06 Sep 2021 by John Edwards

So many positives, but there are areas that need fixing and they will be, vows Bill

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*Raising the roof .. a packed Golf Road in full cry on Saturday. Picture by Michael Ripley.

Message from Altrincham co-chairman Bill Waterson:

It was absolutely fantastic to see so many of you back at The J. Davidson Stadium for Saturday’s Vanarama National League fixture with Dover Athletic.

There were so many positives from the day, so much that was good - a stunning debut for the new pitch, an exciting game culminating with an Alty win and a bumper crowd of 1,871.

That remarkable attendance was our largest for an opening home fixture since the inaugural Northern Premier League season in 1968, when 3,123 turned up to see us beat Bangor City.

And a simple subtraction of 1,871 minus 65 in the away end tells us there were over 1800 home fans in the ground, the most for many years, even eclipsing the Stockport game a couple of years ago.

In addition, it’s the first time we’ve won two out of our first three National League games since 2008 and only the second time since 1994, when we finished fourth.. 

On Saturday morning, we sold our 400th season ticket, far surpassing last year's record of 329.  And we sold over 600 e-tickets, which meant that over 1,000 of you had paid for and secured your entry to the ground in advance.

Heartfelt thanks to all who did so, and we hope more will follow suit, if able to, as this is a hugely important trend for the football club and one that will let us handle bigger and bigger crowds in the future. 

So, plenty to cheer and encourage us as we reflect on day one of our list of home fixtures, and some real progress towards achieving our ambitions.

But there were some important lessons for us to learn, too. Not everything went to plan and already we have identified some areas for immediate improvement. Thank you for bearing with us whilst we fix these. 

First of all, we are going to make certain we prioritise entry to the ground for season ticket holders and ensure they do not need to queue along with those waiting to pay, and we will have implemented this change in time for the King’s Lynn game. 

We were hampered on Saturday by some technical difficulties, and by having fewer turnstile operators than the number of fans would require. I am pleased to say we did manage to have all spectators in the ground by just after five past three, but we recognise we need to do better. 

So, from now on, we will have dedicated turnstiles for e-ticket access. This will accelerate the process for e-ticket holders as well as speeding up access for those paying on the day.

We will have more turnstile operators in place, and this, too, will have a beneficial effect. We can process e-ticket entry much quicker than if we’re having to deal with cash, so we ask again for your support in moving more towards the online model. It is perhaps worth noting that you can, in fact, purchase tickets for the game online right up to kick-off. 

On the food and beverage front, we will be taking steps to increase speed of service in the bar, and we expect to take delivery of card payment terminals this week to be used across all of our outlets from the King’s Lynn game onwards. 

We are awaiting delivery of a new toilet block for the away end, delayed by the shortage of materials prevalent across the industry, and this will allow us to install portaloos on the Pop Side/Golf Road, near the Fan Zone, with a longer-term solution being progressed in parallel. 

So whilst there was much to like and admire about a wonderful day, we know we have work to do.  We knew there were some actions we had been unable to complete in advance of Saturday and others became evident when we were handling the rush in the run-up to kick-off and also during the game.

In our post-match debrief, the Board and the Ops team discussed many of these subjects, and we have another call tomorrow evening to make sure we are on track for the visit of King’s Lynn.

If our supporters keep giving us the “problem” of how to handle 1800 home fans every time we stage a game, we’ll be only too delighted to meet the challenge head-on and keep striving to make your matchday experience the best it can possibly be.   

You stood by us through the COVID suspension, and then through a season with no fans.  We are looking to repay you with brilliance on the field, matched by facilities off it that will make you want to keep coming back to The J.Davidson Stadium.

We know we have work to do, but we thank you once again for your continuing, invaluable support and your patience.

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