Fifty Years Apart: Macclesfield v Lincoln then and now, by Malcolm Johnson

Saturday 16th November 1968 – Macclesfield Town 1 Lincoln City 3 (FA Cup First Round)

Saturday 15th September 2018 – Macclesfield Town 1 Lincoln City 2 (EFL Sky Bet League Two)

Saturday’s game brought back memories of almost fifty years ago when I was present for the first ever meeting of Lincoln City and Macclesfield Town, with the Imps being drawn away to the Silkmen in the First Round of the FA Cup. This was the second season of my travelling any distance to away matches and I decided to make the effort of going to Macclesfield which, based in Nottingham as I was, meant as far as I can remember a series of bus journeys via Derby and Stoke.

I believe it was an all-ticket match, with Macclesfield’s ground capacity being 11,500 with just 600 seats available, but not bothering to apply in advance I remember simply buying a ticket on admission at the turnstile.

At the time, after winning their first four league games to put themselves top of the Fourth Division table City had then managed only three wins from the next twelve but were still in the fourth promotion place going into this game.

Macclesfield were one of the leading non-league clubs in the country at the time and were top of the Northern Premier League ahead of Wigan Athletic on goal average. This was the first season of the new league which had been formed as a northern version of the Southern League bringing together the leading clubs from the Cheshire County League of which Macclesfield had won the championship the season before, along with the likes of Wigan, Altrincham and Northwich Victoria, also clubs from the Lancashire Combination including Morecambe and Fleetwood, the Midland League, with Gainsborough Trinity and Scarborough, plus Boston United from the West Midlands League.

The previous season had featured Macclesfield as FA Cup giant-killers beating Third Division Stockport County 2-1 at home after a replay in the First Round before going on to reach the Third Round, when they lost by 4-2 at First Division Fulham. This run meant that for the current season they had been exempt until the Fourth Qualifying Round in which they had beaten Midland League side Retford Town 2-0 away to set up the meeting with City with hopes of another cup upset.

The teams were:

City:

1. John Kennedy
2. Graham Taylor
3. George Peden
4. Jim Smith
5. Ray Harford
6. Jim Grummett
7. John Harrison
8. Peter Kearns
9. Norman Corner
10. Lewis Thom
11. Dave Smith
12. Tom Brooks

Macclesfield:

1. John Cooke
2. George Sievwright
3. George Forrester
4. Frank Beaumont
5. John Collins
6. Dave Roberts
7. John Clay
8. Brian Fidler
9. Dick Young
10. Merrick Corfield
11. Dennis Fidler
12. Dave Berry

Three of City’s back four plus goalkeeper John Kennedy had been together for most of the previous season, the only newcomer being ex-Grimsby right back Graham Taylor who had joined along with another newcomer, left-winger Dave Smith during the summer. As well as the future England manager, the side also featured two other managers-to-be in Ray Harford and Jim Smith, the latter being one of the players signed along with striker Peter Kearns and winger Gordon Hughes by Ron Gray to revitalise the side two-thirds of the way through the previous season. With Hughes suspended for this match another summer signing, 22-year-old John Harrison from Sheffield United came in for his Imps debut. Another change saw left winger Lewis Thom replace the unfit Jack Lewis with Dave Smith switching to midfield.

Macclesfield player-manager was 28-year-old former Barnsley, Bury and Stockport midfielder Frank Beaumont who had been with the club since 1966 and had been appointed manager in the summer. Other players with Football League experience included full back George Sievwright who had been with Oldham and Rochdale while the other full back, 34-year-old George Forrester had spent two seasons with the defunct Accrington Stanley and now combined playing with being licensee of Macclesfield Town’s public house at the ground, the Moss Rose. Centre half John Collins was another former Stockport man as was centre forward and leading scorer Dick Young who had also spent time with Grimsby. Left winger Dennis Fidler had frequently featured in opposition to City during his time with Darlington and Halifax while his namesake, flamboyant striker Brian Fidler had done the rounds of several Midland League clubs including a spell with Gainsborough.

In front of a mostly partisan crowd of 6,809, Macclesfield pushed forward from the start of the game, laying siege to the Lincoln goal, but after seven minutes the Imps struck with their first attack. Dave Smith flashed a shot in from the left which was fumbled by the goalkeeper and Peter Kearns ran in to put the ball into the net. A minute later, Smith who was to pull the strings in midfield throughout, made ground up the middle before playing the ball through the defence for Lewis Thom to hit it first time into the net with the keeper hardly moving.

However, the City defence, while looking generally sound were being occasionally troubled by the unorthodox play of Brian Fidler, on one occasion taking the ball away from John Kennedy as he was forced to come out of his area, resulting in Graham Taylor having to clear off the line from a header. The Silkmen then found a way back into the game after 37 minutes when Jim Grummett’s high tackle on Dennis Fidler gave away a penalty which was converted by Clay. But City effectively made the game safe a minute before the break when Dave Smith fired in a stinging shot from the edge of the area which gave goalkeeper Cooke no chance.

The Imps then decided to play safe, achieving control of the game as they fell back into defence with Taylor and Peden in particular keeping a tight grip on the Macclesfield wingers with the home side unable to trouble Kennedy with a decent effort on goal.

My own memories of the game are that City, determined not to be the victims of a giant-killing in the manner of Stockport, played it hard and professionally in a manner similar to that which was to win few friends during the Conference championship season almost 30 years later. I remember no crowd segregation, but stood on the grassy bank behind the goal City were defending in the first half so had a good view Jim Grummett’s challenge for the penalty for which there was no doubt.

The match programme included some rather sneering comments by the writer of the Supporters Club Notes: “We welcome our Fourth Division opponents, Lincoln City FC, to our “humble home”, where we hope they will be regally entertained as were Stockport County last year…We realise we have “superior” opposition but we have overcome such obstacles before.”

Having read that it was rather satisfying to have beaten them!

Next Page – 50 years on

1 Comment

  1. I remember going to the FA Cup game in 1968 with Andy Everington and Colin Tesh in my first ever car an Austin A40 Farina. It was quite scary going over the ‘Cat and Fiddle’ but the result made it worthwhile. Happy Days.

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