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