Return of the Macc

I posted recently about the sad demise of Macclesfield Town Football Club after 146 years of existence. The club was inaugurated by men of the local 8th Cheshire Rifle Volunteers way back in 1876 when they first formed Macclesfield F.C.. The Victorian association formed between football and soldiering continued on into the First World War, being most particularly expressed in those footballs being kicked forward to launch British attacks on the first day of the Somme and, of course, in the famous 1914 Christmas Truce where impromptu football matches were played between the warring sides in no-man’s land.

1914 Christmas truce statue

Mark at Man of Tin blog, suggested I paint a footballer as a tribute to the demise of a club once begun by rifle volunteers, he having himself once done the same for one of the great contributors to wargaming, Donald Featherstone on the centenary of his birth, (Featherstone was Southampton FC’s physio for a number of years).

Although, I have some Airfix footballers somewhere, I was further inspired by Mark’s recommendation that I check out “Replica Soldiers and Models“. This impressive website, amongst many other things, includes recast Britains old footballer figures (see above). I really liked the idea of using Britains 54mm classic figures to reproduce early football pioneers. It seemed particularly appropriate, and so ordered this running figure.

Although I was familiar with the colours of Macclesfield Town in recent years, the question was – what colours did Macclesfield’s early footballing rifle volunteers adopt?

Copyright Historical Football Kits and reproduced by kind permission.

Thankfully, the ever-marvellous internet led me to an excellent resource called Historical Football Kits, which had all the information I needed to recreate the original strip. I opted for the earliest known uniform (above-left) which would have been worn by those rifle volunteers. The information for this kit was itself taken from the 2001 book “Saga of the Silkmen – The History of Macclesfield Town FC” by Graham Phythian. Sadly, it seems that the long saga which this author carefully documented has now come to an end.

Or has it?…

A recent report in the news announced that a ‘phoenix club’ for Macclesfield is in the process of being born, with former Premier League player and Welsh international Robbie Savage joining the board. The turf at the old ground Moss Rose is already being considered for resurfacing in a manner ‘that will allow more community use in an effort to generate funds’. In the meantime, a lot is happening over at the Silkmen Supporters Trust as they look to shape and support the formation of a new Macclesfield football club.


Meanwhile, I’ve been quietly painting my small tribute to the original Macclesfield Football Club which was first founded by those local Victorian rifle volunteers so many years ago – and here is the result:

Let me tell you, it’s remarkable just how tricky it is to freehand paint narrow parallel hoops on a curved surface! I have now developed a real respect for football strip painters everywhere and in particular those early hand-painters at Subbuteo Sports Games Ltd in Langton Green in the 1960s….

In painting my early ‘silkman’, I’ve sort-of approximated the classic Britains style, which this figure demands, and gloss-varnished him too. He looks rather impressive in my display cabinet!

Silkmen Picture Archives includes some very old photographs of some of Macclesfield’s early footballers including one going back to 1896 and is worth checking out.

“Play up! Play up! And play the game!”

I really enjoyed painting a football strip for a change, a challenge that was satisfyingly simple yet at the same time tricky. What’s that? Why not paint another, you say? The whole team?! A whole league?!!! …

The Eggnog Cuirassiers

My pot of yellow paint can now rest for a while as Hagen’s lovely Prussian Cuirassiers have now been fully converted into the bright yellow uniformed Eggnog Cuirassiers; the heavy cavalry regiment of the Army of Advent.

I’ve mostly based their uniform on the Prinz von Preußen Cuirassiers, being attracted to their bright colours. The saddlecloths have been painted the same as that regiment’s design of crimson edged with white but instead of the royal cypher, I’ve added a small white symbol with yellow centre (a bit like an egg, see?) to the pistol housings.

You will notice that the flag bearer is still forlornly waiting for his guidon. Traditionally, Advent’s flag designs have been in the hands of my daughter but teenagers, it seems, have other interests and so I may need to attend to it myself it she doesn’t get around to it soon. Whatever it looks like, it will not look anywhere near as detailed and realistic as those which Stokes created recently on The Grand Duchy of Stollen blog.

