BARRY PIKESLEY - SONGS IN THE TORQUAY OF LIFE


The following article is reproduced from "The Robins' Review" of 31 October 2015.

SONGS IN THE TORQUAY OF LIFE

“Baby, everything is alright, uptight, out of sight.”

Lee Sinnott might just have responded by quoting those Stevie Wonder lyrics when he walked into his Humberside abode last Saturday evening and his good lady wife greeted her cherie amour by enquiring as to how his afternoon in Cheshire had been.

Lately, our FA Cup experiences have been largely afflicted with outbreaks of calamity and no ordinary pain, so I'm overjoyed to be able to write some reflections on the wonderful events of last Saturday afternoon and Alty's first Fourth Qualifying Round victory on home soil for 14 years.

Our FA Cup progress at the expense of Chester would also undoubtedly have contributed to Neil Tolson enjoying a happy birthday last Sunday.

Prior to last week's clash, Steve Burr had opined that, "Over the years as a player and as a manager, Altrincham has been quite a happy hunting ground for me.”

Well, Mr Burr, superstition ain't the way. You've now undertaken three FA Cup visits to Moss Lane/the J Davidson Stadium and all of them have culminated in defeat. You are welcome back anytime, even if you insist on wearing those dodgy lilac trousers again!

Against a continuing backdrop of diminished resources, the team summoned up a fine performance incorporating grit and intensity allied to motivation, all of which deservedly sealed Chester's downfall. Luca Havern and Scott Leather exhibited yet another display of accomplished defending but, for my money, the unsung hero of the day was Simon Richman, whose non-stop industry throughout the tie was exemplary.

Another star was the reassuring figure of Tim Deasy, notably for that pivotal moment when he contrived to get his fingertips to a fierce shot from Ross Hannah and divert it over the crossbar.

Incidentally, has there ever been an instance when we have named a more inexperienced set of substitutes for an FA Cup tie? Aside from Nicky Clee, the options on the bench included one player who has so far registered just a solitary appearance in the Robins' starting XI (Sam Heathcote); someone who has to date only mustered circa 15 minutes of fame as an Alty substitute (Joel Swift) plus three individuals who have yet to make their first team debut for the club comprising two members of the reserve team (Callum Williams and Ioannis Stouppis) and the captain of the youth team (Rhain Davis).

Oh, and for once in my life, I witnessed the ultra rare sight of a referee rescinding his decision to award a penalty. Amidst the post-match celebrations in the Community Sports Hall, fellow Alty season ticket holder Martin Green alleged that he had seen the referee initially order pie and chips from Richie Bentley, only then to return a few minutes later and change his mind in favour of a portion of chilli and rice.

Anyhow, we made it. Signed, sealed, delivered, Barnsley are ours.

As we have already failed to capitalise on a couple of home fixtures this month against sides who are occupying places in the relegation zone, I hope that we will seize this afternoon's opportunity to establish a comforting gap of seven points between ourselves and Torquay United and thereby reach some higher ground in the league table.

Meanwhile, I wish that tactical guru George “He's Misstra Know-It-All" Heslop all the very best for his Altrincham FC youth team's FA Youth Cup First Round tie against Rochdale on Wednesday, 4th November 2015, which is a contest that I aim to attend.

George, you are the sunshine of my life and I know that you are capable of acts of great wonder. Isn't he lovely.

BARRY PIKESLEY