Source: Accrington Observer
"WEREN’T Stanley away this weekend?" came the confused cry of a war veteran making his way up Whalley Road after the Remembrance Day parade on Sunday.
The gent was right, but his curiosity remained high as he called into the Crown Inn – packed with football fans donned in 1970s-style red and white bar scarves.
FC United of Manchester were in town, bringing with them their unique brand of ‘punk football’ on a crusade to bring the beautiful game back to its working class roots.
Formed by disillusioned Manchester United supporters after Malcolm Glazer’s takeover, FC United regularly attract more than 2,500 supporters to their games – nine divisions down from the Premiership.
They campaign for lower ticket prices, lower player wages and a return to regular 3pm Saturday kick-offs, free from the influence of Sky Sports.
And it is all going well so far with FC United topping the North West Counties Division Two but last Sunday, they faced their biggest test so far - against Division One side Colne in the NWCL Challenge Cup with the game switched to Stanley’s Interlink Express Stadium to cope with demand.
In fact, 2,762 people witnessed an entertaining 2-1 win for Colne to set a new highest attendance at the ground this season.
Before the game, a two-minute silence in memory of fallen war heroes was impeccably observed and a high-spirited atmosphere continued throughout the match.
And despite being knocked out of the cup, visiting supporters kept the party going long afterwards.
And the verdict from behind the bar, Crown Inn landlady Barbara Thistlethwaite said: "We are used to getting different away fans when Stanley play at home, but this was a bit different.
"The atmosphere was a lot more jovial. The fans were singing all afternoon, but there was no swearing and everyone was so well behaved."
She added: "They treated the place with respect and all wore poppies too. I would definitely welcome them back anytime."
The Oaklea club’s general manager Brian Harkness said: "The bar was absolutely packed all day – before and after the game.
"It was a really jolly atmosphere and there wasn’t a hint of aggravation all day.
"About a hundred of the fans came in after the game had finished and joined in with our Sunday afternoon entertainment. It was brilliant."
FC United of Manchester return to Accrington on 28 January when they play Great Harwood Town.
First published by the Accrington Observer