My trip to Macclesfield was a rather unplanned one. I had originally planned on staying at home and watching Leigh Genesis v Chester FC at Crilly Park, Atherton. The Chester match was possibly the biggest sporting event to happen in my hometown since 1992 when Aldershot Town came to Crilly Park in The FA Vase.
I rang up Danny asking him if he was coming to the Chester match, then he told me he was off to watch his beloved Bury; away at Macclesfield. I had a huge dilemma. Did I want to watch Chester on my front door step? Or did I want to tick another ground off my list? I chose the latter and spent the evening at the Moss Rose with the Pilling family.
The drive down to Macclesfield was a comfortable one, and it wasn’t long before we arrived. After parking the car we walked straight down to the ground. Along the way we stopped at a lovely little outlet of The Co-Operative. Now, I use the term ‘lovely’ in the lightest of terms. Whilst Danny was in the shop purchasing his Cherry Coca-Cola, Gary and I were subjected to verbal abuse off some local chavs. WELCOME TO MACCLESFIELD!
Carrying on up the road, the ground suddenly appeared; Right out of the middle of nowhere. It appeared to have been built in the middle of a main road… Or maybe the road was there first? Who knows! Slightly confused, I asked Danny which the away end was. He pointed towards what appeared to be a brick wall.
See, this is the problem with not researching a ground before you visit. You don’t have a clue what to expect! Had I have known that I’d be on an open terrace on a cold, wet February evening I’d have stayed at home. Well, I wouldn’t have stayed at home… I’d have watched Leigh in exactly the same conditions, but at least that way I’d have been only a minutes walk away from my shower.
After having my usual photo outside, we went straight inside. Now, I say we went straight in… If truth be told – I fell over a raised kerb along the way. I somehow survived and made it to the turnstile. There was already quite an extensive queue at the turnstiles and it took us a good few minutes to get in.
The away fans had generously been given an allocation in the Silkmen Terrace which holds 1,530 fans. Bury had brought around 800 fans, which meant it wasn’t too crampt or uncomfortable.
Through the turnstiles I went. What greeted me was a totally new experience, and it was certainly a far cry from the luxuries of The Reebok.
There were a couple of burger vans to the left, and a big blue wooden/brick structure which towered in front of me. This was the rear of the terracing. The route up to the top of the terracing isn’t for people with a nervous disposition, with two sets of metal steps being the only way up. I might be being a bit dramatic… But still!
My next mission was to find a programme seller. I was informed that he would be perched behind the goal, and if not… Then they had sold out! Luckily he was still there and I bought a programme for £2.50. If I’d have been charged anymore for the poor attempt I’d have hit the non-existant roof.
Having purchased a very poor programme; we had to decide where to stand for the evening. This was quite a decision to make! In the end we settled for just behind the goalpost.
To my right stood the McAlpine Stand, the newest stand at Moss Rose. Running the length of the pitch it holds 1,550 and it is the only fully seated stand at the ground. The stand also houses 400 seats for away supporters who prefer the seated alternative to getting soaked.
To the left was the iconic London Road. This side of the ground has a stand and terracing, which gives it a romantic, non-league feel. There is space for exactly 1,371 standing spectators, whilst there are 563 seats in the small stand. London Road also houses the clubs players facilities.
Opposite the away end was the Star Lane End. This is where the vocal Macclesfield fans congregate. Behind a few rows of seating there is a terracing, which makes it rather unusual. Altogether the Star Lane holds 1,321 home fans. Unlike the away, the club have built a roof on the Star Lane.
Bury had gone into the match in impressive form, and found themselves just outside the automatic promotion places. Macclesfield on the other hand were hovering just above the relegation zone.
However, it was the Silkmen who started off the match the better of the two teams with Ross Draper causing problems for the Shakers defence. As expected, Bury soon grew into the match and it wasn’t long before they opened the scoring.
Michael Jones picked the ball up on the edge of the area and curled the ball into the bottom right of Jose Veiga’s net. The rain began to pour, but it wouldn’t dampen the travelling fans spirits.
It was again Ross Draper causing problems for Bury, and after beating a nervy Shakers defence it was down to goalkeeper Cameron Belford to prevent him from equalising for the home side.
Yet again, as Macclesfield began to pile on the pressure they were made to pay. On 34 minutes Bury doubled their lead when Ryan Lowe dispossessed Nat Brown on the edge of his own area. Lowe then threaded Nicky Ajose – On loan from Manchester United – through on the left, before setting up Lowe for his first of the match.
Moments later Lowe returned the favour for Ajose when he knocked a ball over the Macclesfield defence. Ajoses pace proved too much as he rounded Veiga before passing into an empty net from a tight angle. 3-0 after 36 minutes… Not much more could happen in this half could it?
Well, I was wrong. Macclesfield claimed a goal back just a minute later when Ross Draper dispossessed Michael Jones in his own half. Draper then ran past five Bury players before slotting it past Belford in the Bury net. It was a fantastic goal and one that Draper fully deserved. 37 minutes… 1-3.
39 minutes, and Macclesfield pulled another goal back! A goalkeeping error from Belford allowed Tyrone Barnett to head the ball into an empty net. Bury had thrown away a three goal cushion in a matter of seconds.
The first half unfortunately came to and end. It had been a fantastic first 45 minutes of football, and we were left praying for more of the same in the second half.
The second half began at a blistering pace, and it was Bury who nearly scored when Ajose’s shot was blocked by Jose Veiga. By this time, Danny and I had created a new name for the Macclesfield keeper; Jose Viagra. Why Jose Viagra you may be asking? Well, simple really. It was nearly identical to his original name, and all he did was get it up! (The ball that is!).
It was again Ross Draper who created a chance for Macclesfield on 66 minutes, but he was unable to double his goal count for the evening.
Macclesfield continued to press and should have equalised on 73 minutes when Ricky Sappleton made the most of a poor defensive header from Phil Picken. Sappleton fired towards an empty net but Damian Mozika somehow retrieved the ball off the line to keeper Bury in the lead.
Bury sealed a crucial win on 86 minutes when substitute Andy Bishop set Ryan Lowe up for his second of the evening to send the drenched and cold Bury fans home celebrating.
It had been a proper game of football, and one that I will never forget.
I really liked Macclesfields’ ground. It is the poorest one I have visited to date, but it is by no means my least favourite. Yes, it lacks modern facilities, but what it lacks there it certainly makes up for in history and tradition. I hope to visit the Moss Rose again sometime in the future… However, I hope I will be in a stand with a roof!
- DISTANCE TRAVELLED TO GROUND: 34 miles
- PROGRAMME PRICE: £2.50