Monday, December 19, 2005

News and Star: 2,303 cram in for FC United visit

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Source: News and Star (Cumbria)

Published on 19/12/2005

FOR months people had been talking about this game, for months the excitement had been building - it didn’t disappoint.

Okay so Holker lost 2-0 to the might of FC United, the breakaway club formed by disenchanted Manchester United fans after the Malcolm Glazer takeover, but this wasn’t just about what happened on the pitch.

What this game will be remembered for will be the quite astonishing atmosphere created by a huge crowd of more than 2,303.

The Holker players - more used to playing in front of no more than 50 people at their Rakesmoor Lane home - probably had to pinch themselves when out of the Craven Park tunnel they came to be greeted by a deafening wall of noise.

And for 90 minutes it didn’t stop.

Thousands of travelling FC United fans had been signing about coming to Barrow for weeks on end, and they were here to enjoy themselves.

Packed onto the terracing at the Hindpool Road end of Barrow RL’s home, the Red Army sung their hearts out and waved their scarves as if they were back on the Stretford End of Old Trafford in the good old days.

In the second half, when the sea of red and white moved onto the Popular Side, the chanting moved with them.

When their side eventually scored, the rafters of the 74-year-old rugby ground probably shook, such was the noise.

This was something very special indeed. Yes, a big pay-day for Holker, but also a day to cherish for all concerned at the club.

On the pitch, the game was decided in the space of three second half minutes when a quick-fire double ensured FC United would be returning home to celebrate Christmas with another three points.

Up until then Holker - sixth bottom of North West Counties Division Two going into the game - had just about held their own against the runaway league leaders.

But with pressure mounting FC United took the lead on 64 minutes through a stunning Simon Carden strike.

The midfielder’s left-foot half-volley from 20 yards left Holker keeper Ross Liddicott no chance as it flew just inside his left upright.

Carden, though, shouldn’t really have been given the space to fire home following a Josh Howard through ball which should have been cut out by Holker defender Barry Stevens.

Three minutes later it was 2-0 as Adie Orr chipped the ball over Liddicott from just outside the box.

The striker profited from a sliced clearance from Stevens which went almost vertically up into the air and back down again.

As it bounced Orr reacted quickest, getting his toe end to the ball and lifting it over the helpless Liddicott.

The second goal killed the game off as a contest, and had it not been for smart stops by Liddicott the visitors could have added to their tally as Holker - who had given so much - tired.

The home side - who had taken to the boxing gym in preparation for the big game - actually had the better of the first-half, and had they been more clinical in front of goal could have been in front at the break.

Top goalscorer Paul Southward will probably more disappointed than most not to have hit the back of the net after having some glorious chances.

But, unable to take their opportunities, Holker were punished in the second period as FC United upped their game.