A to Z of Altrincham Football Club
By Terry Rowley
Accrington Stanley - Altrincham first met the ‘original’ Accrington Stanley in a competitive fixture on the opening day of the 1912/13 season in the 1st Division of the Lancashire Combination, losing 2-6.
Allan, Stan – Tough tackling full back who was 12 seasons at Moss Lane as a player before becoming, trainer, coach and eventually manager of the side. Famously became the first player to win both an FA Amateur Cup medal (with Skelmersdale) and an FA Trophy medal, with Altrincham. He holds the record for the second highest number of appearances for the club, after John Davison with 564 appearances
Alliance Premier League - Altrincham F.C. were one of the founder members of the first national semi-professional league in 1979, winning the title in its the first two seasons. The Alliance later changed its name to the Gola League for season 83/84 and in 1986 to the GM Vauxhall Conference and finally to the Nationwide Conference in 1998
Altrincham AFC – The club changed its name from Broadheath FC to Altrincham AFC at the 1903 AGM as it believed it was the senior club in the district and fully entitled to the name.
Altrincham and District Senior Cup- Alty won the competition in 1910/11 beating Northern Nomads 3-1 in a final held over from the previous season and again in 1912/13 beating Northwich Victoria 1-0 and once again in the 1917/18 war time competition, beating Saver Clutch 2-0.
Altrincham and District League – Altrincham Reserves played for two seasons in this competition during the 1909/10 & 1910/11 seasons after leaving the Manchester Federation League and prior to joining the SE Lancashire League.
Amateur– Altrincham’s status until around1904/05 when they began the transition to becoming a semi professional side. Amateur status was also what Altrincham were going to revert to if Noel White and Peter Swales had not taken over the club in the early sixties.
Amateur Internationals – Altrincham have had a number of Amateur Internationals turn out for them including, Andy Windsor (England), Ted Dickin (England), Jack Costin (England), Laurie Brown (England), George Royle (England), Ernest Carless (Wales), Mervyn Griffiths, (Wales), R. Griffiths (Wales), Robert Hughes (Wales), Merthwyn Jones (Wales), Frank R. Williams (Wales).
Appearances - John Davison holds the record for the highest number of appearances for the club with a total of 672 first team games. Next in line is Stan Allan with 564, followed by current manager, Graham Heathcote with 528, then John Owens 506 and Jeff Johnson 504
Atherton – Altrincham met them in the Lancashire Combination 2nd Division 1911-12 competion
Ash, Jimmy - Popular, former Sale Holmfield, left winger who played 3 seasons for Altrincham from 1903/04-1905/06. He emigrated to New Zealand prior to the start of the 1906/07 season. Whilst at Altrincham he won a league title, and both Cheshire Senior & Amateur cup medals, as well as a Manchester Junior Cup finalist’s medal.
Attendances – The record for Moss Lane is an estimated 10,275 for Altrincham Boys v Sunderland Boys in the English Schools Shield 3rd round 28th February 1925. The highest at Moss Lane for an Altrincham fixture is 8,088 for a FA Cup 4th qualifying round tie against Wigan Athletic on 15th October 1966. The lowest for a first team fixture was 169 for a Cheshire Senior Cup 1st round replay against Cheadle Town on 28th September 1999.
Australia – Altrincham have had a number of players with Australian connections. Stan Ackerley and Jason van Berk both obtained full international honours for the country, Brian Green managed the national side whilst George Yardley and Nelson Stiffle played and coached there and Colin Darcy, Barry Guilford and Brian Jarvis have also all played in Australia. And in 2006 James Robinson emigrated to play for the Richmond Eagles in Melbourne.
Barrow, Joe - Rated the best keeper in the Manchester League when he joined Broadheath and later Altrincham, after a spell at Sale. Barrow was one of Altrincham’s first paid professionals, who was sometimes not selected as the committee didn’t have the money to pay him, being forced to play an amateur instead.
Barnett Family - In the early years of the 20th Century the Barnett family, headed by father John of Manor Avenue raised a team of 11 sons to take on the Wild Family in a charity match at Manchester City’s Ardwick Ground in aid of Ancoats hospital. Various brothers turned out for Altrincham during the early years of the 19th century, including F. Barnett, Herbert Barnett, John Barnett, Joseph Barnett and Albert Barnett and followed this in the 1950’s, with Leo Barnett, another member of the same family, turning out for Altrincham.
