Monday, April 17, 2006

MEN: Hince on FC United

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Paul Hince (Manchester Evening News)

NOW here is a story that has put a smile back on the face of a cynical old scribbler. FC United moving up in the world after gaining promotion in their very first season in business. Congratulations to manager Karl Marginson and his bonny team.

But more than anything, I would like today to doff my cap to the fans of the club formed as a direct result of the Glazer takeover at Old Trafford. Take a bow every last one of you. As true football supporters go, the fans of FC United are Premiership class.

I still remember driving through a monsoon last August to watch FC's first competitive match against Leek SCOB who normally attract an attendance of 70 paying customers, two dogs and a ginger tom.

But more than 3,000 spectators were crammed into Leek's modest headquarters. My guess is that 2,900 of them were FC United fans. And they were magnificent.

As I drove back towards Macclesfield along the Leek Road that day I recall thinking that it would never last. It gives me enormous pleasure to admit that I was wrong. When promotion was clinched with a 4-0 victory over Chadderton on Wednesday, FC were roared on by 2,788 fans inside Gigg Lane.

That is 40 times greater than any other club at that level can attract.

What lies in waiting for FC United over the years to come I have no way of knowing. What I do know is that this won't be their first and last promotion. This is a club going places. How could it be any different? With wonderful fans like that behind them, the sky's the limit.