Friday, December 30, 2005

Why the clouds of 2005 have a silver lining

Why the clouds of 2005 have a silver lining
Source: The Guardian

FC United's Tony Howard looks back on a year that supporters in Manchester won't forget in a hurry

Friday December 30, 2005

The year 2005 has been described as an annus horribilis by supporters of Manchester United: their team finished the 2004-05 season trophyless; Roy Keane left in acrimonious circumstances; a poor Liverpool side somehow won the European Cup, and United then crashed out before even reaching the group stages of this season's competition. However, surely the biggest blow of them all came in the merry month of May when Old Trafford was invaded by Americans.

Article continues
The Glazer takeover saw the club plunged into massive debt by people with no love for the game and a sole interest in profit. It felt like the world had ended as many of us gave up our most prized possessions in the world - our season tickets - because, in our eyes, Manchester United as we knew it was no more. Yet FC United of Manchester's formation has provided a chink of light in the darkest of years.

It was with heavy heart that we swapped Old Trafford for Gigg Lane and many friendships and even family relationships were damaged by the decision to depart Old Trafford. Despite the sad instances of infighting amidst the red half of Manchester, those of us who made the move have been rewarded with an amazing ride over the last five months.

We've been to football grounds we never knew existed. We've been to places we'd never heard of and all the time we've rediscovered the joys that only watching football can bring. We've even seen our team score 10 goals in a game (against Castleton Gabriels), been to Accrington Stanley (v Colne) and we've still got a 'European away-day' to look forward to at Blackpool in February (v Blackpool Mechanics).

We now look forward to trips to places like Leek or Barrow and wonder whether there'll be boozers near the ground or what the stands will be like - just as last season we felt the same about trips to more glamorous destinations on the continent. None of us takes any joy as we watch the downward spiral happening at our spiritual home in M16, but I'm sure few of us have any regrets.

And as FC United end 2005 11 points clear at the top of North West Counties Division Two, with crowds regularly topping 3,000, we are sure to look forward to many more days out in wild and wonderful venues in obscure towns around the region next year. Many in Manchester may be glad to see the back of 2005, but it was also the birth of a new era in United supporters' football history. And for that reason, the year will never be forgotten.