It is our very great honour to reveal that John Askey is to be made Honorary Freeman of Macclesfield.
After an illustrious playing career with The Silkmen, John took the club back into the Football League last month in what was arguably the greatest footballing fairytale ever written.
Now the Town Council have bestowed the highest award on our faithful leader to recognise his services to the club and the town in general.
It is an award that is rarely given and thus one which is incredibly prestigious to receive.
We would like to whole-heartedly congratulate John for what is an incredibly well deserved accolade.
John started his career as a Youth Team player at Port Vale – the club his father Colin had notched up 200 appearances for.
His time at Vale Park showed mixed degrees of success as despite winning the club’s Young Player of the Year award in 1982, he never made a first team appearance for The Valiants.
After a short spell at Milton United, John signed for The Silkmen in 1984 after his brother Bob had recommended him to Brian Booth. Macc were said to be thin on players at the time and initially John was drafted in to fill the void and bolster the ranks!
John made an instant impression and quickly became a fans favourite as a lightening fast winger who weighed in with his fair share of goals.
He quickly established a frightening partnership with Steve Burr who also joined the club in 1984, creating one of the most feared pairings in non league football.
John played an integral part in the treble winning side of 1986/87 where helped the club secure promotion to the GM Vauxhall Conference for the first time.
The step up did not faze John or his Silkmen teammates in the least and during that first season John started all bar one of the 42 leagues matches – scoring ten times.
The following season, John added 11 goals to his tally, but this time only started 35 league matches.
Yet the highlight of the season was undoubtedly reaching the FA Trophy Final at Wembley Stadium where Macc were beaten in extra time by Telford United
John was fast establishing himself as one of the country’s leading non league footballers at this time and this was recognised by his inclusion in the illustrious Middlesex Wanderers’ tour of Japan shortly after our Wembley disappointment.
Despite Football League interest, John remained loyal to The Silkmen and in 1994 he was deservedly rewarded with a testimonial match against a Manchester United XI.
After securing the Drinkwise Cup title in 1994, John was to help guide The Silkmen to the Vauxhall Conference Championship in 1995.
Under the leadership of former Busby Babe Sammy McIlroy, Macc romped home to their first Conference title and set a league record of ten consecutive wins in the process. John weighed in with nine goals from thirty league appearances that season as another feared partnership was formed, this time with Phil Power.
Promotion to the Football League that season was denied however due to archaic ground regulations – something which 23 years later still seems exceptionally harsh.
The following season was a low point in Askey’s playing career after fracturing his leg during a pre-season friendly at Winsford United. John had to sit out of the whole campaign and that also meant that he was not part of the FA Trophy winning side which beat Northwich Victoria 3-1 at Wembley Stadium.
Yet he was to come back with a vengeance the following season as Macc finally secured their place in the Football League by winning the Conference title for the second time in three years. John missed just three league matches that season, scoring six times in the process.
That was not the end of the fairytale however, as Macc secured back to back promotions by finishing second in Division Three behind Notts County – going a whole season unbeaten at the Moss Rose.
John was an almost ever present that season, weighing in with six priceless goals.
1998/9 season saw The Silkmen take their place in Nationwide League Division Two alongside the likes of Fulham, Wigan and Manchester City and it was not long before Sir John found his magic touch in front of goal.
We were drawn to play the mighty Stoke City in the First Round of the League Cup and in those days these were two legged affairs.
Two late Askey strikes helped to ensured that Macc went to the Brittania Stadium with a 3 – 1 first leg lead that evening, after Steve Wood had opened the scoring after just two minutes.
Despite Macc suffering a 1-0 defeat in the Potteries, Macc progressed 3-2 on aggregate and claimed a major scalp in the process. With John’s father Colin still recognised as a Vale Legend, there was no doubt some celebrations in the Askey household that evening!
Although Sammy’s heroes were relegated that season, John remained as dedicated to the cause as ever – so much so that the following season he notched up a career best fifteen goals.
All good things must come to an end however and despite John’s legs still seemingly as youthful as they have ever been, he hung up his boots at the end of the 2002/3 season.
The double Player of the Year award winner didn’t go quietly however – coming off the bench to equalise against Rochdale and set up yet another great Silkmen comeback in the process.
As soon as the ball hit the back of the net Askey ran to his devoted fans in the Star Lane End, jumped over the barrier and celebrated in a way which befitted the great man – the fact that he got booked did not matter one bit and even the Referee had a smile on his face when he almost begrudgingly showed him the yellow card.
This was never going to be the end however, John was never going to say goodbye to the club who he had spent nearly two decades fighting tooth and nail for.
He was subsequently appointed Assistant Manager to David Moss and remained with him until Moss’ dismissal in October 2003
John was then handed the full managerial reigns, in a move which no Macclesfield Town fan could begrudge him of.
With hindsight John’s accession in to the coveted hot seat arguably came too soon. Despite an encouraging start, results starting to dip and the club reluctantly brought in former Manchester City supremo Brian Horton.
John then held a number of roles such as Reserve Team Manager and Youth Team Manager, as he made a real name for himself by bringing talented young players through the ranks into the First Team – including a certain Rickie Lambert.
After the sacking of the very likeable and prudent Manager Steve King, John took on the role of First Team Manager for a second time in April 2013.
Despite off the field problems which severely limited the budget he was able to work with, John continued to bring in underrated players in to the club and turn them in to very shrewd acquisitions.
Last season John took us to Wembley Stadium once more. Yet the FA Trophy winners medal which he yearns for to complete his collection sadly eluded him, as a late York City winner sent the famous trophy back to Bootham Crescent.
The exodus which followed the Trophy Final meant that at the start of June John only had one player to his name – Mitch Hancox.
Yet promotion back to the Football League was secured on the back of a quite simply phenomenal campaign, the sort of which will never be replicated.
Macc claimed the National League title with ten points to spare and in the process proved that no matter how much the odds are stacked against you, dreams really can come true.
Being awarded the Honorary Freeman title is just reward for over thirty years of glorious memories, from a man who has given the whole town so much to be proud of.