My Matchday - 251 Moss Rose

Macclesfield Town 0v2 Darlington
League Two
Saturday 1st May 2010

Macclesfield is a market town in the east of Cheshire on the River Bollin, located close to the county borders of Greater Manchester, Derbyshire and Staffordshire.
Macclesfield is know as the “Silk Town” as it was once the worlds biggest producer of finished silk but it is also nicknamed “Treacle Town” The treacle link is believed to come from an incident when a wagon overturned spilling a load of treacle on Hibel Road, the town folk rushed out to scoop the treacle off the cobbled street into jugs and bowls. Another treacle explanation is that mill-owners used to provide barrels of the brown sweet sticky liquid to the unemployed weavers.

I’ve always known the town as “Macc” due to the infamous local punk/rock ban
d The Macc Lads, the self acclaimed " rudest, crudest, lewdest, drunkest band in Christendom",
If your unaware of The Macc Lads music, I would describe them as rude, filthy, sexist, homophobic and politically incorrectable, but they do bang out one hell of a cracking tune! Their lyrics mainly involve around pulling crack(women) chips and gravy and drinking lots of beer, particularly Boddingtons Bitter (Boddies) as in one memorable lyric from Barrel’s Round “You've got veins in your bodies but we've got Boddies in our veins, we‘ll out drink anybody then we‘ll go and do it all again”
The person responsible for getting me into such a vulgar band was Pete, a lad from Crewe who I met while on holiday in the Costa del Sol in 1989. We, as in ourselves and our female partners at the time stayed in touch, swapping visits between Cheshire and Tyneside over the next four years, before life changing events meant we lost touch with one another.
The beauty(or curse)of www. is the possibility to reunite with lost friends and family. So with special thanks to Pete’s ex-wife Anne I was delighted to receive an email on Friday night from Pete, arranging to meet up in Macclesfield for - as The Macc Lads would graciously express it “Give me alcohol, Give me alcohol, Don't want a pie or a cornish pasty, Give us a pint or I'll turn nasty, Gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme alcohol”

After catching my train connection from Manchester I arrived in town at 12.45. I headed straight to the GBG recommended Market Green Tavern, before meeting Pete (after a bit of a mix up) in the Society Rooms Wetherspoons pub. It was great to catch up after all these years for a bevvy and hopefully we’ll meet again next time I’m in the north west. Unfortunately there was no “Boddies” to be had, but some great ales in the pubs and especially the Nags Head after the game.
Macclesfield originated from a rugby club in 1874 and began playing in The Combination league at Moss Rose from 1891. The original club went bankrupt in 1897, so Hallfield FC took over the ground, subsequently taking over the town’s name in 1904 and later joined the Lancashire Combination League.
Moss Rose first major work came in 1906 with the construction of a timber main stand with cover added on the opposite terrace and a dressing room block situated in the pub corner of the ground.
The Silkmen became founder members of the Cheshire County League in 1919, winning the first of six titles in 1932 with further honours in the League and Senior cup competitions. It was in the Cheshire Senior Cup which produced the grounds biggest attendance of 9,003 on February 4th 1948 for a 2nd Round tie with Winsford United.

The club had the Town suffix added in 1966 and one year earlier the ground’s first floodlights were installed, switched on for a fixture with Northwich Victoria which attracted a crowd of 3,200.
The old grandstand was replaced in 1968 as the club became founder members of the Northern Premier League after winning their final Cheshire League title. The club became inaugural winners of the league, then the following season they retained the title and added another first to the record books, as FA Trophy winners at Wembley in 1970. The club are currently celebrating the 40th anniversary of being the first winners of the competition, honouring which is regarded as The Silkmen’s greatest ever side.
Promotion to the Conference was achieved after winning their third NPL title in 1986-87, but further promotion to the Football League was denied when winning the league in 1994-95 due to ground grading guidelines. The only work undertaking during this period was new offices, changing rooms and in 1988 the grass banking was replaced with terracing behind one goal and around the stand, also a new Social Club was opened in 1990.
Moss Rose was deemed fit for League football only three years earlier after only minor alterations allowed Chester City (RIP) to ground share after vacating Sealand Road, while the Deva Stadium was under construction. However new tighter ground grading rules meant Macc had to wait another two years, after securing a second Conference title, following on from a second successful trip to Wembley the previous year.

