Mauro Boselli’s rocket shot at Bournemouth on Tuesday was eventful in more ways than one. Once more he showed the kind of clinical finishing that Latics have desperately lacked in the Premier League this season. The big question is whether he will ever be able to show such finishing in the Premier League. Roberto Martinez has been reluctant to put him in there, but has the time come for a change of heart? In any event, Boselli’s goal was enough to beat Bournemouth and set up a fascinating match at Macclesfield.
Macclesfield Town is a special name for those Wigan Athletic supporters who remember the club’s non-league era. My first sight of the ‘Silkmen’ was at Springfield Park in autumn of 1961, when the reigning Cheshire County League champions were visiting. Latics had only just got back into the league, at the expense of Wigan Rovers, after being relegated in 1947. However, they had finished in second place in the Lancashire Combination and were holding their own in the Cheshire League.This match proved to be a rude awakening for Wigan. Macc’s silver-haired player-manager, Frank Bowyer, led his team to a 4-1 rout. Macclesfield were to finish second and Wigan fifth at the end of the season.
Macclesfield proved to be formidable opponents for Wigan over the next couple of decades. A visit to their Moss Rose ground was to be feared and Latics often came unstuck there. One exception was a Boxing Day fixture on a snow-bound pitch in 1964 when Carl Davenport’s volley was the difference between the two sides. That was the season when Harry Lyon scored his 66 goals and Latics won the league, Macc finishing second. Both Wigan and Macclesfield joined the newly created Northern Premier League in 1968, each club winning the championship twice before Wigan got elected into the Football League 10 years later.
The fortunes of the clubs have differed greatly since those days. Wigan are in their eighth season in the Premier League and Macclesfield back in the Conference after 15 years in the Football League. There are people who knock Wigan Athletic’s success, but the reality is that Latics are four divisions above their old rivals. A remarkable achievement.