One of the most entertaining first day fixtures I have ever had the pleasure of watching was back in August 1990, when future Champions Barnet came to the Moss Rose in the season’s opener.
Just before the season started, Steve Burr had been granted a testimonial at the club, and a Manchester United XI were sent down to the Moss Rose to honour the great man. Yet those who thought that he was preparing to wind down were sadly mistaken, as the first match of the 1990-91 season would highlight.
On a sun drenched August afternoon, the visitors started very much the brighter, and it did not take long for them to stun the Macc faithful by taking the lead.
A corner from the right hand side was ballooned up into the air, and the ensuing melee was settled by Nugent who rose highest to knock the ball past Zelem for an easy finish to put the Bees a goal to the good.
Shortly after it got worse for the home side when another corner from the left was not dealt with by the Macc defence and Bodley’s low diving header flew in to Zelem’s near corner.
The Bees were certainly buzzing at this point, as Peter Wragg’s Silkmen struggled to deal with their set piece threat in particular.
Just before the interval Macc halved the arrears when Steve Hanlon found John Askey in space down the right hand side, and his ball into the penalty area was glanced home off the head of Steve Burr.
Early in the second half, Macc restored parity when Elfyn Edward launched a long free kick in to the box from his own half, before Burr stooped low to connect with a sweet diving header which gave the visiting ‘keeper no chance.
Disaster was to strike though soon after, when a calamity of errors gifted the Bees a third goal. A fairly innocuous looking ball was played into the box which Darren Heesom looked to shepherd out – little did he know that Zelem was advancing and would take the Macc defender out, who in turn brought the Barnet striker down to give them a penalty.
Gary Bull duly converted by sending Zelem the wrong way, and scored his first goal in a season where he would ultimately collect the golden boot.
Yet with time running out, Macc began to pressurise the visiting goal, and with just a few minutes left on the clock they got their reward when Colin Lambert picked up the ball on the edge of the box, beat two defenders and slid the ball past the ‘keeper to the joy of a packed Moss Lane terrace.
The score finished 3 – 3, and all these years later it still remains one of my favourite first day fixtures.
Macclesfield Town: Zelem, Farrelly M, Heesom, Edwards, Tobin, Hanlon, Askey, Kendall, Camden (Imrie), Burr, Lambert