Macclesfield FC are back in league action again this Saturday as league leader Radcliffe visit the Leasing.com Stadium.
Alex Bruce’s side come into the game off a high after their Isuzu FA Trophy victory over Dorking at the weekend.
Radcliffe are currently sitting pretty at the top of the Northern Premier League table as we take a closer look at the league leaders.
The club was formed on 24 May 1949 at the Owd Tower Inn in Radcliffe by Jack Pickford & a committee of 17 and became a member of the South East Lancashire Football League. After a short period in that league, the club joined the Manchester League before gaining access to the Lancashire Football Combination in 1963. In 1972, Radcliffe won the League Cup and finished third in the league. Two years later it was accepted into the Cheshire League, which subsequently became the North West Counties League.
The first season again brought success when Radcliffe secured the Second Division championship in front of a record Stainton Park crowd of 1,468. After one season in the First Division, Radcliffe lifted the First Division championship in 1985 and made the step up into the newly formed Northern Premier League First Division in 1987. After many years of consolidation in the league, and at times, fighting against relegation, the 1995–96 season saw an upturn in the club’s fortunes, both on and off the pitch. The club, for the first time in its history, reached the last 16 of the FA Trophy, narrowly losing to Football Conference side, Gateshead 2–1.
In the 2002–03 season Boro missed out on the championship by two points to Alfreton Town, and reached the 4th qualifying round of the FA Cup, losing to Chester City in front of 1,138 at Stainton Park. Promotion was finally won thanks to the play-offs by beating North Ferriby United in the semi-final and Chorley in the final at Stainton Park winning 4–2 on penalties after Chorley scored two goals in the last 10 minutes to make it 2–2 and take the game into extra time. Boro’s Jody Banim got 46 goals in what was an unbelievable season for him.
With Boro back in the Northern Premier League Premier Division and a place in the newly formed Conference North up for grabs, promotion was obviously the aim. By November Boro were as high as sixth thanks to the 22 goals of Jody Banim who set an English record by scoring in 14 consecutive games. Boro sold Banim to Conference promotion chasers Shrewsbury Town for a record fee of £20,000 in December 2003, and without his goals the club slid down the table eventually finishing 19th and into the relegation play-offs beating Whitby Town on penalties 8–7 in the quarter-finals, before bowing out to Burscough in the semi-finals at home. In 2004–05 the club finished 9th in the Northern Premier League. The club continued to be near the play-offs and solid midtable finishes followed but after 4 seasons were relegated back to the first division in 2007, where the club have remained until 2019. Mid-table finishes and the occasional battle against relegation was the order of the next decade after a decade of success and a few cup runs.
In 2016 management changed, a new chairman and manager took the reins. Off the field investment was given to the stadium, a new stand at the Pilkington Road end of the stadium, a new press area and director’s area after being destroyed by fire. And a new covered turnstile block, a TV Gantry, Boardroom, club shop, Sponsors Lounge and Social Club. Giving the stadium a fresh new look. The club changed name dropping the borough officially in 2018. Reaching the Lancashire Cup Final in 2017 nearly brought silverware to the new era. League finishes for the first two seasons were roughly the same as before. But with a new manager in charge Jon Macken with Frank Sinclair as his assistant brought some positive results towards the end of 2017–18 from when he took the reins in October 2017. The future looked bright and the hard work and investment on and off the pitch paid off as the club was promoted via the play-offs back to the Northern Premier League in 2019.
The Boro currently sit third in the Northern Premier League form guide. Wins in each of their last four league matches has seen Radcliffe move six points clear at the top with a few games in hand on nearest challengers Warrington Rylands.
Last time out on Tuesday night, Radcliffe staged a late comeback after trailing Basford United up until the 80th minute mark, goals from Jude Oyibo, Josh Hancock and Ewan Bange saw Boro take all three points from Nottinghamshire.
Boro also gave National League Barnet a run for their money taking the lead in their FA Trophy clash before two Marvin Armstrong goals saw The Bees progress. An away victory at Lancaster City as well as home victories against Workington and Bradford Park Avenue sees Radcliffe carrying strong momentum into Saturday’s clash.
ONE TO WATCH
Josh Hancock is one of Boro’s standout stars. Alongside Jordan Hulme, both players have 14 goals for the season with Hancock’s predominantly coming from central midfield or wide positions.
Hancock scored twice in Radcliffe’s victory over The Silkmen earlier in the season including a stunning strike to make it 4-3.
It was an evening to forget for The Silkmen at the Neuven Stadium back in October. Despite going 3-0 up thanks to goals from Paul Dawson and a Neil Kengni, Radcliffe came back firing and scored four without return in a 30 minute period.