted £7,000 of the club's money - money we could barely afford - to be insulted like this. I'm angry and heartbroken because Altrincham FC will always have a slur on their name. I don't wish anything bad on AFC Wimbledon, it's not about them, it's about the FA.'. SAM is calling on its readers to show their support for the club and sign our petition to have the 18 points deducted from last season's record fully reinstated. Graham Heathcote's part time side deserve credit for surviving in the Conference on a shoestring budget and only when the record books show their full points total will they get that credit". Click here to sign the petition.


    An unusual source for this site is that of the NHS which reports on "Mike Farrar CBE, Chief Executive. Mike Farrar was appointed as chief executive of NHS North West, the new strategic health authority for the north west of England in May 2006. Previous to this he had been chief executive of West Yorkshire SHA and of South Yorkshire SHA before that. Other previous posts include chief executive of Tees Health Authority and Head of Primary Care at the Department of Health... He is also a board member of Sport England which is an organisation committed to creating opportunities for people to start in sport, stay in sport and succeed in sport. Prior to working in the NHS, Mike worked for Grand Metropolitan UK Ltd and pursued early sporting aspirations, playing cricket for Lancashire’s second eleven and semi-professional football for Altrincham and Rochdale". Mike was one of Gerry Quinn's signings for Altrincham from Emley in 1992/93.


    Graham Heathcote escaped the curse of Manager of the Month for March but striker Chris Senior suffered the consequences of nomination for Player of The Month when he got injured last time out. The Football Conference says that ""The following players have been nominated for the Player of the month award for March... Cambridge United's Robbie Simpson has played a vital role in his club's recent turnaround in form... Chris Senior has been a regular contributor in Altrincham's bid to stay out of the drop zone in March... Taiwo Atieno is currently Tamworth's top scorer after bagging three more goals... Dan Chillingworth is the second Cambridge United player to be nominated for this month... Gravesend & Northfleet striker Charlie MacDonald receives a nomination once again for another set of inspiring performances".

    The Romford Recorder says that "Dagenham & Redbridge striker Chris Moore has resisted the overwhelming temptation to rule Oxford United out of the Conference title race and concede that automatic promotion is a foregone conclusion. Three points against Aldershot Town at Victoria Road on Saturday, regardless of their nearest challengers' result at Northwich Victoria, is all that separates John Still's side from the title and a place in League Two next season. Moore maintained that Oxford, 13 points adrift of Daggers having played a game more, 'have a mountain to climb' but he refused to rule them out of the equation until mathematics suggest otherwise... 'We still need to win on Saturday and it's important we get it wrapped up as soon as possible', said Moore, who is enjoying a second spell at Daggers following a brief stint at Brentford in League One."

    The Recorder adds that, on Saturday, "It's hoped that the champagne will flow as John Still, his staff and players celebrate both promotion to the Coca-Cola League 2 and the Nationwide Conference title, with five games and three weeks still left of the season. Daggers need just the three points available from Saturday's home game with Aldershot to be able to celebrate both and there is little in the form book to suggest that both the bubbly and tears won't be flowing come Saturday teatime. The Shots' season is appropriately shot and they are just about the perfect sort of side you want visiting for such an occasion. In upper mid-table, neither challenging or staving off relegation they have been without a manager since last week... Martin Kuhl has taken caretaker charge, but is unlikely to get the job, Aldershot saying they won't appoint until the summer. Graham Rix, the former Portsmouth and Hearts manager and ex-Chelsea coach is understood to be the highest profile candidate to apply. Despite Aldershot's situation, John Still says: 'We might make minor adjustments to accommodate little moves that we know certain teams do, but generally we play our game whoever we play... This opportunity to take the title so early has crept up on us a little, but we have earned it and I can assure our supporters there will be no letting up in the final few games, if we clinch everything this Saturday. We shall be keeping our foot firmly on the gas for all the final games of the season, determined to finish with as many points as possible and being fair to the other sides in the league, who have other things to play for'. [Daggers host Altrincham next Saturday!] On Monday, Daggers make the relatively short trip to Cambridge United, an ex-League side fighting for survival".

    The This is United site says that "Oxford United manager Jim Smith has admitted insulting behaviour towards a match official for the incident when he offered a linesman his glasses... in the second half of United's 1-0 defeat by Kidderminster at the Kassam Stadium on March 21... Although Smith was subsequently charged with a breach of FA rule E3, which relates to "using abusive and/or insulting words towards a match official", and said he didn't remember saying anything abusive, he has admitted the charge in a letter, and declined the opportunity of a personal hearing... Sanctions open to the commission include a fine or a touchline ban, or Smith could simply be warned as to his future conduct. Meanwhile, United's on-loan defender Mickey Corcoran is meeting with Cardiff City manager Dave Jones today to discuss his future. The Northern Ireland Under 21 international joined Oxford in January on a 93-day emergency loan, which cannot be extended. That means he is ineligible for the play-offs, unless Oxford are prepared to do a deal with Cardiff to sign him permanently". Emergency?

    The Woking News and Mail says that "Inspirational skipper and newly appointed joint caretaker manager Neil Smith has issued a ‘we need you’ plea to the stay-away Woking fans ahead of Saturday’s massive relegation battle with Grays Athletic. Having been thrown in at the deep end along with Graham Baker in the wake of Glenn Cockerill and Matt Crossley’s sudden departure last week, Smith is excited by the challenge of helping Woking stay in the Conference... With John Buchanan having stepped down as football chairman, the existing four directors, Peter Jordan, David Taylor, Phil Ledger and Bob Brown will sit down today (Thursday), with Smith and Baker, to bed down one or two issues. One of those is to establish the exact roles of both men, who will remain in charge of team affairs until the end of the season. Ledger confirmed: 'We have had a dozen or so applications already for the manager’s job but they will be put on file and looked at in due course. At this point Neil Smith and Graham Baker are in charge and we have every confidence they can turn things around and keep us in the Conference'... Appointing a new chairman, team manager, and company secretary, once David Seward leaves the club at the end of this month to join his family in Australia, will all be on the agenda for owner Chris Ingram who is due to return from holiday within the next week. And there is the uncertainty over whether the club will stay full-time or not... Smith said, 'Grays will be tough and it’s down to the supporters to give us that bit of an edge at home. They are a major factor at this club. “The confidence has been low among the players because the booing has affected some of them and they haven’t been looking forward to games'... Baker said, ''We’re in a situation where if we win by grinding out a result, that’s fine'".

