BBC Home
Explore the BBC
watch listen BBC Sport BBC Sport
Low graphics|Help
Last Updated: Monday, 28 January 2008, 11:43 GMT
Barrow happy to help Altrincham
By Pete Oliver

Altrincham assistant boss Graham Barrow
This is still a good club in every sense and this is an opportunity to help give it a lift

Altrincham assistant boss Graham Barrow
The last time Graham Barrow was at Altrincham, he was a non-league national champion.

Now, almost 30 years on, he is back at Moss Lane with his focus at the other end of the table.

Much has changed in the intervening period, but Barrow is delighted to be working again with a club that were champions of what was then called the Alliance Premier League - now the Blue Square Premier - in 1980 and 1981.

He told BBC Sport: "I thought we were going to get into the Football League but at the time it was the voting system.

"The first time we lost to Rochdale by one vote, and the next time we were miles away.

"I then got the chance to go to Wigan but this is still a good club in every sense and this is an opportunity to help give it a lift."

Barrow was 27 when he forced his way into League football, but he still found time to play over 500 games for Wigan and then Chester City as an effective and popular midfield man.

His later games came in a player-manager's role at Chester and Barrow also went on to manage Wigan, Rochdale, Chester again, and Bury with a promotion and a Conference League Cup punctuating the hard toil of the north-west's less-heralded managerial circuit.

Another spell at Chester, this time as assistant manager to Mark Wright, ended last April but after a spell of scouting he was the man former Altrincham team-mate Graham Heathcote called to help him try and win the Robins' latest relegation battle.

"We weren't bosom buddies but we played in the same team and we have kept in touch. I have worked around this area and we have always been on the phone," said Barrow, who was installed as Heathcote's number two at the start of January.

"Graham has had to carry this club for the last few years. and through his work it is on a sound financial base. I was happy to help him."

For Barrow, 53, it has also meant a welcome return to the "football family".

He added: "You miss that more than anything, the training ground and particularly the dressing room. That nervous feeling you get on a Saturday morning, whether you are a manager, assistant manager, coach or player. You get a real kick out of it."

Barrow's arrival coincided with an improvement in results which has seen Altrincham climb out of the bottom four, although he is taking none of the credit.

Altrincham manager Graham Heathcote
Altrincham received a late reprieve from relegation in 2007
"It's not down to me. He (Heathcote) did something about it and got some players in to shake up the dressing room a bit," he said.

"I help him on the training ground and my role is to talk straight with him in the office and then when we walk out be 100% behind him."

In something of a mini-league at the bottom end of the Blue Square Premier, Altrincham appear to be competing with Farsley, Northwich, Droylsden and Stafford for one safe place.

"If we carry on with our recent progress we might do better than that but we don't want to be greedy. Looking at the fixtures, February could be a big month for us," added Barrow, who will be helping prepare Altrincham to play both Droylsden and Farsley in the space of four potentially vital days.

It is a far cry from Altrincham's reign as kings of the non-league game but despite the change in fortunes, Barrow remains an optimist.

"When you look at it now, it (the Blue Square Premier) is so close to the Football League. Certainly the top half would hold its own in the Football League, there are that many ex-League players in it," he said.

"The biggest thing is that we are part-time playing against full-time teams and I would be a liar if I said that sometimes it doesn't show.

"But everything else the club does is as good as any League club in the country and we are trying to bridge the gap.

"The main aim this year is to stay up, and then who knows?"

Cambridge Utd 2-1 Altrincham
26 Jan 08 |  Non League
Altrincham 2-2 York
19 Jan 08 |  Non League
Barrow is Altrincham number two
10 Jan 08 |  Altrincham
Heathcote joy at Robins reprieve
11 Jun 07 |  Altrincham
Bury appoint Barrow
27 Sep 01 |  Bury


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Daily and weekly e-mails | Mobiles | Desktop Tools | News Feeds | Interactive Television | Downloads
Sport Homepage | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League | Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Snooker | Horse Racing | Cycling | Disability Sport | Olympics 2012 | Sport Relief | Other Sport...

Help | Privacy & Cookies Policy | News sources | About the BBC | Contact us | Advertise with us