Source: The Guardian
FC United have finally found some rivals, and they're surprisingly close to home, as Tony Howard explains
Friday October 20, 2006
Manchester and Salford are separate entities intertwined to the point that outsiders mistakenly think they are the same place, but FC United supporters are finding no sense of togetherness with their twin city on the non-league football scene.
Natives of both Manchester and Salford can correctly call Manchester United their local team. Therefore it's no surprise that much of FC United's support is made up of fans from both sides of the ship canal, but before this season many people from the two cities didn't know that Salford has another team. Salford City have been plying their trade under a number of guises since 1945 and they have proven to be FC United's closest rivals so far this season. Salford are challenging the Reds for top spot in the North West Counties First Division and they now stand in the way of United's progress in the FA Vase.
It was The Ammies who halted United's 12-game winning streak at start of the season when they beat United 2-1 in front of over 4,000 fans at Salford Reds' Willows rugby league stadium. Now the two have been drawn together in the second round of the Vase on November 18. Had FC beaten City they would have set a North West Counties record for consecutive victories (13), but their smaller brothers from across the water were keen to prove a point. With at least 1,500 Salford fans turning up to back their hometown team (their average gate is less than 100), City scored two last-gasp goals to secure a famous victory.
The experience of supporters competing with chants of "Salford" and "Manchester" was a surreal one for Manchester United fans, who are used to standing shoulder-to-shoulder no matter which side of the canal they hail from. Rugby league, boxing and Manchester United are Salfordians' favoured sporting past-times, but thanks to the attention brought on the club by the clashes with FC, those behind Salford City now hope they can add themselves to that hobby list.
In the aftermath of their shock defeat, FC United were left to look back on what was a fine run. There were many moments to savour during their record-equalling performances, including a goal from Rory Patterson scored direct from kick-off.
Appetites are now being whetted for another derby on November 4. This time FC face foes from the same city as they take on Maine Road FC, the club formed by supporters of Manchester City in 1955. The Sky Blues are currently in the top four, giving the match added spice. Manchester's blue quarter have been traditionally indifferent to their fans' club, but they could be galvanised by what promises to be the first ever supporters' derby. After complaining that they have no real rivals, FC United fans are now spoilt for choice - and long may it continue.
· FC United face Newcastle Town (Under-Lyme, not Upon-Tyne) this Saturday, October 21 at the Lyme Valley Stadium. Admission is £5-7 for adults, £2 concessions