by Terry Rowley
Reproduced from The Robins' Review 2005/06
By Terry Rowley
Managers - Graham Heathcote is the 28th individual to be appointed manager of Altrincham FC. The longest serving manager is John King with 9 years 3 months in the job spread over 3 spells. The longest single tenure is Tony Sanders with 7 years and 9 months. Altrincham have also had 7 player/managers. 13 of the permanent managers have also played for Altrincham (including player-managers)
Manchester Amateur League - Due to the problems with transportation and reduced opposition caused by the First World War, Altrincham withdrew from the Lancashire Combination League and took over Mersey Athletics’ fixtures in the Manchester Amateur league in February 1917 and completed the remaining 1916/17 season’s fixtures. They then played the whole of the 1917/18 season in the Amateur League and continued into the first half of the 1918/19 season in this league before returning to the reformed Lancashire Combination league in late December 1918.
Manchester Combination - Altrincham/Broadheath Reserves joined this newly formed league on the demise of the Manchester League second division at the end of the 1895/96 season. They won the league title in its first two seasons (1896/97 and 1897/98).
Manchester Federation- Altrincham Reserves moved to the stronger Federation League after the Manchester Combination in 1904.
Manchester League - Altrincham’s first team played 18 seasons in the Manchester League from 1893/94 to 1910/11 before joining the stronger Lancashire Combination. The reserve side then played in the Manchester League in the mid thirties and in the immediate post war season (1947/48), when they left to form the Mid Cheshire League. The reserves later re-joined the Manchester League and played a further 12 seasons from 1959/60 to 1970/71 after leaving the Mid-Cheshire league.
Mid Cheshire League- Altrincham Reserves were founder members of this league and also took the championship in its first two seasons in 1948/49 & 1949/50. They left for two seasons (1954/55 &55/56), rejoining in 1956/57 to the end of the 1957/58 season, before rejoining the Manchester League 2 years later. Nearly 30 years after leaving, Altrincham Reserves rejoined the Mid Cheshire League in the 2nd division for 1987/88 season, gaining promotion to the first division as runners up. They played 2 seasons in the first division to the end of the 1989/90 season when the reserve side was closed down yet again.
Mobley, Dave – Well respected brother of Vic, this former Sheffield Wednesday and Grimsby centre-half had two spells at Moss Lane between 1970/71-1972/73 & 1978/79 playing 185 games (joining both times from Macclesfield!) before moving to Mossley for a couple of seasons then retiring in 1981.
Moran, Tom - Honorary Manager 1934/35, also club director.
Morris, Jimmy – Manager appointed in July 1955 (55/56-60/61). A former Stockport County player and coach/trainer, who spent 17 years at Stockport County. Resigned on April 4th 1961 2 weeks after White and Swales took over the club.
Mort, Thomas – Full Back Tommy Mort is probably the only player associated with Altrincham to leave Moss Lane and obtain full International honours. Although surprisingly never making the Altrincham first team, he was a regular with the reserves and with Oldham Athletic’s Central League side. He joined Rochdale in June 1921 before being signed for Aston Villa in April 1922 and going on to play 337 games before retiring in May 1935. His 3 England caps came between March 1924 and April 1926 against Wales, France and Scotland
Moss Lane- Home to Altrincham AFC for the last 95 years. The first game played there was against Macclesfield Town in the Manchester League on the 3rd September 1910. Altrincham lost 3-1, with former player Dickie Best scoring all three goals for Macclesfield.
Napier, Kenneth - Midfielder, Ken Napier was a local man and an engineer by profession, who lived on Beech Road. Played for his local club, Altrincham, for 6 seasons between1905/06 to 1910/11, during which Altrincham finished 3rd, 1st, 6th, 3rd, 3rd and 2nd in the Manchester League. Ken also won a Healy Manchester Charity Cup winners medal and a Cheshire Senior Cup finalists medal in his time with Altrincham, prior to moving to Buenos Aries, Argentina with work.
New Mills – Played one season with Broadheath in the Manchester League in 1897/98 and rejoined in 1908/09 to play in Altrincham’s last three seasons in the Manchester League.
Newton Heath Athletic – Strong opponents in Altrincham’s early day’s never finishing outside the top 3 between 1898/99 and 1902/03 but then went into freefall finishing bottom of the table for four consecutive seasons between 1906/07 and 1909/10.
