Friday, March 30, 2007

FC United look for cup glory

Source: Guardian Unlimited

Manager Marginson says fans demand success in knock-out competitions

Tony Howard
Friday March 30, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

FC United will be hoping to earn a place in their first cup final this weekend. They may have won the league at their first attempt and set the pace in their second, but the team has so far struggled with cup competitions - something they aim to correct in the North West Counties League Challenge Cup semi-final against Congleton Town tomorrow.

The tie is poised at 2-2 from the first leg and the Gigg Lane crowd will be hoping their side can secure that final place and set up a possible league and cup double. Last season FC were knocked out of the League Cup by Colne and that disappointment was followed by their early exit from the FA Vase this term at the hands of Quorn FC, who sneaked the game with the last kick.

It has been business as usual in the North West Counties first division, in which they have a comfortable lead (eight points at the time of writing), but the Reds threw away a two-goal lead in the away leg of the cup semi-final. FC had been 2-0 up but The Bears, a nickname owed to Congleton's past as a town of bear-baiters, clawed their way back into the match and will be going all out to cause an upset.

As Manchester United fans, those Reds who swapped Old Trafford for Gigg Lane have been brought up on a glorious cup tradition and FC manager Karl Marginson is hoping his squad can finally get it right this time. Margy has called it the "biggest game for the club so far" and admits he is still trying to get a grip of how to approach cup matches "We feel that we owe our fans a cup final. One of the few disappointments of the club's history so far has been the lack of cup success. We are learning as we go along and haven't had many cup games, so have maybe been naive in the past.

"Perhaps we should have consolidated a bit more instead of going all out. But that's the Manchester United tradition and we aim to entertain our fans in the way they're used to and that means we need to do well in the cups."

The week after the semi-final those fans will travel to the Reds game at Ramsbottom on a steam train from Bury. The service has been run for many years along the old East Lancashire Railway line and Manchester United fans used the football specials that left Bury as recently as 1968. Over 300 supporters have booked on the Rammy Rattler and it's hoped the unusual method of transport will make for an enjoyable day all round as the team could take a giant leap towards the league title.

In the meantime the fans will be busy designing the club's new home shirt for next season. FC held its general meeting last week and supporters voted to change the club's home shirt for the first time, from the start of next season. The red shirt will once again be unique due to the lack of sponsorship across the chest and a competition has been launched for fans to submit their designs to the club by April 5.

It's certainly a busy time in the history of club as they prepare to celebrate their second anniversary. They'll hope for a happy birthday with the team going full steam ahead to that unique double.

· The second leg of the North West Counties League Challenge Cup semi-final takes place at Gigg Lane on Saturday, March 31; kick-off 3pm. Admission on the turnstiles is £7 adults, £5 over-60s and £2 under-18s.