Source: The Voice of Sport
BY SORIEBAH KAJUE
The lesser known Giggs is a United Star. But having spent time in prison Rhodri explains why he is no Ryan
People of mixed race sometimes struggle to come to terms with who and what they are, but Rhodri Giggs, 29, seems to have no such worries.
Born to a mixed race father and a white mother, the younger sibling of the Manchester United legend Ryan, is enjoying something of a renaissance in his life and career.
While Ryan has garnered volumes of column inches during his glittering tenure at Manchester United, not many people have been aware of his dual heritage, and he admits in his autobiography that there were times in his life when his colour was an issue for him.
Rhodri, too, may have experienced these same perils, but as he forthrightly tells The Voice of Sport, he always knew who he was.
“I’ve always felt black and never felt white, it was weird at school to be called black, but now people think I’m white,” he says. “It doesn’t really bother me anymore, I know I’m black or mixed race. I’m comfortably with who I am.”
The name Giggs has been synonymous with Manchester United for the last 15 years as Ryan produced an unparalleled level of excellence in their iconic shirt.
However, away from the glare of the media spotlight another Giggs has assiduously carved out a football career for himself too, albeit in the non-league.
At present, he is part of the red revolution sweeping across the Northwest Counties Division One at FC United, a club formed by disgruntled Manchester United fans in 2005 who were opposed to the Malcolm Glazer takeover.
Their vociferous and large support has forced them to move all their home matches to Bury FC and convinced Rhodri to leave his previous club Mossley to join them.
“This league is Northwest Counties so it’s all within a 30-mile radius, where at Mossley we had just been promoted and we have been going all over the show and I didn’t fancy that,” he adds, in his softly spoken thick Mancunian accent. “So I went to one of the FC United games and saw the support and I thought - I’m going to sign for them.
“I’ve played non-league football now for 10 years and you go to some places and you get 80 people in January but in January, we’ll be going to Gigg Lane, Bury, getting 2,500. There’s a big difference and they’re so loud, I mean really, really, loud.”
After winning promotion from the Northwest Counties Division Two last season, the club look on course for another one, after claiming nine wins from nine by the end of September. And with Rhodri, who has an uncanny physical resemblance to his brother, displaying consistent goal scoring form and an ability to create goals for others. Belief amongst FC united supporters has heightened that they could claim a place in the League within five years. “It could take a good 10 years before they get to the League,” cautions the right-winger.
“They may do it before but I’d say 10 years, it’s just really difficult. You have to go the Unibond first, then the Unibond Premier, Conference North, then the Conference before you reach the league. So it’s four or five years leagues you’ve got to win and you’re not going to do that every year. The higher up the leagues you go, it gets more physical, you need a bit more experience, and it’s harder.
In 2001, Rhodri reached the nadir of his life when he was imprisoned for assault for nine months, along with his friend Christopher Doyle, who received 15 months after an altercation between them and a group of Manchester City fans outside a nightclub.
“It’s not for me, jail, it’s no good.
When you go to prison it makes you not want to go back. I changed as soon as I went to prison and came out, it was five years ago now and it makes you not want to go back. It made my relationship with my mum and brother stronger and it made me stronger, it made us all strong, I think.”
Rhodri, who by his own admission has mellowed, recently had his first child and is hoping to make it a double celebration by clinching silverware at the end of his maiden season for FC United.
“Winning the league, that’s what I want, I was in this league with Salford for seven or eight years and never ever won it. I came second with Mossley but never ever won it, so I want to win this league.
“I just had a child Louis. It’s changed me a lot, it changes the way you think of life as he depends on you, I’ve never had that before so it’s strange but good.”
Published: 17 November 2006