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Pollitt's Field, former home of Altrincham FC

2003 is the centenary of the renaming of Broadheath F.C. (founded 1891) as Altrincham F.C. and of the club's move from playing in Broadheath and West Timperley to the Moss Lane area of town. However, from 1903 to 1910 they played at Pollitt's Field, about 200 yards away from the current Moss Lane ground.

Adjacent is an extract from a map dated 1910 showing the location of Pollitt's Field. The "Old Ground" on the map is Pollitt's Field, with its "grandstand" located on its south side. The other three sides consisted of banking but the players had to use the Woolpack pub in the twon centre as changing rooms. This ground was located very near the Altrincham gasworks, to which a steam railway line ran, as the map shows, in the roadway of Moss Lane from Altrincham station until the late 1950s. The road on the map which ends at the top left of the old ground is Urban Road. Between the gasworks and the pitch was the former Moss Side slaughterhouse. The site of the "Current Ground" on Moss Lane is shown in the lower right of the map, on Hale Moss. The gasworks and subsequent Gas Board office block have both now gone and the site has, in 2002, been replaced by the new Post Office sorting office and new housing. For Terry Rowley's brief history of Altrincham FC, click here.

On 4 November 1896, the Manchester Courier newspaper reported that Altrincham Council had been offered Politt's Field and Nicholl's Pond by Lord Stamford's Estate for £2,500, the land "to be used as a tip and for other purposes".

However, by 1903, Pollitt's Field had become the new home of Altrincham F.C., the successor to Broadheath F.C. The first competitive match was a 5-0 win over Glossop on 19 September of that year, which was kicked off by the Club's President! A press report said that the game ended with "a bombardment of the Glossop citadel".

In advance of the move to Pollitt's Field and the renaming of the club as Altrincham FC, the Warrington Guardian of 1 July 1903 printed a detailed report on "The annual general meeting of the Broadheath Association Football Club... at the Forester's Arms, Altrincham on Friday evening. Mr R.H. Lee presided over a good attendance.

The Secretary (Mr. B. Badcock) submitted the 11th annual report. At the commencement of the season he said a gloom was cast over the club by the death of one of their players. He did not meet his death on the field of play, but there was no doubt it was caused through playing in the first match. The club had played 31 matches, won 11, drawn 6. and lost 15. They did fairly well considering the bad start they made.

About Christmastime it looked as though they would be the wooden-spoonists. The team, however, seemed to rouse itself, and at the finish they secured a very good position. One reason why they did not meet with any success at the outset was on account of the large number of changes made in the team. They tried 44 players, and from that anyone would know they would not have very much combination.

Their ground at Timperley, however, had been in the pink of condition during the last season, whilst the grounds on which they played their "away” matches were more like quagmires. He thought that was the reason why they lost so many "away" matches...

Their one brilliant star, George Elmore, left them, and after that the whole team seemed to break up. Still they had recompense for that in the shape of a cheque for £lO from the West Bromwich Albion F.C. With regard to their finances they had finished better then he expected. They arranged a concert and the mistake was that it was too good. The consequence was that they lost on it... The annual draw was a great success. Altogether, they wound up the season in a brilliant manner, beating Sale Holmfield in the Medal competition in a hollow fashion.

The committee at the close of the season entertained the players to dinner. It was almost suicidal to remain on their present ground at Timperley, it was so outlandish. They had at last secured a ground in Altrincham. The Altrincham District Council had unanimously decided to allow them to rent Pollitt's field, and it now only remained for three of the councillors to arrange terms with the committee.

Alterations would be made to the field; it would be lengthened, widened, and drained, and the brooks around it would be piped. They might safely say they were all right in that respect. The Chairman said in the event of the negotiations with the Council failing, one of their Vice-Presidents had promised to secure a ground for the club in Altrincham".

Altrincham FC - Pollitt's Field Trials, 1903

Reproduced from The Altrincham and Bowdon Guardian, August 29th and September 2nd, 1903. (Courtesy of Terry Rowley).