    Crawley Town "have given permission for a trio of players to leave the club. Jack Macleod, Jamie England and Scott Marshall were informed by the club they were free to continue their careers elsewhere due the continuing difficulty the club faces to balance the books. Macleod and England have signed dual forms with Ryman League clubs. Macleod has signed for Carshalton Athletic, while England has signed on at Jeff King’s Chelmsford City. Both players have continued to train with the club, but Scott Marshall remains a member of the squad at the present time. Caretaker Manager Ben Judge was full of praise for their response. Judge said: 'They have told us they are happy to carry on coming in every day for no money, and although, Jamie and Jack have signed dual forms for Ryman League clubs they are still our players as such” Judge continued: 'Scott done well for us coming on against Stevenage. This just shows what a spirit we have in the camp at the moment, and these boys are desperate to see us safe'".

    NL Daily says that "Mike Connett, owner of Northwich Victoria, has denied he told staff the club was for sale and could close within weeks. Connett said a meeting had taken place, but categorically denied he told employees he was looking to sell up. 'The meeting was to do with club performance and football', he said. 'There's no change. I still own the club'. But stories coming out of the Victoria Stadium earlier this week suggested employees were told he was looking for a buyer - and that if one could not be found in five weeks the club might fold. A sum of £400,000 and an annual five-figure rent was mentioned. Within hours of the meeting the story spread through the town and worried fans believed the end of Northwich Victoria was imminent. Fans also aired their views strongly on the Vics Supporters' Trust website where, reportedly, Connett's solicitors are studying some posts. A source close to the Victoria Stadium said: 'Mr Connett called a meeting and told everyone they would be out of work in five weeks unless he found a buyer'. But on Friday Vics issued a statement saying the club was not up for sale and was not going into liquidation. The club has no assets because the Victoria Stadium and surrounding land at Wincham are owned by Connett's Beaconet company... One former backer told IC Cheshire: 'This has all made the club a laughing stock. It is very damaging. I'm afraid Vics are not worth the sums talked about'".

    Former Grays Athletic and Sheffield United player, Ashley Sestanovich has been gaoled for 8 years for his part in an armed robbery which ended in the death of a man.

    5 April 2007


    Striker Chris Senior will be sidelined for Saturday's game at St Albans City after being carried off with ankle ligament problems last Saturday. Also out of contention are midfielder Val Owen and defender Gary Scott who have both been out of action for recent games. Defender Stephen Rose will also be missing as he remains suspended. So, the squad for St Albans will be virtually self-selecting from the remainder of the first-team squad. In other words it will probably comprise last Saturday's 16 players, minus Chris Senior, and with the possible addition of Justin Bowler.


    Gavin Rathbone captures Lewis Chalmers's excellent headed goal last Saturday against Exeter. This and more photos are on the GR Photography website.


    Tonight, Thursday, 5th April: STAR is holding another of its monthly general knowledge quiz nights in the Noel White Suite at Moss Lane. The Quiz entry fee is just £1.00 per person and there is a maximum of 6 persons per team. Doors open at 8.00pm and the quiz starts at 8.30pm.


    Last Saturday the local junior football club to visit Moss Lane under the Featured Club Scheme were Urmston Town, pictured above before the Exeter game.


    Alty Reserves' league cup match at Farsley Celtic has been moved back from 17th to 18th April.


    Our next opponents, St Albans City report that "Morecambe nudged St Albans City another 90 minutes closer to the Conference South on Tuesday night but, just a few days after the debacle at Aldershot, the Saints left Clarence Park with their pride restored after giving the promotion seeking, and very much in form, Shrimps a tough test before sliding to an unjust 23rd Conference National defeat of the season. Saints' boss Colin Lippiatt made sweeping changes from Saturday's starting XI with Matt Hann, Dean Cracknell and Tom Davis all placed on the bench as Guy Lopez, Malik Buari and Chris Watters all returned to the side. The changes worked a treat as Lopez and Buari, in particular, adding steel to the midfield and problems for the visitors down the City right. Davis, dropped for the first time this season, was given 13 minutes towards the end of the game and used his time well to show just what a quality player he is. Playing under refurbished floodlights that are now not far short of the lux level required for the Football League - so will be handy in about three seasons time - City looked a far more creative and dangerous side than they have done for a number of weeks, the Dagenham match excepted. Also, a corner count in their favour of 7-2 goes some way towards confirming that City should have got something from the game... [although] St Albans did not have a single on target effort during the second half... All season the Saints have struggled to make good use of free kicks but with Ahmed Deen sending a number of good set plays into the heart of the visitors defence there was always the possibility of City turning one into a goal. That moment almost came on 12 minutes... City, looking anything but a bottom of the table side at this point, maintained the pressure... Watters, struggling with injury, was replaced at half time but with Buari doing well down the right Watters replacement, Hann, had to take an unaccustomed position wide on the left... In front of their smallest - 613 - and quietest crowd of the season City had Morecambe penned back in their own penalty area with three successive corners... [but] Blinkhorn, much to the delight of the 95 visiting supporters, nipped in to claim the sixth goal of his loan spell... Unlike Saturday's tame surrender to Aldershot, the Saints deserve credit for battling to the end...All in all, a decent yet unrewarded showing by the Saints, five more performances such as this will allow Colin Lippiatt's boys to bow out with their heads held high".

