REAL ale enthusiasts will descend on The J Davidson Stadium next week to sample the widest range of beers yet compiled for Altrincham FC’s annual celebration of the brewer’s art.

A total of 24 barrels will be rolled into the ground next Friday, April 27, for the start of the club’s weekend-long beer festival, and Alty bosses are hoping the toast will be manager Phil Parkinson’s table-topping team, as they close in on the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League title.

Reflecting on how local brewers have embraced the event by supplying their finest ales in record numbers, chairman Grahame Rowley said: "It has really taken off since we first came up with the idea of an annual festival seven years ago, and it’s bigger than ever this year.

"That’s partly because it has proved so successful but also because of the timing. It’s normally May Bank Holiday, but this year we're encompassing the final game of the season, against Hednesford on Saturday afternoon, and hoping it will be a celebration of winning the league.

"It would be great to have a bumper crowd, and we are certainly catering for that. I think we had 12 barrels at the first festival, but, with invaluable assistance from our main sponsors, J Davidson, there will be twice as many next weekend.

"There will be a marquee stretching from the catering block at the Golf Road end right across to the start of the terracing behind the goal, and that’s where the bar will be.

"We’ve got live bands on Friday and Saturday night and a family fun day on Sunday, with a kids’ entertainer and all sorts of attractions, and it’s free admission, except between noon and 4pm on Saturday, when the turnstiles will operate for the game.

"It has proved over the years a great way of involving people in the local community and providing a sociable and enjoyable experience, and we really do cater for everyone. It’s a real ale festival, but we’ll have three or four ciders as well, and the Community Sports Hall bar will be open at the same time, providing the usual range of drinks. There’ll also be pizzas, and an outside caterer is coming along to provide curries.

"So I hope as many as possible will visit us and help make it the best we've had so far. There's always a friendly, convivial atmosphere, and, of course, it's a great excuse for simply coming along to the game and having a few real ales."