A local rivalry re-sparks today, albeit in a friendly game. But is there such a thing as a friendly when Wrexham play Macclesfield?
This new iteration of Macclesfield has a lot in common with Wrexham. Okay, on the surface they have their own reality show, the highly entertaining “Robbie Savage: Making Macclesfield“. Yes, they have a well known figure at the helm. But the similarities run deeper than that.
Macclesfield’s fans suffered like Wrexham, and their pain actually went further as the club actually perished. The documentary did a good job of showing what a football club means to its community, and how its demise can leave a hole in people’s lives. We are all about that, of course.
Local businessman Rob Smethurst bought the club and the ground, which was infamously put up for sale on Rightmove. It felt like a final, cruel indignity at the time, but turned out to be The Silkmen’s salvation as Smethurst spotted the listing and jumped in.
His first act was to get his friend Robbie Savage on board, and there’s no questioning the enthusiasm Bradley’s finest has brought to proceedings. Whether the coaching staff are fully appreciative of his interventions is a different matter!
It’s tempting, as I said earlier, to draw comparisons to Wrexham, but they’re circumstantial. Having said that, the new club have attracted a massive, high profile company to be their shirt sponsor, which it’s difficult to imagine happening without having Savage’s name attached to the project. Furthermore, he is surely a very useful recruitment tool: when you’re a part-time footballer playing at the ninth echelon of English football, getting a call from an international footballer and TV personality is likely to turn your head. We all know that the Wrexham owners have been crucial in convincing players to sign for the club, although Rob McElhenney’s pitch to prospective signings is, I believe, an epic selling of a passion project rather than an offer to meet Deadpool!
Wrexham’s model is different because it’s unique – a subject I intend to scrutinise in more detail in a couple of weeks. We are using celebrity as currency, and I’m struggling to think of another project that does it in quite the way we do. Macclesfield’s “use” of Savage is less central to their business plan: Smethurst’s entrepreneurial skills are at least as important in the long term.
Macclesfield compiled a side that looked too good for their level (sounds like a plan!), and roared back by winning the North West Counties Premier Division league title in their first season. They are now at the eighth tier of English football, three divisions below us. Expect them to climb much higher in the near future.
Manager Danny Whittaker is a club legend, “The Magic Man”, as Wrexham know only too well. He is one of the most prolific players against us in the National League.
Indeed, Macclesfield have an irritating habit, especially at Moss Rose, of defeating us in increasingly exotic and agonising ways. I welcome them back wholeheartedly, and will be delighted to see them get back where they belong, but I hope they’re out of such nasty habits now!