From the mid-19th century until 1874 the Silkmen played under rugby rules. In 1891 they moved to the Moss Rose where they still play and finished champions of the Manchester & District League in 1906 and 1908 and by 1911 had carried off the Cheshire Senior Cup five times.
Macclesfield were founder members of the Cheshire County League in 1919 achieving the League and Cup double in 1932. They retained the title in 1933 and finished runners-up the following year when Albert Valentine achieved the club’s goal scoring record of 83 goals, and added two more Senior Cup triumphs in 1930 and 1935. The post war years saw three more Senior Cup wins, a League Cup win in 1948 and championship victories in 1953, 1961 and 1964.
1968 the club reached the third round of the FA Cup losing 2 – 3 at Fulham but again finished as League champions and winners of the North West Floodlit Cup.
Northern Premier League
At the beginning of the 1968-69 season they became founder members of the Northern Premier League, topping the table 12 points clear of Wigan in their first season. The feat was repeated the following season when they also won the inaugural FA Trophy at Wembley, in addition to which they were finalists in the League Cup. There were Cheshire Senior Cup wins in 1969, 1971 and 1973.
In 1979 the club finished bottom of the Northern Premier League but returned to winning ways with the Cheshire Senior Cup in 1983 and in 1985 reached the first round of the FA Cup for the fourth successive season.
The 1986-87 season saw the Silkmen win the Northern Premier League and promotion to the Vauxhall Conference. The League Cup and the President’s Cup were also won to complete a fantastic Northern League treble.
In their first season in the Conference the Silkmen reached the third round of the FA Cup losing to Port Vale after beating Carlisle and Rotherham. In 1988-89, they reached the FA Trophy Final at Wembley for the second time, losing 1 – 0 to Telford United in extra time. In 1991-92 they won the Cheshire Senior Cup for the 18th time.
In the 1992-93season they enjoyed a good run in the FA Cup playing nine games before being knocked out by Stockport County in the second round having disposed of League side Chesterfield in a penalty shoot-out in the first round.
Sammy McIlroy Era
The former Manchester United and Northern Ireland international, Sammy McIlroy, was appointed manager at the start of the 1993-94. He achieved immediate success with victory in the Drinkwise Cup and another League scalp was added when the Silkmen beat Hartlepool United in the first round of the FA Cup only to be knocked out in the following round at Crewe Alexandra.
The 1994-95 season saw the Silkmen win the Vauxhall Conference, heading the table from 5th November 1994 until the end of the season, but they were denied promotion to the Football League due to ground criteria, however, on the way they had set a Conference record of ten consecutive victories.
Success under McIlroy continued when in 1996 the Silkmen won the FA Trophy at Wembley for a second time. However, their greatest triumph to date came at the end of the 1996-97 season when they won the Vauxhall Conference by five points having trailed by 15 points at one stage. On this occasion victory was rewarded with promotion to the Football League.
In the 13 years as a Football League Club, the Silkmen often found themselves competing in the bottom half of the table and have changed management on several occasions to avoid relegation, with eleven different managers used.
There was instant success in the 1997-98 season when they finished as runners-up gaining automatic promotion and were the only English professional club that season to be unbeaten at home in the League. Nevertheless, they found life in the higher League difficult and finished the 1998-99 Season in bottom place and were relegated for the first time in their history.
In the following five seasons they finish in a mid-table or lower position, but the 2004-05 season saw them reach the play-off semi-finals when they were beaten by Lincoln City. The next five seasons saw them again struggling to achieve a top-half position when their highest place was 17th in 2005-06 and their lowest 22nd in 2006-07.
However, they have reached the third round of the FA Cup on six occasions, playing against Coventry City, West Ham United, Watford, Swansea City, Chelsea and Everton, and were narrowly beaten by Carlisle United in the Northern Area Final of the Football League Trophy in 2005-06.
The 2009-10 Season saw the Silkmen become second only to Wycombe Wanderers for continuous membership of the Football league since automatic promotion was introduced. However, their 13th season proved unfortunate with the sudden and untimely death of manager Keith Alexander in March 2010. Further tragedy hit the club twelve months later when midfielder Richard Butcher died in his sleep just a few weeks shy of his 30th birthday.
Despite this Gary Simpson led his team to a respectable league position but after a good start to last, the Silkmen as high as eighth, the club’s 15 year stay in the Football League came to and end despite the return of former boss Brian Horton for the last nine games of the campaign.