    Altrincham did not train on Tuesday night so news of player fitness for Saturday is not yet available.


    Ominous words for Bank Holiday Monday come from our visitors that day. "Gravesend & Northfleet's boss Liam Daish has warned fans that 'pretty football' is not on their agenda for the season run-in" according to the Football Conference. The Fleet boss told BBC Radio Kent: "It is getting to the business end of the season when you have got to show your composure. Whoever gets up and stays in those top five positions will not be the best football teams but the ones that do the hard and ugly things really well".

    "Boss Liam Daish has praised his Gravesend & Northfleet side for the way they have pushed themselves into contention for a play-off spot. Fleet are seventh in the table after Tuesday's 2-0 win against Halifax and are only two points adrift of a place in the top five. Daish told BBC Radio Kent: 'In the last two games we have had four goals and two clean sheets. We have a bit of resilience and we look organised and on our game'".


    Right: Andy Scott made his first start as a midfielder for Alty last Saturday against Exeter. Behind him are Peter Band and Stuart Coburn.

    The BBC says that "Tamworth manager Gary Mills refused to be downhearted after his side lost 1-0 at home to Northwich Victoria to remain in the Conference relegation zone. 'It's three points gone because we didn't take our chances but we'll stay positive and I'm not going to knock the players', Mills told the club website. ;'The last thing this club needs is negativity at the moment. "Seven weeks ago the side was heading for relegation and we've moved to within a point of safety since then'. Meanwhile, Tamworth have been told that they will not receive international clearance for new signing Justin Jackson, who can not play for the rest of the season".

    You'll need a translator for this next paragraph.. At Tamworth "general manager Russell Moore has finally had an answer from the Football Association regarding the request of international clearance for Justin Jackson. 'The Football Federation of Australia state that they are not prepared to change his status from amateur to professional as he last played as an amateur for Casey Comets SC. In view of the transfer window being closed in respect of your club, we can only obtain international clearance for an out of work professional as January 31, subject to him signing a contract for the new club. It is not permissible for an amateur player to change his status during a closed window. In the circumstances, the amateur clearance certificate from Australia cannot be accepted in respect of your club and also the player’s contract and registration cannot be accepted by ourselves. In view of the clearance received, the player can only play for a club below the Conference National Division as such a club is not bound by the restrictions contained in the FIFA Regulations regarding transfer windows

    Tamworth FC finds it very odd that a player who last played in Australia in September 2006 cannot earn a living after returning to his own country. Regulations regarding International Clearance are a minefield. If the powers that be at The FA struggle to understand the regulations, what chance do club secretaries have? The sooner The FA make representation to FIFA regarding this rule, the better for all. Clubs through no fault of their own are falling foul of this rule time and time again. It's time it was addressed once and for all.Justin Jackson will continue to train with Tamworth FC in an attempt to secure a playing contract for next season" says Russell Moore, General Manager, Tamworth Football Club Limited'".

    "Morecambe manager Sammy McIlroy was delighted with his side's finishing as they beat St Albans City 2-0 to tighten their grip on a play-off place. David McNiven scored for the first time since returning from a loan spell at Stafford before Matthew Blinkhorn got his sixth goal in ten games. McIlroy told BBC Radio Lancashire: 'We knew it would be tricky as they are fighting for their lives. But we showed great commitment and battled and battled away. When we got that first goal I felt confident we would get another. They were two great finishes'" reports the BBC.

    "Aldershot Town striker John Grant has signed new two-year contract. The former Crewe and Shrewsbury forward, 25, has scored 20 goals this season after joining the Shots from Halifax Town last summer. Grant told his club's website: 'I have had some interest from Football League clubs but I want to stay at Aldershot because I feel wanted here. The supporters are so passionate and I want to be a part of a future that I think is looking good'".

    From This is York says that York City "finally looks set for a new super-stadium after the club revealed it is on the verge of a deal with landowners and council chiefs. Stadium development director Ian McAndrew said the club had made 'very significant progress' since the start of the year. He said it had now identified the site of its proposed new home and aimed to submit a planning application within months. The Press understands the ground will be on either the British Sugar, York Central or Nestlé North sites, and will be similar to that built for Dartford FC two years ago, but with a larger capacity. Mr McAndrew said: 'In the first three months of this year, we have made very significant progress. It is correct that we have a site identified which is deliverable'. He said the club was in discussions with the council and site owners, but said he could not reveal the precise location due to confidentiality agreements. City of York Council leader Steve Galloway said his aspiration was for a 10,000-seater stadium which would be enough for the city's football and rugby teams. But, speaking at the launch of his party's election manifesto yesterday, he said it may start out smaller, at 6,000 or 7,000. Asked who would own the ground, Coun Galloway said: 'The most likely way forward would be for the football club to own the stadium, but if it were to be extended, other partners would come into play, in which case it might be more of a trust arrangement'. City needs to formally identify a site this year, and secure planning permission by 2009, to avoid financial penalties on its £2 million loan from the Football Foundation... York City's new home could adopt several features used in Dartford FC's Princes Park Stadium. That ground, which opened two years ago, has a capacity of 5,000. It has timber cladding, its own water recycling system and a grassed roof... Mr McAndrew said: 'We will be looking at a very sustainable building. We want the scheme to be iconic'".

    On The Lancaster & Morecambe Citizen site "Sammy McIlroy lavished praise on his Morecambe marvels ... 'You can get a fair bit of egg on your face at a place like this," smiles McIlroy. 'If your attitude is not right and your commitment is not right you will get beaten. But the boys were magnificent, they were spot on from start to finish on a difficult pitch with a strong wind. The spirit is good and after the Mad March I cannot say enough about the boys. We have won six of the last 10. We lost three and drew one in a schedule that was ridiculous - and it shows how far we have come when we feel disappointed with the three losses. But it shows what a good side we are...and to think back to October when some people were writing us off. Leagues are never won or lost in October'".

