Author Archives: kieranscottknowles

Congleton Town vs Nostell MW (F.A. Cup Extra Preliminary Round 15/08/15)

The FA Cup is back for the new season, and I ventured to Congleton Town’s Richborough Estates Stadium for their Extra Preliminary Round tie with Nostell MW. Read the rest of this entry

Yate Town F.C. vs Newport A.F.C. (Beazer Homes League Midland Division 12/04/93)

The latest #Classic Programme review sees us travel back in time some twenty two years, to a Spring day in Hampshire. Read the rest of this entry

Classic Programme – Salford City vs Darwen

A look at a matchday programme from twenty-odd years ago. Read the rest of this entry

Humble Confession of an Amateur Football Writer

If there is one thing I have learned about football writing it’s that you should never be shy about highlighting just how right you are. No matter that the huge “Messi to Cowdenbeath Shockah!” article you wrote predictably came to nothing or that the team you finally decided would win the title after months of flip-flopping between six rivals (hello Robbie Savage!) actually ended up outside the top four.. what ‘s important is that one-out-of-thousands transfer rumour pulled out of your rear end that actually came true or the fact that back on October the 15th you correctly predicted who would emerge as champions before you stacked your chips firmly elsewhere. Football writing, essentially, is all about throwing as much stuff at the wall as possible and then having a self-congratulatory backpat when some finally sticks. This, here, is me doing the opposite. Read the rest of this entry

Classic Programme – Wrose Albion F.C. vs Fairweather Gr. 21/10/90

If, at the turn of the final decade of the twentieth century, you were to find yourself in or around the Bradford area and in need of somebody to spin some tunes you could have done no better than hiring D.J. Ray Tate and his ‘Disco Sounds’. How do I know this? Because his advertisement in the programme for the match between Wrose Albion F.C. and Fairweather Gr. (whose attendances were always predictably awful due to them having.. wait for it.. fairweather fans *rimshot*) billed him as “Yorkshires Leading Mobile Discotheque” and “the Ultimate in Mobile Entertainment”. I’m not sure what the mobile discotheque turf war was like in Yorkshire back in those heady days of October 1990 but it was still a pretty ballsy move by Ray to position himself as disco king. Perhaps one of the reasons for his confidence was the “24 hour answering service” he had in operation. That’s quite the commitment to bad music! One can imagine a Batman style light in the shape of a glitter ball beaming brightly into a mournfully coloured sky above the Salts Mill at five in the morning as Ray pulls on his flares and grabs his Norma Jean twelve inches before jumping into his Funkmobile to race over and provide Ultimate Entertainment at a moments notice.

wrose1The cover of the programme for this District Cup clash features a cartoon of an unshaven, overweight hooligan looking type holding a ball and giving a thumbs up in front of an optimistically full and happy stand. Is this an honest impression of the type of player plying their trade at Wrose at the time? Beside him on the pitch sit a shield commemorating their previous season as 1st division champions and, more excitedly, the prestigious “Vera Cookson cup” (even after extensive research I am none the wiser as to who Vera Cookson was but did at least uncover this amazing photograph of former winners Grafton Garage that appears to show a young Phil Jupitus and a player who apparently preferred to sport of-it’s-time knitwear rather than the actual kit).

As is often the case with match literature this far down the football ladder (and by the time you reach clubs in the Wharfdale League Premier Division you have departed the ladder altogether and are now digging feverishly at the soil with your fingernails) the product is rather flimsy at a meagre 14 pages and eighty percent of that is taken up with advertisements. Luckily local advertising is one of our favourite things here at Classic Programmes and there are a couple of gems to satiate our appetite. wrose2Aside from Mr. Tate and his non stop disco madness there is a Fisheries that is rarely open, a print & design studio that boastfully promises to deliver “on time!” as if the minimum requirement for a business is a major selling point, and the unappealingly titled ‘Millionhairs Body Complex’ where “you don’t have to be a millionaire to come to millionhairs”. With all due respect to Shipley it’s hardly the Millionaires’ Mile so I doubt that really needed pointing out and also.. Millionhairs? Really? Is this a beauty studio designed specifically with Chewbacca in mind?

