Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Guardian: Sad passing puts the game into perspective

Source: The Guardian

FC United's Tony Howard joins the mourning for one of the men whose tireless work helped establish the club

Wednesday November 9, 2005

It was a sad week for FC United of Manchester as one of the driving forces behind the formation and running of the club passed away. Board member Russell Delaney died following a long illness on Tuesday, the day before the club's North West Counties Division Two fixture with Chadderton was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.

Russ was a popular figure who was instrumental in Manchester United fans' seeing off Rupert Murdoch in 1999 and the battle against Malcolm Glazer, before working tirelessly behind the scenes to set up the new club.

His belief that fans should be the most important part of any football club is the very essence of what FC United stands for, and without his expertise as a financial advisor and his contacts within the game, the club may never have got off the ground.

Despite his ill health he travelled from his home in the south east to Manchester for months on end. He was invaluable in earning the support of the Football Association and getting the club accepted in the North West Counties League, as well as calling on past experience to negotiate the player's contracts.

He will be sadly missed by everyone who follows both Uniteds. As FC's general manager Andy Walsh said: "The United family and football itself are poorer for his passing."

Wednesday's clash with Chadderton was therefore set to be an emotional occasion - until the Manchester weather intervened. Gigg Lane was soaked and at around 11am the match was postponed; the word spread, but inevitably some supporters still turned up expecting a football match. However, all was not lost, and a complimentary curry was laid on and the management and players were on hand to hold an impromptu meet and greet session.

Then on Saturday, a bumper 2,000-plus crowd saw a drab 0-0 draw against Eccleshall and FC miss a chance to go five points clear at the top. But any disappointment was put into perspective as players wore black armbands in memory of one of the men who helped put them on that pitch in the first place.