Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Guardian: We all know that Torpey wears a thong

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Source: The Guardian: We all know that Torpey wears a thong

'We all know that Torpey wears a thong'

FC United's Tony Howard discovers that supporters' lyrical enthusiasm remains inspired - even in the North West Counties League

Wednesday October 26, 2005

One of the traditional attractions of top-flight football has always been the vocal interaction between supporters. But, this season, fans who have traded Old Trafford for FC United are finding new means of entertaining themselves off the pitch.

With few, if any, away fans in the North West Counties League to aim songs at, the red army have created a series of anthems that every man, woman and ball-boy joins in with. Unlike at Old Trafford, where a simple shout of "United!" would be greeted with quizzical looks from tourists, at Gigg Lane a new choral community has flourished.

"Marginson's fruit and veg army" take their name from the contents of manager and delivery driver Karl Marginson's van. Accompanying songs range from United classics to an adaption of Spandau Ballet's 'Gold' for striker Aidie Orr. "Always believe in the Orr, he's got the power to score, he's indestructible," they sing. He's responded with 12 goals, including two in the 5-0 win over Nelson on Saturday.

At one recent trip to the pub, the players let slip Steve Torpey's choice of underwear. Ever since he has been regaled with: "We all know that Torpey wears a thong," to the tune of Yellow Submarine.

The opposition goalkeepers receive a warm welcome; a favourite among fans up and down the land, the Kaiser Chiefs' 'I Predict A Riot' has become "I predict a diet" for portly custodians. To their great credit, visiting players have lapped it up.

There's even banter between 'rival' stands with many claiming the Main Stand is replacing the 'Singing End' as the place to go. But the songs that sum up the ethos of the club are still aimed at current employees of Malcolm Glazer.

Rio Ferdinand's summer contract drama has inspired, to The Inspiral Carpets' hit 'This is How it Feels', "I don't care about Rio, he don't care about me. All I care about is watching FC."

And even Sir Alex Ferguson isn't spared. In response to his comment that fans unhappy with Old Trafford should go watch Chelsea, he is mocked to Salford-inspired 'Dirty Old Town', made famous by The Pogues. "And Fergie said: 'Go and watch Chelsea'. Are you having a laugh? We'll be watching FC." Having a laugh we are - away fans or not.

Visit website: for further details

Monday, October 24, 2005

Irish Daily Star: Sweet FC For Angry Reds



Date: 24/10/05
Source: Irelands Daily Star (No Online version)

Disgruntled Manchester United fan Richie Evans swapped Old Trafford for FC United - the breakaway team formed in protest to the Glazer takeover.

I WAS THERE; front row seat, soaked to the skin; on the night, twelve months ago, when the 'Unbeatables' were stopped in their tracks.
Arsenal were beaten 2-0 by a resolute Manchester United side, urged on by an impassioned rain-battered Old Trafford crowd.
I was at Old Trafford many more times last season, but that night now just reminds me of what has been lost. It'll be a long time before I take a place in the Streford End again.
Having invested time,money and, more significantly, my emotions in Shareholder Uniteds determined, but unsuccessful, campaign to prevent the Glazer takeover, I , like many other United supporters, cannot support my club under Glazer.
I'm still a United Supporter. A lifetime's support, born watching 'Pancho' Pearson's glorious opener in the 1977 FA Cup Final against Liverpool, doesn't disappear overnight.But I won't watch them at Old Trafford and put money into Glazer's pockets.
It felt odd then to be back in Manchester two weeks ago,with a destination of Bury's Gigg Lane instead of Old Trafford, for my first FC United of Manchester game. The Breakaway club ,formed back in June using E147,000 raised from 3,000 disgruntled Manchester United supporters, plays in the North West Counties league Division 2.
Some of the FC United regulars still go to Old Trafford, but many more handed back their season tickets. For those completely leaving Manchester Utd. behind, it was a huge wrench, though none were sorry to bid farewell to rising ticket prices and the sterile match-day experience.
Scott Taylor, who had been going to see United for almost 40 years, admitted to a few sleepless nights when he returned his season ticket "For a while I wasn't sure i was doing the right thing. Had i been too hasty?" said Taylor, now an FC United season ticket holder "FC United provides a focal point for those of us who won't be going back to Old Trafford as long as it's in the hands of Glazer.Without it, that sense of community we enjoyed on match days, all that might well have been lost."
In a division where crowds usually number 50-150, FC United, playing in red, white and black,has become a non-league phenomenon.The average home attendance of 2,500 was smashed when a record crowd of 3,808 turned up for the game against Daisy Hill.
With England playing at Old Trafford, this game had been billed as a 'United United' day, to demonstrate to any doubting 'Big United' supporters that FC Utd is anything but the anti- Man Utd. entity some have claimed it to be.
Acting General Manager Andy Walsh, whom I found working the merchandise stall after the game, believes FC Utd can become a great example of a community-based club, run by the fans, for the fans."The feed-back we have been getting tells us that supporters have been so enthused by what they have seen on the pitch, and experienced on the terraces, that they intend to bring more friends and family."

