Thursday November 3, 2005
Source: The Guardian
Tony Howard, one of the founders of FC United, explains why the current malaise at Old Trafford brings him no joy whatsoever.
The lack of an FC United match this weekend left time for contemplation and the chance to watch Sir Alex Ferguson and his squad slumping to defeat at the Riverside and in Paris against Lille. The results highlighted several issues for followers of the 'other' United: were FC fans pleased to see Malcolm Glazer's new toy struggling, or did it still hurt to see MUFC humiliated?
In recent months I've been regularly asked: "How do you feel about Manchester United now? Do you want them to lose? Do you still watch their games? Will you go back to Old Trafford if Glazer leaves?"
None have black and white, right or wrong answers, but I took no joy from United's humiliation. People can't get their head around it and accuse us of committing the ultimate sin by 'changing' teams. If anyone asks my colours I still answer 'Manchester United' because FC to me is another branch of the red tree.
Reds have reacted in various ways. At one end of the scale, Old Trafford 'loyalists' find FC a treasonable act - they brand the rebels 'splitters'. On the other hand, some gave up season tickets out of principal and label the 'wait and see brigade' as 'scabs' for financially supporting Glazer's regime.
The majority sit somewhere between. Many do both; they enjoy FC games that don't clash with 'big United' while still continuing their patronage of Old Trafford. Some may not have set foot inside the ground since Glazer's takeover and now follow FC, but will still watch Fergie's men on television too.
Whereas the fantastic AFC Wimbledon supporters had little choice but form their own club when it was physically taken from them, Manchester United fans have actually made the choice to 'physically' walk away and start again.
One thing is certain - whether we're 'splitters' or 'scabs' we are all United and most fans have remained friends whatever their personal stance. FC is as much part of the Manchester United family as Fergie's team, because the supporters make a football club, not bricks and mortar.