Away In A Mazda - A Tale of Two Cities (Towns) Part 2


Fresh from our successful midweek foray into deepest and foggiest Northumbria our second of four consecutive away games gave us an altogether shorter trip to Altrincham in the FA Trophy. Well the trip may have taken less than 30 minutes but the mid December weather decided to make this an even more miserable encounter than the gothic goings on at Spennymoor. Storm Denise – why do they do this, give weather patterns names? had cruel tricks to play on us although probably not as cruel as the Altrincham officials.

An early solo arrival at Moss Road circa 1.30 PM  prompted me to view the freezing, driving rain from the relative comfort of my car. Circa 2 PM I bravely exited said car, put on two further layers of clothing to the three I already had on and waddled, Michelin man style to the away turnstiles. Sadly failing the 65 age concession price by a small number of years I paid my £13 whilst salivating at the EP £10 price should this end in a draw.

The away supporters apparently had been consigned the open away end. 
Think Everest Base camp on a bad day. In fact I don’t think I ever been to Moss Road when its not been raining, even a pre season friendly in August it was bucketing it down. Various tales from the locals informed us that the covered side terracing normally afforded to the visiting supporters was a) Still under repair and/or b) Altrincham FC felt that massed hoards of County fans assembled under a roof actually create more atmosphere than the home crowd and was to be avoided at all costs. I have not made that last sentence up by the way, we were informed this by an Alty official. Contemplating my full waterproof trouser/jacket combo to be deployed I spied that some County fans were accessing a small seated and more importantly covered stand to our left. Prior to my efforts to access this area I succumbed to a pie, pea and mash meal making sure that Mr Brown was not within photographing distance.

Eatery ( pic courtesy of Andrew Machin )

The assorted milk, sugar, condiments and sauces were considerately placed in a small area that had its own little roof and by all accounts appeared to be the driest place in the entire stadium. My plan B if I failed to access the covered stand was to drink tea all afternoon and subsequently loiter in the covered milk and sauce stand. The down side of that plan is that drinking tea all afternoon requires several toilet visits. Limited toilet facilities and accessing ‘equipment’ through multiple layers of clothing is fraught with problems and I considered plan C. I could not come up with a plan C.

Limited....what do you mean....palatial more like!

Thankfully the rather humourless steward allowed us to access the covered seating area on the strict instructions that he was not going to let teenagers in. Bit ageist but there you go. I informed him that I was not yet a teenager. His reaction was such that I might as well as slapped him the face with a wet fish.

So we kicked off. Around a dozen or so teenagers had infiltrated the stand and were stood on the stairwell blocking 60 or 70 peoples view. Requests to maybe move were not met with any consideration and shortly the young gentlemen were guided back by stewards to ‘Base Camp’ where the driving rain was freezing on contact with the ground. A casual glance towards the stand ‘under repair’ saw several home fans taunting ‘Base Camp’ with their warmth and dryness.

Still out there in the rain late on !

And so to the game. Tuesday nights game the referee was Mr Cox and today we had Mr Swallow. I think he was better than Mr Cox although the only big decision he had to make was how to deal with the home centre forward and scoring sensation Jordan Hulme who from the kick off seemed in a really bad mood and when he left his stud marks on Jamie Stott’s earthbound torso there was only one course of action, that was a red card. This prompted furious twitchings from a window blind situated just behind our small seated stand where bemused Alty officials surveyed the departing Jordan Hulme berating the visiting supporters pantomime style. Satisfied that the action was over the window blinds closed and never opened again for the remainder of the game.

At the commencement of the second half Altrincham officials decided that the hardy 150 or so souls that had survived ‘Base Camp’ and had not yet succumbed to frost bite or hyperthermia would be allowed under the covered standing section vacated by the home fans. Flimsy and unsuitable barriers were found and the remainder of the game passed off without incident.

Ash Palmers world class finish! ensured that we won the game and progress further in the competition.

The goal ( pic courtesy of Andrew Machin)

 For many the FA Trophy is not a priority and maybe a distraction but it does keep the winning momentum going, does provide some useful prize money and does give us the potential opportunity to pit ourselves against Conference National opposition again.

As I waddled back to my car and shed a couple of layers before the short drive home something was troubling me: Altrincham FC, stadium sponsored and named after a scrap yard and main sponsors are an insurance company. Perhaps it’s just me.

Adrian Caville


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