Another ex-Man United season ticket holder, believes the heart and soul of Manchester Utd is in safe hands at Gigg Lane.
"This kind of emotion and enjoyment has been stifled at Old Trafford for years" he said. "You can come here, stand with your friends, and sing to your hearts content. Look around, everyone is smiling, and the kids love it. It's brilliant."
As this is Manchester, there has to be an Irish connection. Dubliner Phil Sheeran is on the elected FC United Board, and doubles as stadium director of operations on match days, while Derry man Rory Patterson is the clubs joint top scorer with seven goals so far this season.
"When I played for Rochdale," said Patterson, "one game against Hull was in front of 10,000, but this crowd makes the nosie of 10,000, it's unreal."
With one defeat from ten games to date, Patterson believes FC United has the players to continue the successful start to the season. "We've got a few players with league and conference experience, so there's no reason we shouldn't challenge for promotion."
Whatever happens at Old Trafford, you get the feeling FC United is here to stay. As I left Gigg Lane, I though back to my first visit to Old Trafford, the Matt Busby testimonial against an Ireland XI in August '91. Matt Busby was always one for breaking new ground, he did what he believed in. The people at FC Utd. have no doubts but that the great man would have approved.
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Sunday, October 23, 2005

Thursday, October 20, 2005

We thought Monday night football was in the past

Source: Guardian

Thursday October 20, 2005

FC United's Tony Howard enjoys Monday Night Football, without a Sky camera in sight

Manchester United fans who walked away from the Premiership to form their own club could have been forgiven for thinking that Monday Night Football was a thing of the past. Not so. For this Monday, FC United played Cheadle Town ... in Tameside.

Let me explain. Apart from the first league game away at Leek, every other opponent has had to find alternative locations to host FC's followers, with the majority of grounds in the North West Counties league unable to cope with the increased capacity required. The game against Ashton Town was one such example, having to be switched from their home near Wigan, to Northwich in Cheshire.

Article continues
Cheadle Town were confident they could host this week's League Challenge Cup encounter though, and 2,000 tickets were quickly snapped up. Nearby League Two side Stockport County were approached to hold the game originally, but according to Cheadle, the owners of their ground reportedly didn't want the footballers to "ruin the pitch". The owners of their ground? Sale Sharks rugby union club.

A temporary stand was considered but was too expensive and Cheadle assured FC United's board that the police and safety officers deemed their Park Road home acceptable.

Then, just eight days before the game, North West Counties officials visited, and in the words of Cheadle themselves, "Stockport Council's health and safety officer got involved". The game was cancelled.

A frantic rearrangement was sought and Curzon Ashton from Tameside saved the day, offering their 4,500-capacity stadium for the night - although that number was reduced on police advice. The whole episode was an example of the difficulties involved with running a brand new club with a large support at non-league level.

However, these problems were soon forgotten as the 2,500 in attendance witnessed a terrific cup tie, played in a fantastic atmosphere. Adie Orr, a former Manchester City youngster, fired the club's first hat-trick to help United win 5-1.

The supporters did what they had done for years before the introduction of Sky and Monday Night Football. They stood on the terraces and sang their hearts out.

FC United play home games at Gigg Lane, Bury and reduced season tickets for the rest of the season are now available at £84 for adults, £52 for OAPs and £21 for under 18s. Visit website for more information

Seeing red in England - Manchester United fans' message to Glazers is still clear

Source: Edited from: NY Daily News

Part of the campaign is against modern corporate sport itself. European soccer fans have had the same complaints as many American sports fans: ticket prices are too high, the crowds are too corporate, the athletes too aloof.

"It's not like it used to be, people singing the entire 90 minutes," Bones says.

Some fans have responded by establishing their own clubs. FC United of Manchester, for instance, started playing this summer in a league the equivalent of low Single-A baseball, with donors kicking in the startup costs and more than 1,000 players coming to a tryout. They have drawn as many as 3,000 to some games and will move up to the next division next season if they continue to win.

"FC United came about partly in response to Glazer, but also because of the disassociation of modern football," Houston says. "I've been to a few, and yes, people are reconnecting. They can stand up, drink, smoke, swear, whatever. It's less about the football on the pitch. It's not just trophies and silverware, it's all the people singing at the same time the whole match."

It's a tough tradeoff for some. They don't want the Glazers to succeed, and they don't want Man U. to fail. They want to enjoy the familial, affordable atmosphere of the FC United games, but when they want to watch the best players in the world they turn on the television or watch at a pub.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The FA: Standing United

Source: The FA Website

Standing United

By Tony Incenzo. Tuesday, 18 October 2005.

FC United of Manchester were formed in the summer by disillusioned Manchester United fans.

The new club play their home games at Bury FC's Gigg Lane ground and are currently top of the Moore & Co Construction Solicitors (North West Counties) League Division Two.

Club spokesman Andy Walsh talks to about the new club.

Q. Andy, how pleasing is it to see the new club thriving?
A. Everyone connected with FC United is very happy with the progress we have made both on and off the pitch. Last week, we had two home gates in excess of 3,000. In fact the attendance of 3,808 versus Daisy Hill on 8 October was our best so far. Those crowds have exceeded all the expectations we had when we started the club back in the summer.

Q. How much effort did it take to get FC United off the ground?
A. It required an immense amount of work by a lot of people. We had to ensure that the club was properly constituted and that we made proper applications to The FA and the North West Counties League.

None of that could have been achieved without the efforts of many fans connected to the club. And also we are grateful for the support and advice we received from others in the non-league game, plus the NWCL and the Manchester County FA as well.

Q. Everything moved quite quickly didn't it?
A. Yes. Back in May when Mr Glazer made his move for Manchester United, we very quickly decided that something had to be done for all those fans who would no longer be going along to support Glazer's business.

