Wednesday, April 12, 2006


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Rebels set to open bubbly


FC UNITED boss Karl Marginson will have to give the celebrations a miss if his team clinch promotion with victory over Chadderton at Gigg Lane tonight (7.45). The Rebels’ manager has to be tucked up in bed by midnight in order to get up for his early morning fruit and veg round and says: “I suspect that if we win it, some of the lads will just be getting home by the time I set out at about 5.30 in the morning!”

Promotion would be a remarkable ending to the first chapter of a story that began less than 12 months ago, when a group of disaffected Manchester United supporters got together to discuss forming their own club with takeover by Malcolm Glazer looming over Old Trafford.

After dashing into existence, FC have become a non-league phenomenon, twice topping crowds of 4,000 and having a home average of 2,890 which is better than six Football League clubs, including landlords Bury.

The Moore and Co Construction League’s second division title cannot be won tonight, as chasing Nelson – with eight games in hand – could still overhaul FC if they win all remaining 12 games. But victory would ensure a top two finish and a place in the first division next season at the first attempt, as Nelson and Flixton, the only two sides who could top the 81 points total FC will reach with a win, have to play each other.

One problem could be the weather. Yesterday’s heavy rain has put the Gigg Lane pitch under strain for a game that was originally scheduled for November and has twice been postponed. An inspection was planned for 10 o’clock this morning.

But Marginson, who played professionally for Macclesfield and Rotherham, says that if his team clinch promotion and the title in the club’s inaugural season, it will go down as the best day of his football career: “A lot of people will be saying that we have more money than anyone else, and we have this player or that player, but in my first full season as a manager, to get together a group of lads who had never played together before and gel them into a successful side feels like a great achievement.”

If FC fail to win tonight, they could clinch promotion and the title over the Easter period, when their only fixture is a friendly at UniBond Division One side Clitheroe on Saturday, as both Nelson and Flixton have games on both Saturday and Easter Monday.