As for non commercial content we get the staple half-hearted sports and music quizes and the usual array of statistics nobody really cares about and yet with a closer inspection shows that from the first twenty seven games the ten teams in the league had managed an impressive 124 goals between them. That’s an average of about four and a half goals each match. Bizarre then to find K. Attenborough sitting atop the goal scorers table with a mere five strikes to his name. Only two other players had scored more than one goal! By my calculations it appears that one hundred and thirteen other players shared a solitary goal between them. Either that or the person tasked with recording statistics had a very tenuous grasp on the truth.

The highlight of the programme, however, is the ‘Pick of the Past’ section which features a match report from the esteemed Shipley Times & Express from 1978. The game in question is a cup tie between Wrose Albion and Junction and features a description of a 50 yard punt being headed home as “picture-book” (presumably the artist of that particular book was Sam Allardyce) and makes mention of a “cheeky ball” being chipped in for Albion’s fifth which raises the surreal philosophical question as to how a ball can possibly be cheeky?
Of more interest than all that, however, is the revelation that this game was the first match of the season for young Ray Tate. Yes, that’s right, the Tadcaster Travolta himself was involved in a game where he managed to concede a penalty and later be substituted after cutting his eye. Not the greatest of debuts then. Just as well the world of Disco awaited him.

“24 hour answering service – except for a couple of hours on Sunday when I might be being crap at football.”

John Askey Appointed New Silkmen Boss

The wait is over. Sixty two days after sacking Steve King the Macclesfield Town board have finally confirmed his replacement, with the announcement that club legends John Askey and Efe Sodje will take over the roles of manager and assistant manager respectively. It truly is a managerial “dream team” presuming your slumber is met with visions of a rather underwhelming job appointment.

Askey's previous spell in charge wasn't the best

Askey’s previous spell in charge wasn’t the best

In fairness it could have been worse. At the start of last month the media was convinced that Robbie Fowler would be the next boss at the Moss Rose – a gamble that seemed positively demented given that the last risk taken on putting someone unsuited in charge had failed and a calm hand to steady the ship seemed like the smart option. Fowler would have been anything but given his lack of experience and lack of knowledge of the English lower leagues. Indeed it was hard to see the interest in the former Liverpool striker as anything other than a way of drumming up some publicity and getting the Macclesfield Town name in the papers rather than being what was best for a club desperate to avoid a fate similar to neighbours Stockport (and we all know what a sterling success their appointment of a former Liverpool superstar was).

That’s not to say Askey is an entirely popular choice with all supporters or that the Macc board haven’t done damage in the way they have handled this scenario. It is clear from the amount of time it took to announce the appointment that John and Efe were not the first choice, especially so given the earlier flirting Jon Harris publicly did with Fowler.

Askey’s previous experience at the helm hardly does him many favours too – his original time in charge in 2003 saw him removed a little over five months later and with the Silkmen facing a relegation battle that subsequent boss Brian Horton managed to steer them clear of. His more recent spell as caretaker boss following the sacking of King saw him earn three points from a possible fifteen whilst conceding fourteen goals along the way. The sort of stats that hardly fill you with confidence.

In his favour he truly is a legend at Macclesfield due to a playing career than spanned three decades and saw him make almost seven hundred appearances. That alone will buy him time and hopefully keep even the most disgruntled fans from voicing their displeasure too loudly in what is likely to be a difficult season for the Cheshire side.

Also he knows the club inside out and his experience with the first team last season and subsequent relationship with them will be of benefit too. Despite the loss of certain players (the excellent midfield duo Wedgebury and Murtagh have departed for Football League clubs whilst striker Fairhurst has joined Lincoln) he still has the crux of a decent team here which, if he can keep it together and add a few faces along the way, should be able to hold their own in the Conference next season.

