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Thursday, 24 April 2014

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Macauley's fond memories of Barrow AFC

VAUXHALL boss Carl Macauley knows exactly what it takes to motor into non-league’s top division as he achieved the feat with Barrow more than 15 years ago.

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SUCCESSFUL SPELL Carl Macauley in his Barrow AFC days, during which time he helped them win the Unibond Premier Division title. Below, Karl Marginson’s decisive goal against Boston United

The 42-year-old former right-back made 97 appearances for the Holker Street outfit between 1996-99. And one of the proudest moments of his career was playing a leading role in helping Owen Brown’s AFC side win the Unibond Premier League – the equivalent level of today’s Conference North – in 1998.

“Barrow is a lovely and massive club that has a big following,” said Macauley. “I was really proud to represent them.

“Looking back to 1998, we had a good winning side. We had a mixture of boys from Liverpool, Manchester and obviously we had the Welsh lad (Marc Coates) in there. So there was a good variety of boys and we did really well to win the championship.”

The Bluebirds clinched the Unibond title with two games to spare after Karl Marginson’s winner handed them a decisive 1-0 home win over their nearest rivals Boston United.

And the achievement even rivalled Macauley’s joy at helping little Burscough claim a famous 2-1 FA Trophy final success over Tamworth five years later.

“That Boston home game stands out the most because they were in second place and the win clinched the league for us,” added Macauley.

“Helping Barrow win the league is right up there in my career as it was a great achievement for me and the club. There is only one thing that probably beats it for me, and that’s winning the FA Trophy with Burscough and captaining the club at Villa Park that day.

“But I would say that Barrow team was the best one I ever played in. For one, we won a championship and to do that you need to be a good side. There was a good understanding between the players over what to do on the pitch.

“The atmosphere at Barrow was really good, it is a family club and always will be. It’s a club that is close to my heart.”

While Macauley arrived at Barrow from Lancaster he featured in the first part of Barrow’s 1998-99 Nationwide Conference campaign before joining Telford.

He was re-appointed as Motormen boss in late 2011 having previously been in the Rivacre Park hot-seat over a prolonged period – including a five-year spell – and the ex-Liverpool Academy coach has continued to work wonders at a former works team who are celebrating their 50th anniversary.

While Vauxhall finished a very respectable 12th in the Conference North last season, they currently sit 10th after winning four and drawing two of their 11 league games.

Those records are quite a feat considering that Macauley must be armed with one of the smallest budgets in the division, although the Cheshire and Merseyside areas provide an excellent catchment area for the Ellesmere Port outfit.

And Vauxhall emulated Barrow’s feat last weekend by bouncing back from two successive league defeats – against Brackley and North Ferriby United – to progress in the FA Cup as Macauley’s men secured a 3-1 win at Carlton Town.

Commenting on his side’s form this season, Macauley said: “I’m really pleased with the way things have gone so far. We’re doing really well and we’re in the middle of the table which is really good for the time being.

“But we know that, as always, we’ve got some tough games coming up and you can be just as sure it will be a big game against Barrow tomorrow.

“So we’ve just got to go out there and look to carry on what we’ve been doing. We’re not a million miles away from all the clubs who are in the play-offs.

“We went to Brackley and narrowly got beat 2-1 and then we played North Ferriby at home and narrowly got beat 1-0. So that shows that we’re not a million miles away from these big clubs.”

Dave Bayliss’s side head into the clash trailing the Motormen by six places and five points.

Macauley said: “To be fair, we haven’t really had time to get a look at Barrow.

“It’s surprised me that they have had a poor start but I’m sure they will regroup and will kick-start their season. I think it’s a team that is under-achieving at the moment because I’m sure Dave will get them going again.”

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