Report by John Edwards
Altrincham are proud and pleased to announce an exciting new opportunity for our highly-regarded Academy manager Paul Fay.
Paul's coaching and person-to-person skills have played an integral part in the Academy's enviable success story and have been recognised with his appointment as the new manager of North West Counties League club Cheadle Heath Nomads.
Crucially, from a Robins perspective, he is continuing as Alty's Academy manager after revealing he only accepted the Nomads job after consulting with his family and concluding he could give both posts his full attention.
"I've had a few offers to step up to first-team level over the past four or five years, but it's never been quite the right time," Paul explained. "In fact, Rory Fallon, who was managing Nomads at the time, asked me to go there last season, but with all that was going on with the Academy, and with the club in general with the switch to full-time status, it wouldn't have been right.
"But it's something I've always wanted to do, and when this opportunity arose, with Rory moving over to Wythenshawe Town, it certainly appealed to me.
"The first thing I did when I walked through the door at home, after speaking to the people at Cheadle, was discuss it with my wife Karen, because it meant doing two roles, and it's a balancing act when you've got a young family like ours, with our five-year old son Odhran.
"But she was so supportive. She knew it was an opportunity I wanted but that I wouldn't take it if it meant giving up the Academy role with Alty, so she just said go for it, give it your best shot. That's certainly what I intend doing."
So how does Paul aim to combine moulding future first-teamers at Alty with enabling Nomads to keep punching above their weight, with last season's eighth-place finish in the NWCL Division One South the best they have ever achieved.
"There'll be no clash of games, because the Academy generally play on a weekday during the afternoon," he said. "The two roles are clearly defined in my mind - Monday to Friday during the day, I'm developing boys for a place in the senior squad at Alty; a couple of evenings each week and every Saturday afternoon, the focus is on making Cheadle Heath Nomads as competitive as possible in the NWCL.
"It's gratifying to see the progress we are making with the Academy. When I started out, we didn't really see players coming through from the junior ranks, but it's happening now in increasing numbers. Tom Jones came off the bench for the first team in a pre-season friendly last year, and Ryan Morton has had that experience as well. There have been others, too, and we want to keep that trend going.
"It's massive for Altrincham, the Academy, but I know and appreciate there's going to be a different emphasis at Nomads. As a semi-professional club, results are all-important to them, naturally enough, but they don't really matter at the Academy, where it's all about nurturing talent for the future.
"But that's fine. I'm going into it with my eyes open, and, in a way, what happened with some of the Academy lads last season will help me at Cheadle, because about a dozen of them went out on loan at various stages and that certainly gave me an idea of the standard in the North West Counties and what is needed to be sustainable in that league.
"Football never stops when you're involved with a club, all the more so when it's two! I was up at 7.30 this morning, making calls to players for next season and helping set up trials for under-16s.
"I'm excited by the new challenge, and I can assure everyone at Cheadle Heath that I'll be giving it my full attention. I'm not going into it lightly. It was discussed at length with the family, and I am confident I can do justice to both positions."