Torquay Anniversary: The Historic Silkmen Starting XI

Macclesfield Town took to the pitch twenty years ago today to play their first match in the Football League against Torquay United – and this is how they lined up.

1. Ryan Price.

Ryan had been a stalwart in the Stafford Rangers goal for many years, making over 300 consecutive league appearances at Marsden Road, before Birmingham Manager Barry Fry paid them £40,000 for his services in 1994.

Pricey was a schoolboy Blues fan and he helped them secure promotion to Division One as well as triumphing in the Auto Windscreen Shield Final at Wembley.

Sammy McIlroy brought him to the Moss Rose in November 1995 at a cost of £15,000.

During the 1996/7 season, Ryan suffered a horrendous injury at Southport when Darren Tinson’s boot collided with his face – causing him to miss just eight games of the promotion winning season.

Having said that, numerous people (including Ryan himself) have commented that it did make an improvement to his looks!


2. Darren Tinson.

Tinno joined Macc from Cheshire rivals Northwich Victoria in November 1996 for £10,000.

He was one of the most feared and respected defenders in non league football and easily adjusted to life in the Football League.

The season before, Darren had to sit out of the FA Trophy Final at Wembley due to the fact that he had been cup-tied by our opponents Northwich Vics.




Darren Tinson (Pics courtesy of MTFC)

3. Colin Rose

Colin came through the famous academy at Crewe Alexandra before joining our Cheshire rivals Within Albion.

He was signed by Sammy in the summer of 1997 and made his debut against Torquay, yet he would find regular football hard to come by at the Moss Rose and would leave the following summer.


4. Steve Payne

Steve was a graduate of the academy at Huddersfield Town and was eyed up by Mark Lillis who was instrumental in getting the youngster to sign for Macc in September 1994.

Steve won the Macclesfield Town Player of the Year Award in 1995/6 and thanked the fans in the best possible manner by heading the opening goal in our FA Trophy Final victory a few weeks later.

The tenacious and agile defender had a magnificent turn of pace and weighed in with his fair share of goals too.


5. Neil Howarth (Captain).

Neil came through the ranks at Burnley before joining Macc for the 1993-4 season.

He was an integral part of both Conference winning sides as well as lifting the FA Trophy for the club in 1996.

Nicknamed “The Kaiser”, Neil was a formidable defender, who developed an almost unbreakable partnership with Steve Payne over many years.

There has never been, and never will be a better defensive partnership within non league football.



Captain Neil Howarth (Pic courtesy of MTFC)


6. Efe Sodje

We hated Sodje when he was at Stevenage, but after signing for The Silkmen in July 1997 he instantly became a cult hero and his “Against All Odds” bandanna would act as a beacon of everything which the club stood for.

After a fairly innocuous start in the game, Sodje signed for Stevenage and won the Conference title with them in 1996.

Sammy brought him to the Moss Rose the following summer, which saw a tribunal order that £30,000 should be paid to the Hertfordshire outfit in compensation.


7. John Askey

Even before we entered the Football League, John was a Silkmen Legend. An integral part of our Treble winning team of 1987, John had only signed for the club to help them out when they were short on numbers!

A Conference title then was won in 1995, before a freak accident at Winsford meant that he missed the whole of the FA Trophy winning season of 1996.

John fought to regain his place in 1996/7 though and he was an almost ever present in our second title winning season.

The rapid winger was a regular on the scoresheet, as well as creating many, many assists for his fellow teammates.


8. Steve Wood

Woody epitomised Macclesfield Town. he was a player with fairly average ability, but he worked his socks off for ninety minutes every week, and that made him one of our best ever midfielders.

Wood was one of Sammy’s first signings in 1993, and he played a pivotal role in all our successes at that time.

Steve scored one of the most iconic goals in our history, when his free kick sealed a 3 – 2 win away at Stevenage in 1997 which was pivotal to our promotion season.



96/97 Player of the Year Steve Wood

9. Richard Landon

Richard had signed for Macc on loan during our Conference Championship winning season, and the deal was made permanent in the summer of 1997.

The tall, physical striker had spent most of his previous playing career at Stockport County, yet he struggled to make the step up with Macc as he regularly found himself on the bench during the 1997/8 season despite a good strike rate.


10 Andy Mason

Andy worked his way through the youth setup at Bolton Wanderers, and after spells at Hull City and Chesterfield, joined Macc in the summer of 1997.

Mason scored some impressive goals during the pre-season friendlies that year, but once the competitive matches started, he found it hard to replicate that form and was released the following summer.


Neil Sorvel ME

Neil Sorvel (Pic courtesy of Macc Express).

11. Neil Sorvel.

Sorvel was signed by former manager Peter Wragg in the summer of 1992 from local neighbours Crewe Alexandra.

“The Turk” was an energetic midfielder who, despite his consistent performances never really got the credit he richly deserved whilst at the Moss Rose.

He helped the side avoid Conference relegation in 1993, and would play an integral role in all our successes under Sammy McIlroy.

Neil scored the crucial goal at Chorley which booked our place in the FA Trophy Final of 1996, and together with Steve Wood helped to create one of the most feared central midfield partnerships in lower league football.




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