Nil Nil - Since Altrincham recommenced football after the second world war in 1946, there have been only 4 seasons when Altrincham have not played out a 0-0 draw, these are 1948/49, 56/57, 65/66 and the last being 91/92. The most 0-0’s in a season is 7 which occurred in 89/90 and the most in a season in purely home games is 5, in the 1972/73 season. The last season with no home 0-0 is 2001/02 and Altrincham have gone 3 seasons, on two occasions, without having a home 0-0 result. These were between 1965/66 & 67/68 and 1995/96 & 97/98 and include all competitions. Runcorn feature as the 0-0 specialists with 5 at Moss Lane and 8 away, although Stalybridge Celtic have the highest number of Post-War 0-0 results at Moss Lane with 6 in all competitions.
Noon, James (Jimmy) - A Manchester City amateur midfield player who played for Altrincham both before and after the second world war. Joined in November 1937 and played until war curtailed the 1939/40 season. Jimmy continued to play for Altrincham in the hastily arranged Cheshire County League wartime competitions in 1939 and 1940. He missed the last two games of the 1940 competition by joining the army but Altrincham closed down at the end of the season for the duration of the war. Rejoined the club for Altrincham’s first season of post-War competitive football in 1946/47.
North Cheshire League - Altrincham Reserves played in this league intermittently during the 1920s
Northern Premier League- Altrincham were one of the founder members of this league which brought together some of the best of northern non league teams. Altrincham were members between 1968/69 and 1978/79, followed by spells in 1997/98 to 1998/99 and 2000/01 to 2003/04. Altrincham won the league in 1998/99 and were runners up in 1978/79.
Northern Premier League Cup - Altrincham won the trophy in 1969/70 and 1997/98. They were also losing finalists in 1973/74 and made the semi finals on 4 other occasions.
North West Alliance League- Altrincham Reserves played in this league between 1993/94 and 1998/99
North West Floodlit Cup- A competition played only in 1966/67 which was the successor of the previous season’s Macclesfield Floodlit Cup. The North West Floodlit Cup was the predecessor of the following season’s North West Floodlit League. For the record, Altrincham lost their only game 2-4 at home to Morecambe.
North West Floodlit League - Altrincham competed in this competition from 1967/68 till 1977/78, winning the competition 5 times in 67/68, 68/69, 70/71, 72/73 and 74/75, with Macclesfield being the beaten finalists on 4 occasions, the exception being Buxton in 72/73. Altrincham were also beaten finalists in 77/78
Northwich Victoria- Close neighbours, close rivals and probably Altrincham’s oldest continuous opponents. They first met in the Cheshire Amateur Cup in 1898.
O'Hara, John - A labourer who lived in Carrington and played for Broadheath in 1894/95 and 1895/96.
Oldham Athletic - Altrincham first met Oldham Athletic in the Manchester League in 1900/01 and played each other till the end of the 1903/04 season when Oldham moved up to the Lancashire Combination
Old Trafford - Venue for Altrincham’s FA Cup 3rd Round replay with Everton on 7th January 1975, Altrincham lost 2-0 after holding Everton to a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park 3 days earlier. The attendance was 35,530.
Oughtringham Park- Lymm-based Manchester League opponents whose headquarters were at the Railway Hotel, Heatley.
Overseas - Altrincham have had a number of players who were born abroad. Excluding the British Isles, amongst those that were born overseas are, Nelson Stiffle (India), Sammy Ayorinde (Nigeria), Levi Edwards (St Lucia), Martin Hanchard (Germany), Konrad Kapler (Poland), Grant Leitch (South Africa), Gerard Léonard (France), Charlie Mitten (Burma), Lee Ramoon (Cayman Islands), Ossie Smith (Jamaca), John Toner (Canada), Jason van Blerk (Australia) and Ignacio Ybarra (Spain).
