Altrincham finally get their National League season underway today – but will do so without prolific striker Jordan Hulme, who has joined Fylde just hours before the start of the new campaign.
The Robins open their campaign at the J Davidson Stadium with a clash against another newly promoted side, Weymouth.
They had hoped to have 29-year-old Hulme – who had scored 70 goals in 139 games for the Robins since joining in 2017 – in their ranks today, but Hulme has decided to drop down a league to join Lancashire outfit Fylde for what the Robins described as a “substantial fee”.
A Robins club statement read: “The club acknowledges it will be seen by everyone as a blow, losing a player whose record of 70 goals in an overall total of 139 appearances speaks for itself and who was a popular, extrovert figure in the dressing room as well as firm crowd favourite.
“But such is the financial aspect, it is a deal that brings demonstrable benefits for both Jordan, who turns 30 in less than two months, and the club and that makes sense for both parties.”
The club continued: “Phil and his staff will be as meticulous as ever over reinforcements, rather than acting in haste, and will ensure any potential recruit is the right fit for a squad that has had unity as well as ability throughout his three-year reign.
“But an assurance has been given that the funds will be reinvested in the team in full, and they will be.”
Speaking to afcfylde.co.uk, Hulme said: “I’m honestly over the moon. It’s a chance to get back into full-time football and see what I can do when I’m training every day, it’s a dream come true and I can’t wait to get going.
“I’m here to win, I’m a winner. I don’t like playing football unless I’m winning games and trying to win leagues.”
Despite the loss of Hulme, Robins boss Parkinson will be quietly confident going into their opening fixture after Tuesday night’s emphatic 5-1 win against Salford U23s, when new additions Matty Kosylo and Curtis Miller particularly impressed.
However, last season’s top scorer Josh Hancock is not fully fit and is highly unlikely to make an appearance today.
Parkinson knows that competing in the league this season will be a difficult feat. But if the Robins are to be successful “we’ve got to show that we do belong [here]…every single game is going to be a challenge for us in a different way”.
Weymouth are no exception to the type of tough opposition Altrincham will repeatedly face in this division. “You don’t get two promotions in two seasons without being a good team,” added Parkinson.
With the government restrictions on live sport still in place, neither set of supporters will be able to attend the fixture.
But you can watch a live stream of the game by paying £9.99 (for non season ticket-holders) – follow the link here. Or if you are on the move, you can listen to the coverage on Radio Robins.