Berry's Association FC - Were early rivals of Altrincham in their Manchester League days, they played at Harpurhey
Bailey, Mal – Legendary centre-half who scored the winner against his old club, Runcorn in the FA Trophy semi-final 2nd leg at Canal Street which saw Altrincham through to Wembley for the first time. Started his career as a professional at Port Vale before spells at Northwich and Runcorn brought him to Moss Lane where he spent 6 and half seasons, winning an FA Trophy winner's and loser's medals, 2 Alliance Premier League titles, an Alliance Premier League Cup winner's and loser's medal, a Cheshire Senior Cup winner's medal and a Northern Premier League runners-up medal, as well as featuring in FA Cup ties with Spurs, Crewe, Orient, Rotherham, Scunthorpe, Liverpool, Rochdale, Huddersfield and York City.
Broadheath FC - The name that Altrincham were founded as and played under from 1891 to 1903
Buxton FC – One of Altrincham’s earliest opponents from their Manchester League Broadheath years and later in the Cheshire County League and Northern Premier League
Burnage FC - One of Altrincham’s earliest opponents in the Manchester League, playing in Altrincham’s first season (1893/94) and finishing 2nd bottom (above Altrincham who finished in bottom place!). They did not compete in the Manchester League’s second season.
Banks, Tommy – Tough tackling Bolton Wanderers and England full-back who joined Altrincham for a season and half when injury curtailed his professional career and went on to become something of a legend at Bangor City.
Brown, Laurie - Former Arsenal, Spurs, Bradford Park Avenue and England Amateur International centre-back who joined Altrincham as player-manager in August 1969, resigning just over a year later in September 1970
Best, Richard - A nomadic striker who Altrincham had long coveted and eventually signed for the 1908/09 season. Scored a hat trick on debut, two goals in his next game and a hat trick in each of his next two games and all told scored 39 goals in 29 games before moving on once again before the end of the season. He re-appeared 2 seasons later, for Macclesfield in the debut fixture at Moss Lane and naturally scored a hat trick! During the Great War, Best turned out for Altrincham in the Lancashire Combination’s war time league and proved to have lost none of his goal-scoring prowess.
Brothers - Altrincham have a quite a number of brothers play for the club, the most well known possibly being Graham and Alan Heathcote but there have been plenty of other examples, including one match where Altrincham fielded 3 sets of brothers. To list a few there were goalkeeper Joe Barrow and Brother William, T. and Ernest Broadie, the Barnett family (see above), Walter and Ernest Baldwin, Thomas and Alfred Broome, James and George Eccles, Herbert and Harold Harding, J. and H. Mather, William and J. Miller, Walter and Joe Pearson, Harold and E. Peters, Leonard and C. Rowley, Albert and Edward Todd, Alfred and Morgan Thomas, George, E and T Whitfield, Fred and S. Winterbottom
Bangor City FC - Welsh opponents who were elected to the Cheshire County League in 1949/50 and later went on to provide some memorable games with Altrincham in the Northern Premier League and later in the Alliance Premier League. Provided a number of Altrincham stalwart players including Tony Broadhead, Graham Bennett, Ivan Crossley, Joe Flaherty and John Hughes, whilst Altrincham provided for Bangor the likes of John King, as manager and John Davison and Tommy Banks as players
Blizzard - In a match against Nelson during the 1912/13 season the match was played in a blizzard with the ground ankle deep in snow. After the match some of the team took the regular train to Manchester, taking 6 hours, another section waited for the ‘fast train’ and arrived back at 1am. 2 players then walked home to Altrincham! Altrincham lost the match 5-3
Canadians - Probably the oddest league opposition played by Altrincham during the War time Manchester Amateur League, the Canadians were a medical unit based at Buxton after moving from Kent to avoid the German air raids, they surprisingly beat Altrincham at Moss Lane, 2-1, in the season's opening fixture, with Altrincham gaining some revenge by taking the return match at Buxton, 2-0.
Case, Edward - President of the Cheshire League from its inception in 1919 till his death in 1952 and donor of the Edward Case Trophy, awarded to the highest placed side that were not a reserve side from a Football League team. Altrincham were awarded the trophy three times (each as runners-up) in 34/35, 35/36 & 67/68.
Championships - Altrincham have won a total of 7 league championships in their history, the Manchester League twice, The Cheshire League twice, the Alliance Conference twice and the UniBond Northern Premier League once.
Cheshire Amateur Cup - Also known as the Cheshire Junior Cup. Altrincham’s first team initially entered the competition in 1898/99, losing to Northwich Victoria in the first round, after a replay and were then finalists in 1899/00, losing 1-0 to Witton Albion at the Drill Field but eventually they won the cup in 1903/04 by beating Congleton, 4-1. The following season the club refused to defend the trophy when they were draw away to Bromborough Pool in the first round. As the club were becoming more professional it was left mainly to the reserves to compete in the Cheshire Amateur Cup when they re-entered the competition in 1905.
