Monday, 2 May 2011

Cack-Handed Away Guide I: ALTRINCHAM FC.


Altrincham Football Club
Moss Lane
WA15 8AP


Alty, The Robins

But we call them

Defaultrincham, The Spawny Gets

Who are Alty?

Well, it just happened to be that Altrincham came first on an alphabetical list on the teams we'll be facing this coming season. Altrincham have only spent one season in the Conference North previous to this, after being promoted through the play-offs in 2005 the year the league was formed. They were subsequently plopped into the child's sandpit that is the Conference National with the Shaymen, and told to be nice to their new buddies. What was to follow? Altrincham were reprieved in 2006, finishing 22nd. They finished 21st in 2007 and were reprieved. They then finished 21st in 2008. Super Town of course, managed 20th that season, honourable given the awfulness of the situation, but were liquidated. So–! As a result, Altrincham were reprieved. But rather than respecting Halifax Town as the reason Alty have been the jammiest bastards in 21st century football, they gloated at our demise. And it's for this reason that our two games against Alty are going to be the biggest score settlers of this coming season.

Beyond this, Alty's history is presented as that of a successful part-time, regional club. Forming as Broadheath FC they quickly became Altrincham FC, were sent down south from the Lancashire Leagues to the Cheshire leagues, and spent almost 50 years there. After six admirable seasons of either being in the mix or leading the pack, they became founder members of the Northern Premier League in 1968, landing a spot in the Alliance (Conference) in 1979. These were their halcyon years, immediately becoming champions of the Alliance for two seasons running, bowing out to often big Football League opposition in the FA Cup for six out of the 10 seasons in the '80s. Somewhere along the way they found a fan in alternative comedian Frank Sidebottom.

They dropped out of the hatch at the bottom of the Conference in 1997, before coming back for a blur of a season and falling down into the NPL again. Promotion from the new-found Conference North followed in 2005. They were then of course reprieved for the next three seasons in the Conference's bid to devastate otherwise slightly less unsuccessful teams such as Town, and here we are today in the confusing world of Twitters, e-Facebooks and strangely realistic Japanese sex dolls. Unfortunately, the webmaster of Alty's official site hasn't yet been told of such modernisation.

The 2010/11 saw the Robins go part-time again and totter around the relegation spots for the season's entirety. Historic debts however have claimed to be paid off, and sensible management has thus brought Altrincham to an arguably more natural level.

Altrincham retain a lifelong rivalry with the locals at Macclesfield Town. Fortunes have been disparate however, and much like the Shaymen's out-of-date rivalries with Huddersfield and Rochdull, chances are the two teams won't meet for a while. Northwich Victoria have also been past rivals, but I'm sure that feeling has turned into one much worse for the Vics: sheer pity.

The Ground

Moss Lane is an old-school effort built in limited space with seemingly decent seater stands and good terraces elsewhere, ideal for troubling goalkeepers. Provided the revenge factor's still there by then, we should bring several hundred to the wrong side of the Pennines. Parking is very limited, such is the tinpottery of it all. Possible segregation could leave us in a roofless away end, and the Hindu among us may count the port-a-loos as a punishment for deeds done in our past lives.

The town

Located in southernmost Greater Manchester, Altrincham boasts both the wattle-and-daub and distressed brick of Cheshire, and the persistent rainy bleakness of Manchester. It is an average-sized market town that "benefits" from being a commuter centre. It can be accessed by tram and bus from Manchester city centre, eight miles north-east. Alternatively, trains from Piccadilly should get you there within half an hour. Local pubs include the King George and the Bridge Inn, provided they haven't closed by time of visit. Altrincham is of course pronounced "Ol-tring-um." Don't embarrass yourself.

Aside from the much-maligned Frank Sidebottom, Ian Brown of the Stone Roses once roamed Altrincham's charter'd streets. Man City and United players are also professed to live there, but in the posh areas obviously.

Will we need to segregate?

Mmmaybe. You'd like to think 200 or so would bother with the trip, but don't bank on it.

If you have a pub to recommend or a bone to pick, please leave a comment.


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