Macclesfield Blues kicked off their National League 1 campaign last weekend with a trip down to Esher. The Blues may have lost narrowly in the final few moments of the game to a late penalty, but they came away with their pride intact, and with hopes of better and more positive results to come. It was a spirited and committed performance which left Head Coach, Giles Heagerty, feeling very optimistic about the rest of the season. He firmly believes that with their strength in depth this campaign, the Blues can do some serious damage. Hopefully that resurgence will start this coming weekend when the Blues take on local rivals Fylde at Priory Park. Here’s what Giles had to say.
Were you happy with the player’s performance and commitment against Esher last weekend?
“Although we ultimately lost the game to a late penalty, it was good to be still in the game right at the end. I remain pleased with a lot of things we did on Saturday, not least the performance levels and the character the squad showed. We asked for a high level of effort and a push for consistency throughout the whole 80 minutes, and I think that for the most part was what we got.”
“What pleases me most, I think, is that it was a learning curve for a number of the players; not just those who hadn’t played National 1 rugby before, but those guys who’d had a year out as well. Yet, in spite of that, they still they managed to produce a very admirable and creditable performance.”
You were asked previously whether you thought the squad had the strength in depth and ability to cope with the challenges of National 1 rugby. You said you thought so, but said ask me again at 5 ‘o’clock on the 3rd of September. What’s your opinion now?
“We’ve definitely got what it takes. We’ve got the strength of character and mental toughness to make a go of it this time round. We had a very good side out on Saturday, but we still had absentees. Some of the players were unavailable, and some were injured. Those guys will come back soon and that gives me great hope. We’ve already shown we’ve got a massively competitive squad across most positions, and we’ve shown that we’re a much better side than we were two years ago. Because of that I honestly feel we can do some damage in the league this year. Then again – ask me again in 29 games time!”
What are you expecting at this Saturday’s local derby at Priory Park? Are Fylde still the ultra- competitive side they used to be?
“I can only assume at the moment that they’re still a force to be reckoned with. I haven’t watched our preview yet, but we already know that the one thing Fylde are famed for is chucking the ball around and attacking from all areas on the pitch. I expect that’s what we’ll still have to cope with. I’ve no doubt they’ll be very well-organised, and they’ll undoubtedly take any opportunities you give them.”
“To counteract that we’ve got to stop them playing their natural game, and to do that we have to stay switched on for the full 80 minutes. We know it’s going to be a good game and an entertaining game. You’ve got two sides who don’t necessarily have the same playing philosophy, but there are certainly elements of our game that I think Fylde can relate to.”
Are you expecting a big crowd at Priory Park’s this weekend?
“Hopefully – yes. Saturday’s going to be a big day for the Club. It’s our first home match of the season at Priory Park, it’s our Family Fun Day and it looks like the weather is going to be co-operative too for once. All these things are positive and should act as a spur for people to come on down and watch the game. Obviously I’d prefer it if they came on down every week as we’re good at what we do.”
“We play entertaining rugby for the most part, but sometimes you have to play ugly to ensure you win. Even when that’s the case though, I still think we play the type of rugby spectators enjoy watching. Ideally I’d like to see a full house every week, but if the supporters have to pick one game to watch, then maybe this is the game. Hopefully when they see what we have to offer, they’ll keep on coming back.”