Efe Sodje in his trademark bandana while on duty for Nigeria

Efe Sodje in his trademark bandana while on duty for Nigeria

As for Efe Sodje, the cynical might think his inclusion is just a sweetener because the announcement of Askey alone wouldn’t have been exciting enough for fans who have waited impatiently for months for managerial news. That would be to do him a disservice. Sodje has been involved in the coaching side of the game since 2008 when he took on a player-coach role at Bury and his vast experience (including a World Cup appearance, lest we forget), combined with an affinity for a club who took him to their hearts following his role in their first experiences of the Football League back in 1997, could see him play an important role in how the Silkmen go forward from here.

What is clear is that stability is key to the future of Macclesfield Town football club and John Askey seems the man best suited to that task. No other manager would be tolerated by the supporters in delivering a mid-table position but, considering the tough job in escaping the division and the loss of parachute payments this year, that very well may be the best they can expect. I just hope they can accept that because otherwise another boss forced out could lead to the Conference North, the club going part time, and even possible extinction.

Waiting For God.

At the end of the 1940’s the acclaimed novelist/poet Samuel Beckett wrote what many people believe to be his finest work – Waiting For God – a play centered around a couple of Macclesfield Town FC supporters who pass their time on an internet message-board patiently awaiting the news that former Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler has, as widely tipped, been named the clubs new manager. It was once famously voted “the most significant English language play about a mid tier Conference side from the North West of England of the 20th century.”

The plot revolves around the two aforementioned fans of the Silkmen who, with nothing better to do with their lives, choose to while away the hours online (especially impressive given that at the time it was written the internet as widely now known was roughly fifty years from coming to fruition) pontificating on the scouse striker’s possible merits, whether given his millions made in property he was considering buying the club outright, and jokily mulling over which of Fowler’s former Liverpool team mates would be suited to roles within the backroom staff (in an example of Beckett’s famous gallows humour the job of ‘tactical intelligence’ was given to Jason “I’m not that hungry” McAteer).

A lot has been made of the absurdist nature of the play – much of which stems from the idea of a football club with nobody at the helm continuing its business of retaining players and selling others on to rivals whilst potentially placing its hopes of promotion and long term survival in the lap of a man whose only previous experience of management was at Muangthong United in Thailand. Indeed throughout there is the suggestion that perhaps Fowler is more reputation than actual substance – his rejection of a penalty he had falsely won, his ‘Spice Boy’ image complete with cream F.A. cup final suit, drug taking goal celebration, and online beefing with ex-pros all stand out clearer in the mind than anything he has actually achieved in the game beyond a fast hattrick against a pre-Arsene Arsenal. This idea is neatly summed up during the first act when one of the two supporters asks what exactly ‘God’ will do for them when he is appointed. “Oh… nothing very definite.” is the rather desperate reply.

Then there are the existential elements to consider. How does a supporter of a club like Macclesfield continue to function whilst in possession of the knowledge they will likely never achieve anything of real note? A common recent criticism of the monied clubs is they lack ‘history’ which seems to mean that within the Premier League era they had previously failed to win a major trophy. Where does this leave a club like Macclesfield with not even a hint of a major trophy in their past and no realistic chance of attaining one anytime soon? Do they have no history? No future? Are they merely a ghost fart of a club lingering only ever in the now?

Perhaps the managerial merry-go-round is one of the places they find help in dealing with this crisis of existence. The discussions and arguments created by a managerial vacuum are a way of convincing themselves that there is a point – that the next person to take possession of the job could just be the one who completely turns it around regardless of what obstacles he would face in the process. The ‘what-if’ is a far preferable scenario to be faced with than the ‘what-now’ that follows when whoever takes the hot seat inevitably fails to live up to the task.

The two characters spend the majority of the play pondering over the possible scenarios that might play out when God arrives because the reality – that the club, having already failed in an expensive gamble on a dodgy manager unproven at that level, are now planning to gamble on a well known former player unproven at that level – is too much to bare.