    The same source adds, "Deadly duo David McNiven and Matty Blinkhorn shot the Shrimps to pole position for the play-offs and virtually guaranteed a swift return to Conference South for hapless St Albans on a night to remember in freezing Hertfordshire. The strike stars struck in each half as ultra professional Morecambe weathered a storm on a bobbly pitch to finish easy winners. Forget the fact St Albans started the game as Conference cellar dwellers, they were up for the battle on a night their survival hopes were on the line - and Morecambe were indebted to keeper Steven Drench for two tremendous stops from Lee Clarke in the early stages... St Albans huffed and puffed without any undue panic for the Shrimps and the game was finally made safe nine minutes from time".

    From Halifax Today we read that "Boss Chris Wilder admitted his side was 'feeling flat' after their 2-0 defeat at Gravesend & Northfleet... And Wilder now has the job of picking up his squad ahead of the visit of fellow strugglers Cambridge United to the Shay on Saturday. 'The players are feeling flat after that', said Wilder. 'And in the remaining matches there will be ups and downs. We have to make sure there are more ups than downs. It is not all over, but we have made it difficult for ourselves and I will be looking at the players in the next few days to see who is up for the battle'... Town were undone twice from set pieces as they lost a game they had been winning 2-1 when it was abandoned due to a waterlogged pitch back in January.... 'Gravesend put us under a lot of pressure from free kicks and corners and I thought their delivery was excellent', said Wilder. 'We did not defend one of them well enough in the first half and they had the desire to get across people in the box... We talk long and hard about set pieces and we switched off'". But Town's "15th away defeat of the season made little difference in terms of their league position in relation to their relegation rivals, other than taking them a game closer to the end of the season... Last night, for the first time in an increasingly difficult season, heads dropped with 11 minutes remaining when Gravesend sub Onome Sodje secured the points for his side with their second goal".

    This is Glos reports on FGR v Grays - "Two teams who looked afraid to lose played out a less than memorable stalemate at the New Lawn, a result which keeps them both in the relegation mire. Misplaced passes and raised offside flags were only outnumbered by groans of frustration from the home fans, as Forest Green dipped well below their usual standards for a second home game in succession".

    "Jimmy Quinn is backing Cambridge United to make it three wins in a row when they travel to fellow strugglers Halifax for a relegation six-pointer on Saturday", reports The Cambridge Evening News. "It is a feat an inconsistent United have failed to produce this season, but after crushing 4-0 and 7-0 victories over Northwich and Weymouth, Quinn believes his side could remain unbeaten for the rest of their Conference campaign... Quinn said: 'We picked up where we left off against Northwich and it wasn't a fluke as we played so well. I've told the lads we've got to be the best team in the league without the ball, and we were just that against Weymouth'... Quinn highlighted the flourishing partnership between Robbie Simpson and Dan Chillingworth as one of the reasons for United's sudden change in fortunes... but he also felt other newcomers, such as loanees Dan Gleeson and Chris Flynn, had also played a part".

    Kidderminster Harriers "are facing a £1000 fine from the FA after having eight players booked in Tuesday's away victory at Stevenage. A victory made all the more sweeter because we'll now be meeting them at Wembley with the psychological advantage of knowing that we have already beaten them recently".

    4 April 2007


  • Aldershot T. 3 Exeter C. 2
  • Forest Green R. 0 Grays A. 0
  • Gravesend & N. 2 Halifax T. 0
  • Rushden & D 4 Weymouth 1
  • St Albans C. 0 Morecambe 2
  • Stevenage B. 1 Kidderminster H. 2
  • Tamworth 0 Northwich V. 1

    Altrincham dropped a place as a consequence of Tuesday's results but our survival is still in our own hands as we can still get 62 points and four other teams (St. Albans, Southport, Tamworth, Cambridge Utd) cannot reach that total.

  • League table and projections


    Altrincham travel to St Albans on Saturday. Yesterday The St Albans Observer states that "St Albans City will be without John Hastings for tonight's Conference clash with Morecambe... The on loan striker, who failed to find the net in a short stay wit City, returned to MK Dons on Monday... The loss of Hastings is the latest in a succession of blows that have hampered Colin Lippiatt's bid to keep his side in the top-tier of non-league football... 'We need to win five out of our last six games', said the manager. 'If we don't win tonight then we need to win all of our last five. With respect to the team, we haven't looked like doing that all season.. If we don't show more character than we did against Aldershot on Saturday then we will come unstuck'".


    The Northwich Guardian says that "Wincham Park will host this season's UniBond League Challenge Cup final. Matlock Town had been due to meet Fleetwood Town at Altrincham's Moss Rose ground, but the tie has been switched to Witton instead. The Conference club's home is unavailable...The pair meet on Monday, April 16, kick off 7.45pm".


    An Altrincham FC charity game for Christie Hospital in Manchester, organised by Geoff Goodwin, which was originally announced for 8 May has now been moved to 30 April. More details to follow.


    The Before last night's win, the Aldershot News and Mail reports that "Aldershot finished an emotional week that heralded the end of the Terry Brown era on a high, with a third straight win to restore life to a previously flagging season. As starts go, caretaker boss Martin Kuhl has made a pretty decent one but Saturday's victory over St Albans told as much about the opposition as it did about the Shots. Colin Lippiatt’s side looked destined for the drop prior to kick-off and did little to contradict that viewpoint during a low-key affair at the Rec, waiting 76 minutes to register their first shot on target, while even failing to win a corner. Following such a hectic period in the end-of-season calendar, perhaps it was inevitable that exhaustion would kick in for Kuhl’s side, yet still they had enough to canter to a comfortable victory here... Whisper it quietly but the play-off dream may not be completely over just yet".

