MACCLESFIELD TOWN spent 15 seasons in the Football League, bowing out in 2012. Whether they get another stab remains to be seen, but for a long time, the Silkmen were one of non-league’s hardy perennials.
In 1968, Macclesfield – founded in 1874 – were Cheshire League champions for the sixth time. They became one of the founder members of the Northern Premier League (NPL), which was an attempt to introduce a competition to rival the Southern League.
They were runaway winners of the inaugural NPL, 12 points ahead of rivals Wigan Athletic. Doubtless Macclesfield had been helped financially by a FA Cup run in 1967-68 that ended at the third round at Fulham.
They were unbeaten at their Moss Rose ground in 1968-69, conceding only 11 goals in 19 games. Their leading scorer was Dick Young, an ex-Army player who had also been with Newcastle United. Young was a prolific striker and hit 29 goals in 1968-69.
Young was not the only notable in that Macclesfield Town team, though. Player-manager Frank Beaumont was a versatile player who joined the club in 1966. Many of his team were tough, determined performers. Dave Berry, formerly with Chester and George Sievwright were both strong tacklers and John Collins was renowned as being an “iron man in defence”. Merrick Corfield was a clever ball player. Up front, Brian Fidler had a reputation for being a showman, while John Clay was a winger with Manchester City experience.
In 1969-70, Macclesfield retained their title but only on goal difference, with Wigan Athletic breathing down their necks. Once again, Young netted 29 goals and it was largely the same side that had won the NPL in 1969.
Macclesfield also lifted the FA Trophy in its first year. The run started with a 1-0 win against Burscough, settled by a goal from Corfield. In the next round, they beat Gainsborough Trinity 2-0, thanks to two goals from former Wigan man Dave Roberts.
It took two games to dispose of Bangor City in round three, Brian Fidler scoring the only goal in the replay at the Moss Rose in front of 3,700 people. Similarly, when the fourth round paired them with Burton Albion, the tie went to a replay before the Silkmen won 4-0.
The semi-final paired Macclesfield with Barnet, a game that was played at Stoke City’s Victoria Ground. Dick Young netted the winner before a crowd of almost 8,000.
And so, to the final. Macclesfield met Telford United at Wembley and 28,000 saw them beat the Southern Leaguers 2-0, goals coming from Dave Lyon, another hard-working individual, and Brian Fidler.
Macclesfield dropped to fifth in the NPL in 1970-71 and they didn’t win the title again until 1987. They reached the FA Trophy quarter-finals in 1970-71 and 1971-72 and the last four in 1973-74.
Between 1968 and 1970, however, Macclesfield were one of the best non-league clubs in the country.