Macclesfield Town’s Buildbase FA Trophy Final appearance this weekend will be the next step on their progression according to manager John Askey.
As a player Askey represented the Silkmen over six seasons during his playing career and is in his second spell as the club’s manager.
During that second spell he has led the club through some tough times.
Budget cutbacks and struggles to pay VAT bills have made Askey’s job even more difficult but he has managed to help the club progress since his appointment in April 2013.
In his first full season in charge he led the club to the Third Round of the FA Cup, taking Sheffield Wednesday to a replay before losing 4-1 at Hillsborough.
In 2014/15 the Silkmen finished in sixth place in non-league’s top tier, just one point outside of the play-off positions.
And last season he led them to a tenth place finish, as they continued to progress under his leadership.
This season they have put in a strong challenge for a play-off spot and they beat Walsall in the FA Cup First Round before exiting the competition at the hands of Oxford United in the next round.
Now Askey believes that a day out at Wembley can be reward for those that have stuck with the club through some tough times.
He said “It has been a tough four years, I don’t shy away from that.
“Times have been tough, it has been a struggle but days like we will have at Wembley will make it worthwhile.
“This is our reward for persisting with what we believed in.
“People have stuck with us and it is still a struggle but Wembley will be a reward for the hard work that everybody at the club, including the supporters, has put in over the last four years”
And the supporters have played their part with not only vocal support but with financial support too.
At the start of the season with the Silkmen struggling with a low budget in a competitive National League, supporters helped launch a fund to support the manager.
In total around £45,000 was raised, allowing Askey to make new additions to his squad.
Slowly but surely the performances and results improved and Askey is grateful to the Moss Ross faithful for their help.
“We were struggling to start with this season. We had one of the lowest budgets in the league and the supporters got together to help us.
“They raised around £45,000 and they meant we could bring in some new players. Without that extra money I am not sure what would have happened but there is no doubt that they helped us in a big way.
“We are very grateful for that and we hope we have repaid them with a visit to Wembley”
The Silkmen have given their supporters some great memories this season.
Askey’s side have been mentioned as one of the strongest in the National League.
Their play-off push and FA Cup run brought fresh hope that they can return to the Football League for the first time since 2012.
But now Askey hopes that they can end an impressive campaign by lifting the Buildbase FA Trophy on Non-League Finals Day.
“It has been a good season but it could be better.
“Obviously we had a good FA Cup run and I said at the time that helped pay a VAT bill that needed paying.
“We have had a good play-off challenge and have progressed as the season went on.
“We want to go and enjoy Wembley, enjoy the day and the occasion and it will be a nice way to end the season”
Not that Askey is only going to Wembley to enjoy the day.
He knows that they face a tough task as they face a York City side that were recently relegated from the National League.
Since the appointment of Gary Mills earlier in the season the Minstermen have invested in, what Askey calls “Football League players”.
The likes of Jon Parkin, Amari Morgan-Smith and Simon Lappin have joined the club as they attempted to move away from the lower reaches of the National League table.
And Askey is relishing the task of facing Mills and his players.
“We aren’t fooled by their league performances this season” said the Silkmen boss.
“They have invested in Football League players, they have spent heavily to try and survive.
“It is a big challenge but it is one that we are up for. It should be a great game and we are confident we can get the result we all want”
And the Moss Rose faithful will be there to show their support for Askey and his side come Non-League Finals Day.
Tickets are still available for the Buildbase FA Vase and Buildbase FA Trophy Finals. If you want to be at Wembley for Non-League Finals Day click here to buy tickets.
This interview features in Non-League Daily’s ‘Road to Wembley Guide 2017’ and was produced in association with the Football Association and Buildbase.
Article: Mark Carruthers (@marknldaily)
Images: The FA/Reuters Media