Gary Simpson proud to overcome tragedy at Macclesfield

Gary Simpson has said he will always be proud of helping Macclesfield overcome two separate tragedies while keeping the Silkmen in the Football League.

Simpson left the club in March after two years in charge, having taken control of first-team affairs following the death of Keith Alexander.

He also had to deal with the sudden loss of midfielder Richard Butcher at the age of 29 last January.

"I look back and I think I did a decent job," he told BBC Late Kick Off.

"I'm proud of what I did, to lose two of the lads that were very dear to me and keep the club going and keep the club together.

"I think it's unprecedented. We lost the gaffer and then 'Butch'.

GARY SIMPSON'S RECORD AT MACCLESFIELD

  • Played 111 (in all competitions)
  • Won 32
  • Drew 32
  • Lost 47
  • Guided the club to final positions of 19th and 15th in League Two

"On top of that, you've got the restraints that we've got at the football club.

"The owners previously had backed the club tremendously well, but in my time there was no inward investment.

"If it wasn't for the chairman (Mike Rance), Andy Scott (vice-chairman) and myself, there wouldn't be a club there next year."

Simpson's managerial reign began in tragic circumstances.

Alexander collapsed at home, just hours after watching Macclesfield play a League Two game at Notts County.

His passing at the age of 53 stunned football, and it was left to Simpson to somehow lift a group of players grieving for the loss of their manager.

"In terms of the emotional stuff, it was difficult, but it gave us a sense of wanting to do it for him," said Simpson, who had served as part of Alexander's coaching staff for more than a decade.

"In some ways, it kept you busy and gave you a purpose to keep going."

Continue reading the main story

I'm constantly looking at their results and I'm praying that they can find the points necessary to keep them in there

Gary Simpson

Macclesfield won six, drew four and lost four of their remaining 14 matches and ended the season 19th in League Two.

By this stage, Simpson had been handed the job on a permanent basis, but he would again be forced to deal with tragedy at the start of 2011.

Butcher died from a heart condition, less than two weeks before his 30th birthday.

"I had a lot of time for the kid," added Simpson, 51. "I found him on a wet and windy night at Halifax and the lads used to call him my illegitimate son because they thought he was like my pet.

"It hit the players a lot harder because he was one of them. It was more difficult to pick them up and get them back on the job of trying to keep us in the league again."

The Silkmen finished 15th in the fourth tier in 2010-11 and started this season in positive fashion but, having failed to win a match in 2012, Simpson parted company with Macclesfield on 18 March and was replaced by Brian Horton.

"I could understand why they did it, but I questioned it because I thought I was getting the maximum out of what we had got," said Simpson.

"I'm constantly looking at their results and I'm praying that they can find the points necessary to keep them in there."

With two games of the season remaining, Macclesfield are bottom of the Football League, three points from safety and still without a victory in the calendar year.