I like Hagen’s horses, just the right side of slender and a little like an ill-fed thoroughbred on campaign – a stark contrast to Strelets’ stocky horses which all seem to have been out in the spring grass for far too long! Admittedly, the pose of these Hagen horses leans towards the excessively dramatic but at least nobody can accuse the Eggnog’s of a lack of enthusiasm in their charge.

A little green flock will attend to the extravagant metal plant this horse is leaping over.

Trumpeter and Officer are below. The officer is Major Pigsin-Blankets who is riding a high-spirited black stallion going by the name of Bethmännchen.

The regimental Christmas plinth is also now prepared and, with the grim kind of winter we seem to have in store for us in the northern hemisphere, I reckon the Suburban Militarism household will need every bit of their colourful spectacle when appearing on the yuletide mantelpiece later this year.

Post script:

I’ve realised that I forgot to mention the results of my poll regarding whether the Eggnog’s should have coloured lace on their tricornes, As these photos demonstrate, the winner was for no coloured lace. All of which made things easier for me!

Late reinforcements…

It must have been a few years ago now since I joined the crowdfunding of Hat’s Napoleonic Light and Heavy Dragoons sets. At long last, after a number of incidents and issues (retooling and resizing), and much forum commentary (not all being very complimentary), these troubled soldiers finally, belatedly, arrived at Suburban Militarism HQ – and in shockingly bright, red plastic!

With my two boxes, HaT have kindly included their sampler set consisting of 16 more light and heavy dragoons, making for a grand total of 40 British dragoons unexpectedly arriving through the post this week. Plenty more recruits for the Napoleonic Cavalry Project.

I know HaT have taken some stick for the long delays on this crowdfunding project, which is certainly understandable. However, for hobbyists like myself (that’s right; these are not toys because I’m a grown-up, serious, bona-fide hobbyist) at least we can thank them for two shiny brand-new sets of Napoleonic British cavalry.

They’ve been such a long time coming that they almost feel like an unexpected gift from some mysterious benefactor. Given the size of the Great Unpainted Pile, they may be an awful long time before any paint gets applied too…

The Yellow Riders

My Eggnog Cuirassiers have been coming on steadily, thanks for asking. In a random change from the last cavalry painting I undertook, I’ve decided to paint the riders first and then the horses (previously I painted from hoof upwards).

These 20mm Hagen Miniatures are lovely figures and, although metal is never my best medium, I’ve enjoyed bringing out the crisply sculpted details.

The regiment’s colours are based on the Prinz von Preußen Cuirassiers, a regiment which I’ve painted before in their early Napoleonic guise as the Von Beeren Cuirassiers and using Italeri’s Prussian Cuirassier box. Their colour makes them one of the most distinctive cavalry regiments that I’ve painted and one of my favourites.

The Von Beeren Cuirassiers were wearing the same distinctive yellow tunic they had worn since at least the 7 Years War era and which had earned them the nickname “The Yellow Riders” (‘gelbe reiter’). I think I’ll retain that pleasing little moniker for Advent’s Eggnog Cuirassiers.

Previously, I used a lighter yellow for the Von Beeren boys but I wanted something bolder and – how can I put this – something altogether more yolky!

The Prinz von Preußen Cuirassiers had tricornes without any lace but, as these are actually Eggnog Cuirassiers, I’m thinking I might add some coloured lace trim. I’m undecided so what do you think? Feel free to influence my painting below:

There’s – as ever with me – little bits to attend to for the riders but I’ll be soon turning my attention on to mounts and horse furniture. The Eggnog’s horses seem particularly spirited!

Cuirassiers for Advent

“Fog-drams i’ th’ morn, or (better still) egg-nogg, / At night hot-suppings, and at mid-day, grogg, / My palate can regale”

1775 Maryland clergyman and philologist Jonathan Boucher

Continuing on in my development of the Army of Advent imagi-nation, I’ve come into possession of some more Hagen Miniatures figures. Having already developed some dragoons and hussars, I felt that the Army of Advent could really do with some heavy cavalry and Hagen’s lovely cuirassiers fitted the bill nicely.