Cheshire County League - Altrincham were founder members of the league at a meeting held in the Moseley Hotel Manchester on 23rd April 1919 and remained members till the formation of the Northern Premier League in 1968, excepting the immediate post war 45/46 season. Altrincham won the title in successive seasons in 65/66 & 66/67 and finished runners-up three times in, 34/35, 35/36 & 67/68.
Cheshire County League Cup - Altrincham won the Cheshire County League Cup three times, in 1932/33, 1950/51 & 1963/64.
Cheshire Senior Cup - Altrincham first entered the competition in 1900 and have won the competition 6 times in, 1904/05, 33/34, 66/67, 81/82, 98/99 & 2004/05. They have also been finalists on no fewer than 12 other occasions in 1907/08, 18/19, 22/23, 52/53, 55/56, 69/70, 74/75, 84/85, 86/87, 94/95, 99/2000 and 2001/02
Colours - Altrincham haven’t always worn their famous red and white stripes. In their early days they played in red and black, changing to red shirts and blue shorts in 1905, eventually changing to red and white stripes. Post World War Two they played in quartered red and white shirts, then changed to red and white stripes and then moved to an all white strip in the mid 60’s before returning to their more familiar red and white stripes.
Clean sheets - The best achievement is 9 consecutive clean sheets performed by Pete Eales during season 73/74, in fact Altrincham actually went 10 games without conceding a goal with Peter Schofield keeping the other clean sheet.
Conference North - The fifth time that Altrincham have been one of the founder members of a new league. They gained promotion to the National Conference, via the play-offs, at the first attempt in 2004-05.
Cup Finals – Altrincham’s first team has appeared in over 40 senior cup finals since the club's inception as Broadheath, including amongst others, two appearances in the Cheshire Amateur Cup final, 18 in the Cheshire Senior Cup, 5 in the Cheshire County League Cup, 6 times in the Floodlit League finals (including the Macclesfield Floodlit league cup in 65/66), 3 times in the FA Trophy, 3 times in the Northern Premier League Cup (including the UniBond League Cup in 97/98, 3 times in the Altrincham and District Senior Cup, twice in the Alliance Premier League Cup and once each in the Manchester Charity Cup and Manchester Junior Cup,
Davis, John - Altrincham manager from October 1970 to December 1971.
Davison, John - Record number of appearances for Altrincham with 674 senior appearances, spread over 16 seasons. He won just about every senior honour available to him during his playing career with Altrincham. He also famously ‘saved’ Altrincham from relegation as ‘caretaker’ manager at the end of the 91/92 season after Stan Allan had been relieved of the post.
Debt- Nothing new, but something that the club has always laboured under throughout its history, right from its earliest days at the turn of the last century.
Defeat, Largest - Altrincham have had some heavy defeats during their history but their worst was 13-1 at home to Stretford on the 4th November 1893. This was during Broadheath’s first season of competitive football in which they finished bottom of the table. The second heaviest defeat (and largest away defeat) is the 13-2 thrashing, away at Chester on the 30th November 1929.
Defeats, Longest run- Altrincham suffered 13 straight defeats from 11th March 1961 to 1st May 1961. In the 1927/28 season they suffered 9 straight defeats and a run of 15 defeats in 17 games.
Denton FC - One of Altrincham’s early rivals in the Manchester League between 1902/03 and 1909/10, winning the title in 1905/06 and 1907/08.
Dickinson. Lennie - Hard running, goal-scoring captain and Altrincham playing legend who had first joined a struggling Altrincham in 1962/63 and was amazingly released after scoring 22 goals as an inside forward! After a spell at Witton Albion, he joined Mossley in 1965/66 and went on to establish himself as a playing legend at Seel Park, playing 338 games and scoring 84 goals between 65/66 and 72/73 before being lured back to Moss Lane at the end of the 72/73 season to become captain under Roy Rees's management.
Didsbury FC - Played in the Manchester League, along with Broadheath, during their first two seasons in 1893/94 and 1894/95.
Dinnington, Thomas - One of Altrincham’s founding members, who spent most of his adult life, connected with firstly Broadheath and then Altrincham, as player, committee member and director.