    From the Cambridge Evening News we learn that "Dean Hooper is quitting Cambridge United following a series of injuries. The veteran right-back has decided to have his contract torn up after breaking down on his first day back in full training last week. Hooper, who has played only three games for United, has been dogged by injury this season. He was released by Nationwide South outfit Lewes last December due to a nagging knee problem and suffered an ankle injury soon after his arrival at the Abbey in January. Having recovered from that, he damaged his calf on his comeback... On his return to training, though, the calf went again forcing Hooper to make his decision. Manager Jimmy Quinn said: 'Dean has decided to sign his release forms. He's a good lad and he just feels he has let me down because he knows we've been in a sticky situation. He could have stayed and kept picking up the money, but as far as I'm concerned it's a measure of the man he isn't doing that because a lot of players would have done'".

    NL Daily says that "A spate of top non-League clubs have teamed up with a major shampoo brand for a campaign to rid England of its big tournament penalty hoodoo. ‘Champions of Football’ Wash & Go shampoo are this week kicking off ‘Wash & Goal’ - a grassroots initiative to find the UK’s best penalty taker. The campaign will scour the length and breadth of the country to find the ultimate spot-kick king. And four non-League clubs; Reading Town, Sheffield FC, Havant & Waterlooville and Farsley Celtic, have teamed up with the campaign to play host to separate shoot-outs to determine who’s the UK’s finest. A Wash & Go spokesperson commented: 'We’re only too aware how our beloved national team has fallen foul of sudden death penalties more than once in recent years. ‘Wash & Goal’ is a new initiative to help players of all disciplines on these shores, overcome the spot kick jitters. Therefore, we felt we needed to kick off the campaign at the heart of football. What better place than with non-League teams'. Each of the non-League grounds will welcome ten selected finalists from their region and Liverpool legend Bruce Grobbelaar, who will be between the sticks. "

    3 April 2007


    Bradford Park Avenue Reserves have cancelled this Wednesday's planned Lancashire League match at Moss Lane, which had already been re-arranged at the Yorkshire club's request. Currently, the next planned match for Alty Reserves is a cup game, away at Farsley on 17th April.


    Of our next opponents, The St Albans Observer says that "Relegation looks a certainty for beleaguered St Albans City FC after they were sent spinning to the foot of the Conference table on Saturday. A 26th-minute spot kick from Darren Barnard and a goal from John Grant on 72 minutes condemned the Saints to a 12th away defeat of the season. As well as seeing relegation rivals Southport and Cambridge United go goal crazy in wins over Stafford Rangers and Weymouth respectively, manager Colin Lippiatt will be deeply concerned that his team looked resigned to their fate on Saturday. He now faces a huge task in motivating his players for the visit of high-riding Morecambe on Tuesday night".


    Right: Altrincham Youth's Marcus Baxby (centre, in red, facing camera) in midfield action against Prescot Cables, last Sunday, as Danny Browne (foreground) looks over his shoulder and is held in an arm-lock.


    NL Daily states that "Phil Wilson, manager of Barrow, completed a double swoop into the transfer market ahead of last Thursday`s deadline. Barrow were bolstered by the signings of [ex-Alty] goalkeeper Ashley Timms and centre half Phil Doughty until the end of the season. Timms comes to the Bluebirds for the second time this season as cover for Jamie Speare.... Timms has been searching for a club without success since a two-month spell at Barrow ended in February. During his time at Holker Street Timms made seven appearances, keeping clean sheets in each of his first three games".


    From This is Exeter we read that Alty boss "Graham Heathcote launched a scathing attack on the standard of Conference refereeing after he felt his side were robbed of two priceless points in their battle against relegation.The Altrincham boss was left fuming when Ollie Langford handed Exeter City a late penalty for a push on Adam Stansfield. 'Relegation and promotion could be decided by match officials', he snapped". But "Paul Tisdale heaped praise on saviour Billy Jones after the full-back kept his nerve to fire the winner from the penalty spot. 'Billy Jones showed immense composure to slot the penalty away', said Tisdale. The City boss added: 'There is a huge amount of relief from winning this game given our away form of late. To go a goal down and come back showed character. Altrincham were scrapping for their lives and they looked dangerous on the break. I am very proud of the players... We are not the best side in the league, Dagenham have been the best. But we have certainly been in the hunt and are capable of beating anyone in the league... But there are six games to go and we have got a lot of work to do before we can even dream of being in the play-offs'".

    The same source says of the Alty game "All the talk in the build-up to this match surrounded a run of four successive away defeats and an alarming lack of goals from City's strikers. Yet both problems were brushed to one side at Altrincham when Richard Logan cancelled out Lewis Chalmers' first half opener before Billy Jones' late winner from the penalty spot... 'We are in the thick of the play-off struggle and my job is to convince the players that we are good enough to be there', said Tisdale afterwards... There is every reason to presume their fortunes will hinge on a last-day decider against Southport... This wasn't a champagne performance, nor was it emphatic. But it showed courage to come back from a goal behind to seal victory for the first time on the road since a 2-0 win at Kidderminster six weeks ago... It was the home side who carried the greater threat in the early exchanges and they came close to drawing first blood after eight minutes... Emerging from the dressing room a good three or four minutes before the beginning of the second half underlined City's belief that they could mount a fightback... As the ball drifted out harmlessly for a goalkick, the referee - to the surprise of both sets of fans and benches - pointed to the spot for a push on Stansfield by Munroe. Jones kept his cool in the face of some animated protests from the Altrincham players to send the keeper the wrong way... Although the Grecians' innovation and fitness levels were demonstrably superior to their opponents, Alty did threaten sporadically in the final stages, with Tully making two superb defensive clearances to repel the danger".


    Terry Rowley's updated Conference statistics are here.


    Altrincham FC would like to thank everyone who attended last night's Bingo Evening at Moss Lane, as well as all those who contributed prizes which, as usual, were excellently prepared by Jackie Gallimore and Ann Wilshaw. And it isn't at every football club that the vice-chairman and his wife will serve the tea and coffee at the interval! The bingo-caller was Alty Youth Team manager and company secretary, George Heslop, fresh from booking a place for his side in the final of the Neil Thomason Trophy after yesterday's semi-final win over Prescot Cables.


