Ahead of the second part of Matthew Tipton’s interview with us, we recap on Part One, where he discusses his early career, moving to the Moss Rose and the challenges he faced…..
During three spells at the club between 2002 and 2010, Matthew Tipton scored 59 times for The Silkmen – a feat which no other Macc player has surpassed in the Football League.
Only Darren Tinson has made more Football League appearances for the club and there is no doubt that “Tippy” was certainly a fans favourite at the Moss Rose.
We are privileged to bring you the first in a three part interview with the legend himself, as Matthew talks about his move from Oldham, settling in at the Moss Rose and an entertaining pre-season friendly against Northwich!
Matthew, did you always want to be a footballer and if you hadn’t made it professionally then what do you think that you would have ended up doing?
I have wanted to be involved in football all my life. Even when I was at Primary School, I was always kicking a ball about and was in the school team from the age of seven.
I was picked up pretty quickly after that and went to the Centre of Excellence at Liverpool at the age of nine.
So it was always in my mind to become a professional footballer which is every boy’s dream isn’t it?
Thankfully I had the ability, so to be honest I never really thought about doing anything else.Maybe I should have thought of a backup plan at an early age, but if you go back through the history of football then you will see that if you are not dedicated to being a footballer then you will fall short and you won’t make it in the game.
I know that’s not a great thing to say, but for me it really was the be all and end all.
I was lucky and to be fair I was intelligent enough to get by anyway.
I possibly look back now at the age of 37 and think maybe I should have done some higher education because you do get quite a bit of downtime as a footballer, but making it as a professional was my only real focus in life.
You mentioned about signing on at the Centre of Excellence at Anfield, were you a Liverpool supporter as a kid?
I was yeah. I grew up as a Liverpool fan – my Dad is a big supporter and still is to this day.
So when I got the opportunity to go there as a nine year old, it really was brilliant.
I spent four years there, bobbing up and down to training but it was a great experience it really was.
You then moved to Oldham, where you progressed through the Youth ranks before being called up for your country at Under 21 level. Was that the moment that you thought that you had made it?
No not really. If you speak to a lot of players then most of them will say that they never think that they have made it.
I was brought up in an Oldham team who had just been relegated from the Premier League, so there were obviously a lot of experienced fellas there.
But within a few months I was put into the Reserve Team – I remember starting training in the June and by the September I was promoted to the second string.
By the end of the season I was training with the First Team, who were in the Championship at that time.
The senior pros all used to talk about a “100 game threshold” and been when I broke into the First Team, I was still in the Reserve Team dressing room after training because I hadn’t reached the 100 games!
So I never really felt that I had made it – I thought that I was on the edge though.
It wasn’t too long after becoming an established First Team player at Oldham that I left and came to Macclesfield.
I had played well over 100 games for them by that point too!
I had four good, solid years in the First Team, but the club was going through a change – new owners had come in and brought a couple of new Managers into the club in Mick Wadsworth and Iain Dowie.
I missed the squad a few times and I didn’t like that.
I was young through wasn’t I? I was stupid – that’s what happens when you are 21!
But I went to see the Manager, because I didn’t agree with why I wasn’t getting picked.
So after missing the squad on the Saturday, I went in on the Monday to say I wasn’t happy and was asked whether I wanted to leave.
There was a bit of bravado at that stage, but come Tuesday lunchtime about five clubs had come in for me – Macclesfield being one of them, so it was a really quick turnaround!
So what made you pick Macc out of all the clubs that came in for you?
At that stage I just wanted to go.
I liked what David Moss had to say to me, the club was fairly local and a couple of other clubs were down south which I didn’t really fancy.
With some of the clubs, I just didn’t get the right feel, but I liked the way Moss sold Macc to me and how he saw me fitting in to his plans.
So I just thought that I would go there, give it a rattle and see what happens.I was going to Macc as their main striker and it was sold to me that I would be the number one striker at the club.I was sick of being in and out of the team at Oldham, so I was excited about coming to Macc where I would be the star man if you like.
You made your debut against Bristol Rovers in February 2002 – we scored two late goals through Rickie Lambert and Chris Byrne. Do you remember much about that day?
I honestly thought that I played reasonably well on the day.
I got hold of the ball and did pretty ok, but I didn’t really settle in too well if I am honest.
