They say that breaking up is hard to do. That’s proved to be particularly true for Macclesfield Blues coach, Andy Northey. After 6 years of unstinting service to the Macclesfield Rugby Club cause, Andy has decided to call it a day. Was it an easy decision to make? Well, obviously not. Has he any regrets about his time at the Club? Certainly not. Will he be leaving rugby for good? Definitely not. Here are Andy’s thoughts on his time at the home of this year’s National League 2 North Champions.
Have you enjoyed your time at Macclesfield?
“Well, I know this probably sounds a bit corny, but it’s true none the less. I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed every one of the six years I’ve spent at the Club. Yes there have been times when results weren’t going our way which probably couldn’t be classed as ‘enjoyable’, but on balance I don’t think those times in any way managed to tarnish the rest of the happy memories. I’ve spent 6 great years at a great Club with a great bunch of players and supporters. What more could I ask than that?”
What did you find when you first arrived at the Club?
“When you join a Club you’ve no real idea what to expect. I know you can look at previous results and league position and make assumptions, but you don’t really know until you start doing the day job. When Geoff and me arrived Macclesfield were struggling at the bottom of National League 2 North, so we knew we had work on our hands. But we soon found out that the Club had a nucleus of good players like Ross Winney and Tom Mantell, and that all we needed to do was bring a few more players who could do a job and we’d be alright.”
“I’ve always believed that success is totally dependent on attracting the right sort of players. As far as I’m concerned the personality of the player is every bit as important as the ability. If you can attract players with the right sort of character, then you’re half way to achieving success. Macclesfield not only managed to attract not just talented players, but also great human beings. As soon as managed to get the right personnel in place things started to roll we steadily managed to build momentum. We built a strong team with a strong bond and a winning mentality, and it’s because of that we were able to finish third in the league in our first season. I think it was that strong team spirit that also enabled us to win the league the following year.”
What would you say the highpoints of your time at Macclesfield have been?
“Obviously the winning of the league in our second year has to be a highlight, particularly winning the league at Twickenham. But I have to say winning National League 2 North this season tops everything else. The leagues have naturally got stronger and more competitive over the years, but National League 2 North this season was the strongest I’ve ever known, and that makes Macclesfield’s achievement all-the-more remarkable. To even be in with a chance of winning the league we had to get bonus points in virtually every game. On top of that we weren’t even sure that we were going to finish top until the dying moments of the final game of the season. That’s why winning the championship this year was so special to me and to the lads.”
“My highlights aren’t just limited to winning championships though. There have been lots of other memorable moments that I’ll look back on fondly. Highlights like beating Cambridge at Priory Park in National 1. We went 30 or 40 up against a quality team and played some almost faultless rugby. I also remember the return fixture down there when Cambridge were flying high. We absorbed everything they threw at us and came away with a fantastic win on an incredibly hot day. We won down at Richmond through a last minute Tom Eaton kick, and beat Coventry away. Those two were sides that really should have been in a different league to us in terms of results and pedigree, but we were able to go down there and beat them fairly and squarely.”
How do you think Macclesfield will fare in National League 1?
“Well, obviously it’s going to be tough and a real challenge, but if you want to be competing at the top level that comes with the territory. I think the Club have put the right sort of structures in place to guarantee continued success in National League 1 and they’ve got the necessary experience. They’ve put a strong management team in place now that should see them do well. I think Giles will do well as Director of Rugby. He’s doing his level 4 coaching badge and is very ambitious. He’ll get good support from Mike Finnemore, Jordan Brookes, Dave Marwick and Tom Eaton. I’ve known Tom Eaton since he was about 18 when he came up to Rotherham Academy. He’s a good lad with significant experience and the necessary ruthless streak. He’ll be a great lieutenant for Giles. Whenever there’s change there are always potential difficulties, but I don’t think this will be an issue at Macclesfield. The management team have made their decision and it’s now up to the Club to back that decision. I’m sure the players and the supporters will respond positively.”
What are you going to do now?
“I’m not bowing out from rugby completely – just National League rugby. I’m going down to help at Liverpool St Helens next season. It’s my local club and I thought it would be good to do some coaching down there and keep my hand in.”
“I was offered the opportunity to take over from Geoff, but after giving it careful consideration, I decided that I had to put my family first. It wasn’t just the travelling and time considerations that made my mind up: it was the fact that I’d been a coach at Macclesfield for 6 years – believe me, in rugby that’s a long time. Also after winning the league I thought it was a good time to take stock. So I made the decision to take my leave. I’m sorry to be leaving Macclesfield, but will always remember my time here fondly. The Blues’ result will be the first thing I’ll check in the Rugby Paper, and I’ll make sure I keep up to speed on Twitter. Whenever I get the chance I’ll come down to the Club and try to catch a game or two.”