AFTER suffering three successive seasons of play-off heartache at Guiseley, James Walshaw appreciates the irony in attempting to inflict another dose of despair on the Lions on Saturday.
The prolific Altrincham marksman is part of a goal-hungry Yorkshire-born striking duo alongside former Farsley striker Damian Reeves.
The pair have plundered 54 goals between them this term, with Thornhill lad Walshaw leading the way with 32.
Three of those arrived in Altrincham’s 4-1 win over Mark Bower’s Lions at Moss Lane in a one-sided Skrill North encounter in early October, but Guiseley are a side much transformed ahead of Saturday’s play-off final.
The prize is a place in the Conference, a level that the Robins have reached before but one which has proved to be elusive for Guiseley.
Walshaw, whose two goals clinched the UniBond Premier title for Guiseley in 2009-10 when he top-scored with 31 goals before leading the way with 32 in the following campaign, tasted defeat in the club’s play-off semi-final exits to FC Halifax and Nuneaton and their final loss to AFC Telford in 2010-11.
Now he is aiming to inflict more heartache on the Nethermoor outfit – although if Guiseley do triumph, he admits the blow will be softened given his past association with them. “It’s funny that I left Guiseley with three play-off defeats in the last three years and then go to Altrincham and then get to a final where we have to beat them.
“So one of us is going to have four play-off defeats in a row, which is quite ironic.
“I had four or five wonderful years at Guiseley, but just thought it was time for a change of scenery. I have come to Altrincham and done well but do hold Guiseley in high regard.
“I had a good time with them, won a league and got in three play-offs and have a strong relationship with the fans.
“It will be a good day for me, but you do have to keep your emotions to one side.
“It’s the business end and you have to just do a job.
“There were a few texts going back and forth on Saturday night when we realised we were playing each other in the final.
“But since Monday, it’s been all about concentrating on the build-up really. I am sure I will definitely sit down in the summer and have a drink with one or two of them.
“It would be fantastic if we went up at Altrincham. But if we do lose, as much as it will be disappointing, I will be happy for Guiseley if they go up.
“It would mean my friends would be going into a higher league. It’s a no-lose situation in that respect.”
Saturday’s final at Moss Lane kicks off at 3pm.