Welcome to the second in a series of articles which will feature the many Silkmen Legends who have all helped to make the club what it is today. Whether they be a former player, official or supporter, they have all played their part in creating special memories which will last a lifetime.
In this edition, we are proud to feature a former club director and true gentleman – the late and infinitely great Harry Armstrong.
As a young boy, Harry played a significant role in turning me from a supporter who turned up for matches every week in to someone who would volunteer for thankless tasks in order to help the club in any way they can. The fact that you are reading this article now is a result of Harry’s infectious passion which he passed on to everybody who was lucky enough to know him.
Although Harry was actually a Manchester United fan, he played a crucial role in the club attaining League status in 1997 not least for his ability to galvanise everyone in to pushing for the common cause – and actually enjoying themselves whilst doing so.
I remember during summer of 1997 when Macc were preparing themselves for their inaugural season in the Football League – Harry decided that the old stand which was situated where the McIlroy suite is now needed a lick of paint. I volunteered to help and along with three or four others met at the club one Sunday morning armed with a paintbrush and a bottle of coke. Harry came straight over to me and with a beaming smile asked me what I was doing bringing a drink in to the club. After explaining that it was incase I got a bit thirsty, and hoping that I wasn’t in trouble, Harry said to me with his unparalleled charm “I tell you what young man, I will give you £10 and go over to the shop and get as many drinks as you can carry. In the meantime I will go down to a cafe I know and bring some sausage sandwiches. How does that sound?”
A short while later we started work and Harry began to sing along to every tune which came in to his head – at one point I think that he started taking requests!
A couple of hours later, Harry stood back and viewed our work. “Marvellous, absolutely marvellous. Just marvellous” he proudly exclaimed. Yet we had a problem and that was that we had underestimated how much paint was needed to cover the stand. Harry instructed us all to take a well earned break (no sausage sandwiched this time though), whilst he nipped in to town to get a few more pots of paint so that we could finish the job.
Half an hour or so later Harry returned with three or four pots of blue paint and jovially asked us to join him in finishing the job. I was first up and started painting where we had finished at before the impromptu break. Harry and the other volunteers where spread out covering the rest of the stand as we gave it one last push to get the job done.
But there was a problem – I noticed it straight away, but as a 16 year old boy I didn’t like to flag it up so just put my head down and carried on painting. It wasn’t long before Harry noticed that the paint we were using was a totally different shade of blue to that we had started the job with!
I assumed that this development would not go down too well, so I continued to put my head down – just as I was about to turn round to see how mad Harry was, I heard roars of laughter from behind me. He was looking at the stand in tears of laughter and after he got his breath back came over to me and made me promise that if anyone asked then it was not him who bought the second lot of visibly darker blue paint!
So for all of you who wondered why the stand was not one shade of blue, then you now know the reason why!
Harry’s insatiable passion for our club, together with his almost super-human work ethic was not only pivotal in the club attaining League status, but it is still visible to this day through the great many people he inspired to go that extra mile in a warm and friendly manner.
Speaking to the Macclesfield Express following Harry’s passing in 2013, former Chairman Alan Cash paid tribute to Harry:
He was a huge help at that time. Harry played a great part in stabilising the situation and he did so much work on the football ground – basically working there full time for three months
He made a very valuable contribution to the Football Club – it was very important to him.
He had a very good sense of humour, and was not afraid to try new things to get results.
Harry could make everyone laugh – I remember one day he walked in to the club with a head full of ginger hair, I think he did it for charity”.
Thank you for all you hard work, passion and commitment Harry, but most of all for your friendship which inspired us all – a true Silkmen Legend.
We will be adding to this section of the site on a regular basis, so check back soon for the next Silkmen Legend feature!