Friday, January 20, 2006

Derby dilemma leaves only one choice

Source: The Guardian

The Manchester derby means a dilemma for most FC United supporters, says Tony Howard, but not all...

The debacle that was the Manchester derby was a sad occasion for supporters of FC United, and not just because it gave blues the bragging rights in our fair city. For some it was the first derby they'd missed for years.

In the run-up to the game we were forced into a difficult and potentially contentious choice for the first 'away' derby since many of us gave up Old Trafford. Some made this their first and possibly only 'big United' game of the season, as they couldn't face missing the biggest day in the Mancunian football calender.

Others thought long and hard but decided they couldn't and shouldn't go. Two weeks before the game I was offered a ticket and I turned it down.

Why? Because I couldn't face going through the whole Premiership experience. After enjoying my freedom this season, how could I possibly go back to being told to sit down and shut up while having my every move watched by stewards, police and CCTV cameras? How could I sit there and listen to pretend crowd noises being piped in (as has happened at Eastlands already this season)? Why would I want to watch players who were more interested in planning what shots they'd have as a chaser that night, than actually chasing shots? And why the hell should I pay £30 for the privilege?

Many of us have left behind that sanitised world of plastic football, played by overpaid plastic players, in plastic stadiums with plastic atmospheres. And I, for one, am not prepared to go back - even for the derby.

A day later we paid £7 each to see FC United of Manchester beat Nelson 3-1 at Accrington Stanley - and even got the added bonus of being able to peer over the wall and watch a ladies match taking place on the park behind our terrace.

Two games for the price of one, both played by players who cared deeply about the result and ran themselves into the ground. And all this while a John Cleese impersonator behind the goal gave a comedy performance of the Ministry Of Silly Walks variety to put off Nelson's striker as he prepared to take a penalty.

You don't get that kind of entertainment in the Premiership, not even in the Manchester derby.

Tony Howard,
The Guardian
20th of January 2006