Owens, John - An Altrincham ‘legend’ who was born January 1950 in Liverpool. John started as a youngster with Tranmere Rovers before briefly joining Skelmersdale and featured strongly in the British Universities side run by Roy Rees, which led to him joining Altrincham and spending 11 successful seasons at Moss Lane. During his time with Altrincham he played in many notable FA Cup ties (including Everton and Tottenham) and won an FA Trophy winners medal in 1978, followed by back to back Alliance league titles in 1979/80 and 80/81. As early as 1978 he was destined for a coaching career, as had by then a full UEFA A Coaching Licence. After leaving Altrincham (506 games 20 goals) he then played for Marine, Heswell, and Southport, whilst coaching at Liverpool FC. He went on to coach the England under 15 side and manage the England semi professional side. Currently employed as assistant Academy Director at Liverpool FC,
Phillips, Brian - ‘Discovered’ by Altrincham coach, Arthur Gale playing for Lancashire Steele (Often referred to at the time as Altrincham’s ‘Nursery’ club due to the amount of players Altrincham signed in the 1950s). Signed for Altrincham in December 1950 and played 123 games over the next 3½ seasons before being lured to Middlesbrough in June 1954. Brian played 121 league and 3 FA Cup games for Middlesbrough, then transferred to Mansfield Town in 1960 for his last 3 seasons of league football. His career ended controversially after allegations of match ‘fixing’, for which he was subsequently sentenced to 15 months imprisonment at Nottingham Assizes in April 1965 along with two former Mansfield team mates and 7 players from other clubs for his part in an illegal betting, ‘match fixing’ and bribery ring, which The People newspaper called “The biggest soccer scandal of the century”. Phillips was also suspended from all involvement in football until re-instated in 1971. He later went on to manage FA Vase finalists Rainworth MW in 1982.
Pig- It’s reputed that in the early days of the club’s history that a pig was placed on a wall along Moss Lane to signify that Altrincham were playing at home that day.
Play offs - Altrincham’s first involvement in ‘play-offs’ for promotion was last season (2004/05) when they gained promotion from Conference North to the National Conference after beating Nuneaton, Kettering and finally Eastbourne Borough in the play-off final.
Poland - Altrincham AFC have had three Polish players turn out for them, Konrad Kapler, Stefan Minkiewiski and Adam Wasileski. Of the three, only Kapler can be regarded as being successful, the former Glasgow Celtic and Polish Schoolboy International came to Altrincham from Morecambe via Rochdale and in 6 seasons played 258 games for Altrincham. Stefan Minkiewiski played only 3 games in season 55-56 and 6'2" Adam Wasileski, recommended to the club by Kon Kapler, was playing in the Manchester League at the time and played 4 games and scored 1 goal for Altrincham during the 51-52 season. He went on to sign as an amateur for Rochdale in July 1953 playing 4 games and scoring 1 goal. He tragically died in 1956, aged just 31.
Pollitt’s Field - Was Altrincham’s first permanent home ground where they played for 7 seasons. The ground was situated just off Urban Road and was taken on a yearly tenancy from the local council and was at first little more than an enclosed field. The pitch was only 106½ yards long and had a gas works end and a Moss Lane end. But by the start of the1907/08 season there was banking on 3 sides of the ground and a new pavilion seating 500 had been erected (costing £100). The ground however suffered from extremely poor drainage and there was continual severe criticism of the pitch by opponents, the press and the league's management committee. This, coupled with the District Council’s desire to develop the area, hastened the move to Altrincham’s current location on Moss Lane in 1910. The first match to be played at Pollitt’s Field was against Glossop on the 19th September 1903, (Altrincham winning 5-0). The last match was a 1-1 draw against Hazel Grove on 23rd April 1910.
Programme - Altrincham did not produce a programme until they joined the second division of the Lancashire Combination League for the 1911/12 season. The first ever Altrincham programme was issued on the 2nd September 1911 for the season's opening fixture against Sutton, a team that were to fold before the end of the season. Altrincham won the match 3-0. It is extremely doubtful if any copies of this programme still exist.
Pybus, George - Promising left half who joined Altrincham in 1933 after a spell at Bradford City but after just 32 games he was signed by Chelsea for a fee of £350, with the promise of more money to come if he re-signed the following season. He did but never made the Chelsea first team, moving on to Gillingham in 1935/36 but failed to make the grade at Gillingham playing just 7 games in all competitions and ended up at Folkestone Town.
Pye, Fred - Flamboyant individual appointed manager by Noel White and Peter Swales in the belief that he could create the championship winning side they so desired. It could be said that Pye was the man responsible for finally putting Altrincham AFC on the national football map. Fred was appointed manager in April 1963, after a successful playing career, most notably with Hyde United and after management experience with Nantile Vale, Pwllhelli and latterly Stalybridge Celtic. He held the manager's post until February 1969 when he moved up to become a director and general manager of the club, though he held the post again in a temporary capacity in August 1969 and again in September 1970. During nearly 6 years in charge he built his and the clubs reputation as a force in non-league circles, taking Altrincham to back-to-back championships in 1965/66 & 66/67 (followed by 2nd place in 1967/68) and Cheshire Senior Cup and League Cup victories as well as FA Cup ties against Wrexham, Scunthorpe and Wolves.