We wanted to keep that community together. It wasn't a question of being anti-Manchester United. We just wanted to link all those people who were opposed to Glazer and who had pledged not to give any of their money to back him.

Q. How is the groundsharing at Bury FC going?
A. It has been very successful and we are very grateful to their directors for all the assistance they have given us.

We have a groundsharing arrangement with them for this season and an option to continue into the next campaign as well. But we have already started to explore the possibilities of actually establishing a ground of our own.

Q. What are the options there?
A. It would take a lot of work and discussions are at a very early stage at the moment. But it is something we feel obliged to plan for.

Q. You are top of the league so can you keep it going?
A. We've had a good start on the pitch and the players are starting to bond now. It is very difficult to get a team to gel straight away, so the manager and coaches have done a wonderful job.

Q. What reaction have you had from other clubs in your league?
A. Opposing players have let us know that they have enjoyed playing in front of our crowds. And opposing clubs have benefited financially. So everyone is a winner all round.

Q. What is the future potential?
A. At the moment, we are still reeling from the success we have had. We have set ourselves some targets as a board in terms of developing the club. The supporters themselves have plenty of ideas about how matters should move forward over the course of the next few months.

Things are still at a very early stage. But any fears that we initially had that the project may not take off have now been replaced by considerations about how we can deal with the problems of growth and the enormous support that we have enjoyed.

We want to make sure that we are laying down foundations now for the long-term stability of the club. No one here sees this as a flash in the pan.

What we need to do is to make sure that the support of the fans is consolidated and that the club's future is secured.

If you'd like to find out more about FC United of Manchester, click here to visit their official website.

Cheadle 1 FC United 5

a great night out in Tameside... click the pic above for bigger version, doesn't scale down well

MEN Match report Here

My Pics are here - not too many from tonight

First Cheadle goal in blur-o-vision here

And Adies first goal for FC here

Friday, October 14, 2005

FC United fury over 'profiteering' jibes

Stuart Brennan
Source: Manchester Evening News

FC UNITED have accused Manchester United of "spectacularly missing the point" when they spoke out about the rebel club for the first time.

Old Trafford marketing director Peter Draper angered many FC United supporters when he said in that the breakaway club was just a scaled-down version of the Premiership giants.

He went on: "The most interesting thing is that they aren't letting anyone in for free. They will have a sponsor in due course. If they win promotion they will want to buy better players.

"In order to fulfil that wish they will start to sell nice butties rather than curly ones."

FC United spokesman Jules Spencer says that his club, formed in response to Malcolm Glazer's takeover and the increasing commercialisation of Manchester United, is at the opposite end of the spectrum, whatever Draper says.

"He spectacularly misses the point," said Spencer. "But we don't blame him for those views - it is indicative of the bubble that people who run the top level of football in this country, live in.

"We have never had an issue with commercialism at Manchester United, only the nature of it, and where the money is ending up - a great deal of it ended up in shareholders' pockets and now it ends up in Malcolm Glazer's pockets.

"Any money we make at FC United goes straight back into the club. Not a penny is siphoned off."


Spencer also points out that FC United now have sponsors - the main club sponsor is the Bhopal Medical Appeal charity, which helps victims of the horrific chemical spillage in India in 1984 which killed 20,000 and has left the city still in serious trouble.

"They have become sponsors because they believe in the ethos and the principles we stand for, as we believe in theirs," said Spencer. "And despite what Peter Draper says, any ticket price rises we institute will be dictated by the supporters on a one person, one vote basis.

"It is strange that Peter should mention that we don't let anyone in for free, just a couple of weeks after we let 700 kids in for free.

"He should know that it simply wouldn't be viable to let people in for free on a regular basis, but we will strive to do things like that as often as we can."

The timing of Draper's comments have interested many at FC United - it came just days after the club had a record 3,808 attendance for their 6-0 win over Daisy Hill.

FC United are getting used to such disinformation - the Padiham manager whose team faced the Rebels in the first game at Gigg Lane in August told his players in his pre-match talk that FC's players were on £600 a man and manager Karl Marginson was getting £900 a week.


That rumour has taken hold, with a whisper doing the rounds that FC have a £5,000-a-week wage bill, which is laughed off by acting general manager Andy Walsh. It also came as news to Marginson, who is still getting up at 4am to start his food delivery rounds.

But where IS the money going? When FC United took its first breath in the summer, formed by Manchester United supporters angered by Glazer's takeover, around 4,000 financial pledges raised around £100,000.

And now, with crowds flocking to Gigg Lane to witness a football revolution - fuelled by discontent with high prices, poor atmosphere and the greed endemic in the higher echelons of the game - cash is still rolling into the FC United coffers.

The last two home games have seen crowd figures of 3,110 and 3,808, giving them an average home crowd higher than hosts Bury and neighbouring Rochdale get in League Two.

For their next home game, against Nelson on October 22, FC United will open up the South Stand at Gigg Lane. Hitherto they have only opened the Manchester Road End and Main Stand.

The amazing crowds have brought in an average of around £15,000 a game, with supporters paying £7 a time and £2 for juniors. And that is without totting up the income from replica shirts, scarves, badges and other merchandise, the demand for which are far outstripping the club's current ability to supply.

The cynics have sneered that the club's founding principle, of football for the love of the game rather than for greed, have already been compromised.


Not the case, snaps Walsh, one of the leading lights in the club's formation, and now a key man in the day-to-day running of the club. "The difference is that every penny we get, through the turnstiles, or from merchandise, is going back into developing the club," he said.

