Sunday, 11 October 2015

10/10/15 Review: Macclesfield Town vs Kidderminster Harriers

Macclesfield Town 2-1 Kidderminster Harriers (National League)
Moss Rose

Today marked a very special day in the football calendar- NON LEAGUE DAY! Teaming up with Prostate Cancer UK, today is all about the good causes- trying to raise money for charity and of course, raising the attendances of local grounds to provide them with much needed ticket revenue across the country. I am always very proud to be a supporter of non-league clubs, because these are the routes of English football and without these clubs we would not have such discoveries as Charlie Austin, Jermaine Beckford and current England defender Chris Smalling (just to name a few!). So in honour of Non League Day I am going to start this entry with a fact-file of my 2015/16 non-league adventure so far.

Best ground visited
Moss Rose (Macclesfield Town)
Maybe I'm being biased, but I cannot help but have a great time every time I'm there.

Worst ground visited
Wood Park Stadium (Alsager Town)
It was a close run thing between them and The Lyme Valley Stadium.

Best match
Seeing the Conference's top team being destroyed by the Silkmen was top notch.

Worst match
No goals and very few chances. The hilarious chants were the highlights.

Most friendly ground visited
The Novus Stadium (Kidsgrove Athletic)
Certainly worth visiting, a nice ground with very friendly fans.

Loudest fans
Glossop North End
From crazy chants to scrapping with the opposition fans, a crazy bunch they were.

Highest scoring match
It was the closest thing to "pub team" football I've seen this season.

Grounds I want to visit this season
Marston Road (Stafford Rangers)
I'll be there on Saturday to watch the high-flying Rangers.
Footes Lane (Guernsey)
I've wanted to visit Guernsey for a while now, what better excuse?
Park Lane (Canvey Island)
As a teenager, I was always intrigued by a team from an island.

Now, back to today's big game
It was nice to be at Moss Rose again for a sixth time this season. So far I have witnessed 3 wins, a draw and a defeat for the Silkmen, with the only non-wins coming against League One opponents Rochdale and Sheffield United. It is fair to say that I have enjoyed good showings from Macc so far and I was hopeful that they could continue a good run under my attendance with a win against the Conference's basement club, Kidderminster Harriers. Kiddie are yet to win a match this season in the league and they were already five points from safety before the game. Due to today's match being live from BT Sport, there was of course an extra buzz around the ground and when I arrived in time for the early kick-off it was good to see all of the vans and cameras around the ground, giving the Silkmen some much needed extra money for TV appearances. Added to this, Macc had offered free entry to all children and students to help boost support for Non League Day, which meant that I found myself fighting my way past the local footy stars of tomorrow to grab my ticket and programme. The man at the kiosk seemed glad to be confronted with a straight-forward "one adult, near half-way" request, rather than the screaming of dozens of kids. Once I entered the ground, I headed straight for my seat as I couldn't partake in a pre-match pint due to having to go to work straight after the match. On my way to my seat I did manage to see our Assistant Manager, Efe Sodje, seeming to be gathering a bit of advice from a fan.

Efe Sodje kept a clean sheet with Nigeria in the 2002 World Cup match against England 
Since a poor defeat against Barrow, the Silkmen have been unbeaten in the last 3 matches- including two impressive 3-0 away wins and a 0-0 draw with Boreham Wood. Shwan Jalal and his improving defence had 3 straight clean sheets and I was highly confident of adding to this- predicting a 2-0 win for the Silkmen live on the big screen. The last time I was at Moss Rose for a match being broadcast live, me and Partizan Bristle's Tom witnessed a highly dull 0-0 draw as Bristol Rovers failed to impress. For anybody who may have watched this game as a neutral, I was hoping that both sides could provide a bit more of an advert for non-league football than that match did. The game kicked off and the away fans started to roar, with flags spread across the empty areas and plenty of chants for the cameras, it was clear that Kiddie were up for it and they would be hoping that their team would reciprocate this passion. However, the opening ten minutes offered evidence which confirmed why Kiddie were propping up the rest of the league. At the back they looked solid and defended every cross and shot with their lives, but just like when watching San Marino, you knew a goal would eventually come as they looked incapable of getting the forces together to form a reasonable attack. Jordan Murphy, on-loan from Walsall, was making his Kidderminster debut and in truth looked to be the best hope the away side would have. He ran at the Macclesfield back four and looked to make things happen, despite the lack of support. Macc managed to continue in pressing, with their possession rate being very high and the chances being created- and once the Silkmen got to the half-hour mark they won a crucial corner. The kick came in and was met by Frenchman Tony Diagne, who's effort was blocked. Fortunately for Tony D, nobody else reacted to the ball as it deflected back into his path, allowing him to smash home through the crowd of players on the line and open the scoring. Macc 1-0 Kiddie. The lack of attention to detail from the corner was a fine example of why The Reds are struggling this season, with nobody pouncing on the second ball.

