Macclesfield Town: Golf Tees, Maccy D's And Why Football Is Not More Important Than Life And Death

The death of midfielder Richard Butcher in January was a timely reminder that football is only a game, hats off to manager Gary Simpson for leading the club through a difficult period...
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The death of midfielder Richard Butcher in January was a timely reminder that football is only a game, hats off to manager Gary Simpson for leading the club through a difficult period...

The ‘I f*cking love this game’ highlight of the season? Stockport County 1-4 Macclesfield Town in February. Midfielder Richard Butcher died in early January, and after that sad reminder that football results don’t really matter, the Stockport win brought some joy back to the game for MTFC fans.

The season ticket shredding moment? Proper fans never shred their season tickets. Losing 6-0 away to Huddersfield in the FA Cup second round was a low point, especially since it was another 10 games before we won.

Moment that just about summed it all up? The 3-2 away defeat at Burton Albion. We lost to an 89th minute penalty, having gone 2-1 up eight minutes earlier. Over the season Macclesfield Town conceded 11 goals between the 85th and 90th minutes – far more than any other single five-minute period. Throwing away leads cost us as a possible 26 points, and that bad Burton night in March epitomised the problem.

Got the right manager? Yes. Gary Simpson has faced difficult circumstances off the pitch in his first full season as a Football League manager. Coaching courses probably don’t teach how to deal with the sudden death of a player. Simpson led the club through a tough year.

Past tragedy aside, Simmo usually gets it right on the pitch. He sets his teams up to play to the opposition’s weaknesses, unlike certain previous managers. It is pragmatic management, but the lower half of League Two is no place for purists. He has moulded a flexible squad, capable of playing both passing football and direct, get-out-of-jail stuff.

But overall Simpson knows what he’s doing. He led the club to a 15th-placed finish, the best in a few years, on a miniscule budget compared to most others in League Two. Some wise moves in the transfer market, like bringing in Ross Draper and Tyrone Barnett from non-league, show that Simmo can spot a decent player. Looking at some of the financial nightmares and underachieving ‘big’ clubs in League Two, he’s doing OK.

Player of the season? Tyrone Barnett had a blinding first season as a professional. This time last year he was playing for Hednesford Town in the Zamaretto League. The hard-working centre forward hit 13 goals for Macclesfield this season. That may seem a modest number, but Barnett’s consistently excellent all-round play makes him the best striker to appear in a Macclesfield shirt since Jon Parkin.

The Sapp’s much-awaited return from injury a few months into the season was hindered by the fact he’d apparently been doing his rehabilitation in a branch of McDonalds

Muppet of the season? In any other season there’d be a couple of Silkmen vying for this title, but this year no one has been especially rubbish.

What would you change next term if you were the gaffer? I’d attack more, especially at home where our form has been poor for years. The safety-first approach probably kept us up this season, but the current squad is capable of better things. Just look at the penultimate game of season: three up inside twenty minutes, away from home against promotion candidates Gillingham, eventually winning 2-4.

Which player would you like to sign With a 20-goal-a-season man we’d be at the other end of the table. But proven goalscorers don’t come cheap and they don’t usually join Macclesfield Town. Realistically, expect the usual mix of promising but untried non-leaguers, higher division youth-team cast offs, and any veterans of Lincoln’s 2003-2006 play off teams who haven’t already played for the Silkmen. Is Ben Futcher available yet?

Best goal? Tyrone Barnett’s right-footed strike into the top corner of the net from just outside the 18-yard box against Wycombe Wanderers. Watch it here at 5m 24s.

Biggest tosser? One heavyweight candidate for this: Ricky Sappleton. The Sapp’s much-awaited return from injury a few months into the season was hindered by the fact he’d apparently been doing his rehabilitation in a branch of McDonalds. Well short of match fitness, he was limited to occasional appearances from the bench.

In one brief outing, The Sapp sparked a mass brawl in the 90th minute when he floored a Wycombe player with a late challenge, took out another with a brutal kick to the shin, and grappled with the rest of the squad before getting sent off. Rumour has it he’d left pies in the oven and couldn’t risk staying on the pitch for added time in case they burnt. Watch the whole brawl here.

Sappleton finally exhausted the patience of the fans by becoming the first MTFC player to fire off a few moronic tweets criticising the club. He wasn’t happy with the management, and couldn’t wait until the summer, when he could leave.

Not many Macclesfield players use Twitter. Someone set up a fake account in his honour and tweeted a merciless string of fat jokes.

Sappleton was presumably delighted to be released from the club last week. See you in KFC, Ricky.

Player’s tweet of the season? Ricky Sappleton’s season is summed up by his brilliantly incisive tweet: ‘wanna go nando’s’. Sadly he subsequently made his account private, so the real tweet of the season goes to his ‘tribute’ twitter account @fatsapp: ‘Destroyed a little chef breakfast bluuud. Lookin out 4 a new club innit, tesco hav stopped puttin cheese in theirs. Siiiikk times.’

Most inspired chant? “One Ron Weasley, there’s only one Ron Weasley” to Torquay United goalkeeper Scott Bevan.

Best laugh you had all season? Goalkeeper Jose Veiga’s attempts to disguise a transparent plastic golf tee on the 6-yard box line at Burton’s Pirelli Stadium. His goal kicks were excellent until the ref confiscated it.

How do you plan to get through the summer without football? I might have to resort to the ancient copy of Football Manager.

Any other news? Never, ever place any bets based on Sky Sports predicted league tables.

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