9th August 1997 is a date which is firmly etched into the hearts of every Macclesfield Town fan of a certain vintage, as it was on this date that former Chairman Arthur Jones' dream was finally realised.
Neil Howarth led our blue and white clad heroes onto the Moss Rose pitch, as they contested our first ever Football League game against Torquay United.
Despite Arthur's tragic death the previous September, there was no doubt in any of our minds that he was watching over us with his infectious smile beaming once again.
The home side started the brighter and could well have taken the lead with barely a minute on the clock. Colin Rose send a dangerous corner in from the left and Efe Sodje’s thunderous header was cleared off the line by Gull’s defender Gurney.
Four minutes later, Andy Mason had ‘keeper Gregg in all sorts of trouble after he launched an audacious chip from the best part of thirty yards out, which was frantically tipped over the bar.
The deadlock was broken on 7 minutes however and with it came one of the most iconic moments in our history.
Colin Rose once again drifted a corner in from the left hand side, yet this time skipper Neil Howarth managed to flick it right in to the path of Sodje whose magnificent leap enabled him to smash a bullet header home from ten yards out.
Cue bedlam at the Moss Rose – the fans were going wild, the players were going wild and Arthur's smile grew just a little bit wider.
Yet the ecstasy was short lived, as just three minutes later the visitors restored parity when a mixup in the Macc defence gave Gurney the opportunity to smash a low drive in to the bottom corner of Ryan Price’s net.
Torquay then began to gain the upper hand and for a while it really did look like they would spoil the party.
Yet a string of incredible saves from Ryan Price preserved the scoreline and helped Macc nullify the copious amount of pressure which they were being exposed to.
The Gulls let numerous chances go begging and were punished on 55 minutes when Neil Sorvel’s rasping volley was only parried by ‘keeper Gregg and there was Richard Landon to score the easiest goal of his career to spark jubilant scenes once more.
Price continued to make some fine saves in the Macc goal and on another day we could have had one or two more with Askey, Wood and Sorvel all seeing efforts go narrowly wide.
But it was not a day to rue missed chances, it was a day to celebrate all that we had achieved to make sure that we defied the odds yet again.
As we prepare to welcome EFL action back to the Moss Rose this Saturday, there is little doubt that Arthur will be with us once more with his trademark grin - hopefully we will be able to record the same outcome!
Macclesfield Town: Price, Tinson, Rose, Payne, Howarth, Sodje, Askey, Wood, Landon, Mason, Sorvel
Torquay United: Gregg, Gurney, Gibbs, Robinson, Gittens, Watson, Oatway, Michell, McFarlane, Jack
Referee: W Burns