The other week just watching something on the TV, an advert for a programme caught my eye. Of course it was football and titled ‘Making Macclesfield’ I thought that might be worth a look at. One of my podcasting mates mentioned before we recorded earlier this week that he’d watched it.
Now I know to a lot Robbie Savage would put them off viewing and possibly also the fact the Silkmen might have been starting down at Step 5 instead of maybe one or two steps lower but with a stadium that has graced the Football League and had some major investment too.
Savage’s involvement will be the reason they got the show no doubt, similar to the involvement of the Class of ’92 when they bought Salford City, but to watch these you have to look beyond that famous footballer outlook and into the club itself.
I’ve been in the same place as a Macclesfield fan having been a Maidstone Utd supporter a very long time ago, when they failed to last past three seasons in the Football League and consequently went bust. That day in the early 1990’s saw them placed right at the very bottom of the ladder playing park football teams, no disrespect to the very heart of grassroots football but clubs since then have been able to reform and begin at a much higher level.
The supposed still involvement of Jim Thompson as chairman or owner of the new club was the believed reason for the lowly beginnings, an example being made of Thompson’s running of the defunct club by the FA in my opinion. That lost me as a fan, especially as they resigned from the league after the season began which meant a whole year wasted.
I was interested to watch it from the point of view of having had involvement at Step 6 in a club in various roles and from the view of how an ex league club with a considerable stadium do things at that level.
I was surprised at the sum of money needed to be spent on the stadium including a new 3G pitch, I had heard it wasn’t anywhere near a good place and with new people new ideas of how to make it a money making venture it needed considerable money to be thrown at it and I don’t think Rob Smethurst is getting that back!
It’s very easy to under-estimate these levels of football on and off the pitch as a smaller club, when your in the position of Macc and even Bury people expect more and quicker too.
One thing that struck me during the programme was the game against Congleton Town and the crowd trouble between two sets of local rival supporters, Savage remarked afterwards to the match officials that despite a much bigger stewarding presence they weren’t asked to segregate.
As we know and we love, non-league below the National League is the joy of changing ends at half time and no segregation but having read through the excellent AFC Wimbledon book by Erik Samuelson, they encountered problems when they were in the Combined Counties League, also at Step 5, due to their high supporter levels and even used to take stewards to away games to help the host club.
I don’t believe leagues themselves are set up to deal with these scenario’s, I appreciate they don’t happen often but when the FA place clubs down at Steps 5 and below to re-start, why on earth aren’t they providing more guidance to help things go more smoothly?
We’ve seen this season as well since it began attendance levels across the board are in most cases trending upwards in a good fashion and don’t show signs of stopping so maybe the governing body could pull their finger out and suggest a few options for unique situations, I mean the same thing is going to follow them to Step 4 and they won’t be the last club to re-start at Step 5 or 6 that will have a large support base.
Back to Macc, their budget will always dwarf anyone else in that division and a good chance for the next two years if they gain successive promotions, but when you can attract 2000 plus for every home game then you can spend it. Just like Salford they will get the publicity with Savage’s involvement and for clubs going there or playing them at home it’s going to be called their cup final, pressure is all on the Silkmen to deliver and to do it quickly.