Last week, I was granted the privilege to vote in this year's Golden Foot Awards to follow my attendance at last year's ceremony. I will not reveal my nominees but, as a side question, I was also asked for my favourite footballers of all time.
My answers? Eric Cantona, Johan Cruyff, Zinedine Zidane and Steve Burr. The first three need little introduction, though I am not quite old enough to have seen Cruyff's golden era. My admiration for him draws from poring over the old videos and coming to the decision that he is the player I would most like to have seen in the flesh.
But what of Steve Burr, my wilfully obscure other choice? A Wikipedia search will reveal to you that he is current manager of Conference National side Kidderminster Harriers and not much else beside. The key to my ardour lies in his 1984-1992 spell at Macclesfield Town, where, as a barrel-chested part-time HGV-driving goal machine, his scoring feats powered the Silkmen to many a famous day - if you're from Macc, that is.
The hero of my hometown club's halcyon days in the old GM Vauxhall Conference, and some memorable runs in the FA Cup, it was the Scotland-born Burr that gave me my first trip to Wembley, when his goals blew away Dartford in the FA Trophy semi-final on April 15 1989, the day of the Hillsborough disaster. Burr was blunted in the subsequent final by Telford United as Macc lost 1-0 but he and his team-mates were still granted an open-top bus tour of Macclesfield town centre, which probably took about five minutes.
The weekend saw me back at the Silkmen's Moss Rose ground for the first time in a couple of years, though I have managed to catch them on some of their various trips to London since. A family commitment meant I was forced to turn down a freebie for Manchester United's demolition job on Bolton and instead view the visit of Cheltenham Town and a vital relegation six-pointer. These days, Macc are a Football League club, having achieved what once seemed the impossible dream of gaining that status in 1997, and they proudly remain one of the longest-lasting newly-promoted clubs.
Save for one promotion, achieved at the first attempt and which gave, for one season, the surreal sight of Macclesfield Town and Manchester City in the same division, and a play-off semi-final in 2004-05, the pickings have been slim for the Silkmen faithful. A number of cup ties with Premier League clubs may have yielded civic pride but they also gave rise to heavy thumpings at Coventry City and Chelsea.
It’s sad to say, but Macclesfield's piece of the limelight this season came with the sudden death of manager Keith Alexander. And while a hardy group of fans still sang his name and a banner was placed on an empty terrace to commemorate a popular man, there was little sense of a legacy being put in place. Since Alexander's death, his players have pulled themselves from the brink of relegation with three wins in six matches. That will have to do for now.
Those of us who spend most of our time in the highfalutin footballing world of the Premier and Champions leagues may often see a chance to visit the lower leagues as some kind of due-paying for dining too richly at the top tables. Not so Saturday's encounter, a game as execrable as I believe I have ever seen, with only Stockport County 0-0 Hull City in 1991 to rival it. There was a goal, a vital one in fact, when Macc's Ben Wright bundled home after Cheltenham's keeper had made a horrid mess to likely retain that League status for another year.
As much as I am far happier to place £14 in the pockets of the Silkmen than those of the Glazer clan, it still felt a waste of money. And I felt doubly cheated when I recalled that Cheltenham's last away game finished 6-5.
Perhaps the rub is that my exposure to the elite has made me unable to derive much enjoyment of the baser level of the game. I would hope not. The cheese and onion pie, the watery tea and the chance to stand where we liked all appealed. I could even set aside the monstrous odour constantly emanating from someone's undercarriage after they had clearly enjoyed a heavy night the previous evening. After all, the game itself stunk far more. And then there is the fact that the casual interloper rarely recognises any of the players. The Bosman ruling and clubs' reluctance to offer more than one-year contracts, means that League Two squads often almost completely change from season to season. Only goalkeeper Jonny Brain and late sub Izak Reid are in any way familiar to me. John Rooney, brother of you all know who, rode pine for the afternoon.
As all 1,572 of us made our dazed way away from the ground, it was difficult to feel anything but sympathy for those who might consider such torture as being a regular thing to be endured. Of course, those in my group agreed that it was much better in the old days, with one of us even yearning for a return to the innocence of the semi-pro days - the logic being that Macc fans can only expect another season of struggle and to be saved by next season's equivalent of Darlington and Grimsby Town, this season's candidates for the Conference.
Not, then, the type of scenario that Messrs Cantona, Cruyff and Zidane ever found themselves in. Steve Burr, though, would have been man enough to prosper. If only Macc could find his like again.