Report by John Edwards
Picture by Jonathan Moore
Altrincham have reluctantly accepted a bid for Ryan Colclough and can confirm that he has today joined title-chasing Chesterfield for an undisclosed fee.
As Alty fans may be aware, interest in the Robins’ free-scoring winger has intensified in recent weeks, with several parties registering a willingness to meet a buy-out clause in his contract.
Despite the club’s best efforts to talk him into staying and extending a spectacularly-successful spell at The J.Davidson Stadium, Ryan felt the time was right for a move and indicated a wish to accept Chesterfield’s offer.
The 28-year old’s stance, allied to the bid on the table, left Alty with little room for manoeuvre and marked the end of the road for one of the most eye-catching Robins careers of recent times, but the club are determined it will not derail the continuing progress being made under Phil Parkinson and Neil Sorvel.
All the money received will go towards further strengthening the squad, and it will come as no surprise that contingency plans for this eventuality have been taking shape behind the scenes, with several potential transfer targets already identified.
The board are as one in their resolve to keep backing Phil and Neil to the hilt and will commit everything at their disposal to the management team’s plans for keeping Alty’s fortunes on an upward curve.
Ryan’s renaissance since leaving Scunthorpe United by mutual consent in October 2020 and joining Alty the following month is testimony to Phil’s innate ability to coax the best out of players, and the Stoke-born winger acknowledged the debt he owes everyone at The J.Davidson Stadium in a farewell message penned specially to mark his two years at the club.
Signing off with his initials and Alty squad number, Ryan wrote:
"I'd like to thank everyone involved with Altrincham Football Club from the bottom of my heart. Just when I thought I was falling out of love with the game, Altrincham and everyone involved showed me exactly why I fell in love with it.
"I feel proud to have been part of the journey over the last few years and the transition from part-time to full-time.
"All the blood, sweat and tears put in behind the scenes by multiple members of the club who go above and beyond for the cause have been an honour to play under, along with all of my team-mates; it's been one of the best groups I've worked with.
"I also want to say how grateful I am to the fans who have shown me great support from day one.
"And, lastly, the gaffer who gave me this opportunity when no-one else would. He believed in me and gave me the support I needed - he always took time out to help me, and I know he will bring the club great success and progression.
"I wish the club and everyone involved all the very best, and I hope they can continue to move forward. 11 RC"
After initially signing on a short-term deal in November 2020 and then quickly committing himself for the remainder of the 20-21 season, Ryan soon established himself as an influential figure in an Alty side finding their feet in the Vanarama National League.
Eager to tie him down for the foreseeable future, Alty entered negotiations with him over a new contract in August 2021 and eventually reached an agreement over a two-year deal that included a set figure that would act as a release clause.
The heights he hit and sustained throughout the last calendar year gave Alty fans moments that will live long in the memory but had the inevitable knock-on effect of attracting an ever-lengthening line of suitors.
Even when the buy-out clause was met, the club refused to accept defeat and came back in with significantly increased terms for their prized asset before ultimately having to concede that those on offer elsewhere could not be matched.
In addition, there was another factor to take into account, with the near-certainty that, should his blistering form continue, he would be snapped up for nothing at the end of the season.
As he departs, Ryan leaves behind some special memories of his exploits in Alty colours, most recently rounding off a superb team goal to seal a 2-1 victory over York City and his late winner against Eastleigh.
Thanks for all the great times, Ryan, and all the best for the future.