Friday, March 10, 2006

Do Chadderton FC really exist?


Tony Howard explains why a fourth cancellation of their fixture with Chadderton has prompted FC United fans to harbour conspiracy theories

Last weekend FC United fans started fostering conspiracy theories. For the fourth time this season a match with our neighbours from Oldham was postponed, prompting supporters to ask: 'Do Chadderton FC really exist?'

The home fixture has been called off three times already and is still awaiting an alternative date, and last weekend's away date, set for the Tameside Stadium, also fell victim to the weather. The fixture appears to be cursed as David Platt's hometown club are the only team in the North West Counties League Division Two that United haven't yet played. Therefore rumours that ex-player and Take That 'superstar' Mark Owen is set to make a one-off return for the big game cannot yet be quashed.

The constant cancellations due to the particularly biting weather have brought new meaning to the term 'winter break'. With no undersoil heating at this level, by the time FC play their next competitive game against Flixton on Wednesday, March 15, it will have been over two weeks since the last [a 1-1 draw with Great Harwood Town]. The Reds even had to arrange a midweek friendly on astroturf against Woodley Sports just to be sure a game could actually take place.

In the past, the only time us United fans have heard the term 'winter break' was when Sir Alex Ferguson was calling for one to be introduced to the Premiership. Now we've become accustomed to matches being at the whim of the weather.

Due to North West Counties rules stipulating that games can't be called off until the day of the match itself, the club has introduced a telephone information line for fans to call. It is hoped the move will prevent a repeat of the situation for the first Chadderton postponement when several fans still turned up at Gigg Lane. At least on that occasion they were treated to a curry with the players, by way of compensation, and a great night was had by all - even if Mark Owen didn't show up.

Anyone wanting to check if an FC United game is set to take place can call the information line on 0870 6260295