By Stuart Brennan
KARL Marginson and FC United have struck another blow for grass roots football - with the rebel club's manager being named as Manchester's Sports Personality of the Month.
The 35-year-old led the fledgling club, only founded last summer in protest at Malcolm Glazer's takeover of Manchester United, to promotion and then the North West Counties League second division title.
Charged with achieving two promotions in the club's first three seasons, but also briefed to put out a team which will entertain supporters who have grown up on Old Trafford's attacking, entertaining tradition, Marginson has come good on both.
The 35-year-old, who gets up at 4am most mornings to work as a fruit and veg delivery driver, was named as winner of the monthly award by a joint panel from the sports desks at the Manchester Evening News and BBC Radio Manchester.
Leading the praise for Marginson was his gaffer, FC general manager Andy Walsh, who said: "Karl has been outstanding, not just in terms of putting a team out on the pitch but in over-seeing the future playing direction of the club as well.
"Many people thought we should have gone for a more experienced manager but our concern was to get someone who understood what the club was all about - and it was important to us that he is a Red."
In his first managerial job, Marginson ended up in charge of a team playing in front of a non-league record crowd of over 6,000, but took it in his stride.
"No-one foresaw just how big the club was going to get," says Walsh. "But he has gone from his first press conference, where he got changed from his work clothes in his van parked outside the Midland Hotel, to being interviewed by Russian television and French and Belgian journalists at one match.
"Some supporters want success, others want entertaining football, and Karl has relished those two pressures. Lesser men might have buckled."
Marginson beat off challenges from some more illustrious names to land the award, including Lancashire newcomer Tom Smith, who has made a big impact at the start of the season.
Also in the frame were Salford City Reds star David Hodgson, Manchester City youth team captain Michael Johnson and Andy Morris, who successfully defended his British featherweight title.