Macc leg­ends in

Cap­tain Halls out to write squad into the his­tory books. re­ports

Macclesfield Express - - SPORT -

MAC­CLES­FIELD Town skip­per Andy Halls is chal­leng­ing the Silk­men squad to el­e­vate them­selves to leg­endary sta­tus by lift­ing the FA Tro­phy at Wem­b­ley this week­end.

Halls will proudly sport the cap­tain’s arm­band for John Askey’s side in non­league foot­ball’s an­nual show­piece – with a determination to se­cure the club’s third tri­umph in the com­pe­ti­tion.

Should they achieve the tar­get of land­ing Macc’s FA Tro­phy hat-trick, the 25-year-old be­lieves the squad will go down in club folk­lore – just like their 1970 and 1996 pre­de­ces­sors.

“I was speak­ing with some of the sup­port­ers at the end-of-sea­son awards din­ner a few weeks ago, fans who were there in 1970 for the very first fi­nal of the com­pe­ti­tion, and it made me re­alise that it is pos­si­ble to be that team that peo­ple still talk about in 20 years’ time, the team that won the FA Tro­phy for the third time for the club,” said Halls.

“Hope­fully, I can be the cap­tain to have lifted the tro­phy and be one of those play­ers that peo­ple talk about in years to come, like the man­ager is to fans now.

“It would be great to be coming back to the club in 20 years’ time, stand­ing up and talk­ing about win­ning the tro­phy. I can imag­ine that would be a great oc­ca­sion.

“For the size of this club, and the size of the oc­ca­sion, it means a great deal to peo­ple of Mac­cles­field, and also for play­ers like my­self who have played in non-league for a while and will prob­a­bly never get the chance to play at Wem­b­ley again.

“It’s a lit­tle bit ex­tra spe­cial be­cause of Mac­cles­field’s his­tory with this tro­phy hav­ing won it twice be­fore. It will be an ex­tra spe­cial day, and one that all the play­ers will be rel­ish­ing and hop­ing to win.”

And Halls revealed that the present day Macc squad will em­u­late the 1996 vin­tage by fol­low­ing their prepara­tory tem­plate for suc­cess in the build up to the game.

“I spoke to the man­ager when we first got to the fi­nal, and he said he wanted to do it the same as he’d done it as a player, trav­el­ling down on the Fri­day and tak­ing the op­por­tu­nity to have a look round Wem­b­ley, train on the Satur­day, play Sun­day and stay down in Lon­don that night and all go out to­gether for what will hope­fully be a cel­e­bra­tion of win­ning the tro­phy,” said Halls.

“It’s im­por­tant we visit Wem­b­ley and ex­pe­ri­ence what it’s like to step out on the pitch on the Fri­day – you wouldn’t want to be do­ing that on match­day for the first time.

“Most of the lads have never done it.

“I’ve been there to watch other teams, but I’ve never been as a player.

“It could be quite daunt­ing at first, so you don’t need that go­ing on when it’s match­day, you want to be re­laxed and be able to play your game, so I think the man­ager has called that one right.”

One of the big­gest quan­daries fac­ing Askey was how to deal with the three-week break be­tween the end of the sea­son and the big day – a gap of three weeks. Halls said train­ing for three weeks speci­fi­cially for one match would have been too much, so the play­ers were given a wel­come week’s rest fol­low­ing the fi­nal game of the Va­narama Na­tional League cam­paign.

“It’s been a bit of a strange sit­u­a­tion to be in, hav­ing a three-week break,” said Halls.

“We had a week off be­fore go­ing back in to train­ing for a cou­ple of weeks.

“The lads are very pro­fes­sional and know how to get it right.

“I think it was vi­tal we were given some time off be­cause the last two or three months of the sea­son were hec­tic, play­ing Satur­day/Tues­day for pretty much two months straight.

“So it was good to get a break from each other – and get a break from some more than oth­ers!

“We’ve spent a lot of time in each oth­ers pock­ets over the course of the sea­son, and re­cently we had a long trip to Dover.

“So it was good to have a break and then come in for a two-week pe­riod of prepa­ra­tion where it didn’t have to be too in­tense.”

And if the man­ager has got his bal­anc­ing act just right, the play­ers now have to follow suit – by en­joy­ing the big oc­ca­sion but at the same time ap­proach­ing the fi­nal with a pro­fes­sional, win­ning mind­set.

“I am go­ing there to en­joy the ex­pe­ri­ence, it’s one that I’ve never done be­fore and may never do again, so you have got to en­joy these ex­pe­ri­ences.

“But on the other side of that, I am go­ing there to win.

“It would be ex­tra spe­cial for me as cap­tain to win and hold aloft that tro­phy.

“So it’s just about get­ting the bal­ance right.”

‘It would be ex­tra spe­cial for me as cap­tain to hold aloft that tro­phy’

Mac­cles­field skip­per Andy Halls is hop­ing to get his hands on the Build­base FA Tro­phy at Wem­b­ley on Sun­day

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