Fo­cus is

Macclesfield Express - - SPORT -

BY his own ad­mis­sion, John Askey’s per­sonal mem­o­ries of Wem­b­ley are bit­ter­sweet at best.

And that’s why he’s de­ter­mined to re­dress the bal­ance by lead­ing Mac­cles­field to FA Tro­phy glory on Sun­day.

The Silk­men twice reached the fi­nal of the com­pe­ti­tion dur­ing the Moss Rose leg­end’s play­ing days, but nei­ther oc­ca­sion was par­tic­u­larly sat­is­fy­ing for Askey.

“A win at Wem­b­ley would be my big­gest achieve­ment. I haven’t won any­thing yet apart from mi­nor tro­phies, so it would be huge for my­self and for the club,” he said.

“Per­son­ally, my mem­o­ries of Wem­b­ley are not great, I played in 1989 and we lost 1-0 against Telford. I got injured in the first 20 min­utes and ended up hav­ing to come off – so not a great mem­ory!

“I’d started the game off re­ally well and then some­body came through the back of me and run their studs down my calf.

“But I can say that I played there, and there’s not many can claim that.

“It’s not so much un­fin­ished busi­ness be­cause in foot­ball you just have to keep mov­ing on.

“If you stand still and look at what you have achieved or what you haven’t achieved, then you’re dead. It’s all about mov­ing for­ward and try­ing to im­prove as a man­ager and im­prove the team.”

Askey’s place in Mac­cles­field folk­lore is al­ready well es­tab­lished, but he wants his cur­rent crop of play­ers to en­sure they too are re­mem­bered with sim­i­lar af­fec­tion by sup­port­ers in years to come.

And that means win­ning the fi­nal

“It’s re­ally im­por­tant we fin­ish the sea­son well with a tro­phy – it’s no good just turn­ing up and think­ing ‘it’s a nice oc­ca­sion’,” he said.

“Our sole fo­cus now is on win­ning that tro­phy. If you don’t win it, it soon gets for­got­ten so we are try­ing to make our own lit­tle bit of his­tory.”

If the Silk­men can pull it off against a York City side rel­e­gated from the Va­narama Na­tional League a few weeks ago – de­spite as­sem­bling a squad which looked good enough to chal­lenge at the top end of the table – then it will rep­re­sent a very suc­cess­ful year for ev­ery­one at the Moss Rose.

“The main aim and am­bi­tion for these play­ers is to get back into the Foot­ball League, but we’ve had a good run in this com­pe­ti­tion this sea­son and reached the fi­nal, so it would be great to win it,” said Askey.

“Our bud­get is small but we’ve chal­lenged for the play-offs right up un­til the last cou­ple of weeks of the sea­son, and we’ve reached the fi­nal of the big­gest com­pe­ti­tion avail­able to non-league clubs – be­cause let’s face it, we’re not go­ing to win the FA Cup.

“So hope­fully we can round the sea­son off in style and be­come the third team in this club’s his­tory to lift the tro­phy.

“We were the first ever win­ners of the com­pe­ti­tion, reached the fi­nal in ‘89 – which I was part of – and then won it in ‘ 96 when I was injured, so we do have a good tra­di­tion in this com­pe­ti­tion.

“To get to the fi­nal four times in 47 years isn’t a bad re­turn for a club of our size.”

Hav­ing ex­pe­ri­enced what it’s like to walk out at the home of foot­ball for a big fi­nal, Askey is mind­ful of the po­ten­tially en­er­gys­ap­ping re­lease of adrenalin play­ers feel when re­al­is­ing a life­long am­bi­tion to ply their trade at Wem­b­ley.

That’s why the man­ager was so keen to get his play­ers down to Lon­don a cou­ple of days ahead of the big oc­ca­sion to take in the sur­round­ings and the sheer scale of the venue.

“There’s some­thing in­side that ig­nites when you walk out at Wem­b­ley and the hard­est part is controlling the adrenalin

‘If you don’t win, it soon gets for­got­ten so we are try­ing to make our own lit­tle bit of his­tory’

that you have to cope with, as you do in any big game.

“You have to en­sure it doesn’t sap your energy.

Sammy McIl­roy was man­ager of the Macc side which lifted the FA Tro­phy in 1996

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