At the end of the play someone purporting to be Macclesfield Town chief executive/laughing stock Jon Harris arrives to post an announcement that no decision is due upon the naming of a new manager due to indecision over the transfer budget or some such nonsense but that there would definitely be exciting news the next day. In response the two disappointed fans angrily announce their decision to stop supporting the club in favour of a more worthwhile pursuit.

Everyone in the audience watching, however, knows that the two fans will remain. Refreshing over and over the news page of the clubs official website. Still yet waiting for news. Still yet waiting for God.

King Falls On His Sword

After the F.A. cup victory against Cardiff on the 6th of January this year a question was put to manager Steve King regarding the size of the achievement. During his answer he tellingly noted that “they’ve never been into the 4th round before” – oddly distancing himself from the club at a time when he had just made history for us and was entitled to truly feel part of Macclesfield Town. Was it an indication that he didn’t feel welcome or perhaps a sign that he wasn’t really committed to the club? If it was the former he could hardly be blamed. Since his shock arrival back in May of last year the supporters became split into two camps – those that begrudgingly accepted he was here now so we may as well get behind him and those who couldn’t wait for him to slip up so they could start the “King Out” chants. If it was the latter, however, then that would just confirm the suspicions that most fans already had about him.

King celebrates making the fourth round of the FA Cup

King celebrates making the fourth round of the FA Cup

The buzz word in football lately seems to be ‘project’. Every ambitious club must have a ‘project’. Zlatan Ibrahimovic recently attempted to seduce Wayne Rooney into getting on-board the PSG ‘project’ (the plan seemingly to throw lots of money at absolutely everything). Manchester City are living proof of how much success that sort of ‘project’ can be. Even Liverpool has one (with less money being balanced out with some “philosophies” and a series on Channel Five).

If Macclesfield Town decided on pursuing a ‘project’ following their relegation last year then it seemed to involve the following –

  • Employ a manager nobody really wants with a rather dubious background
  • Give him carte blanche in the transfer market to do pretty much as he chooses
  • Sit back and pray he can somehow get us promoted

In my debut piece for this site last year I spoke about the worries regarding the appointment of King and how events in his past made it justifiable to be wary of exactly what would happen. These worries were hardly assuaged when he underwent a major rebuilding process that involved dismantling almost the entire first team squad and rebuilding a new one from scratch (in the hours following his dismissal spurned players took to twitter with Ben Tomlinson announcing “..can’t really say I’m shocked” and Ross Draper ranting “Any1 who comes to a club and disregards all players out of contract through stubbornness, deserves what they get!”)Regardless of that, the season somehow started well for Macclesfield. While the manager the majority of fans had clamored for – former Silkmen legend Steve Burr – hung around the relegation places with Kidderminster, this new look Macc side stormed up the table whilst playing the brand of easy-on-the-eye football we had been promised. By September we were top of the league. After years and years lumbering around the bottom of league tables it felt like we’d never had it so good.

We wouldn’t for the rest of the season.

It may have been a case of too much too soon but the moment we hit the top spot we started to stutter. King struggled to attain a consistent spell of form from the team that would see us as serious automatic promotion challengers and gradually we fell away back down the league. A good run in the F.A. cup papered over some of the cracks and the attractive style of play made it difficult for dissenters to truly voice their opinions (“Sure we lost due to some cheap defensive errors but at least we are losing now with the ball on the deck rather than in the stands!”). The fans seemed divided and amidst this cauldron of discontent rumours began to take hold – about how much money the club had, about whether this season was promotion or bust, about whether King even bothered to show up to training and how late he arrived on match days.

steve-kingThe manager himself continued to tinker with his side in a way that suggested he didn’t have confidence in the very people he had signed. Players recently purchased were sent straight out elsewhere on loan (the sort of thing Chelsea or Manchester United do.. clubs who can afford that kind of thing). Players came in on loan. More players went out on loan (not just fringe players – former captain Nat Brown and first team player Tony Diagne were both sent to Lincoln earlier this year just prior to a crucial part of the campaign). Some came and left without even making a meaningful appearance. Even as late as March he was bringing new faces into the club as if still in search of that perfect combination that would somehow leapfrog all those sides who had since passed us by on their way up the league. The not-so-subtle message being sent out was that he didn’t know what he was doing. With the end of the season in sight we were still somehow within reach of the play-off places. Time for the manager to come into his own. Time to start grinding out some results.