Docherty, Tommy - Short lived ‘celebrity’ manager appointed at the end of September 1987 and gone by early February 1988
Draws- The longest sequence is five drawn games, which Altrincham have achieved twice, firstly in the 1932/33 season and repeated it again in 1987/88 season. Altrincham have also managed twice to draw in 3 successive games where the score was 0-0 (the last two games of the 1976/77 season and the opening game of the 1978/79 season and repeated the sequence again in 2003/04). They have also three times had a sequence of 3 successive 1-1 draws, once in 1920/21, then in 1978/79 and finally in 1999/2000. The highest scoring draw result is 5-5 which Altrincham have achieved twice; firstly, away at Chester on 24th September 1930 and secondly at Moss Lane against Witton Albion on 14th October 1967.
Eales, Peter - An eccentric 'character' who was, probably along with Stuart Coburn and Jeff Wealands, Altrincham's best post-war goalkeeper. Has the best ratio of clean sheets to games played of any keeper that has ever played for Altrincham.
Earliest start to the season - 8th August in season 1 998/99 when Altrincham were away at Barrow.
Ellis, Ronnie - Over 300 games and 77 goals for the Robins. Ronnie played in every position for Altrincham except full back and goalkeeper
Elmore, George - was born in Northwich and was Altrincham's first 'star player', a centre or inside forward, Elmore was quick and skilful and Altrincham's committee had desired his services for some seasons, based mainly on outstanding performances against Broadheath. A labourer in the Northwich salt trade, his early career was spent playing with local sides, Witton Villa, Northwich Victoria and Witton Albion before joining Broadheath for the 1902/03 season. He was immediately without doubt Altrincham's best player, so it was no surprise when WBA paid the princely sum of £10 for his services The money was much needed as the Broadheath committee were struggling for funds but the effect on the playing side was disastrous, as the team had lost its cutting edge and results throughout the rest of the season were poor. The AGM acknowledged that Elmore's departure had been the main cause of the poor results in the latter half of the season. Released by WBA at the end of the season, George signed for Bristol Rovers (then in the Southern League) for the 1903/04 season, scoring 5 goals in 23 league games. A serious leg injury curtailed his professional career and he returned north to briefly join his local side, Witton Albion before rejoining Altrincham early in the 1904/05 season and going on to 'spark' Altrincham's Cheshire Senior Cup and Manchester League 'Double' that season. In 1906/07 he was captain as Altrincham made their first appearance in the FA Cup and won the Manchester League again. Early the following season (1907/08) playing as well as ever, he was persuaded to re-try professional football with 2nd Division Glossop and subsequently went on to play a couple of seasons for Blackpool before moving to the Scottish First Division, firstly with Partick Thistle and then St Mirren.
Everton FC - Altrincham faced the First Division Giants on January 4th 1975 after beating Accrihgton Stanley in the 4th Qualifying Round, Scunthorpe (after a replay) in the First Round and Gateshead in the 2nd Round. In the Everton game, 34,519 spectators watched John Hughes score for Altrincham after a spectacular defence splitting pass from Graham Heathcote. 3 days later, the replay was held at a muddy Old Trafford where 35, 530 spectators watched Altrincham lose gallantly 2-0, Bob Latchford broke the dead-lock when a Graham Heathcote back pass, stuck in the mud and Latchford did the rest .
FA Cup - Altrincham first entered the FA Cup (or English Cup as it was then known) in 1906/07 but it took until the 1933/34 season for Altrincham to actually progress through the qualifying rounds to the First Round proper, where they were beaten 1-0 by Gainsborough Trinity. The attendance was around 2,900 and the gate money taken on the day was £151. It then took another 30 years till Altrincham made their next 1st Round Proper appearance in 1963/64, when they lost to Wrexham 0-3 in a replay, after drawing 0-0 at home.
FA Cup Record -
Altrincham have recorded sixteen FA Cup victories against Football League clubs, with first League victims being Tranmere Rovers, who were beaten 4-2 in a FA Cup qualifying round during the 1921/22 season. Other League teams have been defeated in the FA Cup Proper include: Hartlepool (1973), Scunthorpe (1974 and 1980), Crewe Alexandra (1979), Rotherham United (1979), Sheffield United (1981), York City (1981), Rochdale (1965 &1982), Blackpool (1984 and 1985), Birmingham City (1986), Lincoln City (1988), Chester (1992) and Wigan Athletic (1994).
Honourable F.A. Cup draws have also been achieved in the following matches;
FA, Full membership - Altrincham became full members of the FA in 1903.
FA Trophy - Altrincham F.C. have been FA Trophy finalists 3 times, winners twice, first in 1978 (Letherhead 3-1) & second in 1986 (Runcorn 1-0). They have also been runners up once, in 1982 (Enfield 0-1). In addition they have also made the semi-finals 3 times in 76/77 (losing to Scarborough), 84/85 (losing to Boston United) and in 90/91 (losing to Wycombe Wanderers). Jeff Johnson and John Davison played in all three of Altrincham’s final appearances.
