By Jamie Murphy
'Vive la revolution!' Nine divisions below Manchester United, a band of rebels are celebrating wildly: Breakaway club FC United - the newest addition to the football family - have been crowned champions of the North West Counties League.
More than 6,000 fans turned up at Bury’s Gigg Lane on Saturday to see FC United crowned as champions in their first year since being set up by Manchester United fans opposed to the Glazer takeover.
Whether or not those figures will register with the upper echelons of football, they no doubt demonstrate the groundswell of support for FC United and are a huge boost for non-league Football.
Fixtures in the North West Counties League may attract fans in their hundreds, but FC United have averaged around 3,000 per game this season, even beating the average attendances of Gigg Lane’s Coca Cola Football League Two owners Bury by about 1,000 a game.
For the club set up last June, it has been a meteoric rise, FC United manager Karl Marginson agrees, ‘A lot of people said it would fizzle out, but 6,000 people came today to play their part in our promotion party it just shows the level of feeling is still going strong.’
Marginson who, when not on the touchline directing his men in red, is running a fruit and veg business from his van, says, ‘ I always had a belief inside myself and now we’ve a hard core of about two and half thousand supporters and that can only grow.’
For those fans promotion as champions has proved a fitting end to a dream first season for FC United that has drove the passion back into match days. For John Gallimore, 56 from Leigh, ‘its been a rebirth of football.’ John remembers the days at Old Trafford in the 70s.
"I’d ride up on me bike, park it behind one of the burger vans and get into Stretford End and everybody would be bouncing. But that’s changed dramatically over the years. Its like stepping back in time coming to FC, everybody’s enjoying the craic, really friendly, very vocal of course – just how the Stretford End used to be."
And fans and club will no doubt be hoping for more of the same next season. As Marginson’s outlook for next year demonstrates, ‘my hopes next season are to win every game, expectations are to win every game. You’ve got to aim above the stars because if you fail then at least you’ve reached the stars.’