A disappointing draw at home to Stockport last Saturday was followed by a further point gained away at Wrexham. It set up a must-win match at the Moss Rose against Grimsby – the side holding the final play-off position. The result at the final whistle was a 3-1 loss and realistically an end to any chance we had of returning to the football league at first ask. Shortly afterward it was announced Steve King had been terminated from his role as manager.

Two questions spring to mind – why and what now?

Why? Was King appointed under the condition that he simply had to achieve promotion? That nothing else was acceptable? If so then why remove him when, although entirely unlikely beyond any reasonable stretch of the imagination, Macclesfield still mathematically have a chance of getting into the play-offs? Why not wait until the hope of that being achieved is completely gone? More likely it is something behind the scenes that, along with a poor run of form, has triggered his sacking. Indeed a statement from chief executive Jon Harris that “..while I appreciate supporters are looking for answers we are unable to comment further at this time.” suggests something a little more sinister is afoot. If neither was an issue then the sacking seems harsh. Why appoint a man and allow him the chance to rebuild a side from the bottom up and then get rid of him before a single season has passed? Surely that sort of club regeneration needs time to reach fruition? What hope of ending a transitional period if constantly putting yourself in a state of transition?

As for the question of what now? In the short term club legend John Askey will take charge but his previous spell in the hot seat proved he is not a realistic long term solution.

Any hopes of snaring Steve Burr – the man supporters were desperate for at the end of last season – seem pretty much in vain with his current side top of the league and with a great chance of gaining promotion to the football league. Elsewhere the former Tranmere coach Eric Nixon used Twitter to garner support for his bid for the job (“Would love to manage that club! Great people, great fans, great history.” he tweeted, before spoiling it a little by claiming we have “still got a great chance of the playoffs” which suggests either his maths aren’t up to scratch or he is optimistic to the point of being delusional).

What is undeniable is that the next appointment is crucial. Whoever does come in will inherit a decent group of players but one that is very much in Steve King’s image (how many of those will actually want to stay now remains to be seen). We have to try to keep the core of this squad together. We can’t afford to gamble everything again. Not like last time. We need stability and someone who can put together a side that is capable of eventually leading us back into the football league. We need somebody with a long term plan and a desire to do well at the club. Betting everything on red is not the answer.

Let’s hope those in charge have learned from the lessons of this season. If not the result for Macclesfield Town could be disastrous.

Follow me on twitter: @FragileGang

Macclesfield Town vs Stockport County

In 1895 the American philosopher William James first used the word Multiverse – based on the idea that there could be multiple universes within which exists everything that possibly can exist. It’s not so difficult to imagine that within one of these universes Stockport County are the Premier League’s token unfashionable northern side and Edgeley Park has replaced The Brittania Stadium in that oft-repeated “but could player X perform on a wet Tuesday night at…” phrase.

They came close during the late 90’s when Gary Megson (no, really) almost guided them into the Championship (at the time sensibly named ‘Division One’) play-offs with a chance at cracking the big time before the 21st century rolled around and they gradually clambered down the football ladder like a particularly rubbish window cleaner. They now find themselves flirting with relegation once more and the unthinkable prospect of starting next season in the Conference North.

It’s harder to imagine a universe where Macclesfield Town are anything other than what they are now – a small non-league club not quite good enough to seriously harbor any thoughts of promotion but not anywhere near bad enough to be peering worriedly over their shoulder.