"The £100,000 in donations at the start of the season gave the league, and our players, some surety that we could see the season out even if nobody had come through the turnstiles.

"But we are now in the position where we can look to expand and take our message out to a wider audience. We are also building a fund so that we can eventually have our own ground.

"We have plans for a community scheme starting in a couple of months, including a coaching programme for kids and also a chance for supporters and players to get their own coaching badges. We are also looking at a scheme to produce referees."

Stockport Express: Safety fears blow whistle on historic match

12th October 2005
Alex Scapens
Source:Stockport Express

They say the security arrangements planned for the visit of FC United to their Park Road stadium for a 2,000 sell out game on Saturday had been approved by police and North West Counties League (NWCL) bosses four weeks ago.

But at a meeting with these organisations plus Stockport Council this week the club says the decision was overturned and they were ordered to postpone the match after it was decided the ground had insufficient emergency exits.

The club now faces a potential £2,500 bill in ticket refunds, is stuck with refreshments already ordered for the day and says fans from as far away as Scandinavia have cancelled their trip.

The council say they understood the game was originally going to be played elsewhere, while the NWCL maintain the postponement decision was made as quickly as possible, only a day after receiving the specific safety arrangements at Cheadle’s ground, including the emergency exit provisions.

A council spokesman said: We understood the game was originally going to be played elsewhere. The council, police, league and FC United all had safety concerns.

But club chairman Chris Davies said: The whole club is fuming over the decision, if it was going to be made it should have been made four weeks ago, this is a big bureaucratic oversight.

When we informed the police and league of our arrangements they were happy.

We would have been proud to hold this game at Cheadle but it seems people are trying to create problems that aren’t there, an extra emergency exit could easily be added.

The game will now take place at the larger Tameside Stadium, in Ashton, on Monday night. But with tickets sold as far afield as Bristol, London, Wales, Carlisle and even Sweden it is feared many will not be able to attend.

After council officers read about the game, which would have dwarfed Cheadle’s previous record attendance of 1,007, in last week’s Express an environmental health representative visited the ground.

This was followed by last Friday’s meeting where it was decided two emergency exits were not enough for the NWCL Challenge Cup clash.

Alan Farnworth, vice chair of the NWCL, said: I had heard some weeks ago Cheadle were planning to stage the game but the final details did not come through until Thursday and we then acted immediately.

We have a duty of care to other supporters and the ground does not lend itself to safety with 2,000 people there.

It is hoped the larger capacity at Tameside will make up at least some of the money the switch has cost Cheadle.

FC United, the club formed by Manchester United supporters unhappy with Malcolm Glazer’s takeover, have attracted huge crowds for non-league football in their debut season.

So far every opponent has switched their home game to a bigger venue.

Cheadle are used to crowds of 100 in the NWCL but after a proposed switch to Stockport County’s ground fell through last month they were confident their facilities could cope.

A Greater Manchester Police spokesman said: The match between FC United and Cheadle Town is a non-league fixture to which normal footballing legislature and regulations do not apply.

As a result we do not normally have any input into whether the matches should be allowed to go ahead or not.

We did not in this case make any decision about where or when the fixture should be held.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Guardian: Maybe now we'll be taken seriously

Maybe now we'll be taken seriously
Wednesday October 12, 2005
Tony Howard
Guardian Unlimited
Source: Click Here

While most eyes were on Old Trafford last Saturday, there was something else afoot in another part of Greater Manchester. Tony Howard, one of the founder members of FC United, reports on another memorable week for the club

While most eyes were on Old Trafford last Saturday, there was something else afoot in another part of Greater Manchester. As the city's Metrolink tram system carried England supporters towards the city's most famous football landmark, thousands of fans were travelling the other way to watch FC United of Manchester play at Gigg Lane, Bury.

The club has enjoyed a week that will live long in the memory. On Wednesday night, all known North West Counties League attendance records were smashed when 3,110 fans piled in to witness a 1-0 victory over Oldham Town - more than Manchester City pulled in for a first-team game against Mansfield at Maine Road in 1998. The turnstiles in the popular Manchester Road End had to be shut at kick-off and fans still queuing were directed into the Main Stand.

Things got even better. As England laboured past Austria, 3,808 FC United fans saw the club drub Daisy Hill 6-0 and go six points clear atop North West Counties Two. That's more, ahem, than turned up to watch the World Cup qualifier between Lithuania and Serbia and Montenegro on the same day.

The supporters used the lack of Premiership fixtures to welcome any supporters of 'big' United who had not yet sampled the FC experience; joining in a 'United for United' day. A chance for Reds of all opinions to see what the fuss was about.

It was an important day for the Manchester United family. No one would deny there have been a few debates between the 'splitters' who made the ultimate sacrifice by walking away from the world's biggest football club, and those who chose to stay. Some say they can never support another team, but to those there on Saturday FCUM are as much a part of the vast United family as MUFC. 'United We Stand' goes the saying.

FC were formed with the aim of returning football to its long-forgotten roots and, as the masses queued up outside the Manchester Road End, they could have been forgiven for thinking they had made a welcome trip back in time.

Bar scarves, flags and once-obligatory rattles were the order of the day - there was even the odd Butchers coat, once a staple clothing item of the old Stretford End itself. Supporters young and old, FC veterans and virgins alike, stood side by side and savoured the party atmosphere.