    The BBC confirms that "Dagenham and Redbridge boss John Still has been named as the Conference manager of the month for March. Still takes the prize after leading the Daggers to within three points of a place in the Football League for the first time in the club's history. Dagenham won four matches and drew three times during an unbeaten March". Graham Heathcote, who also gathered 15 points in March from 9 games, will be delighted that the curse of the Manger of the Month has not only not fallen on him but has been bestowed on the manager of a team that we have yet to play.

    "Southport will let fans who attend the Easter Monday match with Burton Albion in free for their final home game. The Conference strugglers will also give season-ticket holders a free ticket to bring a friend to their match against York on 21 April. Chairman Charlie Clapham told his club's website: 'In a very difficult season our supporters, home and away, have been superb, right behind us. We therefore feel a thank-you gesture is the least we can do'" reports the BBC.

    "Oxford defender Michael Corcoran should find out later this week if he has a future at the club. The Northern Irishman, 19, has been on loan at the U's from Cardiff City since January, and is set to hold talks with the Welsh club in the next few days. Corcoran said: 'If things don't work out there (Cardiff) then I'd love to stay in Oxford. The lads have been great to me, the manager has been great and the fans have taken to me'" states the BBC.

    2 April 2007


  • Monday, 2nd April: Prize Bingo Evening in the Sponsors' Lounge at 7.30pm on Monday 2nd April 2007. Admission is 50p and includes tea/coffee with biscuits.
  • Wednesday, 4th April: Altrincham Reserves take on Bradford PA Reserves at Moss Lane at 7.45pm in the Lancashire League (East). Entry is £2 or free to season ticket holders.
  • Thursday, 5th April: STAR is holding another of its monthly general knowledge quiz nights in the Noel White Suite at Moss Lane. The Quiz entry fee is just £1.00 per person and there is a maximum of 6 persons per team. Doors open at 8.00pm and the quiz starts at 8.30pm.


    Altrincham Youth reached the final of the Neil Thomason Memorial Trophy today with a 4-2 win over Prescot Cables Youth at Wythenshawe Town. Tom Bailey (right) hit a hat-trick with Danny Browne scoring the other goal. The Trophy is named in memory of the popular former Altrincham FC Youth team coach and is one that the Club would dearly like to win. Match report in the Youth section.


    Match report here.

  • Alty player statistics
  • Alty line-ups and bookings


    Alty play at St Albans City on Saturday. Their website reports that "It is difficult to think of an occasion over the past two and half years when City manager Colin Lippiatt has been in a more deflated mood and critical of his side after a match than he was at the Recreation Ground on Saturday but his frustration was completely understandable after seeing the Saints give the kind of tepid performance which is more in line with that of our current national team than a side battling against relegation. Speaking shortly after Aldershot Town's third consecutive victory over the Saints a downcast Colin gave his brutally honest assessment of the afternoon's ‘entertainment'. 'I think it was a very poor game, without making excuses the wind was a lot more difficult than people may have imagined and I think the referee had a poor game, but they are camouflaging what we have got to talk about. We can all pick out players who we think might have done well, but I know for sure, without a shadow of a doubt, that eleven players didn't do well... The goals against our record is appalling for any level... And I would say today I question the resilience and character of the team, I think there was a lot of mental sulking going on.... I have told them in no uncertain terms, if I was in the trenches at the moment there aren't too many that I would want with me after today's performance... we looked as though we were going through the motions... The four sides that go down will inevitably be the four worst teams and we are one of them, at the moment we are rock bottom'".


    The FA Trophy between Stevenage Borough and Kidderminster Harriers is on 12 May and will be one of the first games played at the new Wembley Stadium. Altrincham FC are gauging whether there would be sufficient interest to run a coach from Altrincham to Wembley for the match. It is believed that admission to Wembley for the Final will be £25 for adults and £15 for concessionaries. If you are interested please confirm this by ringing the Club (928-1045), or e-mailing Grahame Rowley or ring Grahame on 07720 606897.


    There is just time to get your tickets for the Altrincham FC End of Season Ball which is to be held at the Cresta Court, Altrincham on 4th May. This Black Tie event will be held in the Belgrave Suite with champagne reception at 7.30pm. All the players will be in attendance with Graham Heathcote as the MC. The cost of the evening is £45-00 per ticket or £450 per table of ten. A 10% discount is available for all tables booked before 31st March. The evening will consist of a 4 course meal, a raffle, auction and dancing to the sounds of Jason Flint and the resident DJ. Why not come along and join us with friends, family or work colleagues and make this night another giant success? Please contact Karen Rowley for further details on 07850-964751 or 0161-928-1045 or by e-mail.

    A full list of Altrincham FC social and fundraising events is here. If you can help by donating items for raffle prizes or for auction at these events, please do contact the club as this help would be much appreciated.


    The April Fools' Day's edition of the Non-League Paper normally carries an April Fools' spoof story. But on Sunday the NLP printed the following, apparently genuine but equally unbelievable, quotes from David Henson, the man who chaired the Altrincham and AFC Wimbledon appeals at FA headquarters. "David Henson, chairman of the three-man FA Appeals Board insisted that the circumstances of Wimbledon's points deduction were completely different from Altrincham last season. Henson, a retired Exeter hotelier, also chaired the panel that upheld the Altrincham decision... Henson said 'Altrincham denied having played an unregistered player because of the link with Accrington Stanley. [Alty got Robinson after he had been at another English club, Accrington Stanley]. And then they replaced their QC at lunchtime when the panel was sitting. From the start Wimbledon said 'Hands up, we've got that wrong'". So on that basis, if you are tried in a court of law for an offence for which you believe you are not guilty and, with the agreement of the judges, you change your counsel during an adjournment so as to assist them, you are deemed guilty for that behaviour alone, irrespective of the evidence.