Sure there were those 15 years spent as a league club but aside from one freak promotion to the giddy heights of the third tier of English football most of that period was spent looking like a team punching above their weight and somehow getting away with it. They went into the latest game against near neighbours Stockport County with one eye still on the play-offs despite form that can be at best described as erratic.

Barely a year passes without one of the glossy football magazines producing something about ‘The World’s Worst Footballing Rivalries’ where their reporter gets the chance to go a bit Danny Dyer and get excited by the thought of angry foreign people waving flares around and stabbing each other. Macclesfield Town vs Stockport County would never feature in such an article and not just because nobody would be at all interested.

Despite the close proximity of the two towns it has never really been considered a proper ‘derby’ match because neither side can really muster up the required emotion to care about the other enough for it to matter. Fans of Macclesfield have traditionally reserved their hatred for Altrincham whilst for a long time Stockport fans probably considered Macclesfield as a tiny irrelevance and are most likely still struggling to come to terms with the fact they are (for now) at the same standard.

Going into the game both sides were desperate for the three points for different reasons. For the Silkmen it would be a step towards closing down the gap on Grimsby and making a go of sneaking into the last of the play-off spots. For Stockport it would be three points closer to safety and a second win for new boss Ian Bogie after the impressive victory over Newport. All the ingredients were there for a classic encounter. Sadly it didn’t quite work out that way.

Maybe the reverse fixture back in September is partially to blame? That night both teams served up a classic advertisement for football with a 3-4 scoreline during a breathlessly exciting game and so anything less of a repeat of that would surely be a disappointment.

Played under a crisp blue sky the first forty-five bumbled along without either side making much of a positive impression. Indeed the most interesting aspect of the half appeared to be that Macc boss Steve King was prowling his technical area in a pair of expensive looking shoes but with no socks. A fashion faux-pas for sure.

On the pitch it was Stockport, if anyone, who looked more likely to draw first blood whilst Macclesfield appeared toothless and lacking ideas in the final third. Mid-way through the half Amari Morgan-Smith, who had made his debut in the game at Edgeley Park, had the best chance for the Silkmen but fired straight at O’Donnell in the County goal. Elsewhere Jack Mackreth looked lively for the home side, as did full-backs Jackson and Braham-Barrett. For County the gumshoe-detective faced Jon Macken and partner Danny Whitehead went about their business in a quietly efficient manner.

In the second half Macclesfield seemed perkier and a flurry of decent chances eventually led to a deserved goal from Barnes-Homer. The otherwise disappointing Keiran Murtagh whipped in a free kick that was powerfully headed home by the Macc number nine for his 18th league strike of the campaign. With tails firmly up Macc could have extended their lead but failed to take advantage of their dominance and gradually County got back into the game culminating with an equaliser from Macken when the home defence fluffed their opportunities to clear the ball and allowed the former Manchester City man to fire home from inside the box. In the final twenty minutes the result could have swung either way with both sides spurning good chances to claim the local bragging rights and the final whistle was met with more a resigned murmur of discontent rather than any sort of venom or vitriol.

For both sides the solitary point is of little help. Macclesfield must now view their mid-week clash with Grimsby as a must-win fixture if their outside chance of promotion via the play-offs has any chance of becoming a reality. Stockport, on the other hand, will hope that Ebsfleet fail to pick up anything from their three games in hand with which they could considerably close the gap on the hatters and drag them right back into the relegation mire.

In a parallel universe somewhere County face Barcelona this week in an exciting Champions League semi-final (but can Messi perform on a wet Tuesday night in Stockport?). In reality they face Grimsby at home on Monday lunchtime when they could do the Silkmen a huge favour by taking points off the Mariners. Two days later Macc face Grimsby themselves at the Moss Rose. There are still a fair few twists and turns left in this season regardless of the quality of opposition. Stay tuned.