The figures consist of two sets of x4 troopers and a command group featuring an officer, a trumpeter and a flag bearer. They all come in parts, so head, body and horse all need connecting together with delicately applied (or not) amounts of glue.

The question of what uniform I might paint came to me when I settled on a suitably Christmas-themed name for the regiment; The Eggnog Cuirassiers!

As any high-calorie loving alcoholic will tell you, an Eggnog is a milky, eggy drink with an added pep of either some kind of rum, bourbon or brandy, topped with a dash of lovely nutmeg. Apparently George Washington was a devotee and used to make his own 3-day old aged version. The egg and cream theme immediately put me in mind of the Prinz von Preußen Cuirassiers with their yellow coats and cream breeches.

Yellow coat and cream breeches – perfect for an egg and cream themed regiment. With the dramatic contrast with the black cuirass, it’s a very attractive uniform.

Time to break out the yellow paint!

Advent Army Generals

The Army of Advent are now formally under the command of senior officers! I’ve been a somewhat distracted from hobbies and painting in recent weeks by the irritating and insistent demands of the ‘real world’. This latest group of soldiers are in truth still only 99% finished but, as it’s been a few weeks since I’ve shared anything even near to complete, I’m showing what I’ve got anyway!

Introducing… General Rudolf St. Nicholas and two of his senior staff:

Figures are by the wonderful Hagen Miniatures, They’re not being used quite for their originally intended purpose as Prussian generals of the 7 Years War but they nonetheless find a very welcome home in my Army of Advent. Rather than place them in ‘deep and crisp and even’ snow drifts, as I’ve done with the rest of the army, I’ve situated these senior officers in a landscape dusted with a fresh seasonal snow flurry.


The first figure is of the Commander-in-Chief himself. I’ve used Hagen’s figure of Frederick the Great, ‘Der Alte Fritz’, raising his hat aloft to his adoring troops. General Rudolf St. Nicholas is riding his magnificent grey stallion, Pandepascua. The figure came with a choice of three alternate upper torsos and I chose this hat-raising one, it being the most visually distinctive.

His Chief of Staff, Major-General Minns-Pye rides Striezel. For the Army of Advent’s General Staff, I’ve placed them in the dark red uniform similar to that worn by the 1st Noel Regiment. A yellow sash and gold trim on the tricorns are indicative of their rank.

Finally, we have Maj-Gen. Stockingfiller bestride his easy-going Trakehner stallion, Bredele.

I was going to include Lt-Col. Figgypudding on his Lusitano stallion, ‘Panforte’. I realised belatedly that I had still to attend to a number of things before he’s ready (saddle cloth, riding gauntlet gloves, spurs, etc. etc.), so maybe I’ll present them both later.

Soldiers and Silkmen

Followers of English football may have noted the very sad ending of a football club which could boast an impressive 146 year long history. The club in question was Cheshire’s Macclesfield Town who went by the nickname The Silkmen. What has this to do with Suburban Militarism, you may well ask? The answer lies in the club’s formation way back in 1873, something which piqued my interest. According to Wikipedia;

The beginnings of Macclesfield Town Football Club can be traced, at least in part, to the 8th Cheshire Rifle Volunteers who were formed in 1873 and played regularly in Macclesfield from October 1874. It was agreed at a public meeting on 21 October 1876 that the 8th Cheshire Rifle Volunteers and the Olympic Cricket club teams be merged to form Macclesfield F.C.; initially matches alternated between association and rugby rules.

Bridge Street Drill Hall, Macclesfield. Wikipedia. By Peter Barr, CC BY-SA 2.0.

Some research reveals that the headquarters of the 8th Cheshire Rifle Volunteers was the Bridge Street Drill Hall, seen above. This rather impressive building opened in 1871, just two years before members of this rifle volunteer corps formed what would be the genesis of Macclesfield’s 146-year old football club.


