Friday, February 03, 2006

How a frozen pitch left Accrington landlords smiling

Source: The Guardian

Tony Howard joins fellow supporters in finding alternative entertainment after FC United's latest postponement

Over 2,000 FC United fans travelled to Accrington Stanley on Sunday - only for the match to be called off an hour before kick-off due to a partly frozen pitch. Would-be hosts Great Harwood Town's loss was Accrington landlords' gain as the travelling supporters switched their attentions to the bar - after all, there was a 'big United' game to watch on television. In case an excuse were needed.

Before this season it was an unusual experience for supporters of Manchester United to have to deal with a postponement, such is the prevalence of undersoil heating at the top level. In fact, whilst partaking in a 'no-match' beer we tried to work out the last domestic game involving United to be hit by the weather. Aston Villa at home in the 1991-92 season appeared to be the general consensus, with the blame being put on the Manchester rain on that occasion.
However, thoughts soon turned to Great Harwood Town. They lost out on an estimated cash windfall of £15-20,000, with the game likely to be rearranged for a weeknight meaning a diminished turn-out. They may have been wise to organise a hasty whip-round in the public houses of Accrington on Sunday to make up some of the shortfall.

FC's home game with Chadderton has already been hit by the weather with Bury's Gigg Lane being frozen and the fixture appears jinxed. The club's official website has the amended date down as 99/99/2006 - it seems that we are destined never to play that game.

Off the pitch (literally this time), FC fans were cheered by being able to see goals they thought were confined to the memory banks after local television station 'Channel M' (for Manchester) struck up a deal to show a monthly highlights programme. The contract is sure to boost the station's viewing figures considerably from the numbers that currently watch former Children's BBC host and Ed the Duck cohort Andy Crane read the news.

In many areas the station's signal is weaker than Sir Alex Ferguson's excuses for backing the Glazers, so imagine the scene in thousands of Mancunian households as dad spent Monday night stood by the television holding the aerial at precisely 43.9 degrees in order to attain the perfect reception. It was worth it, though, as an excellent first show confirmed that Josh Howard, Steve Torpey, Leon Mike et al are well worth your hard-earned admission fee.

Some great memories were revisited and it was easy enough to convince ourselves that a trip to Blackpool on February 18 to play the Mechanics is far more enticing than 'big United's dream FA Cup fixture at Liverpool on the same weekend.

There will be free admission for under-18s at FC United's North West Counties Division Two Trophy game against Nelson at Gigg Lane on Saturday