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.
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?
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.
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?!!! …