Macclesfield Town 0 Bristol Rovers 0
Sat 28th March 2015, Vanarama Conference Premier
My Macclesfield supporting friend Daz and I had been planning my trip up to see Rovers play at the Moss Rose for the best part of a year. He'd been excited about it ever since we went down and getting to go to a game with an old pal was a small comfort. I had forked out a hefty sum on coach fare, packed my bag for the weekend and he had admirably pulled himself together after a bout of food poisoning that had kept him off work for the week. Macc and Rovers were 2nd and 3rd in the conference at this point and we were pumped for a fierce contest and a potential record-breaking away attendance.
Things began going wrong when BT Sport announced they would be showing the game live on TV, thus putting many Gasheads off the trip and making my bragging to Daz about the massive crowd he was about to witness fall a bit flat. Nevertheless, off to Stoke I went to meet up with my mate and hopefully see a good game.
After a very stupid train journey where Daz first ended up accidentally guiding us to Stockport, 6 stations north of our intended stop, we arrived in the bustling modern town of Macclesfield. My way of describing Macclesfield would be like a version of Stoke that remembered to put on trousers when it left the house that morning. As we got closer to the stadium and started intermingling with other supporters, it became quite clear that the natives didn't know how to react to us super best palz walking merrily together in opposing Macc and Rovers shirts. Some adorable secondary school aged kids had a half-hearted crack at some bovver by singing “Bristol, Bristol, we hate Bristol, we are the Bristol haters” at me in reference to the long and bitter rivalry between the two clubs. Only Daz got to enjoy this however because I was preoccupied with frantically consulting my phone for directions to a pub. Now for my first word of Macclesfield travel advice: drink early, drink plenty, for there are no pubs within at least five miles of the Moss Rose. What a way to run a rail road.
After Daz had picked up his tickets, we parted ways and I headed for the away terrace. On my way I was handed a rather fetching orange t-shirt by a Rovers supporters club member as part of their ingenious spontaneous protest in front of the TV cameras; namely wearing the home colours of the league leaders Barnet in an attempt to make Sainsburys pay up the agreed £30m for the Mem. Despite my protests to the bloke that I was preparing for a possible chilly northern afternoon on the terrace by already wearing two t-shirts under my quarters, I eventually submitted and added another layer.
|Lord save a cracker from Barnet Rovers.|
Piece of bad luck number two arrived when I attempted to enter the ground with a home supporter’s ticket I had somehow allowed myself to purchase from Macclesfield’s website. Div. After a five minute conversation between myself and a club official on the other end of a kindly match day steward’s radio, during which I had to produce my coach ticket to convince him that I was a true Bristolian and not a 70s style hooligan going to incredible lengths to suicidally perturb one of the most volatile and pent-up fan bases in the league. Eventually the kindly match day steward managed to smuggle me in under the condition that I surrender my ticket stub for admin purposes. I was not arsed by this as Macclesfield clearly have better things to spend their budget on than fancy tickets, so I eagerly surrendered my grey piece of card.
|YOU KNOW WHERE YOU ARE? YOU'RE IN THE CONFERENCE BABY.|
Macclesfield travel advice part two: don’t fucking go on the away terrace. “The Silkmen end” closely resembles a massive skip that one would encounter at a recycling tip, the toilets are foul, they wouldn't let anyone into the clubhouse bar (even though it’s open to away supporters who chose to sit) and the food van ran out of food before half-time. After getting over my initial disappointment and drinking in the view of the rest of the much nicer looking parts of the ground; I decided to give Daz a bell.
“Hey man, where you at?”
“Stand to your right, in the middle. I'm doing the secret signal.”
*waves arms frantically*
“Dude your ground is pants. Also I brought a Macc ticket somehow.”
“You should’ve just gone in that way, the bar was full of Rovers fans.”
“Fantastic. I'm off for a bleeding coffee then.”
The Rovers fans amused themselves with some giant inflatable footballs, which were swiftly confiscated by the steward. Then they amused themselves by abusing said steward at length. Also there was a brass band for some reason.
|"Do the Corrie theme lads."|
I have nothing nice to say about the match. It was a very difficult thing to view without alcohol. Macclesfield were in control for most of the game, aside from a brilliant 15 or so minutes from Rovers in the second half where we did everything but score a goal. Other than that we were inept and struggled to put anything together. Balanta in particular was woeful, seemingly having trouble moving at any speed with the ball, Blissett failed to win any headers despite his 6" frame, Puddy had a horrible game distribution-wise, despite making some great saves and Matty Taylor continued his punt at being non-league’s most unlucky striker. The prodigal son Chris Lines almost won the game for us at the death from a decent low free kick that beat the keeper only to miss by an inch. Another “highlight” included a very near own goal for us with a defensive mistake too stupid for me to want to recall. I believe it involved the ball bouncing off one of our players while Puddy was out of goal, meaning the Dutch dynamo could only watch as the ball bounced, painfully slowly, just wide of the goal as the Gas collectively voided it’s bowels.
Macclesfield were able to exploit one of our prominent weaknesses from last season in successfully aggravating Tom Parkes to the point where he was lucky not to get sent off before half time, escaping with just a yellow for descent. I’m fairly sure only the sheer volume of bile from the travelling fans saved him in the end. The atmosphere was unbearably tense from the 20th minute, the triumphant “let’s show these guys a proper away crowd” singing giving way to a torrent of abuse at just about everything. The home fan’s chant “Oh, Maccy, Maccy” was misheard by a young fan as “Oh, wanky, wanky” and roundly mocked; along with the standard bombardment of insinuation that the north is full of unwashed, violent Neanderthals.
|They totally are but they can be placated with beer fairly easily. Still dirty though.|
One particularly vocal Rovers supporter who I always hear but never spot because he has one of those great voices that you can hear over everything came out with: “YOU’RE A SHITEHAWK REF. NOT EVEN YOUR MOTHER LIKES YOU.” As previously mentioned the game turned very nasty for a spell before the end of the first half and by the final whistle six players were carded. For the first time I was at last glad not to be anywhere near Daz because I may well have head-butted him.
A PB match report is never complete without a couple of dumb overheard comments. A chant of “We hate Sainsburys, we hate Sainsburys” followed by “We love you Tesco, we do” elicited a furious reaction from the bloke beside me: “EXCEPT IT WAS TESCO WHO BROUGHT EASTVILLE. SHORT MEMORIES.” Just to make the protest that bit more embarrassing. There was also the standard kid, that always seems to stand behind me, that has learned to comment on football solely by parroting lines from his moaning father, regardless of context. So during a rare smooth, non-aerial patch of play from Rovers I was treated to “KEEP IT ON THE GROWND GAAAAAAS-UH” in my ear, repeatedly.
|Obligatory match shot.|
Final whistle blown, I found Daz, dumped my t-shirt in the nearest bin and demanded we seek frosty beverages and plenty of them for my frayed nerves. Later whilst I was just finishing up my rant about the state of the club like any good Gashead, Daz stopped me to say Alfreton had equalized with Barnet at the last minute and there was much rejoicing.
|This was in a pub toilet. Because the North.|
Ed note: Apologies if you are a Macclesfield fan and it seems I’ve been unfair to Moss Rose in this post. To be truthful the rest of the ground looked like a nice place and had a charming classic feel to it. If I’m ever back I will definitely get a seat and give the clubhouse the once over.