It felt like FC United had truly arrived on the football scene and all divisions had been set aside. No longer was it just a few idealistic believers. With 7,000 fans paying through the turnstiles in one week, we may now be taken seriously even by those who will never leave the bright lights of the Premiership behind. And after less than five months in existence - this is just the start.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005 Field Of Broken Dreams

Field Of Broken Dreams
11 Oct 2005 9:15:00 AM

Alan Lawson

Alan Lawson traces a story of football's enduring grass-roots appeal, as a group of Manchester United fans attempt to reclaim the game by bringing it back in touch with ordinary people....

Kevin Costner has made a number of films. Some, like Dances with Wolves, became epic successes. Others like Waterworld or Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, were rather less well received. For many his most successful and pleasing film was the 1989 venture Field of Dreams, which, for a British or European audience, started from an unpromising premise.

A farmer in Iowa starts hearing voices and interprets the messages as an instruction to build a baseball field on his farm. The film then depicts his struggle to build the baseball field in the face of commercial pressure and family opposition, but ends with the Costner character, Ray Kinsella, achieving personal and commercial redemption through the creation of the baseball field.

But what does this have to do with the high-power, high-pressure world of Premiership football? Simply that one of the central themes of the film was that by creating the field Ray Kinsella was allowing baseball to return to an earlier, less commercial and corrupt time. And, against all the odds, something remarkably similar is happening in football against the unlikely backdrop of north Manchester.

On the first day of the season as the mighty Manchester United faced Everton in the opening match of the Barclaycard Premiership a newly-created team ran out for their first-ever match in Division Two of the North West Counties League.

That team, FC United of Manchester, had been formed in a matter of weeks, recruited players and established a groundsharing agreement with Bury FC and were ready for their first ever league match some twelve divisions below Manchester United.

The match in Staffordshire was against Leek County Old School Boy's Club and kick-off had to be delayed due to crowd congestion, with over 2,000 FC United fans making the journey. The attendance of 2590 was a new record for the NWCFL, and was higher than Leek's combined attendances for the whole of the previous season. It was the first all-ticket match in the history of the North West Counties League, and F.C. United won the game 5–2.

A week later F.C. United played their first home match and beat Padiham 3–2. The game attracted around 2,500 fans, an attendance which was higher than some Coca Cola League Two games that took place on the same day, several levels above FC United in the football league system.

With several weeks of the season passed FC United have started their first season well, with six wins and a draw from their first seven games, and a real sense that something is happening with this fledgling club.

And it started largely because of the growing distaste that ordinary Manchester United fans had for the brutal commercialization of modern football. For many of those fans the Malcolm Glazer takeover of Manchester United was simply the last straw and though the Glazer name will evoke nothing but disgust from such fans it isn’t just Glazer that has created this mini revolution.

It is the whole commercial paraphernalia of Premiership football which is at the heart of their discontent, and the growing distancing of the players from the fans further aggravates an uncomfortable relationship.

For many fans of Manchester United the incredible success of the last twelve years has been accompanied by a growing slide away from the kind of football club that most of those fans loved and thought they knew. The more United became a corporate entity, a PLC, the less important the fans seemed to be. Except as clients, as customers, as, god forbid, consumers. For many fans their importance in the club’s eyes was not to be on the terraces or seats supporting the team but in the Megastore purchasing the latest replica shirt, or signing up for the club credit card or the fresh insurance product.

Singing in support of the team or standing up in excitement was frowned upon, and many fans began to feel that, much as they loved their club, it was turning into a commercial titan which happened to play a bit of football on the side.

In that climate the Glazer takeover was, although perhaps unavoidable, a step too far for many fans and the creation of FC United of Manchester was inevitable.

It wasn’t easy. It still isn’t, for existence in the shallows of football isn’t comfortable but there is a surprising reservoir of admiration and support for what they are trying to achieve. The new club received pledges and donations from several thousands of fans, giving them a level of financial security which removes many of the early concerns.

A fine example of the warmth being extended to the new club can be seen by linking to this article from a fervent United fan.

And, as the article, demonstrates, one of the most important aspects of the whole FC United adventure is that it is giving back to fans something they thought had been lost forever in football – the warmth, the fun, the closeness to the players, and the undeniable thrill of being part of the club.

In short it is a reversion to an earlier, simpler time where football was the game of the people rather than a diversion for the chattering classes. Bringing football back to the people that matter, the fans.

People like Ray Kinsella.

Monday, October 10, 2005

MEN: FC United: It's all a bit surreal

FC United: It's all a bit surreal
Monday, 10th October 2005
Richard Frost
Source: Manchester Evening News

DARREN Lyons, who had a spell at Bury during his League career, is back at Gigg Lane as player-coach with the ground-sharing record-breakers FC United and can't believe the buzz the Red rebels are causing.

They broke the North West Counties League attendance record for the second time in four days as a remarkable 3,808 crowd watched the second division leaders demolish Daisy Hill 6-0, despite the counter TV attraction of the England match.

Lyons, 37, who also played for Macclesfield and Altrincham, said: "I've played in the North West Counties League for a while and know what it's about. But the atmosphere that has been created this season with FC United is a bit strange and surreal."

The attendance was nearly 1,450 higher than the 2,369 that watched Bury's win at Rushden on Friday and also in excess of those at League Two matches at Mansfield and Torquay. Macclesfield recently had a gate of under 1,900 for a home game.

FC United's figure was larger than at any of Saturday's seven Nationwide Conference matches - as well as the 3,000 who watched Lithuania lose 2-0 at home to Serbia and Montenegro in a Group Seven World Cup qualifier!


