matt doughty

Altrincham are looking beyond ‘cursed’ campaign

Written on March 7, 2017 by Jacque Talbot – @Jac_Talbot

MATT Doughty must be wondering if ALTRINCHAM are actually cursed after his side was sunk by Dave Hibbert’s late goal on Saturday, despite a committed display from the Robins.

Alty had been hoping to build on their first home win of the season the week before – and just their second overall in the National League North this term – but they are still rock-bottom of the table with only 13 points to speak of.

With goalkeeper Tim Deasy out, interim boss Doughty handed a debut to new signing Stuart Tomlinson – a former professional WWE wrestler who had previous spells with Port Vale and Burton Albion. His significant physical presence was mocked at times by the home crowd and a few dubbed him ‘Big Daddy’, but he did enough to keep Telford at bay until the final few minutes.

Even the home manager said they didn’t deserve to win but, against the run of play, it was Telford who snatched the win 3 minutes from time when Joel Dielna’s strike from outside the box was diverted into the net by Hibbert.

With chairman Grahame Rowley among those watching Altrincham’s invigorating performance, Doughty can be pleased with another improved performance, which warranted at least a point. Some fans have been critical of Doughty but after the full-time whistle blew, the Robins’ away support stood and applauded their players off the field. However, some fans have already voiced their opposition to the idea of the former Alty left-back, 35, staying on as manager for next season, which is likely to be in the Evo-Stik Premier – and the club’s first at step three of the non-league ladder.

Some disgruntled fans are also planning a walk-out during the Robins’ next home game. Alty are due to host fellow strugglers Stalybridge Celtic a week on Saturday (March 18) and a protest group has announced its intention to walk out of the ground on 15 minutes. The group feels that Rowley hid away from questions that need to be answered when the club recently presented the findings of its Strategic Review to fans. The meeting, held at the club’s Community Sports Hall at the end of last month, was boycotted by certain supporters who saw it as a ‘self-serving exercise’ by the club, although it was streamed live on Facebook and the video can still be viewed here.

Over 100 supporters did attend the meeting and the night was supposed to be a time of unity and progression for the club, but instead it was met with scepticism by some supporters. On the basis of the meeting, it seemed as if the Alty fans are divided in themselves at this difficult time – the general consensus on social media is that Rowley must step down in order for the club to stand any chance of growth, yet pockets of the audience countered this by suggesting the terrible plight endured by the club is a result of ‘on-field’ occurrences rather than decisions made off it.

However, the board – and chairman Rowley – have been rigorous in their approach and cannot be accused of standing idly on a sinking ship. There was a sense that they want to create a new and improved Altrincham as they hastily commissioned the review before Christmas and responded to bad results by removing Jim Harvey as manager.

Despite this, some felt it was not an impartial review. The most notable complaints stemmed from the peculiar actions of designated mediator Ian Watmore, who at one point tried to snatch the microphone back halfway through a question about the Non-League Paper story regarding Neil Young’s departure. It featured quotes attributed to Rowley, who said he asked the NLP reporter for a retraction but didn’t get a response.

New board members Bill Waterson and Mike Adams were introduced and both made a positive first impression. Rowley said a board meeting will be heard towards the end of March to discuss the manager’s position for next season and assured fans that if the club does go down, they will go all out to win promotion as champions and get back to where they feel Alty belong. “With your help, we can do that,” Rowley said.

But there is still a glimmer of hope the team can avoid relegation and the Robins visit Boston United this Saturday before that Stalybridge game.

Click here for a written version of selected questions from the Q&A at the open meeting. You can also view the presentation slides used at the event.