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Feature

Profiling Our 1995 Vauxhall Conference Champions: George Shepherd

6 February 2020

A quarter of a century ago, Macclesfield Town lifted the GM Vauxhall Conference trophy for the first time and in doing so, arguably changed the narrative surrounding the club forevermore. In the first in a series of articles, we start our look back at all the players who played their part in what was a remarkable achievement by featuring the likeable right-back, George Shepherd.

George was a reliable and highly-consistent right-back who began his footballing journey at Manchester City.
 
Regarded as one of the first players to sign on the YTS scheme at Maine Road, George was also said to have been on the books of Bolton Wanderers and Preston North End before enjoying regular first team football at Hyde United.
 
George signed for Peter Wragg's Silkmen side towards the start of the 1989/90 season - yet a knee injury limited the defender's appearances during his inaugural season at the Moss Rose.
 
After fighting his was back into contention, George became a regular in our starting eleven and an undoubted fan's favourite.
 
Well-known to be a tenacious and committed player, George was embarking on his fifth season at the Moss back in August 1994 - harbouring ambitions of building on our solid seventh-place finish at the end of the previous campaign.
 
Despite missing the first three games of the season, George returned to the starting eleven ahead of ahead of our two-all August Bank Holiday draw against Bromsgrove Rovers.
 
Shepherd then proceeded to start in the next thirteen consecutive fixtures and was an integral part of the side who were defeated on just two occasions during that period.
 
 
Yet tragedy was to strike on October 25th 1994, when Sammy McIlroy's side contested an FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round Replay with Bishop Auckland at the Moss Rose.
 
After the initial tie had finished as a two-all draw, the two sides met to determine who would travel to Bury in First Round Proper.
 
On a dreary October evening, the two teams were fighting-out an equally drab contest when George was subject to an horrific tackle which remains firmly etched in the minds of all those present to this day.
 
As players and medical staff rushed to the scene, the Moss Rose faithful stood struggling to comprehend what they had just witnessed. 
 
Nobody knew the extent of the injury that George had suffered at the time, yet it was abundantly clear that he would be out of the game for a long time.
 
Understandably, those who remained on the field of play were visibly affected by what the had witnessed. Yet our one-nil defeat that evening failed into insignificance when news broke that George had broke his leg in seven places.
 
To compound matters, the visitors had played the fixture without insurance and this elicited a long legal battle between George and the North East outfit.
 
Silkmen fans rallied to support one of their heroes and commenced fundraising activities almost instantly.
 
Sadly, George was never to appear in the blue and white of Macclesfield Town again. Yet he was rightfully included in the end of season team photograph which commemorated our historic title-winning success and he, arguably more than anyone else, richly deserved his place within it.

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