Follow Scott on twitter: @FragileGang

No Surrender To The EDL

Around twenty years ago when I first started attending games at my home club I chose the London Road terrace as my place to stand and observe the match that was taking place before me. The terrace was usually scarcely occupied and those who were in attendance around me were mostly wizened old men or women who would occasionally grumble their discontent at the linesmen or opposition players passing within earshot but rarely with any real form of venom – more the sort of disgruntlement a person may have for a late bus or a canceled episode of Eastenders. Harmless really.

I found a particular spot on that terrace and, regardless of results or performances, decided it was ‘lucky’. I would arrive at the game an hour before kick-off, purchase my programme, and home in on that area that, in my head, belonged to me. The area that – as long as I was within the general vicinity – would help spur our courageous Silkmen through to victory.

Fast Forward Fifteen Years.

The “Macclesfield division” of the EDL used to have a blog that was as garishly unappetising as it was contradictory and incomprehensible. I say “used to” because the last new content on there was posted on the first of December 2010 – presumably because the struggle those behind it were having with the English language wasn’t worth the effort (sample quotes – “we couldn’t care weather they are black,white,asian”, “no wonder their are thousands of angry men and women”, “a decision we was later to regret but was not to know at the time.”) The irony that a group of people who love being English so much can’t be bothered to learn the Basic Rules of the language is particularly delicious.

Elsewhere they complained that the police “are not happy that the EDL have a following from Macc and for some reason think Macc has a hooligan problem” shortly after casually mentioning that “one of the lads had been in court after fighting broke out between Macc and Stockport lads”. Meanwhile their unyielding support for the side (“Macc & Proud”) was portrayed with unflinching honesty (“We lost the game 6-0 but left at half time as it was a joke of a match and quite simply Macc were f****** awful.”) You could almost find it funny in a sort of darkly humorous way if they weren’t 100% serious about it.

These people are racists. They claim not to be. They put disclaimers everywhere. They may have bought a Roni Size album once or walked past a black guy without spitting in his face and whoop-de-doo. They mask their hatred for anything non-white behind a thin veneer of attempted respectability that disappears the second you take a closer look.

I have personally heard them hilariously refer to then Bolton player David Ngog as “David Nig-Nog” and chant “We are Senegal” when a black player was brought on as a substitute for Macc during a pre-season friendly. This is not just gentle football ribbing. This is phlegm-specked bile thinly disguised as ‘banter’. It is clear that the threat of a lifetime ban from the club is the only thing stopping them from out and out monkey noises and throwing bananas onto the pitch.

In truth it must be a constant source of internal conflict for them; that in recent years the number of non-white players representing Macclesfield Town has gradually increased (and to the benefit of the team) against their wishes. This is made perfectly clear by their ‘chant’ for club captain Nat Brown – “Big head, big nob” – which, in a desperate attempt to scramble for praise for the oft excellent defender, resorts to a crude stereotype about black people.

The recent Cardiff F.A. cup tie was the tipping point for me. These people are not in support of the club. The majority of their chants were either vile/provocative abuse aimed towards the opposition fans and players, or pathetic attempts to promote their extreme right-wing agenda. Steve King, the Macclesfield boss, was dismissed as a “cockney w****r” prior to the win and praise or encouragement for the home players was rarely heard before the result was secured (at which point they celebrated as if they were vital components to the victory). The English flag, as often is the case with the extreme right, was used as a provocative gesture rather than a source of pride. They taunted the Cardiff ‘Soul Crew’. The intentions were clear from the start.

A fight broke out behind me at one point during the second half – the rhyme or reason of which I do not know. The police and stewards stood by and watched. Some stewards shared jokes with them. Smiled at their extreme language and braggadocio. What hope do we have? Seriously? Even those ‘on our side’ are on their side.

I’m not going to stop watching Macclesfield Town play. When my son is old enough to attend with me I will drift over into the family stand on the opposite side of the ground. Until then I will remain on the London Road terrace, will continue to support the club I love. Support them in the right way. The only way.

No surrender to the EDL.