Lyons, recalled to the side in a tactical shake-up, put them ahead after 28 minutes with a trademark blast through the wall from a free-kick on the edge of the penalty box.

But the game was all over soon afterwards with three goals in five minutes from man-of-the-match Jonathan Mitten (32), Simon Carden (33) and Rory Patterson (37) after Mitten's shot had been parried by the keeper.

United were caught out too often by Daisy Hill's offside trap in the second half but Adie Orr made it 5-0 after 54 minutes and rounded off the rout six minutes from time with a 25-yard hot-shot into the roof of the net.

A penalty by Colin Little on the stroke of half-time gave Altrincham a 1-1 Conference draw at Canvey Island who had taken the lead through Marlo Noto after 34 minutes.

Droylsden completed the record five-figure signing of striker Terry Fearns from Southport in time for the home Nationwide North game with Worksop and he marked his debut with a penalty in a 3-1 home win.

Ashton came from behind twice to land a 2-2 UniBond Premier draw at Marine, but Radcliffe lost 3-1 at Ilkeston.

Bolton Evening News: Everyone a winner as FC United draw the crowds

Everyone a winner as FC United draw the crowds
Last posted: Monday 10 October 2005 16:34
Source: Bolton Evening News
Neil Bonnar

FC United of Manchester was born amid a wave of passion among Manchester United supporters disillusioned by Malcolm Glazer's takeover of Old Trafford.

And in a phenomenal beginning, they have attracted a following of thousands to their games. Neil Bonnar went to sample the experience at Gigg Lane, the home of Bury FC, where they now play all their home games . . .

DAISY Hill became the first of Bolton's local amateur football clubs to feel the force of FC United on Saturday.

And what a force it is.

On the pitch, the team showed their playing power thrashing the New Sirs outfit 6-0.

Off it, there was a new North West Counties League record crowd of 3,800 at United's Gigg Lane home ground.

This in a league where crowds average between 50 and 65 and rarely ever get into three figures.

Many thought the new Red Army would fade away as quickly as they arrived once the novelty wore off.

Some still do. But they had better think again because this club is showing every sign of being here to stay.

They lead the NWCL Division Two, although it is tight at the top and they will not be able to reach Division One without a battle.

After that, they will be looking to go through the two Unibond League divisions then the two Conference divisions before being able to really announce their arrival by becoming a Football League club.

While they have the fans, however, they have the opportunity. And, boy do they have the fans.

There were twice as many FC United fans at Gigg on Saturday than Bury get for their home games in League Two. And this for the visit of comparatively tiny Daisy Hill opponents.

Next season they will be able to play in the FA Vase and, the season after, the FA Cup.

In just two years time they could be seeing their name being pulled out to play Manchester United at Old Trafford in the FA Cup.

There would be no problem filling the 10,000 away end for such a game. FA United could already fill any away end in the Premiership.

They are currently like the Titanic occupying the same waters as rowing boats and pedalos.

They have the money to go through the leagues and, at the helm, they have people who are determined to prove the cynics wrong and lead them towards a bright future based on old fashioned principles like cheap tickets (currently £7 for adults and £2 for kids), a pint, a sing song and standing up.

The quality of football, it has to be said, does not deserve to be attracting crowds of nearly 4,000. But this is not about football but about loyalty.

And spokesman Andy Walsh says they are delighted with the response so far. He said: "We have had 7,000 people watch us in the last two games which is much better than any of us expected.

"About 5,000 people have been to see at least one of our games and the word is spreading around Manchester that you can have a good time watching football again.

"More than one person has said it was like stepping back in time watching an FC United game. Fans can stand up and they are enjoying the freedom again.

"People were cautious about our intentions when we started and it is encouraging to hear that we are changing people's minds.

"They are starting to realise we are not a flash in the pan or a gimmick but that we are serious about our club."

Daisy Hill manager Frank Armstrong agreed: "They step up a level again next year because they have the financial clout and they will go straight through the leagues.

"And good luck to them. I am a season ticket holder at Manchester United and a lot of United fans are disillusioned with the club. I wish FC United well and I'm sure they will go from strength to strength.

"We were gutted to lose so heavily. We have a number of injuries and had to play three 17-year-olds. But even so we were never 6-0 worse than them. Everything they hit went in.

"To be honest there is a gulf in the finances of FC United and the other clubs and we just cannot compete. Although everybody would tell you they are happy to have them in the league because the money generated from the one game against them keeps you going financially all year."

Daisy, like virtually all the division's clubs, will have to move their home game against FC United, scheduled for February 11, to a bigger venue and they are currently looking at suitable grounds.

Frank may have to get a megaphone for the occasion, if it is anything like Saturday's game.

He said: "The atmosphere was intense, something else. You could hardly hear a thing with all the noise that was coming from the fans. I couldn't get messages on the field to people who were 20 yards away. It was that bad."

The biggest problem the league faces is accomodating FC United's huge following at matches.

League official Alan Farnworth said: "The clubs think it is wonderful because they are getting the money but a lot them cannot cope with 2,000 away fans.

"It's not a nightmare as long as clubs organise alternative venues early like Daisy Hill are doing.

"There are plenty of bigger clubs out there who are willing to help and stage their games and these clubs are happy because they can get £2,000 to £3,000 on a day when they would not have a game on.