Queens Park - The famous Scottish amateur football club for which Tommy Heron, Adewale Ajetumobi and Neil Dewer all played prior to playing for Altrincham.
Quinn, Gerry- Surprise appointment as manager, to many, when selected to take the job in May 1992, after a successful spell in charge of Emley. Gerry brought in a large contingent of players from Emley, something that caused quite a bit of ill feeling in Emley. With the team struggling at the bottom end of the table, Gerry was sacked in October 1993, to be replaced, briefly by Paul Rowlands.
Quixall, Albert - Former Manchester United, Sheffield Wednesday and England forward who played 3 games for Altrincham in 1967/68 as a favour to then manager and friend, Freddie Pye.
Railway Arches, Broadheath - site of one of the side's early pitches in the 1890s.
Record win - 14-2 against Sale Holmfield in 1903
Re-election - Altrincham may have only been relegated twice in their history (see below) but they have had to seek re-election on at least three other occasions when they finished bottom of the table. The first occasion occurred in 1894 at the end of Altrincham’s inaugural season in the Manchester League. The second occasion occurred in 1930, when they finished bottom of the Cheshire County League and the third occasion was again in the Cheshire County League, in 1953.
Rees, Roy - Manager, who was appointed in January 1972 and remained in the post until resigning in March 1975. Rees also brought to Moss Lane Tony Sanders, as his assistant, a man who would subsequently lead Altrincham to greater things. Rees, though, was the man who gave the likes of Graham Heathcote and John Davison their chance with the club and brought future Altrincham ‘legends’ like John Owens, Gerry Casey, Joey Pritchard and Mickey Brooke to the club. He went on to manage Bangor City and then to coach in the USA, where he still lives today.
Relegation - Altrincham have been relegated twice in their history both occasions have occurred in the last 10 years and both were from the Conference in 1997 and again in 2000
Reserves - Altrincham Reserves have always had a tenuous existence. Formed around the same time as the first team, the Reserves have played in a variety of leagues, ranging from the Manchester League second division to the current Lancashire League. On numerous occasions the reserves were closed down out of financial necessity only to reappear a season or two later in a new league. Some of the other leagues they have played in include; the Manchester Federation, the Manchester Combination, the Altrincham and District league, the South East Lancashire League, The North Cheshire League, the Manchester League, The Mid Cheshire League, The Lancashire League and the North West Alliance League.
Rigby Memorial School - The original headquarters of Altrincham FC. The buildings no longer exist but were situated just off Navigation Road, behind the Navigation pub.
Rochdale FC – Altrincham faced Rochdale for one season (1907/08 Altrincham winning 4-1 at home and drawing 2-2 away) in the Manchester League. Rochdale then moved up to the Lancashire Combination League the following season, the Central League in 1912, subsequently becoming a Football League side in 1921. Altrincham have also met them twice since they became a league club, both times in the FA Cup, winning 3-1 away in 1965/66 and 2-1 at home in 1982/83.
Rogers, John - Rogers, an electrician by trade, first came to prominence with Burscough as a teenager during the early part of the 1971/72 season scoring 9 goals in quick time. Wigan Athletic saw his potential and signed him that same season and he went on to have 5 outstanding seasons at Springfield Park, as well as a spell in the USA with Portland Timbers. He tried his hand at professional level, joining Port Vale in October 1976 and played over 30 games during the 1976/77 season before joining Altrincham for £3,000 in 1977. Rogers soon became a legend at Altrincham and helped them to some of the most successful seasons in their history. He briefly re-joined Wigan (now a football league club) in August 1982) before briefly rejoining Altrincham and then seeing out the 1982/83 season with Barrow 82/83. The following season saw him at Runcorn and then he took on the player/managership at South Liverpool. Moved to Witton Albion in 85/86 as a player but by October 1985 was player/manager 85/86 (aided by our current Altrincham manager!). He returned to Altrincham as physio in 1990. For Wigan, Rogers played 243 games in all competitions and scored 111 goals and for Altrincham played 276 games and scored 133 goals.