Macclesfield Town booked their place in the FA Trophy final against York City on Saturday with an emphatic victory at Prenton Park against Tranmere Rovers, after the 1-1 draw at the Moss Rose the previous week. Going into the match as underdogs, The Silkmen put up a good performance all round to take the victory through Ollie Norburn’s second half goal. However, their league form has been very inconsistent and despite aiming for the playoffs in the National League, they currently sit 9th in the league, 11 points off the final play-off place. But for a club of this size, arguably lacking the same financial resources of other clubs, can these achievements be classed as having a successful season?
Despite being a former Football League club, The Silkmen have very limited resources to work with, not helped by the drop in attendances to around 1000 per match, the similarity of quality in the top half of the National league and the bottom of League Two and the funding behind clubs such as Forest Green, Eastleigh and Lincoln.
To get over these bridges, the club has a unique way of funding player transfers, with fans contributing to ‘The Silkmen Campaign Fund’ which is then used to help sign players. This scheme has been renewed for the 2017/18 season and the club are hoping to replicate the success it had last year, where they signed Kingsley James from Halifax Town, Mitch Hancox on a free transfer after his release from Birmingham City and Ollie Norburn from Guiseley also on a free transfer to name a few of the signings, as well as experienced keeper Scott Flinders and midfielder Richie Wellens. These signings have shown good ambition for the club, who are trying to improve on their 10th place finish in the 2015/16 season with their combined experience of higher levels of the English league pyramid.
The main problem this season has been inconsistency with the league form. Dropped points with losses to Guiseley, York and Bromley and a draw against Torquay have been frustrating, especially with big wins against Tranmere, Eastleigh and a league double over Wrexham which have provided much-needed momentum going into games. The loss of Danny Rowe to Ipswich and Jack Mackreth to Bury (despite him returning on loan) haven’t helped, however, Rhys Browne coming in on loan from Grimsby has filled one of the voids left by the wingers and the creativity of Luke Summerfield, also on loan from The Mariners, has been a welcome addition.
The cups have been a good success for the club, the FA Cup win at Walsall and a live match at home to Oxford, in which they took the League One club to a replay at the Kassam Stadium, have helped with the prize money and TV money giving a much-needed boost to the club’s funds. As previously stated, the club have had a good level of success in the FA Trophy. Despite nervy draws against Altrincham and Dulwich Hamlet, the team have got into the final at Wembley on the 21st May, a very welcome and well-deserved reward for all their hard efforts this season. John Askey’s men will see themselves as favourites for this clash, but it is seen as one of those games where the form book goes out of the window and both teams will be equally up for it.
All in all, with everything considered, there has been a feel-good atmosphere around Macclesfield Town this year, with the town getting behind the club effectively. With this support and backing, as well as the extra funds generated by the runs in the cups, there is no reason why the club can’t push on to the playoffs or even the title in the 2017/18 season.