Friday, December 09, 2005

The Guardian: Long Live Punk Football

Source: The Guardian

Tony Howard explains how FC United have found themselves at the forefront of the game's newest sub-culture

Friday December 9, 2005

An anarchists' book fayre is probably the last place you'd expect to find a football club, but FC United had a starring role at a Manchester event last weekend. Among the anti-capitalist, anti-establishment, anti-ID card and anti-everything literature, I discovered a piece on our erstwhile football club.

"F'CUM Punk football!" screamed the back page of issue 79 of 'Resistance - the anarchist bulletin', with the author lamenting "the start of the end for commercial football".

Let's get one thing straight, I never set out deliberately to go there; I simply wandered in off the street after getting caught short en route to Macclesfield for FC's latest adventure against New Mills in the divisional cup. I was therefore pleasantly surprised to discover just how far the club has impacted upon alternative culture.

Fans have long promoted FCUM as purveyors of 'punk football' after the phrase was coined on independent fans' website, while FC fanzine Under the Boardwalk recently had a 'Punk issue' and there are banners bearing the slogan at matches.

And save for manager Martyn Margetson wearing a nose ring and wing wizard Steve Torpey swapping his mullet for a Mohawk, the phrase is perfectly apt. As the punk movement grew through fans' distaste of the mainstream music they were being served, so FC United has hatched, and currently thrives on football supporters' dissatisfaction with mainstream football.

Punk had no rules and the very essence of anarchy is the principle of 'self policing', a process replicated at FC games where the local constabularies no longer provide a significant presence at matches. Even the initials FCUM provide a perfect punk slogan; custom-made to be sprayed on a press-studded leather jacket. The dodgy barnets sported by Messrs Torpey and Rory Patterson also add to the shock factor so loved by punks.

So there you have it - as 1976 was the defining year for punk music then 2005 is year zero for 'punk football'. We can only hope our own brand of anarchy will succeed where punk failed and we'll see the hierarchy fall as we claim back the game that is rightfully ours.

Incidentally, Torpey, mullet et al, swapped his infamous thong for a pair of Speedo's in the driving Cheshire rain, scoring a hat-trick in the 5-0 win. All against a backdrop of supporters pogoeing across the terraces to a beat of their own. Long live punk football.