    Also in the light of the mild punishments meted out to Accrington Stanley and AFC Wimbledon, compared with Alty's 18-point deduction last season, the NL Paper reports that "Altrincham chairman Geoff Goodwin says he is 'outraged' by the FA's double standards... Goodwin said, 'I'm pleased for Wimbledon and wish them well but the fact that the FA said they couldn't do anything for us, yet help Wimbledon, is a disgrace. The FA said to me that rules are rules but they seem to have sought a loophole for Wimbledon... It's really unjust. .. It's so inconsistent and maybe it's got something to do with Tony Blair giving Wimbledon his support. The whole matter just leaves a really sour taste in my mouth'". Meanwhile even the Ryman League chairman, Alan Turvey, who orignally applied AFC's points deduction said, "I'm surprised and almost stunned by the [FA's] decision... I think a lot of people will wonder how the appeal board came to their decision". In a formal statement the Ryman League point out the shambolic system that currently operates over international clearance and expressed the hope "that the FA will implement changes". Their statement goes on "It is difficult to understand how the Appeal Board can make such a finding [i.e.that the Ryman acted correctly] and then vary the decision of the [Ryman] League".

    In Saturday's matchday programme, Alty vice-chairman Grahame Rowley wrote, "May I first of all say 'good luck' to AFC Wimbledon. They don't deserve to be punished in such a severe way. Unfortunately, I must also comment that I cannot see any difference in the two cases [AFC's and Alty's] and, as such, we will be writing to the FA to ascertain the reasoning behind this 'change of opinion'".


    Alty lost three players yesterday in the first 63 minutes of the match on Saturday. One of them, Steve Bushell was apparently playing despite feeling ill - as was Joe O'Neill, who completed the game and lifted the Man of the Match award. Chris Senior's injury is believed to be to his ankle ligaments and, as well as his likely absence next week, Stephen Rose continues his suspension so he too will also be missing at St Albans. Val Owen is also unlikely to be involved through injury but Gary Scott, who warmed up on the pitch last Saturday, does appear to have some chance of being in the squad at Clarence Park.


    The BBC reports that "Exeter manager Paul Tisdale says his players must take confidence from their victory over Altrincham if they are to go up via the play-offs... Tisdale said: 'We are in the thick of of the play-off struggle and my job is to convince the players that we are good enough to be there. We may not be the best team in the league but this result gives us belief in a race that will go to the wire'".

    Woking chairman John Buchanan told the NL Paper why he had resigned last week, as manager Glenn Cockerill also left the club. "I have been getting personal abuse... But the fact is that with our budget we are where we should be in the league. Oxford United have a budget of £1.2 million a year. Aldershot, until recently, had a budget of about £12,000 a week, almost double ours, and they are only one place above us... Chris Ingram [the club's owner] lends the club money as loans and he expects to get it back when the ground is developed to incorporate a hotel and flats... Without his money Woking would not be where they are but you hope to find a wealthy man who makes a club his pleasure. The brutal truth is that without such backing many clubs are going to have to go part-time...There are only two options for next season, either Chris puts more in or the club goes part-time. Right now he's saying he won't put in more... Gleenn Cockerill does not see eye to eye with Chris Ingram. Chris and his wife come to our games and like to make their opinions known. They should really be watching the likes of Chelsea or Arsenal because that seems to be the sort of football they expect. When the team aren't doing well, they run Glenn down... Chris owns the holding company which owns the ground and is not supposed to have anything to do with the playing side... I don't want to be a puppet chairman, having my strings pulled". On the pitch Buchanan revealed that with Ian Selley out for much of the season, "That's one tenth of his budget gone. Glenn tried to bring in Jon Nurse...but Chris wouldn't back him. Glenn has been a success here". On wider issues the ex-chairman said that too much televised football is affecting gates and "Next season we've got Setanta showing 79 games. How many fans will come out on a cold night when they can watch the game on TV?".

    1 April 2007


    Manchester City Council's Football Development Officer has confirmed that the Altrincham FC youth team has been invited to play Wuhan FC of China's under-18s' side at the Regional Athletics Arena, Sport City, Manchester on Thursday 19th April at 7pm. The match is part of a week of Thai and Chinese culture in Manchester. All ticket proceeds go to charity. When ticket details are known, they will be posted here. China's players include a 6ft 8inch seventeen year-old who is with Bolton Wanderers' Academy.


    In Saturday's Manchester Evening News there is the following about former Altrincham player-manager Mark Ward: "Jailed former Manchester City player Mark Ward was ordered to pay back nearly £10,000 in ill-gotten gains. The 44 year-old, who also played for West Ham and Everton, was jailed in 2005 after pleading guilty to possessing cocaine with intent to supply. He was arrested after 9lbs of cocaine with a street value of £645,000 was discovered during a raid at a house rented in his name in Prescot, Merseyside. Liverpool Crown Court heard Ward had benefitted by more than £35,000 from his criminal enterprise. Only £9,920 could be raised from the sale of Ward's MG car and £1,750 found at his home. Judge John Phipps ordered him to repay the money within three months or face a further six months in jail".

    Danny Adams was booked for Morecambe yesterday whilst Phil Bolland was sent off for Chester City at Hartlepool on Friday.


    Right: Chris Senior receives treatment from physio Andy Hosgood in Saturday's game, but the striker sadly had to be carried off.

    In today's NL Paper, Graham Heathcote is quoted after the defeat by Exeter, which turned on referee Langford's penalty award to the visitors. The Alty boss says, "Relegation and promotion could be decided by match officials. I have to go home with the hurt that my side could be relegated after yet another poor refereeing decision. Yet the referee and linesmen are laughing and joking because the result doesn't matter to them. I'm not the only manager in this league who is complaining about poor officials and I just don't know what is going to happen next. Not a single Exeter player appealed for the penalty. I can control what my players do but I can't control poor refereeing. I can't really say what I want to because of the FA. In a country that prides itself on free speech, it seems the only place you can't speak out is in football". The NLP also reports that "The Exeter manager conceded that the penalty decision was harsh".