"Blackpool Mechanics might go to Blackpool's ground, Oldham Town are going to Stalybridge, Castleton Gabriels went to Radcliffe Borough, and there are other clubs willing to stage games like Bury, Northwich Vics, Chorley and others.

"We have a duty of care to the supporters, which means we have to make sure they are well stewarded and that there is segregation if necessary.

"We're glad we've got them because they bring in a lot of money for the clubs and they have not been an ounce of trouble although it is hard work sorting out their matches because of the huge numbers of fans they've got.

"And I don't think it's a flash in the pan. I was one of those who did at first, but now I have to hold up my hands and admit I think I was wrong.

"The are only going to get bigger. They can go into the FA Vase next year and then, they year after, they can enter the FA Cup and I can honestly see them getting 6,000 or 7,000 by then, I really can."

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Oldham Town (H) 1-0

Oldham gallery still to come....

Official Match Report Here

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Guardian: The rise and rise of FC United

The rise and rise of FC United

In the first of his regular columns for Guardian Unlimited, Tony Howard - one of the founder members of FC United - gives the lowdown on the club's birth and start to the season
Tony Howard
Wednesday October 5, 2005

Guardian Unlimited
Many said it couldn't happen, but almost five months after the Glazer family invaded Old Trafford, FC United of Manchester - the club formed by disgruntled supporters of Manchester United - are top of the North West Counties Division Two table and have an average attendance of over 2,000. Not bad for a club that only played its first match in July.

It's been one hell of a ride, mind. During the public meetings held in Manchester in May when the club was merely a possibility, AFC Wimbledon chairman Kris Stewart promised those who backed the vision that we would have the time of our lives. He wasn't wrong.

At those meetings, £100,000 was pledged and a name selected by founder members. Despite the FA turning down the initial first choice name of FC United because it was "too generic" the club at least had a starting point.

A vote then took place via the internet and postal service to select a name. AFC Manchester 1878, Manchester Central and Newton Heath United were all out-voted and Football Club United of Manchester was born.

Despite press reports linking the club with Brian Kidd and Sammy McIlroy the job of manager was given to Karl 'Margy' Marginson, a fruit and vegetable delivery driver by day, but someone who knew the non-leagues inside out.

Open trials were then held in a South Manchester suburb and a squad of 30 selected. "Those who came ranged from lads turning up in Audi convertibles to lads on bikes," says Margy. "Some wrote to us from Australia or New Zealand because they wanted to play for United. It was amazing to see the numbers of those who applied."

Of those who attended the club's first training session, 18 came from the open trials. The players gathered on the field at the back of a Manchester high school came from a variety of football backgrounds. Jonathon 'Joz' Mitten - whose great uncle Charlie was a member of Sir Matt Busby's first great side, the one that won the 1948 FA Cup - turned down contracts with Conference North sides to be United's No9. Meanwhile, at the other end of the scale, Matt Weston had played the previous season for Manchester's Sunday League side FC Lokomotiv.

No one knew what to expect from the first game on a sunny Saturday, July 16 - a friendly at Leigh, near Wigan. But 3,000 turned up and, for the first time in football history, a celebratory pitch invasion greeted a 0-0 draw in a friendly.

Nearly as many turned out for the club's first ever league game at Leek CSOB. The all-ticket affair saw 2,500 United fans travel to sleepy Staffordshire, eat all the pies, buy all the programmes and take all three points. It also saw United fans greeted with open arms by pub landlords and locals alike - a new experience for those of us used to keeping our heads down on visits to opposition towns because of the hatred the country feels for MUFC.

What's more, our eyes have been opened to a whole new ball game - one arrogantly overlooked by so many of us. The game that sees people doing everything for love not money. And it is a joy to speak to the likes of Stan at Leek or Billy at Blackpool Mechanics. Genuine people running a genuine game.

Despite official figures from Manchester United claiming less than 100 people gave up their season tickets following Glazer's takeover, a large proportion of United's hardcore away following have traded trips to Highbury, or Barcelona for Bury, following the ground share agreement struck up with the League Two side.

Some have left Manchester United behind completely, others, unable to break their bond with Old Trafford, have split their time between the 'two' Uniteds. As Jules Spencer, another founder memeber, says: "We're a broad church."

A watershed moment came when 2,266 fans snubbed the Manchester derby in favour of FC's clash with Blackpool Mechanics. In that crowd were 600 under 18s, granted free entry in line with the club's policy of encouraging young, local support - a long forgotten demographic at Old Trafford.

The attraction of turning your back on what was once the biggest day in Manchester's football calender? As FC fan Chris Porter explains, it's a soul thing. "It's all about the match-day experience," he says. "It's about standing with your mates, singing songs, having a laugh and basically enjoying yourself doing what you used to do at Old Trafford before you became a 'customer' rather than a 'fan'."

There are other differences too. FC United play 4-4-2 not 4-5-1 and have scored nearly 30 goals in eight games so far. And, after every game, the team join a crowd of fans in the pub for a drink or 10. The club's adopted song, Under the Boardwalk, is sung in unison, with players linking arms with supporters. It's a utopia of how life should be. Can you imagine Rio Ferdinand sharing a drunken embrace with Brian the bricky from Salford? Exactly.

As Margy's 'Fruit and Veg Army' sing every week: "We don't care about Rio, he don't care about me. All we care about is watching FC."

Where the ride will take us we don't know, but we'll have a top time getting there.

* For more information on FC United visit the club's website: Home games are played at Gigg Lane, Bury and admission is £7 adults and £2 children.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

The Guardian: Whatever happened to Man Utd fans' boycott?

