Thursday, April 27, 2006

Guardian: We're on the road to Albert Square

Source: The Guardian

It's a small start, but Tony Howard and FC United have begun one of the longest pub-crawls in football history

Thursday April 27, 2006

So the rumours proved to be correct: FC United's team did have an open-top bus-ride from Gigg Lane to the pub 200 yards away. The strictly tongue-in-cheek gesture was the highlight of a great day which saw an amazing 6,023 supporters turn up to see captain Dave Chadwick lift the North West Counties Second Division trophy in the club's final home game of the season.

From the Main Stand it was a sight to behold as hundreds of supporters were still streaming into the ground at 3pm, forcing the kick-off to be delayed. But, as manager, Karl Marginson, said, it has not always been like that. "At times it's like your 21st birthday party all over again," he enthused. "You're scared that no one will turn up!"

However, those fears have been expelled as the club and the crowds have gone from strength to strength. Hopefully it's because football supporters are finally starting to tire of being ripped off to boost the coffers of the rich.

Kids were again allowed in free on Saturday and their presence in the crowd this season has been particularly pleasing. Not many youngsters in Manchester, Salford and surrounding areas can afford to go to Old Trafford, but those that were at Gigg Lane at the weekend will probably never forget that day for the rest of their lives.

There was also a tinge of sadness, as it dawned on many of us that we may have left Old Trafford behind forever. That pain has been eased by the experiences we've had forming our own club, and now the talk has turned to future open-top bus-rides as we progress up the football pyramid.

This week the club agreed a further three-year ground-share with Bury, so should we repeat this season's success there's talk of the bus travelling further up Manchester Road to the next pub each year before finally making it all the way into town.

With nine divisions still to conquer, wouldn't it be great to celebrate winning the Premiership by taking the bus all the way to Manchester Town Hall and packing out Albert Square for the entire world to see? A dream? Probably, but who'd have thought 12 months ago we'd be joyously running alongside an open-top bus carrying plumbers, painters and delivery drivers 200 yards from a football ground to the pub? Anything can happen in football.

FC United play a friendly at Telford United on Saturday, May 6 to raise funds for the family of injured Manchester United fan Jamie Turner who received serious head injuries following an unprovoked attack at Southampton last season. Anyone wanting further information please visit website: or phone 0870 626 0295