Right, football fans – we’re past the worst of things, we’re over the hump, the season is in sight and the pre-season friendlies are just about to start. But for those who support teams in the Premier League, the prospect of proper, live football still seems like a distant prospect as both City and United decide that pursuing new markets is in their best interests as they tour the East in search of major shirt sales. Still, there’s more to football than the professional game, and these three pre-season friendlies should remind you what the game is all about: pain, suffering and the faint flame of hope consistently being put out.

Altrincham FC vs FC Halifax Town
The self-proclaimed club that wouldn’t die against a team that rose from the ashes of one that did. Altrincham may have sold off the name to their iconic Moss Lane home in order to secure their long-term future, but in the grand scheme of things, that’s no big shame. With the threat of closure no longer hanging over them (or rather, given the precarious finances of all non-league clubs, no longer being such a pressing matter), this pre-season war of the roses should be held in high spirits.
Sat 27 Jul, Altrincham Football Club, Moss Lane, Altrincham, WA15 8AP, 3pm kick-off, £7 adults, £3 concs, season ticket holders and under 5s FREE

Stockport County vs FC United of Manchester
Just as every article about Leeds United has to mention that they were once in a Champions League semi-final, Stockport are forever haunted by the fact they once played in Division One, given they’ve just been relegated to the sixth step of the English football league. Then again, FC United – now just a division below them – didn’t even exist back when the Hatters were at their highest heights, so maybe it is time everyone moves on. Still, this should be a bitterly contested local derby, with the young upstarts fancying their chance against a fallen giant. It will be the first time the two have ever played each other as well.
Tue 30 Jul,  Edgeley Park, Hardcastle Road, Stockport, SK3 9DD, 7.45pm kick off, £10 adults, £5 concs, £3 11 – 17 year olds, £1 U10s with an adult

Mossley AFC vs Ashton United (Willow Wood Hospice Cup)
What should be a stiffly contested local rivalry is used for good in this annual fixture. Approaching 15 years of helping those with life-threatening illnesses, the Willow Wood Hospice takes the proceeds as Northern Premier League Division One North’s Mossley take on their neighbours from the division above, Chorley – managed by none other than former Blackburn star Garry Flitcroft.
Sat 10 Aug, Seel Park, Market Street, Mossley, Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire OL5 0ES, 3pm kick-off, £5 adults, £3 concs, under 16s free

Matthew Britton
Published on:
Fri 12 Jul 2013