Recently, we asked all our loyal fans to get in touch with us and let us know what their favourite memories involving The Silkmen are. In the next instalment of fan recollections, Steve Mundy recalls the local derby with Crewe Alexandra back in 2009.
27/12/2009. The Day Before Matchday: 10.00am.
It’s 10-00am at the Moss Rose and a mixture of fans, directors and Club staff, wrapped up as best they can against the cold and rain, are squelching their way around the pitch - dragging sodden, smelly pitch covers to the sides of the ground, while several more are shovelling off the snow from the covers at the Star Lane End.
What lies underneath the covers is not promising.
The snow had melted through and the pitch is waterlogged. Surface water is present in lots of places and the corner of the McAlpine and the Silkmen Terrace could comfortably home fish.
The Chairman seems confident that a bit of forking should sort the problem, but we are not so sure. Still, no time for worries as it’s complimentary bacon butty time - during which, we discover that there aren’t any forks to do the forking with, other than those in the kitchen which are a bit small!
So it’s off to Homebase. The lady behind the counter raises an eyebrow when we purchase nine garden forks and the other eyebrow when we return two minutes later and buy another five - but she’s too polite to ask why two blokes might need fourteen garden forks.
Back to the Moss and let the forking begin.
At which point it starts pouring down and as such, the forking doesn’t produce miraculous results. Think prodding a sodden bath sponge with a cocktail stick – in a running shower.
Still, there’s two water bowsers – rollers covered in sponge which soak up surface water. Except there’s only one, because the other one tears up the pitch as it rolls – can’t think offhand of an occasion when that might come in handy. My boots, socks and trousers are also proving excellent at absorbing water but there’s no noticeable improvement on the pitch.
We are expecting to be finished by 1-00pm but the Chairman drops into conversation that some super-duper pitch covers are arriving at 2 o’clock and it would be handy if people were around to help set them out. So after a quick Maccy D's and a change of socks, it was back to the Moss Rose.
It’s actually closer to 4 o’clock before the lorry containing the super-duper covers arrives, which gives us a chance to have a good go at the surface water using the bowsers. The corner by the away end of the McAlpine however is still a mess. As the lorry reverses into the ground we squelch over to get our instructions.
“Hoo hey hoo hoo hey hoohey” says the man in charge of the covers, Big Davey.
We do not understand.
Big Davey is from Glasgow and has an accent you could cut with a knife. No-one wants to tell Big Davey that they can’t understand a word he says because Big Davey is really big.
So the pitch covering gets underway – the ignorant led by the incomprehensible. The first two covers are unrolled using a large inflatable sausage. As can be expected when people are rolling a large heavy object, at speed, in the dark, on a slippery surface, mishaps occur. People fall flat on their faces, people fly head first over the sausage but no-one is (seriously) hurt.
Meanwhile a small group of people are trying to wrestle the remaining rolled up pitch covers from the lorry. The covers (fresh from the New Meadow, Shrewsbury) are wet, slippery, very heavy and not keen on leaving the lorry.
In addition, the floor of the lorry is wet, which means there is no grip. Watching five people on top of a rolled up cover, legs thrashing furiously but going nowhere is like watching a beetle on its back. Eventually brute force and ignorance prevail and the pitch (still waterlogged in places) is protected against the forecast overnight sub-zero temperatures.
It is 7.30pm. We are tired, we are frozen, we are soaked, and we are going home. 9-00 am would be good for tomorrow says the Chairman. We can’t believe the game will be going ahead but the Chairman is quietly confident. Or confidently quiet, it’s hard to tell.
27/12/2009. Matchday: 10.00am.
And everything aches.....
Still, there are twenty fans waiting expectantly for instructions, and waiting, and still waiting.
Eventually we are told to “grit over there”. People set off with a new sense of purpose and some grit. Not only do the terraces have to be made ice free but outside the ground as well - can’t have people coming a cropper before they’ve had a chance to hand over their hard-earned. Before long, it’s time to remove the super-duper covers.
“HOO HEY HOO HOO HEY HOOHEY”.
Someone has given Big Davey the PA microphone!
Everyone is still confused, but now they are deafened as well. The microphone is tactfully returned to Stadium Control. The covers are just as heavy as yesterday but now they are spread over a huge area as well but under the guidance of Big Davey and his team they are gradually dragged to the side of the pitch.
To our relief, the covers have done their job and the pitch seems soft, if a still a bit soggy. Mid-way through the unveiling, the Referee arrives for a pitch inspection. He seems happy enough but is that because he knows he’s going to get the afternoon off?
If this were Hollywood, then the news that the game was on would have been made over the PA by an emotional Chairman, while the workers cheered, threw their sodden gloves in the air and hugged each other.
However, this is Macclesfield Town so the news filtered slowly by word of mouth and, to be frank, was a bit of an anti-climax. After all, we’d spent 12 hours working our nuts off in order for what? To see a Macc Town match of course!
There was just time for the washed out pitch lines to be re-painted and a little more forking to be done before it was back to base for a sandwich and some more dry socks.
27/12/2009. Matchday: 16.55pm.
As mentioned, this is Macclesfield not Hollywood but there was a Hollywood ending.
Macc won 4-1 with Colin Daniel scoring a 25-yard screamer against his former Club. As we supped a celebratory pint in the McAlpine, we gave thanks not just for a great win but, more importantly, that it was the youth team who had to put the covers back on after the game and not us!