Illustration of a Cheshire Rifle Volunteer from “Redington’s New Twelves of Rifle Volunteer Corps“, a coloured print of 12 different Rifle Volunteer figures. Published by J. Redington of London, c.1860.


With the Childers reforms, this unit become the 5th Volunteer Battalion of the local Cheshire Regiment in 1883. Later, with the formation of the Territorial Force, it became the 7th Battalion, The Cheshire Regiment in 1908. At the onset of hostilities in the Great War, men of the battalion were mobilised at the Bridge Street drill hall in August 1914 prior to being sent off to Gallipoli and the Western Front.

Some further research reveals something of the 8th Cheshire’s formation and uniform courtesy of the “Historical Records of the 5th Administrative Battalion Cheshire Rifle Volunteers“.

“On the 31st December the Queen accepted the services of a Corps at Macclesfield, consisting of one Company, under Captain Samuel Pearson, late Lieutenant 1st Dragoon Guards. The uniform was grey, trimmed with black lace, and long loops for the Officers, velvet facings, and a kepi. The accoutrements were of brown leather. This Corps was numbered the 8th Cheshire.”

The book includes the lovely illustration seen above of the 5th Cheshire in 1859. The description of a grey uniform also bears a passing resemblance to another Cheshire Rifle Volunteer Corps – the 1st, also known as The Cheshire Greys.

The Cheshire Greys, c.1860s.

I modelled a small diorama of the Cheshire Greys in their 1880s incarnation wearing Home Service Pattern helmets and firing Martini-Henry rifles. I suppose the 8th Cheshire RVC could have looked much the same at around this time.

The 1st Cheshire Rifle Volunteers, “The Cheshire Greys” c.1880.

I’ve written before of how the Victorian Rifle Volunteer movement, with it’s emphasis on locally raised units, could be as much a social as a military endeavour featuring dances, shooting competitions and other events all adding to the camaraderie and cohesion of the units. It seems that, as with the formation of Macclesfield’s football club, sport was also a key feature of the Rifle Volunteer movement. In Macclesfield’s case, the sporting legacy of these local men endured for 164 years until a High Court decision last Wednesday.

The Guardian. Sept 17th 2020 includes this epitaph to the club;

The town of Macclesfield itself is, as the New Order drummer and Silkmen fan Stephen Morris put it, “a mill town that had lost the adjective ‘thriving’ somewhere along the way”. Its high street is pockmarked by boarded-up shops. The football club, like the old Majestic cinema and the many closed pubs on the London Road walk up to the Moss Rose, appears destined to become another lost community asset.

Notably, Bridge Street drill hall, Wikipedia reports “was decommissioned and has since been converted into apartments.” The long legacy of the Rifle Volunteer movement, it seems, has sadly finally come to an end in Macclesfield.

Stable Personalities: Horses of Advent

Horses. They can get a little overlooked in modelling, and I know some people positively hate having to paint them, which I get. I like to give my horses their due, however. In fact, I seem to have developed the convention of naming the noble steeds of Advent army officers after Christmas puddings and seasonal cakes from around the globe. In my officer’s stables, for example, I already have a dun stallion named “Panettone” and a tough little Arabian called “Pandoro”. So, continuing on in that tradition, I introduce to you the Commander-in-Chief’s extremely fine – and rather pampered – grey stallion, Pandepascua!

General St. Nicholas on Pandepascua. The General, along with the rest of his staff, are still a work in progress.

Chief of Staff, Major-General Minns-Pye prefers his elegant and black stallion while on campaign to anything quite as fancy, and as physically delicate, as some of the other thoroughbreds he sees ridden by certain other headquarters staff. Introducing his trusty Hanoverian warmblood – “Striezel” (‘show’ name – Allerheiligenstriezel!).

