Macclesfield – The Silkmen’s success . By Glenn Moore
A happy ending did not seem likely in February when the players of Macclesfield Town confronted the club chairman at a local country club after their wages went unpaid, but by last weekend the Silkmen were celebrating the most joyous of finales.
Victory at Eastleigh ensured Macclesfield would return to the Football League after a six-year absence with a Vanarama National League match to spare. John Askew’s team pulled away from the pack in recent weeks then kept their nerve to hold off a late run from Tranmere Rovers.
Askew, who played for the club for nearly two decades, winning three titles plus promotion to League One, said this was his ‘biggest achievement’ at Moss Rose. This is hardly surprising given the fiscal backdrop.
Funds have long been tight at the club and after January’s wages went unpaid a group of first team players gate-crashed a meeting at the Tytherington Club to ask chairman Mark Blower what was going on. The players then issued a statement saying neither majority shareholder Amar Alkadhi nor the chairman had told them what the reason was for this ‘alarming’ situation. Four days after the country club showdown the wages were paid with Alkadhi blaming ‘a technical issue with my bank’ adding, “put simply, I didn’t do my job properly”.
Wages banked, the players got back to doing their job. The Silkmen were second then, behind Wrexham on goal difference and with six clubs within two wins of them. Losing one of 14 subsequent matches, while all around them faltered, they ultimately cruised to the Vanarama National League title winning at rivals Tranmere, Aldershot and Boreham Wood on the way.
It has been a team effort with no player scoring more than a dozen goals. Housemates Scott Wilson (12 goals) and Tyrone Marsh (nine) have led the way, both having been among the raft of players signed in the summer after the bulk of the team that reached last year’s FA Trophy final departed.
That exodus – only three players were left – meant many thought Macclesfield more likely to exit the Vanarama National League through relegation rather than promotion. Askew had to wait to see who was left looking for a contract before filling up his squad. His contacts and experience proved invaluable but Askew still had to take a few gambles on players whose potential had not previously been realised, such as Wilson and Marsh, both of whom are having their most prolific season at this level.
“There will always be talent out there,” said Askew earlier this season. “it is just a case of getting them in the right environment and feeling comfortable to play. You need to have the confidence to have a bit of faith in them.”
With a good start boosting belief the squad gelled quickly. Luck with injuries and good discipline limiting suspensions helped. Team spirit proved strong enough to withstand the financial worries and Tranmere’s surge. Now the Football League beckons again. No one is under illusions, making the jump will be difficult, but the Silkmen have grown used to defying the odds.
For more on Macclesfield Town, visit https://www.mtfc.co.uk/
For more on the Vanarama National League: http://www.thenationalleague.org.uk/