Jen Kelly – a.k.a. Cheshire’s Revenge / The Word Nerd – brings ilovemacc her own take on the highs and lows of The Silkmen
How represented do you feel, as a common football fan, in everything that’s going on both on a national level and within the 4 crumbling walls of the Moss right now?
I could offer a scale of 1 to 10 if it helps, or perhaps just a selection of swear words for you to choose from?
If I were to make an educated guess, I’d say the answer to the above would make for depressing (and very sweary) reading at the moment. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m feeling about as far away from my club as I ever have and that’s only partly to do with the fact there’s no football being played.
Representation is a weird thing wherever you look. A lot of the time it can rely on the goodwill of those in power. Whether it be your bosses at work, your football club or the Government, a huge amount depends on those at the top choosing to listen to everyone shouting from the bottom rung. Of course, the louder the collective voice, the more likely those fat cats will have to pick the cotton wool from the ears and stop looking the other way. But what happens when the collective voice is nothing but a whisper, even when we all shout together? Well, what happens is MTFC ladies and gents.
Macclesfield Town Football Club has always had that slightly awkward badge of ‘tiny club, no money, count the fans on one hand’. Growing up it was always a source of amusement among my friends and family that I (and my long suffering Dad, who I suspect would’ve jacked it in years ago if I wasn’t such a pest) was the oddball that supported my local team. I know hundreds of United and City fans, a load of Liverpool and a good handful of Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs. Most of my family support Sunderland (with a small but vocal Newcastle contingent). I stood out like a sore thumb.
There is something more personal about dedicating your heart and soul to a smaller club. You have to work harder to study the form, find out about players old and new, gain soundbites from your latest manager. You also have to have a thick skin, as just telling someone who you support is a sympathetic head tilt waiting to happen. I’ve had people who have confessed to knowing nothing about football laugh right in my face when I’ve told them my team, exclaiming “but why, they’re shit?!” (I’d love to say I’d always come up with a dignified and witty response when this happens, but usually my answer would be something along the lines of “erm no, YOU’RE shit” before I huffed off.)
But all this is so worth it to be part of a unique and sacred community, however small. To exchange that knowing look across Mill Street when you spot a face you know from the terraces. The pure excitement when you see a Macc shirt or scarf in an unexpected location (i.e. anywhere that doesn’t have an SK10 or SK11 postcode). And the knowledge that every single Macc fan is joined together in a collective force that makes sure our club is the best club, bar none.
Oh right, not that last one. No, that’s not true is it? Bollocks.
A voice for all Silkmen…
I’m guessing anyone reading this already knows the latest chapter in the MTFC saga. I reckon the conversation went something like this:
MTFC person 1: “Erm, weren’t we supposed to make up the rest of everyone’s wages by midnight tonight? I know we didn’t have to but we told everyone we would and put it in writing didn’t we?”
MTFC person 2: “Yeah?”
MTFC person 1: “Did anyone check the piggy bank?”
*Both turn to look at the smashed Natwest collectable piggy bank scattered all over the floor*
MTFC person 1 and 2: “Oh balls”
MTFC person 2: “Quick, ring the SST and put your best begging voice on….”
SST: “Thanks MTFC, you’ve well and truly put us in an awful position. But we will give you the cash because, quite frankly, what else can we do at this late stage? Don’t worry about signing anything though, can you just make sure that Amar makes some more random promises to us? Nice one. Do we need to release any info about this? Nah, just wait until it leaks out on Facebook and we’ll address it then”Someone get them a new piggy bank, please!
For the record, I don’t blame either the staff at the club or the SST for things playing out as they did. However, someone made the decision that we were going to make up the remaining 20% of the wages not covered by the Government. Someone took the “…collective recommendation…” made by the EFL and PFA as gospel. According to the same article, “The move has been welcomed by clubs…”. Were we one of those clubs? Who knows! I’d love to know who wears the MTFC hat at these meetings. My money is 100% on Bob, our lovely lone dolphin in a sea full of sharks.
What I do have an issue with is that this all happened on the 14th April, a full 6 weeks before anything was mentioned to the fanbase on the 25th May. I heard about it on Facebook but it seems it was triggered from a Joe Sealey interview with TalkSport earlier that day. The next day a long and comprehensive statement from the SST followed, but one that raised more questions than answers.
And that brings me crashing right back to my original point. Why is it that, yet again, the fans of MTFC are the last to know? Why are we being pushed further and further away from everything in blue and white? And why does information only ever seem to appear when there has been a rumour doing the rounds first?
Silkmen Supporters Trust 2.0
I don’t doubt for a second that the SST have perhaps the most difficult job in football right now; trying to deal with an elusive owner who makes his own truths and a fan base who have been feeling downright shitty for a good long while. And I believe that every single one of the board has the best intentions, really I do. But I also believe that the current SST does not work in representing the bulk of the fan base or dealing with the modern world of football and communication.
My usual approach to things that piss me off is to get involved. You can’t change anything if you’re not part of the conversation, right? I’ve got some decent experience on representative bodies as well as a long working history in marketing and communication. I figured maybe I could help the SST take the leap forward to becoming a more modern and effective organisation. So I went to their website to look at how to join…
Send a form and a cheque to the Moss Rose *insert slapping forehead emoji here*
Now before anyone jumps on me, I now know that if I download the application form and scroll to the second page, I can also pay using a bank transfer. But in a world where the vast majority of people access the web via their phone and have little time for faff, I don’t doubt I’m in the minority who wouldn’t bother to even click on the form in the first place, let alone scroll and write down details then go their bank app then fill in the form then……you get my point.
The current set up is distancing the average fan at a time where we need every single voice we can get. The communications are non-existent most of the time, and what we do hear seems to be only as a reaction to something that’s being discussed on Facebook. The suggestion that the SST is a secret society might not be factual, but it is a view held by enough fans to be an issue that needs urgently addressing.
I know some fans recently tried (and failed) to tackle some of this from the inside, by joining and getting on the board. I know from talking to Andy Worth over the past 12 months that he regularly bangs his head against the wall in frustration. I also know that our club is facing the most difficult times in its long history and we are staring down the barrel of a loaded gun with no hope of an 11th hour reprieve.
So what is my point? What am I hoping to achieve with this long, rambling spiel? Well I guess it’s a rallying call. This is me, standing at the very top of the John Askey terrace, megaphone in hand, chanting until my throat closes up.
It’s a call to the SST to open the gates and let us all in out of the cold. It’s a call to everyone who’s washed their hands of MTFC to come back for one last hurrah, before there is no MTFC to come back to. And it’s a call to the EFL, the PFA and every other governing body across the game to help us before we become just another footnote in footballing folklore.