Relegation has reinvigorated the club
22 September ~ Having clung on to our League status for 14 years, Macclesfield Town finally succumbed to the drop in May. We played out our final League Two match without a manager or memory of a home win in 2012 for comfort. Today we'll face Forest Green with the wind at our backs, second in the table and on a run of four straight home wins. The relief is palpable – and a little surprising. Most Macc supporters didn't begin the season expecting an easy return to League football. Our average attendance puts us halfway down the list of Conference teams.
There was always a fear that a prolonged stint in the League could only have been an aberration for a club our size and that relegation, when it came, would be permanent. Meanwhile the new manager, Steve King, formerly of Lewes, received a rather chilly welcome. Chairman Mike Rance introduced him to the fans as "an interesting appointment" and promptly resigned.
Since then King has quietly assembled a squad in his own image – daring and attack-minded. All but five of the players from the squad that was relegated are gone. So too are the loanees that were drafted in for the final lunge at survival. Most of the new squad is now here on permanent basis – signed on solid reputations in non-League football and chosen for the task of challenging for the Conference title.
Considering all the changes, King's side already looks coherent and plays without fear of losing. Our two new signings from promotion rivals Luton – scurrying playmaker John Paul Kissock and top scorer Matthew Barnes-Homer – have become immediately influential in attack, which must leave some Luton fans scratching their heads.
Doubts remain in defence. Last weekend we had to score two late goals to salvage a point against Nuneaton. If we fall behind so easily today, we might not get the chances to recover. Forest Green arrive one place beneath us in the table, having conceded only three goals away from home thus far: it's the third tightest defence in the league.
All signs point to a close result and one which might be an early bellwether in the battle for promotion. It is still uncertain whether relegation is a regression to the mean for Macc, or if it will ultimately rejuvenate us for another giddy tilt at the Football League. For now, there's cause to be optimistic. Jack Gain