The Altrincham Association Football Club (late Broadheath) held its first match on the new ground, Pollitt's Field, Moss Lane on Saturday afternoon. Two strong elevens were selected from a long list of those desirous of doing duty for the club and were:

Amber and Black:

  • Goal: H. Smith (Latchford)
  • Backs: H. Sampson (Penketh) & W. Davenport (local)
  • Halfbacks: W. Pennington (Earlstown), D. Morgan (Liverpool) & H. Barnett (Local)
  • Forwards: D.W. Halliwell (Stretford), H. Roscoe (Bolton), W. Gilmore (Openshaw), S. Partington (Bolton) & J. Riddings (Bolton).

    White:

  • Goal: S. Crawshaw
  • Backs: R. Cockram (local) & S. Mulline (Longsight)
  • Halfbacks: F. Cocking (Bennetts Memorial), S. Walker (Stockport) & J. Davis (Bennetts Memorial)
  • Forwards: M. Beat (Stockport), J. Cash (Openshaw), E. Todd (Army Team), R. Hamer (Army Team) & J. Pollitt (Local)

    The form displayed by many of the participants was promising and a good side will undoubtedly be chosen to oppose last season's league team today (Saturday)

    The alterations and improvements which are being executed on the ground are rapidly nearing completion and the committee hope to have the field in order for the match.

    The last year's league team will be as follows:

  • Goal: J. Barrow
  • Backs: S. Forster & R. Cockram
  • Halfbacks: E. Dunn, E. Bentley & W. Morse
  • Forwards: F. Valentine, G. Whitfield, G. Williams, J. Williams & C. Short

    Albert Butterworth one of last season's players who it was expected would figure in the trial game on Saturday has unfortunately broken his leg whilst playing football at Hyde last Saturday.


    September 2nd 1903

    Football (Association) - Altrincham

    The above named club had their second trial game on Saturday before a good attendance. The spectators appeared to enjoy the good play of the majority of the participants and also to appreciate the efforts of the committee to get together the best possible teams for the opening match.

    The sides were selected so as to bring last season's back division in opposition to the old forward line and vice versa. The result was a very interesting and even game.

    Red and black ran out winners by 4 goals to 3. The sides were as follows:

    Red and Black:

  • Goal: J. Barrow
  • Right Back: S. Foster, Left Back: R. Cockram
  • Right Half: E. Dunn, Centre Half: E. Bentley, Left Half: W. Morse. (All from last year's team).
  • Right Outside: M. Bent (late Stockport), Right Inside: R. Plumpton, Centre: E. Todd (late Army), Left Inside: R. Hamer (late Army), Left Outside J. Hughes (late Miles Platting)

    Whites:

  • Goal: W. Childs (late Stockport County)
  • Right back: T. Tomlinson (late Failsworth), Left Back: W. Pennington (Earlestown)
  • Right Half: S. Walker (late Stockport League), Centre Half: H. Sproston (late Openshaw Clarence), Left Half: H. Worthington (late Heywood)
  • Right Outside: F. Valentine, Right Inside: G. Whitfield, Centre: J. Williams (all last season's team).
  • Left Inside: T. Griffen (late Wigan United), Left Outside: C. Short (last season's Team)

    The only notable absentees from the two selected teams were G. Williams (last season's Team) and B.Tonge (late of Talbot) who were kept away by cricket.

    The Move to Moss Lane

    Pollitt's Field did not have a good surface and on at least one occasion a match had to be switched because the playing area was found not to be long enough! After the sale of some of the Stamford Estates land on Hale Moss to the Council, a new football ground was established on the current Moss Lane stadium site. This ground was formally opened on by Mr W.S. McCann on 3 September 1910 when Macclesfield Town were the visitors (and winners). For more on this see Terry Surridge's article, "The Robins' History" in the Robins Review for 21 November 1987.


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