Felton, William - Former England International full back and ex-Grimsby, Sheffield Wednesday, Manchester City full back who joined Altrincham from Spurs early in the 1934/35 season as captain and coach. Felton led Altrincham to back-to-back 2nd place positions in the Cheshire League in 34/35 & 35/36.
Fixture congestion - Try this: in the 1907/08 season Altrincham played 6 games in 5 days. Starting with 2 matches on the Good Friday, meeting Sale Holmfield in the morning, playing in the Altrincham and District Cup and then Denton in the afternoon in a league fixture. The next day, Saturday, another league match was played, followed by two more games on Easter Monday and one on the Wednesday. Not surprisingly Altrincham lost 5 of the 6 games!
Floodlights - Moss Lane’s floodlights were officially switched on, on the 4th April 1966, the opposition being Witton Albion, Altrincham won 4-3, the attendance 4,323.
Founder Members - Altrincham have been founding members of not less than 5 leagues, The Manchester League in 1893, the Cheshire County League in 1919, the Northern Premier League in 1968, the Alliance Premier League (Conference) in 1979 and the Conference North in 2004.
Gale, Arthur - Former Bury, Chester, WBA and Macclesfield player who once famously scored 106 goals in a season for Chester. Joined Altrincham for the 1939 & 1940 Cheshire League wartime competition where he showed he had lost none of his goal scoring ability by scoring 33 goals in only 29 games. Came back to Altrincham as reserve team coach in July 1948 and continued into the early fifties. He is credited with discovering some of Altrincham’s more famous players from that period and the proceeds from the sale of these players helped keep the club afloat, the most notable probably being Joe Kennedy, who was transferred to WBA for £750 and played with some distinction. Famous for directing training by microphone from the main stand
Gallimore, Stanley- Former Manchester United winger (1930-1934) whose family are still connected with Altrincham FC. Stan was one of the mainstays of the side playing over 220 games and scoring over 60 goals for Altrincham between 1934 and the outbreak of the Second World War (with a brief spell at Northwich Victoria at the start of 38/39). He continued to play for Altrincham in the Cheshire League’s wartime competition before retiring.
Games-most played in a season - 75 competitive games in season 1974/75. Made up of 46 league games, 6 FA Cup, 8 FA Trophy, 3 NPL trophy (including 1 void), 8 North West Floodlit League and 4 Cheshire Senior Cup. John Davison played in 69 (68+1 sub) of the 75 games.
Giant Killing - Something Altrincham are famous for, with sixteen FA Cup victories against Football League clubs (See F for a list of sides beaten and the year).
Glossop FC - Dropped out of Football League at the end of the 1914/15 season (having joined the Football League in 1898) and joined the same Wartime Lancashire Combination League competition as Altrincham. Altrincham were the first side that Glossop met after dropping out of the Football League (both home and away, as the sides met on the first two Saturdays of the season). After the war Glossop remained in the Lancashire Combination, whilst Altrincham helped found the new Cheshire County League
Goodison Park - Home of Everton FC and the setting for one of Altrincham’s great FA Cup performances a 1-1 draw on the 4th January 1975
Gowdy, William - Irish International and former Linfield, Sheffield Wednesday and Hull City inside forward who was surprisingly lured to Moss Lane in July 1937, from Hibernian, via Goole (for whom he played for and captained whilst on the open transfer list with Hibs, for £500). Stayed only the one season at Moss Lane before moving to Aldershot.
Green - Altrincham have had 9 players with the surname Green make first team appearances for the club. The first Green, an inside left, played in 1908/09, followed by John Green 1936/37, E. Green 1954/55, goalkeeper John Green in 1959/60, Brian Green in 1961/62, Chris Green in 1966/67, followed by two Andy Greens 1988/89 & 93/94-95/96 and finally Russell Green 1992/93-93/94
Grounds - Prior to 1903 Altrincham were a nomadic side who used a number of playing fields in the Altrincham/Timperley/Broadheath area to stage matches. In most cases they were little more than fields, playing initially at Massey Farm and Dairy House Farm and later ranging from being beside the old Broadheath railway viaduct, to “a field near Timperley Station”, or on Navigation Road or on Stockport Road and indeed on Moss Lane itself. Altrincham’s first permanent ground was Pollitt's Field and they played there from 1903 to 1910. The side then moved to the current Moss Lane location in September1910.