Altrincham honor Ponting with club shares | cricket | Hindustan Times
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Altrincham honor Ponting with club shares

Australia captain Ricky Ponting was taking a few hours off from preparing for the next Ashes Test on Tuesday to watch a lowly English football team that has made him a shareholder.

cricket Updated: Aug 05, 2009 18:18 IST

Australia captain Ricky Ponting was taking a few hours off from preparing for the next Ashes Test on Tuesday to watch a lowly English football team that has made him a shareholder. Ponting and other members of Australia's cricket team were booked to be in the crowd to watch a match between Altrincham FC, who play in the semiprofessional Blue Square Premier League and a Manchester United team managed by reserve team manager and former player Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The match was expected to attract a couple of thousand spectators at Altrincham's Moss Lane ground near Manchester. Altrincham has awarded 500 shares in the club to Ponting. Geoff Goodwin, chairman of the Blue Square Premier side, also works as the driver of the Australian's team bus and has developed a good relationship with Ponting, who has scored more runs than any other player in Australian Test cricket history. During the Ashes series between the two countries, however, Ponting has become English cricket fans' favorite figure of hate, mainly because he performs so well against England.

According to Altrincham's Web site, Goodwin decided to gift Ponting the shares in response to his "generosity in providing so much cricketing memorabilia for the club's fundraising efforts." Ponting will be at match against Manchester United, and will be accompanied by several members of the Australian Ashes squad, three of whom will participate in a penalty shoot-out during half-time. "Ricky has become a very good friend to me and to Altrincham Football Club. I'll be proud to have him alongside me in the directors' box for the United game," said Goodwin on the club's Web site.

A spokesman for Altrincham FC said that five other Australian players hold shares in the club, although they own a significantly smaller quantity than their captain.

The Aussies' link with Altrincham has been going for several years. Back in August 2005, Ponting and some of his international teammates, including Adam Gilchrist and Shane Warne, visited Moss Lane to watch a game.

The club also played host to a charity celebrity football match for the McGrath Foundation for the treatment of breast cancer, founded for Jane McGrath, wife of former Australia bowler Glenn McGrath in 2007. She died of the disease in 2008. The game featured a side of Sporting Legends, captained by McGrath, including former English cricketer Darren Gough and ex-England and Manchester United midfielder Bryan Robson against an 'All Stars' side of actors from UK television soaps.