Once upon a time, a long long time ago, I was taken to my first match at the Moss Rose by my Grandad. It was a pre-season friendly against Chester City, and he had finally given in to taking me after years of mithering him every Saturday lunchtime. So after the obligatory weekend ritual of watching Saint and Greavsie and putting away a Brassington’s finest meat and potato, we set off for the match.
I don’t really remember too much about the game (well it was a year or two ago now), but one thing has stuck with me and that is the role of one man who ignited my love of Macclesfield Town from that very first match. As soon as I walked through the turnstiles and took up my place on the London Road Terrace, the passion and energy of this man captivated me in a way which I didn’t think was possible.
Even today, just hearing this man’s voice takes me back, not only to my childhood but also some of the greatest moments in our history which his voice is unquestionably synonymous with.
I am both humbled and proud to call this Silkmen Legend a good friend – I am of course referring to the great Mr David Westbury.
We contacted David in order to feature him on the website, and I must admit that for the first time in a while I am slightly nervous about writing this as I don’t think that words could ever do him justice – not only for how he helped to catalyse my passion for The Silkmen, but also how many others he influenced along the way.
David started the role of PA at the Moss Rose back in 1980 and he was introduced to the club by the late Richard Porter. Due to the fact that he did some work with hospital radio at the time, he was presented to the club as a “professional DJ” – something which all these years later David questions!
He was an integral part of the match day experience for everyone who walked through the turnstiles for 22 years, at which point he put the mic down largely because he enjoyed harassing referees and you can’t really do that if you have a club tie on!
But enough of my rambling, let’s hear from the Legend himself! I started off by asking David about how he chose the match day music to be played at the Moss Rose and whether there had ever been any inappropriate selections played.
All music was pre-planned in my day – I had to record the bloody stuff on cassette to play before the game and at half time.
During a League One fixture against Wigan Athletic, I had pre-selected the track “Embarrassment” by Madness as the lead track for when the players went back to the dressing rooms at half time. Little did I know that we’d have a crap first half and as the team trudged off 3-0 down, the tannoy played “Oh Oh! You’re an embarrassment!”
A week later, the Macc Express received a letter from a supporter who was “disgusted” that I had played the record on the Moss. It must have humiliated the team and I was blamed for the defeat!”
David presided over many glorious and historic moments at the Moss Rose, and yet when I asked him to pick out his most memorable I was rather surprised!
Well I think that many people will know this one! When we entertained the Thailand National Team at home in October 1995 I had to read the team out – not only was the team sheet presented in the Thai alphabet, the names were unpronounceable. The easiest one sounded like Jatararatarapan Thongchai.
The Moss Rose faithful were absolutely pissing themselves as I stumbled over each of the players’ names, whilst the Thailand team didn’t recognise any of the pronunciations.
To make matters worse, I then had to say “Please be upstanding for the National Anthems” as we listened to God Save The Queen and some awful orchestral racket that made Karlheinz Stockhausen sound tuneful!”
We then moved on to the most controversial moment of David’s illustrious career with the mic –
Toward the end of Peter Eales’ career at Macc, he had a shocker. Mike Sherlock had just signed for The Silkmen and for the following game, Sherlock took over the ‘keeper’s jersey from Eales – he had a great game!
For the next home match, Eales was reinstated into the team and as I announced the line-ups over the tannoy the red mist descended as I calmly announced “Surprisingly returning at number one (we had no squad numbers in those days), is Peter Eales.
Cue a glare of mammoth proportions towards the tannoy box from Earles!
At the next away match at Chorley, Earles was warming up in the goalmouth as I entered the ground, and he made a “bee-line” for me.
What he said will remain private between the two of us, but let’s just say that I learnt some new words that day from someone I now refer to as an Alty Legend!”
We then spoke about what David deems to be his most publicised moment during his 22 years as PA –
FA Trophy Semi-Final in 1992 – Macc had been battered in the first leg at Colchester, but Peter Wragg remained confident that we could turn it round on the Moss.
His pre-match team talk was “Get to half time without conceding. Try and score a goal and we will see what happens in the second half”
Macc had a blinder of a first half and went in to added time 1-0 up. The half seemed never ending though (we didn’t have added time boards in those days!) but the Referee signalled to Wraggy that four minutes would be added.
In the 51st minute of the first half, Colchester inevitably equalised and with it, killed the game and our chance to return to Wembley.
My announcement was “Goalscorer for Colchester in the sixth minute of four minutes added time is Roy McDonough”
Pointed or what? I even got an honourable mention in the FA Trophy Final programme that season!”
I then asked David to have a think about his most embarrassing moments of his tenure –
During one of the matches towards the end of our first Conference Championship winning seasons in 1995, we had a bigger than expected crowd and it caught everybody by surprise.
We hadn’t segregated and some bright spark had an idea that I should instruct everyone to move round the ground at half time in a clockwise direction.
I would have been ok if I had just said that, but I added “that means that if you are in the Star Lane End then you will need to go past the main stand to get to the Moss Lane End. If you are in the Moss Lane End, then you will need to go through the covered terrace (no McAlpine in those days). If you are in front of the main stand then you will need to move to the Moss Lane End and if you are in the covered terrace, then you will need to move to the Star Lane End”
By the end of the announcement, everyone was totally confused and in hysterics. Needless to say, everyone changed ends at half time in a totally uncoordinated and disorganised manner!
The other embarrassing moment which I can remember is upon signing for The Silkmen, I introduced Leroy Chambers to the Moss Rose faithful by saying “Please welcome our new signing, Delroy Chambers!””
Finally, I asked David to let us in to what he deems to be the funniest moment with the mic –
When Tony Masheder suggested that I should start using a radio microphone, I had to embarrassingly walk out on to the pitch rather than hide in the tannoy box.
My routine became so bloody predictable that everyone knew exactly what I was going to say!
In a Conference match with Bath City, I walked out on to the centre spot, exactly as predicted, and as I spoke in to the mic I realised that I had not switched on the master control!
So I skulked off embarrassingly to a dual chorus of “We can see you sneaking off” from the Star Lane End and “You fat bastard” from the Bath supporters – both sets of chants were correct of course!”
To conclude, we asked David some quick fire questions – here are his answers.
Favourite Player: Steve Burr
Favourite Manager: Steve King – just joking! Peter Wragg
Most Respected Person: John Askey
Favourite Moment: Kettering 1 v 4 Macc (1997)
Favourite Match: Wycombe 4 v 5 Macc in 2006 or Altrincham 0 v Macc 4 in 1988
Least Favourite Match: Wokingham 1 v 0 Macc (1988)
Lowest Point: Losing our Football League status with barely a whimper but special mention should go to George Donnelly’s penalty at Port Vale
Most Respected Director: Alan Cash
Favourite Tea Lady: Carole Wood
Biggest Regret: Not telling former Woking ‘keeper Laurence Batty to f*** off!
We would like to extend our very grateful thanks to David, not just for giving us a brilliant insight in to his 22 year tenure as club PA, but also for being fundamental in giving so many people so many great memories which will last a lifetime.
David exemplifies everything which is special about our club – without him, and people like him, we would just be an ordinary run of the mill outfit where people go along to the games and don’t really feel part of what is going on.
He is a Legend in every sense of the word, and I will leave the last word to the great man himself –
Having the opportunity to represent every single supporter on that pitch every Saturday has been the proudest achievement of my life.
To share the hallowed turf with some of the best players to have ever played for Macc, to be a part of the club during the most successful period in their history and to be made to feel so integral to that success by Wraggy and Sammy et al is so humbling”