Whatever happened to Man Utd fans' boycott?
Iain Hollingshead
Saturday October 1, 2005
The Guardian,,1582413,00.html

Britons have a curious attitude towards foreign participation in their home-grown sports. South African-born Kevin Pietersen was hailed as an English cricketing hero during the summer. Canadian-born tennis player Greg Rusedski is a firm favourite at the All England club. Sven-Goran Eriksson, on the other hand, has recently been lambasted for his lack of passion at the helm of English football.
But for many devotees of the beautiful game, the purchase of Manchester United by the American serial entrepreneur Malcolm Glazer in May was the final straw. Fans issued death threats to the 76-year-old businessman known as "the Leprechaun" for his ginger beard and small stature. Even the new Archbishop of York, the Rt Rev John Sentamu, was said to be "horrified" by the takeover.

Yet despite all the sound and fury, season-ticket sales have not suffered significantly. Average attendance has enjoyed a slight rise, while the rest of the Premiership has been suffering a stark decline. Fans even queued for autographs when Glazer's sons attended their first match at Old Trafford, although one complains: "It took me longer to get out of the car park while they were smuggled on to a private helicopter."
"We all felt that the focus would return to the team once the season had got under way," says an Old Trafford spokesman. For the most part, so it has proved, with loyal supporters resorting to a very British sense of irony. "Rooney's scored a touchdown," they sang after the potato-faced striker put United 2-0 up at Goodison Park. The Mirror has had fun, too, with a regular column called Malcolm Glazer Talks Soccer. "Yo, Sir Alec," it asked on August 29. "How many dollars will it cost me to buy this pitcher Flintoff?"

Not everyone has been so forgiving. Now playing nine levels below the Premiership in the North West Counties Second Division is FC United of Manchester (FCUM), formed in June this year by disenchanted Manchester United fans. "This is not just a reaction to Malcolm Glazer," said one member of the steering committee. "It is about taking a stand for the vast number of ordinary fans who have been priced out of the game in recent years."

Season ticket holders at FCUM are certainly enjoying excellent value for money on their £112 investment (compared with £684 for a season ticket at Old Trafford). Their team is currently top of the league and attracting crowds in excess of 2,000 in a division which averaged only 71 a game last season.

"There is a brilliant atmosphere on the terraces," says club secretary Luke Zentar. Favourite chants include "Stand up cos you've got no seats"; "FC United, the only club in Manchester not in debt"; and "Marginson's fruit & veg army" (Karl Marginson, the team's manager, gets up at 3am every day to deliver groceries).

Stars include Barrie George, who keeps goal for England's partially sighted team, and Paul Mitten, grandson of the legendary Busby Babe winger, Charlie Mitten. Rory Patterson - who was voted player of the month in August - has gained the soubriquet "the man with no name" after playing his opening matches with no number on his back.

"We're not an anti-United vehicle," insists Zentar, somewhat incongruously. "Many of our fans still support both teams, and we announce the results from Old Trafford over the Tannoy."

As the furore over Glazer subsides a couple of stops down the Metrolink, the better-known Manchester United is, understandably, more worried about its recent on-pitch troubles. "We bear them no ill-will at all," says a spokesman.

Outside the Green Door #2

By Twomowers

Manchester United ruined my garden
Thanks for all the e-mails over the summer asking me for advice, tips and how me garden’s getting on but to be honest it’s a complete shambles at the moment. You know when your garden’s a tip when your next door neighbour shouts over ‘hey I’m having a barbecue at the weekend do you mind if I come round and mow your lawn and cut your privets and is there any chance of you taking your kids out for the day on satdy’. The reason for the complete breakdown of my horticultural skillage is because my time, thoughts and actions have been taken over by football and what to do and MUFC and FCUM. So even though I’m getting on with it I’m still a bit stuck in the summer. Anyways Margy’s here now and like bessy mates do, he’s helping me out. He’s sorting a vegetable plot out with me and getting the players round to do a bit of digging and planting and stuff. When it’s all done and producing he’s gonna deliver the produce for me to his various contacts. All profits will be ploughed (geddit?) back into the club of course.

Robot Killjoy-Sulk
Following football in the lower leagues is different in so many ways even the experience of ordering tickets. At OT you get a one-way conversation where a robot girl says ‘welcome to Manchester United automated ticket line get yer credit cards out’. Naturally, as we all do, you verbally abuse robot girl by saying stuff like ‘oh fook off you dense cow’, cos it’s ok, it’s just an electronic being. Like when she says ‘…and you were unsuccessful’ you might say ‘oh fookin cheers, shove yer fookin tickets up yer fookin fat dimpled arse’. Or if you’re a perv, which I’m not but if you were, you could ask ‘what colour are your undergarments today?’ and there’s no recriminations, no harm done it’s just a robot and it just takes it. When I phoned AFC Wimbledon’s ticket line it was a different fookin ball game. Their robot got all mard when I dished out the verbals, in fact she started give it back like a voice activated bollocking and when I said ‘stick yer fookin tickets up yer arse’ she says ‘I already have done and now I’m posting them to your northern 2-up 2-down slum’. Obviously I was upset but hey – at least it’s another example of football with a more real feel to it.

Apology Soz everyone this column should have gone out last month but editor Andy Minter ballsed up and blamed the designer then sacked the poor fookin designer, then advertised his job on the website- fookin Andy Thatcher more like.

Twomowers {at}