In the latest of a series articles looking back at memorable matches we take you back to Boxing Day 2005 when local rivals Stockport County visited the Moss Rose.
When the fixture list comes out then most people look to the Boxing Day fixture as one of the highlights of the season. Not only does it represent an excuse to get out of the house -away from those relatives you only see once a year and bore the hell out of you, but also due to the fact that usually the fixture computer sets up a decent local derby.
2005 was no exception, as we were scheduled to play near neighbours Stockport County at the Moss Rose and despite the inclement weather which often accompanies festive fixtures 4553 people (most dressed in stupid woolly jumpers their Gran had bought them for Christmas and were too scared to say it looked horrendous), braved the elements and packed in to the ground.
Brian Horton’s Silkmen side went in to the game on a five match unbeaten run in the League and had recently despatched Cambridge United to progress to the semi-final of the LDV Vans Trophy.
Stockport on the other hand were a side on the decline, and under Manager Chris Wilder they languished within the League Two relegation zone, much to the frustration of their loyal fans who only a few years earlier had seen their side compete in the Championship.
Yet, as we all know form goes out of the window where local derbies are concerned and the travelling Hatters Army travelled down the A6 in the hope that Santa would give them one last Christmas present.
The match started at a frantic pace as both sides sought to stamp their authority on the game. Macc had some good early chances which were not converted, with Danny Whitaker and Martin Bullock testing County ‘keeper Spencer during the opening exchanges.
Buoyed by their vociferous travelling support, County had not travelled down just to make up the numbers however with Tes Bramble and Andy Worth’s future love child Matty Hamshaw looking particularly menacing.
Yet the match was to turn in the homes side’s favour after just 17 minutes when Tes Bramble was sent off for an absolutely disgraceful challenge on Macc defender Danny Swailes. Referee Mr Deadman had no choice but to send the County player off as the travelling support wondered whether he was still intoxicated from the previous day’s celebrations, such was the stupidity of the “tackle”.
It is often said that it is sometimes harder to play against ten men than it is eleven – it is not something which I particularly buy, as I think sometimes it is a kop out for not going on to win the match. More importantly, the Silkmen did not buy in to this notion either and would show their neighbours no mercy in putting them to the sword.
Despite constant Macc pressure, it wasn’t until the 41st minute that the breakthrough was made. Kevin Sandwich laid the ball off to Martin Bullock in the middle of the park, who thread the ball through to Kevin McIntyre whose deep cross was headed down by Paul Harsley, gifting Dutchman Clyde Wijnhard with an easy close range finish in front of the travelling supporters.
Just when you thought it was safe to go and get a half time festive pie to soak up the copious amounts of ale, Macc doubled their lead two minutes later. This time a long punt upfield was majestically taken on the chest by Jon Parkin, who then showed all the dexterity of a Russian ballerina before smashing a low drive through the legs of Clyde Wijnhard and into the far corner of the net.
“The Beast” had been getting some degree of stick from the travelling Hatters fans and it was therefore all the more satisfying to see the Big Man celebrate by sliding towards the away end in order to say, yes I may be a bit corpulent and had a few selection boxes yesterday, but all the best, I have just put you lot 2-0 down!
With only seconds left on the clock at the end of the first half, Kevin McIntyre unlocked the County defence with a cutting through ball which was latched on to by Danny Whitaker. As Spencer in the County goal advanced, Danny knocked the ball past him and was brought down in the process, giving Macc a penalty.
Up stepped Paul Harsley, and as the net rattled due to the County fans behind it, the Silkmen number 7 produced a poor spot kick which Spencer saved by diving to his right and with relative ease.
The travelling supporters behind the goal went wild – much to the displeasure of Kelly Edge who was making her debut stewarding in the away end. God knows what was going through her mind at the time, but it mustn’t have been too bad as 12 years later she is still there doing a magnificent job – legend.
That was the way things stayed until the half time interval, which despite the great Silkmen performance of the first half, was met with delight by yours truly who was absolutely frozen and most probably coming down with hyperthermia.
The second half started in much the same vein as the first had ended – with the Silkmen dominating possession and looking to increase their tally in front of the Star Lane faithful.
With 14 minutes of the second half gone, this was duly completed when Martin Bullock cut inside from the right, played a neat one-two with Wijnhard before firing in to the left hand corner of the net despite stumbling.
Just four minutes later, Wijnhard dispossessed County defender Greenwood down the left hand side, before finding an advancing Martin Bullock. The ball was laid off to Paul Harsley, whose shot could only be parried straight in to the path of Jon Parkin who easily put Macc 4-0 to the good.
And yet the goal fest was not over just yet as under a minute later Macc made it five when Alan Navarro crossed the ball in from the left which deceived Greenwood and Spencer, leaving Wijnhard with a tap-in which even Santa himself could have put away. the Dutchman ran over to his adoring fans in the Star Lane End and gave them all a Christmas hug (if you watch carefully, you will see a very young Dean Holmes on the video at a time when he was ginger!)
Just over an hour played and already 5-0 down, the County fans (understandably some would argue) proceeded to vent their frustrations at their Manager Chris Turner. It had been a hard season for the Hatters, and with relegation from the Football League looming large, it is perhaps no wonder that fans of this once mighty club may feel aggrieved.
But that was not the end of scoring in what would become a “demolition derby”. With just four minutes left on the clock, Jon Parkin superbly took down Paul Harsley’s long ball in to the box, before laying it off to Kevin McIntye whose close range shot rattled the post, falling to John Miles who calmly slotted the ball home.
The full time whistle was accompanied with anger and frustration from the travelling Hatters, yet for the Macc fans who walked out of the ground under the scoreboard which displayed 6 – 0 as the scoreline (yes it did work many, many years ago), this was the perfect way to continue the festive celebrations.
Jubilant scenes ensued in the McIlroy suite and around the town – Big Jim was dancing on the tables, John Souness was starting the hokey-cokey and even more staggeringly, Chris Wilcock bought a round in.
Meanwhile, down in the dressing rooms, County Manager Chris Turner was resigning himself to the fact that this was to be his last match in charge and would ultimately make way for the legendary Jim Gannon.
The match will forever live in the memory of all who attended, not just because it was a thumping win, nor the fact that it was against our local rivals, but because it really made sure that everyone associated with the club really did have a really happy Christmas.
For those of you who wish to reminisce further, here is video footage of the match courtesy of the legendary Gary Jackson’s YouTube channel.
Silkmen: Fettis, Navarro, Morley, Swailes (Teague 19), Harsley, Whitaker (Miles 71), McIntyre, Bullock, Sandwith, Wijnhard (Townson 71), Parkin.
County: Spencer, Greenwood, Clare, Raynes, Robinson (Crowe 45), Hamshaw, Boshell, Briggs, Singh, Bramble, Easter.
(Featured image courtesy of Macclesfield Express)