The Sinnott Years out in force for Jake's big day
The countdown is on for Jake Moult's testimonial, a chance to pay tribute to one of the great Altrincham careers of modern times, and the club are delighted to announce more stellar names from the recent past who have agreed to help make it a special afternoon for the former Robins skipper.
Jake will top the bill, naturally enough, at The J.Davidson Stadium on Sunday, April 30th, but what a supporting cast the organisers are putting together to ensure Alty's famous old ground is awash with nostalgia on the day.
We've already announced that the Magnificent Seven who rode off into the sunset at the end of last season will be out in force, with Shaun Densmore, Josh Hancock, Andy White, Tom Hannigan, Tony Thompson and, of course, Jake himself all lined up to play.
The only absentee from the septet who bade an emotional farewell after our final game as a part-time club is Connor Hampson, who doubtless would have made himself available but for emigrating to Australia.
We're rewinding the clock a little further with our latest batch of recruits, and what a line-up it is, with Stuart Coburn, Damian Reeves, Scott Leather, Nicky Clee, James Lawrie, Sam Heathcote and Adam Griffin all set to pull their boots on and step out on to the Moss Lane pitch again.
All seven were in their prime during Lee Sinnott's successful five-year tenure as manager, starting in 2011, and all of them will be back at The J.Davidson Stadium for an Altrincham Xl versus a Jake Moult Xl, kicking off at 1pm on the 30th, with tickets for this not-to-be-missed trip down Memory Lane costing just £10 for adults and £5 for under-16s.
Here's a reminder, if needed, of the contribution our latest star names made to the Alty cause:
Stuart Coburn - or England's number one, as he was fondly referred to by his legions of adoring Alty fans. Holder of the record number of appearances for the club (689), this most remarkable, iconic of all Alty keepers left behind a catalogue of magical memories when he hung up his gloves in April, 2015. Who can forget his heroics at Telford when a fantastic penalty stop was just one of many exceptional saves? Or the play-off final at Stoke's Britannia Stadium in May, 2005 when, though the Robins were dominant and good value for their 2-1 win, Stuey pulled off a couple of top reflex saves with the game still scoreless. When he broke the club appearances record at Welling, Alty bosses decided to dedicate the following Saturday's Robins Review against Wrexham to the great man. It was cover-to-cover Stuey, with even the Wrexham manager devoting his notes to our brilliant number one.
Damian Reeves - Alty have had a fair few accomplished strikers in their time but there can't have been many who could match Damian Reeves' innate sixth sense for knowing where scoring opportunities were likely to present themselves. Signed in June, 2010, the Doncaster-based frontrunner wasn't always an automatic starter in the early stages of his debut season at Moss Lane but still showed what he was about by going into the New Year in 2011 with 12 goals to his name. He ended that campaign as top scorer with 19 goals, earning him the supporters' player-of-the-year award, but he was clearly only warming up. In 2011-12, he amassed an astonishing 44 goals, all in the league, making him the country's leading marksman in all the divisions above Alty, as well as the one they were in, and a target for Football League clubs. He decided to stay put and sign a new deal with Alty, and the celebrations among Robins fans proved fully justified as he followed up with 41 goals in all competitions the following season. The ultimate goal poacher.
Scott Leather - born just down the road in Sale, The J.Davidson Stadium seemed the obvious place for Scott to try his luck after he was released by Preston North End at the end of the 2011-12 season. And aren't Alty fans glad he did? Lee Sinnott certainly was. All the Alty boss needed to be convinced about adding Scott to his squad list for the upcoming campaign was the 29 minutes the young defender was on the pitch for in a pre-season friendly against Morecambe in July, 2012. Two days later, he was a fully-fledged Alty player, and he soon set about forging a reputation as a solid and utterly dependable first-team regular who could play anywhere across the back four but was particularly adept at centre-half. Sure in the tackle and fearless about throwing himself in the way of a thunderbolt shot or stray boot, Scott was also assured and accomplished at bringing the ball out of defence. Still at Chorley, where he moved to after over 150 Alty appearances in May, 2016.
Nicky Clee - a firm fans' favourite, and no wonder when you consider the wing wizardry that frequently lit up Moss Lane and endeared him to the home crowd as much as it filled opposing defenders with dread. As former Alty skipper Robbie Lawton once remarked: "Nicky doesn't know what he's going to do next, more often than not, so the full-back's got no chance!" A real crowd pleaser, it appeared at times as though the ball was glued to his left boot as he weaved his way past one challenge after another. So nearly etched his name into Alty folklore in a memorable FA Cup second-round tie at Colchester United in December, 2015 when, with the scores level at 2-2 and time almost up, his close-range shot was saved by the home keeper. Left Alty for Bradford (Park Avenue) in May, 2017 and is still going strong at the grand old age of 39 for Mossley, so much so that he was voted their man of the match in a game as recently as last month.
James Lawrie - a cultured attacking player who could operate out wide or just behind the main striker, James had a lovely touch and an eye for a defence-splitting pass. However, it was a goal that owed a fair amount to power as well as initiative and vision that earned him a lasting place in the affections of Alty fans everywhere. It was the Robins' first game against fierce rivals Macclesfield for 17 years and we were into the 90th minute when Alty won a throw-in on the right. From facing the thrower, James suddenly swivelled 180 degrees as the ball bounced past him before swinging a left boot at it and sending a screamer of a volley flying beyond the Macc keeper's reach into the top far corner. What a contrast between the two sets of fans - supporters behind the net now containing the ball reduced to a stunned silence whilst those filling the other three sides of the ground raised the roof. Capped by Northern Ireland, he's still going strong at 32 and currently plays for Witton Albion.
Sam Heathcote - son of the legendary Graham Heathcote, who devoted four decades of his life to the Robins as a player, club secretary and manager, young Sam got his big chance with Alty in September 2018 when, at the age of 18, he went on as a stoppage-time substitute against Cheltenham at The J.Davidson Stadium with the score locked at 1-1. He had made a favourable impression in pre-season as a tall, commanding centre-back, and it was assumed he had been sent on to help safeguard a valuable point. Proud dad Graham knew otherwise, looking on from the stands, after seeing Sam make his mark at junior level for Manchester United as a free-scoring centre-forward. Sure enough, when a low cross reached him unmarked on the edge of the area, he met it with a crisp low finish into the bottom corner of the net to seal a dramatic 2-1 victory with only his second touch as an Alty player. Went on to play for West Didsbury & Chorlton and is now plying his trade with Runcorn Linnets, the club Alty beat to reach the final of the Cheshire Senior Cup.
Adam Griffin - an absolute model of consistency at left-back who helped Alty to promotion in his first season at The J.Davidson Stadium, after joining in December, 2013. The moment most Alty fans will remember Adam for came the following September against Eastleigh at The J.Davidson Stadium in front of a packed Golf Road End. Following a build-up on the right involving James Lawrie and Scott Leather, Peter Cavanagh looked up and spotted Adam lurking near the edge of the area, way over on the left-hand side. If the pass, floated high and long, was near-perfection, the finish could not have been bettered as Adam watched the ball all the way on to his trusted left-foot before despatching a first-time volley that was past the Eastleigh keeper before he had time even to move. What a goal by a full-back who could be counted on to defend resolutely and was also happy to support Alty's attack whenever possible.