Macclesfield Town hosted League Football for the first time with a 2-1 win over Torquay United in August 1997, a season which concluded with instant success as runners-up and promotion to the third tier of English football.
The Silkmen were relegated the following season but have managed to maintain their League Two status, even though it’s been an annual struggle to survive.
In February 2008 Keith Alexander replaced Ian Brightwell as boss until the end of the season, steering the club clear of the drop with four wins and three draws in the nine remaining games and was rewarded with a 2 year contract.
Keith Alexander suffered a double brain aneurysm in 2003 when manager of Lincoln City.On 2nd March 2010 Keith arriving home from the League Two match at Notts County feeling unwell, he collapsed and was taking to Lincoln Hospital where he died shortly afterwards at the age of 53.
The club and team responded positively to such tragic circumstances, winning what would have been Keith’s 100th game in charge at Hereford the following Saturday and have continued to pull together with a string of good results, which is an honour to his memory and which would have made “the gaffer” proud.

This season Town have had a stress free end of the season as far as flirtation with the bottom two is concerned, while opponents Darlington have remained as the strongest club in the Football League (as they hold the rest up…Eddy) staying rock bottom throughout the campaign, but surprisingly relegation was only just officially confirmed in their recent away fixture at Rochdale.
It was the visitors who won the game at a canter in a typical end of season game, a headed goal in each half and even a missed penalty didn’t but a dent on such a confident performance.
Darlington took the lead in the ninth minute, a free kick from the right was headed home by skipper Miller via the underside of the bar.
The best Macc-attack in the first half came just before the break, a Tipton cross was met by a powerful header from Brown who should have done better from close range.
Darlo had a chance to double their lead early in the second half after a soft foul on Mulligan gave Convery a chance from the spot. The penalty taker tried to be clever by trying the old John Aldridge hesitant shuffle trick, but the keeper got down well to save at his left post.
Macc tried in vain the grab an equaliser, the best opportunities falling to Hessey and Sinclair but Darlington sealed their fourth away win out of the last six games when Smith got on the end of a Convery cross the round off a good days work for Darlo.

I agree with the consensus that Moss Rose still has a Non-League feel about it, but that's part of its charm. As you approach the ground from the town via London Road, you can clearly see the spectators at the back of the terrace and in the Main stand.
The Silk FM Stand has 563 red and black seats. The blue frontage roof has MFC in large white letters and the clubs lion crest. The stand has glass wind shields with terracing at each side. In the corner is a police control box with an electric scoreboard perched on top.(which on this occasion wasn’t working)
The Alfred McAlpine Stand was opened in 2001 and has a single tier of 1,550 blue seats with executive boxes running full length. The stand has a suspended TV gantry and the club shop, main offices are situated within the stand.
The Silkmen End is a bit different, a mixture of seats and terrace, five rows of blue seats with the standing area at the back. The reason for the added 486 seats was to bring the ground up to the minimum seating requirement for the Football League, with a total of 2,599 amongst the total capacity of 6,335.

The Star Lane end is a basic open terrace with blue crash barriers. Even though I have no real affection for Darlington, for photography reasons I stood on the away terrace amongst the Darlo fans.
Next season Darlington will be north east derby rivals with my non league team Gateshead in the Conference. The new rivalry seems to have already got underway with Darlo fans chanting “If your going to Gateshead clap your hands” quickly followed by “We hate Geordies and we hate Geordies” Although they did make me laugh after the official attendance of 1,716 was announced responding with “Your grounds too big for you (repeat to fade)” Well I suppose it takes one to know one!
I had an enjoyable day out in Macclesfield, which was made that extra special by meeting up with a long lost friend who I hadn’t clapped eyes on for 18 years. I suppose the only disappointment of the day was the legendary Macc Lads pub ‘The Old Bears Head’ is no more and there was no sign of Hectic House Records on Sunderland Street either. But I’ll leave it to The Macc Lads to sum up my matchday
"The weekend is coming and its time for a bath We're going to sup some Boddies and we'll have a good laugh" (I'll have to stop there, as the rest is unprintable.)

Matchday stats
MTFC 0 DFC 2(Miller 9 Smith 78)
Admission £14

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