RE­TURN OF THE MACC

Mac­cles­field Town are head­ing back to the EFL

The Football League Paper - - NEWS -

THE cham­pi­ons boarded the coach ahead of the jour­ney home and, at the top of their voices, saluted Mac­cles­field Town’s re­turn to the Foot­ball League af­ter six years away: “The Silk­men are go­ing up with a ten­ner in the bank!”

Just over an hour ear­lier they had sealed the National League ti­tle with a 2-0 win against Eastleigh and com­pleted a Non-League fairy­tale.

Led by the man­ager the fans call ‘Sir’ John Askey, Macc had de­fied the odds to win the league with a tight squad and on one of the divi­sion’s small­est bud­gets.

“I’m still try­ing to take it in,” an emo­tional Askey said straight af­ter. “It means so much, it means so much to so many peo­ple.”

Mitch Han­cox, who scored the de­ci­sive sec­ond to se­cure the three points that got them over the line, was the only con­tracted player last sum­mer.

Club leg­end Danny Whi­taker, the team’s Peter Pan at 37 years old, his tal­ented mid­scored field part­ner Danny White­head and de­fend­ers Ge­orge Pilk­ing­ton and David Fitz­patrick all re­turned for an­other sea­son, but the rest of the team was made up of new ar­rivals.

Un­be­liev­able

De­spite that, de­spite run­ning on a small squad, de­spite be­ing ex­pected to fall away from the ti­tle race long ago, Askey’s men got there with a game to spare. And they did it play­ing some ex­cel­lent foot­ball.

“It’s ab­so­lutely un­be­liev­able,” Whi­taker said. “At the start of the sea­son, no one gave us a prayer. One of the low­est bud­gets in the league, a com­pletely new team.

“It’s the flip of a coin at that point which way it is go­ing to go, but the lads have gelled and worked and worked. We com­ple­mented each other very well and we’ve reached it. We’ve reached the Promised Land of League Two.”

Macc took a gi­ant step to­wards the ti­tle in the space of four Fe­bru­ary days.

On the Satur­day they trav­elled to pro­mo­tion ri­vals Alder­shot Town and came away with a 2-1 win.

Then, the fol­low­ing Tues­day night, they were away at one of their big­gest threats, Tranmere Rovers. A scin­til­lat­ing per­for­mance brought a 4-1 win and sent a mes­sage to the rest of the league they should be taken very se­ri­ously.

There have been late win­ners, late Jan­uary wages blamed on an ad­min er­ror and ad­vances from Foot­ball League clubs for Askey’s ser­vices dur­ing the sea­son. But they did it.

Jumped

Life hasn’t al­ways been easy since relegation from the Foot­ball League in 2012. The club have been hand to mouth, but in Askey they have some­one who breathes Mac­cles­field. He won pro­mo­tion with Macc in 1997, was still work­ing full-time in their first sea­son in the Foot­ball League and jumped into the stands to cel­e­brate with fans when he his last ever goal back in 2003. If there was one man to do it, it had to be him.

With tears in his eyes, he paid trib­ute to peo­ple like (for­mer vice-chair­man) Andy Scott, who had kept the club go­ing in dif­fi­cult times, to the sup­port­ers who have stuck by them, and to the play­ers he says have the “big­gest hearts” in the league.

“Not only are they good foot­ballers,” said Askey, “they are good peo­ple. If you get enough good peo­ple in a team who can play then things like this hap­pen.

“I’m so pleased for them be­cause ev­ery sin­gle one of them gets on. There’s not one I wouldn’t go out and have a drink with. I’m just glad we’ve got some re­ward for their hard work. They will al­ways be re­mem­bered.

“You can have all the money you want, you can go and play for teams for money. But it’s about win­ning. No mat­ter what hap­pens in their life, the peo­ple of Mac­cles­field will al­ways re­mem­ber this team.

Money can’t buy that.”

Matt Badcock, of our sis­ter pub­li­ca­tion The Non-League Pa­per, re­flects on how Mac­cles­field Town have earned their place back among the top 92…

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.