This camera hasn't seen such poor defending since it's last trip to Stamford Bridge
The opener certainly seemed to spur the Silkmen on, who didn't rest on their goal and instead continued to press for a second before the break. With just under 10 minutes until half-time Macc won yet another corner and it was up to the home-side to see if Kiddie had learnt from their mistakes. They hadn't! The ball came in again and the simplest of finishes was slotted in by in-form Danny Rowe, who rushed over to the fans to show his joy- he truly is enjoying his football at the moment. Macc 2-0 Kiddie. It is worth remembering that last season a moment from a match between these two sides went global- as Waide Fairhurst smashed in a volley from the half-way line! There was nothing ground-breaking about these goals so far, with the headlines more likely to be focussed on another defensive suicide committed by the Harriers. With no Paul Lewis, Neill Byrne or top-scorer Kristian Dennis in the starting XI, it seemed to be good news all round for the Silkmen and Danny Whitehead almost added a third before half-time. When playing a match live to thousands of people on BT Sport, you can almost guarantee that there will be one terribly embarrassing moment to keep the neutrals laughing. Today's example came just before the break, as the linesman went down injured following an accidental hit from a feud near the corner flag. Following some humorous conversation amongst fans in the delay, the lino was subbed and 4 minutes of stoppage time was announced. At half-time the Silkmen were in full control.

Somewhere in the distance, near the orange wig folk, is the injured lino
The worst thing about not being able to have a half-time pint was the fact that half a pint of flat Pepsi from a bottle actually cost more than half a lager would have, devastating! Still, with the break came a chance for me to have a skeg at the programme for the "Pint of Football Moment" of Non League Day. The interesting point I picked today from the "10 things you didn't know about..." was a proud moment which The Reds achieved when I was just a toddler. "The Harriers made history in 1994 when they went on an FA Cup run that went as far as the Fifth Round, beating local rivals Birmingham City and Preston North End. This is the furthest a semi-professional team has got in the FA Cup." What a cracking effort! Kiddie have also recorded a 25-0 win against Hereford back in 1889, also. Not bad.

Duh duh duh duh, half a Pepsi
I then took the rare privilege of re-watching our first-half goals in the bar, courtesy of BT, before heading back to pitch-side. At this point I noticed that the half-time interviews were taking place from the far-side of the pitch, so I thought I would be so inconspicuous as to walk to the area behind and wave at the camera. I am not sure if I made it on to live TV, or in fact if I would have been visible from the opposite side.

Last time Macc were on BT, I made a cameo appearance as "not too impressed fan"
As we were the early kick-off there were no around the grounds news, nor were there any stupid updates about City and United from the part-time non-league fans. So with that, we were on with the second-half and I was joined by someone who wasn't sat next to me in the first-half. I think that a lot of the people were certainly here to partake in the Non League Day, which was great for the club. The only downside to this was some of the comments spewing out of the fans of the 'big clubs'. From the comments of "I wonder why this is on BT?" to the classic, "Not a bad little ground, this." there was certainly some first-time Moss Rose attendees. My favourite exchange, however, was from a father and son combo. The father had asked if Macclesfield had any international players in their team, the son then replied with "I think the goalie is from Iraq.", to which the father looked across, looked at his son and then sat in silence. On the pitch there wasn't much to shout about, with Kiddie looking more and more likely to score as the Silkmen took their foot off the peddle. Before long The Reds did pull one back and it was through the debutant, Jordan Murphy, who fired the ball in past Jalal. Macc 2-1 Kiddie. Dave Hockaday, who was the short-term manager of Leeds United just last season, looked to have got his team back on track and they would continue to push to try and equalise. Between edgy moments for the Silkmen came chances for them to get a third.

The Reds (playing in Yellow) were looking good for a comeback
Luckily for Macc the match ended after a nervy 5 minutes of stoppage time, meaning that the home side had held on for another vital win. From that second-half performance you would like to think that the 100 travelling fans must have some hope for the future. Whereas the 1,500 or so home crowd were just glad to get the win. Following this, I headed up to the clubhouse for the post-match Man of the Match Award ceremony for star man Danny Whitehead. The "interview" Danny gave was not quite that of the standard of The Jonathan Ross Show, as the chap asking the open-ended questions was often met with a one-word answer. This awkward exchange was halted by the presentation of the bottle of champagne and a few fans grabbing a selfie with the out of breath player. He then retreated to the dressing rooms and with that I headed off too, due to the fact that I had to be at work to meet David Starkey. On my way out I heard the introduction of the VIP Football Ticket Auction, which safe to say wasn't for me- having received an opening bid of £210.

Non League 
This is likely to be my last trip to Moss Rose for a while, as I look to pursue other non-league grounds in the next week or so. Next up on Tuesday for me will be Leek Town, which will be followed by a special edition double-header next weekend as Pint of Football meets Partizan Bristle for two lower league games surely of the highest calibre. Watch this space for 3 more entries in the next 8 days: Leek Town vs Daventry, Stafford Rangers vs Rugby Town and Worcester City vs Nuneaton Borough.

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