    As well reffing when Cambridge United beat Alty 4-0 last season, Mr Langford also officiated when Alty lost 1-0 at Burton last season. About that game the Burton Mail said the result "was dependent on the generosity of referee Oliver Langford. The Darlaston official obligingly turned a blind eye when Alty's Gary Scott saw his clearance hit the hand of Albion midfielder Chris Hall. It was the pivotal moment of the game". Later in the game he sent off Alty's Karl Munroe, the man whom he penalised yesterday to give Exeter their spot-kick.

    SAM agrees that "Altrincham's luck just gets worse. For the second time in a week they were dealt a sickening blow by the referee after a ridiculous penalty decision handed Exeter all three points. A deathly silence fell upon Moss Lane as match official Oliver Langford pointed to the spot - supposedly for a push by Karl Munroe on Adam Stansfield - neither set of fans quite able to believe their eyes. But Exeter's Billy Jones was not about to turn down this most generous of gifts and he sent Stuart Coburn the wrong way from the spot to condemn Alty to their second straight home defeat.The Robins could be forgiven for wondering if someone has it in for them after dreadful refereeing also contributed to their downfall in the midweek defeat to Stafford... The game seemed to be destined for a draw until Langford decided to put his unwanted mark on the game. Not only did Lee Elam appear to be offside before he crossed into the box, there was not even the slightest hint of a push as Munroe and Stansfield jostled for position inside the six-yard box".

    Graham Heathcote told SAM, "It's been an awful five days for us as a team on the back of some horrendous decisions and it would be a shame if the teams don't decide it because they should decide it. I just feel sorry for football when you come off the pitch and everyone's screaming at the referee.That's the second game on the trot now when all people have been interested in is the referee and it happens everywhere you go... We've got five games left but I don't know what the results will be because I don't know what the standard of the official will be on the day... Not one Exeter player appealed for that penalty. I've been in football a long time and I'm pretty sure that when there's an opportunity for a penalty some of the players will appeal but not one did. Nobody in this ground other than the man who gave it thought it was a penalty. That decision could relegate us... At the end of the day fatigue cost us, we just had no legs second half. The programme we've had to endure is tough for part time clubs - seven games [it was nine in March, actually] in a month. That showed in the second half when they were stronger than us and had more of the ball. There's not a lot you can do about that, you can't put energy where there's no energy. It's a shame because we scored a good goal and we'd played well during the first half. But at the end of the day, they won the game because of an official's decision."


    Also in SAM, Colin Little writes, "It's not been the best of weeks. If we'd have won against Stafford the other night then I think we'd have been on the threshold of survival. But we always seem to make life difficult for ourselves... We didn't start well against Stafford and from then on we just looked lethargic and didn't even really get going....Nobody seemed to want the ball and when they did get on the ball, they dallied on it... People are talking about the referee and Stafford's style of football but we have to make sure we win the game despite all that. Chris (Senior) was probably hard done to with the free kick because I kicked Ged Murphy's boot off in the second [?first] half and the same happened then but the referee gave nothing. But I have no qualms, they took a quick free kick and we should've been ready for it, we should've defended much better... We always seem to struggle against the more physical sides anyway because the only way to beat those sides is to get the ball down and play it and it's difficult to do that unless you have top class players... I'm sure Ged (Murphy) enjoyed the fact that they've beaten us twice though and he's probably having a good laugh about it after being released in the summer. He was mouthing off throughout the game on Tuesday but that's what he was like when he was here as well, you expect that. He used to do my head in when he was here but I don't hold any grudges and I still shook the guy's hand at the end of the game... It's unbelieveable what's happening at the bottom end of the table now. Other than the bottom two sides, everyone seems to be picking up results".


    Altrincham's next game is at St Albans City who report that "With a lame performance at The Recreation Ground, and a stunning 5-1 victory for Southport over Stafford Rangers, St Albans City slipped to the foot on the Conference National table for the first time in almost four months on Saturday. Requiring nothing less than victory to escape a now very probable relegation, City failed to muster a single on-target shot or win a solitary corner before sliding to defeat in front of Aldershot Town's smallest gate of the season. City fell behind on 25 minutes to a Darren Barnard penalty with John Grant settling the match on 72 minutes. The Saints go into Tuesday's home game with Morecambe on the back of a ten-match winless run".

    The Northwich Guardian states that "Northwich Victoria Supporters' Trust have been invited to talk to Mike Connett. The trust board held an emergency meeting last night, Friday, to discuss rumours circulating that the Vics chairman was looking to sell the club. They released a statement afterwards. It read: 'The Trust board met tonight as a consequence of the rumours circulating yesterday, Thursday. But, with the benefit of the club's statement this afternoon, we are relieved and reassured at Mr Connett's apparent commitment to the future of NVFC(2004) Ltd.'... A spokesman added that the club had requested a meeting with the trust. '"We have responded positively to that suggestion, and have requested a written agenda', he added".


    Altrincham still have many old friends amongst the UniBond League clubs and some of them are facing unforeseen problems. At Colwyn Bay, for example, new ground grading criteria dictate that the "run-offs " around a pitch have to be 1.83 metres but Bay's Llanelian Road ground falls a few centimetres short so the pitch surround has to be moved back by a small distance, at signifcant cost to a club which, like Alty, exercises careful stewardship of its limited resources. Curiously the criteria do not measure the quality of the playing surface which at Colwyn Bay is now one of the best in the league.

    UniBond clubs also face a dilemma over a proposed restructuring. The UniBond League favours a north-south split of the proposed two new divisions whilst many clubs prefer an east-west split on the grounds that it would reduce travel costs and increase local derbies and, therefore, gate receipts.

    Meanwhile, Saturday's UniBond Press Release states that the UniBond League Challenge Cup Final venue has yet to be settled. Earlier it had been believed that the game would be played at Moss Lane.