The first day I turned up at training, it was just a culture shock to me!
I arrived on the Thursday to find there was no kit for me at all. Having come from Oldham who had been in the Premier League five years previously, I was used to having a laundry and the kit all laid out for you before training.
I came to Macc saying “Where is my kit?” and people just looked at me a bit funny until Frank the kit man scrambled together some stuff for me.
To be honest, I was just thinking to myself – “what have I done here!”
Some people may think that was me being a bit “big time Charlie”, but I was 21 and come from a club where everything was done for you – so I was a bit taken aback at first.
Then we went and trained on a rugby pitch, so I am thinking “oh no, I have just left a club who owned two training grounds to come here!”So I didn’t find it easy to settle at first. On the pitch, I had just come from a team which included John Sheridan who had played in the World Cup for the Republic of Ireland and if I made a run then he would pass it to me.It wasn’t quite the same at Macc and with no disrespect to them, I had to realise quickly that these fellas would’t give me the ball so easily and that I maybe had to make a few more runs than I had been used to!
But I did get used to it and a short time later I scored my first goal away at Hartlepool.
I went on a bit of a run then, as I scored three in three towards the end of that season. So I was pleased going into the summer that I knew I could score goals at that level.
Then it was all about looking forward to the coming season.
Was it the following pre season that you were sent off in a friendly?
[Laughs] Yeah I remember that one – I remember playing against Northwich at Witton Albion and one of their lads was going round trying to do everybody.
I just thought to myself “if he comes anywhere near me then he is having it!”
He tried to go through me from behind and although I wouldn’t say that I was a hard man. I could always take a tackle.
I thought, “do you know what, I am sick of this”, so I just smacked him in the mouth and as he went down I booted him up the arse – as well as telling him that he wouldn’t be kicking anyone else!
So that was a fairly enjoyable pre-season game for me!
That season you came good though, as you finished joint top goalscorer with Danny Whitaker with fourteen goals –
Yeah – we actually weren’t too bad that year. I just don’t think that we were ever consistent enough to push on or anything.
Obviously Danny was just coming into the team and establishing himself. He is the same age as me, but I had come to the club on the back of over one hundred appearances at Oldham.
We chopped and changed a lot that season, with the likes of David Eaton, Neil Ross and Neil Robinson coming in at different times during the year.So although we didn’t score a pile off goals, fourteen wasn’t the worst tally in the world given the circumstances.Matthew Tipton
That season is best remembered for John Askey’s last game for the club against Rochdale of course. What do you remember about that day?
It was a great day – although it wasn’t so good to start with for me as I was on the bench!
Obviously by this stage John Miles had come in and he was brilliant. I loved playing with him, especially the following season.
I really clicked with John and his style of football, but I wasn’t starting for the last game of the season so I wasn’t too happy with that!
I was even less happy when Mossy put John on ahead of me, because I still felt that I was the best striker at the Football Club.
So it was disappointing, but you know it was written in the stars that John Askey was going to get a goal wasn’t it?
I remember that Colin Little was screaming at me for a pass – I had picked the ball up in the centre and he wanted me to slip it wide.But I ran on, managed to get a shot away and John smashed in the rebound. It was brilliant to see him jump into the crowd to celebrate!
That brought us back to 2 – 2 and then I managed to get the winner a couple of minutes later.
It was just brilliant – I was just so happy for John. To go out like that would be any player’s dream.
It was a fairytale, it was his last game and at that stage most people thought that he could have scored with the last kick of the game.
Maybe my goal took a little bit of the thunder away from him, but I was never going to not put it away was I?
But no, it was a brilliant occasion and one I will never forget.
How did you all celebrate after the game?
Looking back on it all now it was a bit strange really, because if that had happened now there would be a dinner wouldn’t there as well as a few other things going on.
But it was just like we played the game, had a beer and that was that. I can’t even remember if we had anything at the club in the Suite.
I just remember having a few beers in the dressing room and then went home.
Today there would be a big song and dance to celebrate. Players get a nice dinner for playing fifty games now – John Askey played for twenty years!
It just wouldn’t happen now – for a start the Commercial people would go to town that, what with events and merchandise on the go. They missed a trick there!
We will be bringing you the second part of this fascinating interview next week, where Tippy talks about the play off season under Brian Horton, a life threatening health scare and what he really though of “that chant!”