Photo credit Mark Bennett
Written by Alty Insider John Edwards
You are all history-makers, boys! That was the rousing message delivered to Altrincham’s new-look squad when they reported back for the start of pre-season training in Knutsford this morning.
Convening at the club’s new Egerton training facility, the players might have expected the usual first-day routine of having their weight and general fitness levels checked out before being put through their paces by a conditioning expert.
Instead, with an eye for detail and thoroughness that has helped forge a burgeoning reputation as one of non-League’s brightest young bosses, Phil Parkinson sat them down in front of a wall-mounted television and began acquainting the newcomers in the club’s first-ever fully-professional squad with Alty’s proud history as famed Cup fighters.
For an hour, Phil recounted one stirring deed after another, and he had the perfect visual aid after somehow managing to unearth a Football Focus special on the Robins, prior to their FA Cup second-round tie with Halifax Town, way back in 1988.
It ended with an interview with Timperley’s finest, Frank Sidebottom, and as the reporter handed back to presenter Bob Wilson in the BBC studio and the video faded from the screen, Phil turned to an audience that included his summer signings and the six Academy graduates now on professional forms, and said:
‘I wanted to show you that to give you an idea of what this club is all about. Strive to emulate some of the achievements you have just seen and heard about, and you can be heroes.
‘That is the opportunity you have given yourselves by becoming Altrincham players. Grab it with both hands, and you will be remembered here in the same way that great Alty names from the past are to this day.
‘This is the start of a new era, and you are part of it. Don’t forget that - you are all history-makers, boys!’
As the players then began conditioning work in a converted gym, Phil surveyed the new surroundings on the edge of Knutsford town centre and said:
‘If I’m a player walking into this building, I can’t not feel inspired and motivated to go out and train to the best of my ability. It’s so important, because if you are in the workplace and your working environment isn’t up to the standard you were hoping for, it can be demotivating.
‘But, if you’ve got a facility like this, you feel empowered and enriched. You wouldn’t describe it as state-of-the-art, but it’s got everything we need under one roof, and you can’t ask for better than that.
‘There are multiple grass pitches, as well as a brand new 4g one, a garage that we’ve converted into a gym, a catering area and meeting room and changing facilities. The lot, really. We are very lucky that the club were able to source this for us and back us in this way.’