ALAN Bartlam says Vauxhall Motors final game of the season this Saturday at Rivacre Park will be an emotional one for him, as his club bids farewell to Conference North football.
Long serving Motors chairman Bartlam and the club board took the difficult decision last month to resign from non-league football’s second-tier owing to financial difficulties, with the club starting life in the West Cheshire League from the beginning of next season.
Motors, who avoided relegation against the odds, will play their final game in the league pyramid when they entertain Solihull Moors on Saturday (3pm), with Bartlam hoping that the community will come out and help bid the league a fond farewell.
“It will be an emotional day on Saturday for me and all those involved with the club,” he said.
“This is a club I hold dear to my heart and the decision taken last month to resign from the league was one that was taken with the best interests of the club in mind.
“We have enjoyed 12 great years in the Conference North and I look back on those years with great fondness.
“It would be wonderful if we could get a good crowd here on Saturday to help us sign off in some style.
“We have our regulars, who have been fantastic, but if some of the local community could come out and show their support for the fantastic effort done by the players and backroom staff, that would be great.”
Motors, who were promoted to the Conference North back in 2002 from the Northern Premier League, enjoyed their finest hour that same year when they beat QPR on penalties in an FA Cup first round replay at Loftus Road.
Following the decision to resign from the league early last month, popular manager Carl Macauley departed to take up the role of assistant manager at Chester FC, while players such as Shaun Tuck also left to find pastures new.
Currently lying 18th, Motors could finish as high as 16th with a win against The Moors this weekend, something Bartlam believes would be a fitting tribute to the ‘extraordinary’ job done by caretaker management duo Anthony Wright and Gary Martindale.
“Everyone has done incredibly well in the circumstances and will be going out with their heads held high,” he said.
“Obviously, once we announced we would be resigning then it was inevitable that players and staff would be leaving to try and find new clubs, but Anthony and Gary have done an extraordinary job in keeping the team fighting on.
“We haven’t been troubled by relegation all season and have matched some of the very best sides in this division. They have been superb.”
Bartlam revealed that, if all goes according to plan, it could be as little as 12 months until the Motors return to the pyramid.
“If we are right financially, are able to gain promotion and are offered a spot in the North West Counties League, it would be difficult to turn down,” he said.
“This is not the end of the football club, it is a way of ensuring its long-term future.”
Goals from Steve Tames and Karl Clair gave Motors a 2-1 win over Workington at Rivacre Park on Saturday, a result which sent the Cumbrians down.
With half-an-hour gone captain Tom Hannigan delivered a pin-point 30-yard diagonal pass to Steven Tames who took one touch before poking the ball past keeper Daniel Nizic from close range.
Workington grabbed an equaliser just before half-time when Kyle May headed home a corner.
Vauxhall got their winner on 60 minutes though, Karl Clair curling a 25-yard free-kick around the wall and into the corner of the net.
In their final away fixture at Conference North level, Motors fell to a heavy 5-1 defeat at third-placed Altrincham on Bank Holiday Monday.
The home side needed only a point to book themselves a play-off spot and with a brace from James Walshaw and individual efforts from Gianluca Havern, Damian Reeves and James Lawrie, they collected all three at Moss Lane.
Motors continued to battle to the end and were rewarded for their efforts in the 83rd minute when Steve Tames grabbed a consolation goal when his well struck effort from the edge of the box went through the hands of substitute goalkeeper Russell Sanders and into the back of the net.