Twenty years ago today, Macclesfield Town competed in their first ever match in the Football League – a home match against Torquay United.
Yet, it was no plain sailing for The Silkmen to get into the League, and the story is characterised by heartache, sadness and personal tragedy.
In many ways, it should never have happened – the fact that it did is testament to every single one of the people who turned such overwhelming odds around and defied them all.
Macc had first won the GM Vauxhall Conference back in 1995, yet they were refused permission to the Football League due to their archaic ruling that the ground needed to be up to standard by 31st December 1994.
Work on the Star Lane End stand had been set back due to the fact that the company constructing it were delayed in getting the right materials, and so the stand was finished a few weeks after the deadline.
Despite this, the Football League were adamant that should Macc win the Conference title in 1995, then they would not be allowed the promotion which they had earned on merit.
Club Chairman Arthur Jones told Granada Reports –
When we realised that we were not going to meet the deadline, we then asked the League if we could approach Chester City with a view to ground sharing which is a provision made within their criteria
They in their wisdom have refused us as they say that Chester is too far away from Macclesfield, and is not within the conurbation of Macclesfield.
They say that the criteria has changed since Chester were allowed to ground share with Macclesfield”
Arthur Jones. Former Macclesfield Town Chairman. Speaking to Granada Reports.
This was added to by supporter Eric Hargreaves who stated –
We had Chester Football Club here for two years, playing all their matches and we had no trouble on the ground at all.
So it has got me baffled, I think it is unfair that we can’t get in the League”
Eric Hargreaves. Speaking to Granada Reports.
Sammy McIlroy, in his second season with the club also thought that the stance of the Football League was too harsh –
I would just like them to bend the rules a little bit, and if we do become Champions then give us the right to go in to the League”
Sammy McIlroy. Former Macclesfield Town Manager. Speaking to Granada Reports.
Even the politicians got involved, trying to put our case to the Minister of Sport in the hope that he could influence matters. Yet it all proved to have been in vain, as Macc (just like Kidderminster before them and Stevenage the following year), would be denied promotion to the big time – for the moment, at least.