Normally at this time of the week, Macclesfield Rugby would bring you the latest interview with Head Coach and Director of Rugby, Geoff Wappett, giving his thoughts on the weekend’s game. Sadly, there’s been a bit of glitch in the schedule this week. Our paths just haven’t managed to cross at the right time. Geoff is currently AWOL soaking up some deserved and much needed sun during the winter break, whilst the rest of us are stuck here in the rain and cloud: sounds all too familiar doesn’t it? Still, we’re not really jealous – honestly. So what we thought we’d do is have a retrospective look back at the season and see how things have panned out. Are the Blues where they thought they’d be at this stage of the year, or have they perhaps not fully lived up to the high expectations?
Well, Macclesfield Blues are currently lying in fifth position in National League 1 at the half way stage of the season. We’ve played 17 games and won 10 of them, which isn’t bad going at all. Even league leaders and early pacesetters Ealing have lost 4 games whilst the team one place above us in the league, Fylde, has lost 6. No team is invincible, which only goes to show the strength of this league. Yes, it might be a cliché, but any team on its day is capable of beating the other as Geoff has said all along. Macclesfield Rugby Club has 53 points, 11 behind Ealing, and has scored a creditable 461 points in total so far. Scoring tries hasn’t really been a problem: stopping other teams scoring has proved a little more onerous.
The season started really well with 3 straight wins for Macclesfield Blues against Wharfdale, Stourbridge and Sedgley Park. Even the subsequent loss away at Blaydon wasn’t disastrous as the team put up a spirited performance at a ground where luck hasn’t previously favoured them. That was followed by a comfortable victory at Priory Park over Barking and the narrowest of victories away at Cambridge. Unfortunately that’s when things started to unravel. Macclesfield Rugby Club lost 5 games on the bounce to Tynedale, Rosslyn Park, Coventry, Flyde, and Birmingham and Solihull. It was probably the worst run the Blues have been on for some considerable time, and certainly the worst run since Geoff took over. Naturally the coaching staff were concerned, but as Geoff has said all along, it was only a question of margins: sometimes you need the run of the ball, and unfortunately during that period Macclesfield Rugby Club just wasn’t getting it.
What pleased Geoff the most during this period was the sense of solidarity and togetherness shown by the playing squad, the Club management and the supporters. A sense of all being in it together and collectively facing up to challenges head on. Geoff always argued that if we managed to develop this spirit and belief, then eventually the luck would return. How right he was, yet even we’re not sure he ever envisaged that luck would return at league leaders Ealing Trailfinders. The Blues had managed to beat Blackheath relatively comfortably at Priory Park, but the real test lay down in London. Macclesfield’s performance was majestic and brought not just a palpable sense of relief, but also new found belief in the squad’s ability to compete with the very best. The challenges didn’t get any easier after that, with the next game being against high-flyers and cash-laden Jersey. Unfortunately this proved to be a step too far, but as Geoff noted, Jersey was and probably still is the best team in the league with unlimited resources.
Since that game Macclesfield Rugby Club has won its last 3 games and has gone into the Christmas break on a bit of a roll. Hopefully, come January, the team will return refreshed and raring to go, and can pick up where they left off. All in all it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster season so far, with some very big highs and some equally disappointing lows. Yet on balance Macclesfield Rugby Club are probably roughly where they would have expected to be at this stage of the season. They’ve played all the teams now, and will have weighed up their various strengths and weaknesses. The Blues have had their bad patch and come out of the other side: the same can’t be said for some of the other teams. Maybe their bad patches are yet to happen.
What we can say at this stage is that Macclesfield Blues are a class act with some very talented players. When everyone’s fit, we can compete with the very best. Here’s another cliché for you, but a true one none the less: form is temporary, but class is permanent. We’ll leave it at that, shall we?