Maj-General Minns-Pye on Striezel

Next, I have Bredele, Maj-Gen. Stockingfiller’s chestnut-bay Trakehner. A good-natured equine with a tendency to lazyness, much like (it has been said) old Stockingfiller himself!

Maj-Gen Stockingfiller on Bredela

And finally, completing this show of officer’s horses, we have a stallion every bit as spirited and forward-going as his own master (St.Nicholas’ zealous military secretary, Lt.Colonel Figgypunding). “Panforte” is the name of this feisty dark-bay Lusitano.

And finally, Lt-Col. Figgypunding on Panforte.

The scale of these figures is perfect for my Army of Advent and they seem to go nicely with other 1:72 sized plastic figures I’ve used so far, as can be seen by the photo below.

Above: Maj-Gen. Minns-Pye on Striezel is closely followed by Colonel Giftrapp of the Yule Grenadiers on Pandoro – ahead by a length going into the final furlong…

I’ve been working on painting from the hoof up with these Hagen figures, so next in my list after the saddleblankets and pistol holders are done will be the riders themselves. As you can see, I’ve made a start with the coats but there’s plenty more to do before they’re fit to command the Army of Advent.

General St. Nicholas and Staff

As mentioned in the last post, after a call for some suggestions of figures which could represent the staff officers of my Army of Advent, John at Just Needs Varnish came up with a corker of a suggestion that I should check out Hagen Miniatures of Germany. A quick look at their extensive range of 7YW Prussian staff convinced me that I’d plump for them.

They’ve come through the post super quick from Deutschland and they’re glued ready for paint. First up, I have the Commander-in-Chief of the Army of Advent:

1. General Sir Rudolf St. Nicholas

The figure is actually ‘der alte Fritz’ himself, King Frederick the Great of Prussia. Pleasingly, the figure comes with three alternative top halves including choices of a raised sword, a lowered sword and a raised hat. I wanted General St. Nicholas to be as distinctive as possible so have gone with the dramatic raised hat pose. The other two redundant poses are below:


2. Major-General Minns-Pye (Chief of Staff)

The most senior member of General St. Nicholas’ staff is Adjutant-General, Chief of Staff and effective Second-in-Command, Major-General Minns-Pye.


3. Major-General Stockingfiller (Quartermaster-General)

The figure below will represent the QMG, Major-General Stockingfiller. The horses are quite distinctive; rather skinny with long faces. I like them, perfect for the project, being full of character. They remind me of the cartoon character Lucky Luke’s horse, Jolly Jumper


4. Lieutenant-Colonel Figgypudding (Military Secretary)

Finally, we have the General’s dependable right-hand man – the energetic Military Secretary, Lt.-Col. Figgypudding.

All in all, a nice little group for the General Staff of my Army of Advent!

Revealing the New Uniform of the Yule Grenadiers

Here they are, the new-look Yule Grenadiers!

The new figures are from HaT’s 7YW Austrian Infantry Marching set. The set also comes with musketeer figures which I ultimately intend to make use of for the 1st Noel Regiment of Foot and also for a sister battalion, the 2nd Noel!

Left: Revell and Right: HaT Yule Grenadiers

There a still a few things to attend to with this regiment. Their commanding officer, the recently returned Colonel Giftrapp and his horse Pandoro, needs a little work and a snowy base creating. The ensign has a pole but is notably flagless at the moment. Firstly, my daughter is supposed to be designing a second colour at some point, the first colour featuring a Christmas pudding was created five years ago. The intention is for the first colour to be a kind of King’s Colour with this second colour as the Regimental Colour. Further complicating production matters is that my printer is kaput!

So, keeping faith with tradition, the uniform is largely the same as the older Revell versions. However, the gold grenadier cap which they wore is now a brown fur cap instead.

I’ve enjoyed getting my creative juices going again with my fanciful Army of Advent. Recently, I put out the question as to where I could find some senior officers for the army and received some terrific great suggestions in return. Many thanks for that guys, I’ve decided to go with German manufacturer Hagen Miniatures and have just received some fabulous senior staff through the post lickety split. More on those soon!