ALTRINCHAM FC start the final year of the century sitting pretty at the top of the UniBond Premier League after a blistering run of form which sees them go undefeated for nine games and drop only seven points out of a possible 51.

Sale's festive season was not quite as much fun, as the Heywood Raoders find themselves in the Allied Dunbar Premiership One basement after defeatsd against Harlequins, Bath and Northampton. The coaching staff do have reasons to be cheerful, as a certain Steve Hanley marks his first few outings in the dark blue with six tries in four league games. Comings and goings see Tom Beim leave for Gloucester and Dawie Theron arrive at Sale.

In other rugby news, Ashton-on-Mersey Rugby Club U16's captain Dan Billinge selected for the Cheshire County, in recognition of his hard work and dedication to the game.


Alty's league form contintues and a famous 2-1 win over Aldershot in the FA Trophy keeps the buzz going at Moss Lane, while Sale continue to struggle as a 23-7 defeat at the hands of London Scottish sees them third from bottom.


Robins' next match in the FA trophy is one to forget as, not only do they crash out 2-0 at Boston United, racial abuse and spitting from the home fans reduces Paul Robertson to tears, and forces Leroy Chambers to shower with his shirt still on.

Also, March is regrettable for Brooklands Hockey Club as they are relegated from Hockeys English Premier League.

On a more positive not, Sale get back to winning ways, inspired by Matt Moore and teen ace Steve Hanley. Hanley brings his total to seventeen tries in thirteen games, and Moore grabs a hat-trick against Northampton.

The Heywood Roaders take no small amount of satisfaction in forcing Saracens money-man Nigel Wray to eat his words after he said Sale are not worth watching and should not be in rugby's top flight. They beat them 32-24.


A Player revolt at Heywood Road ends in a vote of no confidence in Director of Rugby John Mitchell. Steve Hanley is ruled out of the rest of the season after breaking his wrist against Wales, on his try-scoring debut for England at Wembley. League wins take them out of the relegation zone.

Meanwhile, Alty have relinquished top spot in the league, but a strong finish sees them win promotion, by way of having the best ground out of the top two.

They prepare for their championship showdown in the best way by beating Conference rivals-to-be Northwich Victoria 1-0 at Witton Albion's Wincham Park.

April 29th sees them add the league title to their list of credentials as an Andy Lovelock goal is enough to dispose of Emley. Cue the popping of champagne corks at Moss Lane.


Sale finish the season with a defeat at home to Wasps, but Premiership survival had already been attained.

The preparations for next season begin almost immediately, when new Chief Executive Graham Walker embarks on a round of cost-cutting measures. Barie-Jon Mather nad David Rees are placed on the transfer list.

Fourteen year-old James Warren, who trains at Altrincham Ice Rink, is crowned 1999 Novice Figure Skating Champion. He is the rink's first champion in 20 years.


Altrincham manager Bernard Taylor signs a new contract which will keep him at Moss Lane for another three years. Stalybridge Celtic Brendan Burke signs.

Sale Ice skater Jessica Hitchmough goes one better than Manchester United by scooping four ice skating trophies.

Messenger correspondent Tom Bancroft, who reports on Pelican FC, was celebrating as the quality of his football reorts wins him a VIP day out at Wembley.

A move by Worcester RFC to swap leagues with Sale falls through, despite WRFC chief Cecil Duckworth not "anticipating any problems".


In a quiet month, the only things of note are the RFU's decision to throw out Duckworth's move for Sale, and Altrincham signing goalkeeper Dean Greygoose.


Alty re-open their conference account in disappointing style with a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Stevenage.

Sale Harriers, who were this year crowned the premier athletcis club in the UK, finish the track and field season with a men's and women's runner-up double at the National Atheltics Cup final in Bedford.


Alty kick start their season with a 3-0 win over Southport.

Sale Rugby club embark on their ambitious re-launch as Sale Sharks. They sign three players of high quality: Mark Tinnock from New Zealand's Otago Highlanders, South Africa's Craig Turvey (North West Districts) and Andy Blyth from Northampton.

The new-lok Sharks have Janneman Brand, another new South African signing, to thank for an opening day-win over Wasps.

Sale Harriers u17 women's team win the McDonalds National Athletics Cup, held at Stoke, prompting the memorable SAM headline, 'Big Mac and large prize.'


Sale Sharks second row Chris Murphy sess his season finish in agony when he is stretchered off with a broken leg against Bath, while the Heywood Road coaching staff have to face up to the fact that fly-half Jannie De Beer may never play for them, after he is re-called to the South African world cup squad.

Altrincham are handed an FA cup lifeline after losing to Stalybridge Celtic in a replay.

News that Celtic fielded an inelgible player is one of the matches is welcomed at Moss Lane, but unfortunately they throw away the re-played match 3-2 after going 2-0 up.


Sale sign Fijian fly-half Nicky Little but he cannot help stem the tide as they go down 40-15 against Bristol. Also, they appoint James Wade as Youth development officer.


Robins sell Paul Ellender to Scarborough for £80,000, plus 50% of any sell-on fee, and Leroy Chamber is put on the transfwer list at his own request.

The Sharks are boosted by the news that Steve Hanley is on the way back to full fitness after a year blighted by a succession of injuries.

Converted for the new archive on 13 March 2001. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.