Stalybridge and Altrincham invite fans to key meetings

Rob Gorksi (right) with Steve Burr as he first became Bridge boss in 2007

NATIONAL League North strugglers STALYBRIDGE CELTIC and ALTRINCHAM are both holding important meetings over the next few days – and you, the fans, are invited!

Steve Burr has returned for a second stint as Stalybridge manager and after booking their place in the Manchester Premier Cup final, Bridge were unfortunate to lose his first league game back in charge last Saturday.

Second-bottom Celtic failed to take one of several chances they created in the first half at title-chasing SALFORD CITY, only for home striker Mike Phenix to bundle in the game’s only goal on 57 minutes.

The club has thanked fans for their excellent support at Salford, though, and has urged them to keep coming back during the run-in. Bridge are still 15 points adrift of safety with 14 games left – but 9 of those games are at home so the club wants to turn Bower Fold back into a fortress.

To that end, chairman Rob Gorski has made a rather intriguing announcement that there will be an “important meeting” in the Social Club tomorrow night (Thursday), from 7.30pm prompt. While Gorksi has not given any hint of what the meeting will be about, saying he will not comment on any speculation, he has asked “every single supporter to attend if possible”, promising that “it WILL be worth their while!”

Gorski has asked people to spread the word about the meeting to ensure as big a turn-out as possible. Although the appointment of Steve Halford and Paul Phillips was streamed live on Facebook earlier this season, Gorski has said that won’t be happening again tomorrow night.

He added: “This is a VERY positive meeting, so please, no ridiculous speculation that we are permanently closing the gates tonight or whatever.”

Nevertheless, I can’t help but speculate a little. I must stress that I’ve not heard or read anything to suggest this but what the heck, I’ll throw it out there anyway. Every time there’s a managerial change at Bower Fold, Paul Scholes’ name is mentioned. He has helped out with coaching on the odd occasion so who knows, maybe the United legend has offered to do so again on a more permanent basis till the end of the season. We’ll see.

As for rock-bottom Altrincham, their future seems much more bleak. The club has already begun planning for what seems their inevitable drop into the Evo-Stik League having commissioned a strategic review back in October while they’re also putting together a five-year plan.

Something’s clearly not right. In less than 12 months, the Robins have slipped from English football’s 5th tier to the brink of playing in the 7th for the first time in their history. So given the club has been in freefall, the board was keen to assess the current state and future direction of the club.

They’ve kindly already published the findings online here and as you’ll see, in some cases the review is brutally honest. While the club is debt free and revenue has risen by over 50% over the last five years, the review features words such as “carnage” and “catastrophic”.
One excerpt reads: “Even before this year’s debacle, the club ended the five years in the same place as it started – newly relegated from the National League – despite a doubling of wages in those five years.”

Players’ wages for last season still amount to just 60% of total expenditure (it was around 50% in 2011/12) but the review recommends that Alty refresh the board and re-establish stakeholder relations. That’s as well as bringing back some stability with the first-team management and squad, of course.

It finishes by saying it is now up to the board what to do with the findings but you have the chance to put pressure on them to act – and in which way you want them to do it. The findings are also being presented to fans at the club this Sunday, when there is an opportunity to put questions to the board about the review and about their response to it. The event will be held in the Community Sports Hall, starting at 7pm.

If either Stalybridge or Altrincham are to pull off a ‘mission impossible’ and manage to stay at step two then surely they need to start this Saturday. That’s because Alty are at home to 3rd-bottom Worcester while Bridge are about to host Bradford Park Avenue (Saturday) and AFC Telford (Tuesday) – both sides who go into the weekend just 3 points above the bottom 3.

If you can get down there, for either the meetings or the games, I’m sure they’ll appreciate your support.