Report by John Edwards
Picture by Mark Bennett
Phil Parkinson has pulled off a transfer coup for Altrincham after signing a player with a Vanarama National League title-winning pedigree in exciting winger Ollie Crankshaw.
The 25-year old was a stand-out performer with over 40 appearances to his name in an unforgettable 2021-22 campaign for Stockport County as Dave Challinor's side booked their return to the EFL by finishing six points clear of Wrexham as National League champions.
It reinforced Phil's determination to land one of his prime long-term targets, and he has finally succeeded after County accepted a bid from the Robins and Ollie became an Alty player this afternoon for an undisclosed fee in a deal that is subject to NL, EFL and FA ratification.
What a breakthrough on the recruitment front for Alty's boss as he reflected on one of the most significant and exciting signings of his six-year tenure at The J.Davidson Stadium and confirmed Ollie will be available for Saturday's eagerly-awaited home game with Bromley as the Robins bid to extend their unbeaten start to the season.
"This is a big marquee signing for us, one I am extremely excited about," he said. "I have tracked his career from his early days at Colne and then Curzon Ashton and Wigan Athletic, and I have tried to get him on loan or a permanent on a number of occasions.
"He ticks all the boxes for the type of winger we try to recruit here, and he is a great lad as well, a really good character. I would go so far as to say it's a bit of a game-changer for us, he is that good. Everything about him oozes class, his pedigree is outstanding.
"When we lost Ryan Colclough, it was such a huge void to fill, one I didn't think we would be able to. But with Ollie coming in, it can't get any better for us.
"The board have certainly backed our judgement on this one. It is a huge statement from the football club to be able to attract an Ollie Crankshaw when he will have had many suitors at different clubs."
Preston-born Ollie is equally comfortable on the right or left and equally capable of spreading panic in opposing defences on either flank with his quick, direct style and ever-alert eye for goal.
He has been attracting admirers, Alty gaffer Phil among them, since his early days at Colne, and it was Curzon Ashton who provided his next step up in 2018, where his form in the National League North soon earned him a trial and ultimately a move to Wigan Athletic in the Championship at the age of just 20.
His first Latics appearance came in a Carabao Cup tie with Fleetwood Town in September 2020 and was followed by a League debut against Ipswich Town a week later, his first goals being registered with a brace against Liverpool under-23s in the EFL Trophy.
After 19 league appearances in the first half of the 2020-21 season, he joined Bradford City in February 2021 and announced himself by scoring on his debut against Exeter City five days later.
Stockport were ambitiously going about the task of building a squad capable of finally regaining their long-lost Football League status at the outset of the 2021-22 campaign, and the arrival of Ollie from Bradford for an undisclosed fee was seen as an important step in the right direction.
So it proved as the livewire winger marked his debut by coming off the bench against Weymouth and scored the winner in a 2-1 victory and went on to establish himself as a constant attacking threat in an increasingly convincing advance towards the National League title.
In all, he made 41 appearances in the promotion campaign, scoring 11 times and providing five assists, and he further endeared himself to County fans by bursting clear and firing home the final goal in a memorable 5-3 FA Cup first round replay extra-time win over League One Bolton Wanderers at a packed Cheadle End.
Alty were on the receiving end against County that season, Ollie going on in the second half and rounding off a 5-1 rout at Edgeley Park with the final goal and again featuring as a second-half substitute at The J.Davidson Stadium as Challinor's champions-elect completed the double with a 4-1 scoreline.
He finished last season on loan at Motherwell, after marking County's return to League Two by playing 19 times in the first half of the campaign, and he has figured for the Hatters in the opening weeks of the current season, making four appearances, including one as a second-half substitute at Mansfield Town last Saturday.
Clearly fit and raring to go, we would like to extend a warm welcome to The J.Davidson Stadium to you Ollie and wish you every success in Altrincham colours.
*Watch out for an AltyTV interview with Ollie Crankshaw here on the club's website tomorrow.
Want to sponsor Ollie? You can sponsor his home, second or soon-to-be-released third shirt here.