Day 14 – Man UTD-Macclesfield-Port Vale-Stoke!
What a place to kick off todays ride at this morning. The ‘Theatre Of Dreams’ home to mega successful global footballing entity, Manchester United. The one thing I’ve noticed is the shape of the stadium isn’t like any other I’ve seen on the road. It’s not as in your face as their blue counterparts stadium across the city, but I think the Etihad is indicative of these new build type stadiums. To put it this way, the front looks like someone’s paused the transformers film half way through one of Optimus Primes transformations.
The courtyard is a big open space featuring a statue of 3 United greats, or the ‘Holy Trinity’ as they call them, in Sir Bobby Charlton, Dennis Law and Northern Ireland and folklore legend, George Best. Or if you’re a chav, Callum Bests dad. That guy they keep shipping off to an island every year. ITV are onto something. Quite ironically, Callum has probably scored more than all of them combined if the papers are anything to go by.
One thing I haven’t focused on is the staple of many a persons match day experience, the ‘official’ local boozer that every club has. Man U have ‘The Trafford’, Rochdale have ‘The Dale Bar’, West Ham had the amazing ‘Boleyn’ when they played at Upton Park and Chelsea have ‘Selfridges’. Theres nothing like warm beer and cheese and onion crisps with a ‘not for sale separately’ label on that says pre match to me, I love it, here’s the red half of Manchesters’
So, another sad day in terms of football when it comes to clubs I’ve visited. After yesterday’s visit to Bury, I then made my way, to Macclesfield.
As the list of clubs were determined before the end of last season, I went with all the teams that started and finished the 2019/20 season. Macclesfield was one of them. Unfortunately the emphasis, is on ‘was’.
It’s not been a good year for The Silkmen. A mere year after former England International Sol Campbell saved the club from relegation as manager, Macclesfield, were relegated from the football league after a points deduction was imposed due to the dire financial trouble culminating with the club facing punishment over paying player wages in March this year.
I was 3 miles from Macclesfield when the news broke that the club had received a winding up order from the High Court. After witnessing Bury the day before, this is the last thing I wanted to see. I can only imagine that as a fan this is devastating. Some of us don’t know how lucky we are. When I got there, the Sky Sports team were ready to go live. For the wrong reasons. Now THAT is horrible to see. Someone coming up, reporting your club is no more, then leaving. Must hit you right back to earth with a bump.
Fans were milling about dumbstruck. The owner by all accounts has played with honest peoples emotions and that fundamentally is confusing, sad and upsetting. Quite poignantly, someone had laid a bunch of flowers at the front door of the club, like the scene of a car crash, which is what the owner Amar Alkadhi has made of it.
Silkmen, I hope it works out for you 🙏
Moving on from there was a cobble ridden cycle down to port vale. Now what I like about arriving at this club was the unassuming entrances backing onto a path. This is no Etihad, Emirates or Wembley, this is proper no nonsense entrances to a football stadium right here.
Instead of having to step over the threshold of the elite where a steward directs you to the lift that gets you to your seat, at the time of writing here, you’d have to step over half a sausage in batter and a Ribena carton and climb some steps to get there. This is what they call grass roots. The front is done up nice and they have a statue of club legend Roy Sproson directly outside, but everything round it is as beautifully rustic as football grounds could get. And it works.
Then onto the Bet365 stadium, home of Stoke. It looks lush in the night. I think all stadiums do. But after 80kms, I decided to retire for the night and explore it in the morning.
Mainly because my incredible friend Helen invited me to stay at hers. And Helens house had something Stoke Football Club didn’t have. A hot tub.
As much as I love the Travelodge, it’s incredible having friends around the country. If any of my friends are looking to move, may I suggest buying a house in Birmingham. This weekend.
A lot of love to everyone supporting what I’m doing. Your words, donations and gestures help massively, in every aspect. I haven’t seen Helen for 15 years, but she still put me up and reached out to see if she could do anything. If everyone was like that it would go a long way in helping those isolated in todays society. So let’s be a Helen and ask our friends how they are, you never know, they might not admit it but you could be doing incredible things for their mental health.
So thank you for your support on the ground shouting about what this is trying to achieve for charity.
I wish you all the happiness and love in the world. Especially If you’ve got a hot tub.
We got this ❤