Tuesday, August 28, 2007

United we stand

Source: Mirror.co.uk

By Iain Hepburn

A little moment of history will be made this weekend in the North West of England.

The vast majority of attention in Manchester will be focused on Roy Keane’s return to Old Trafford with his Sunderland side on Saturday night.

But almost a day later, and a few miles away, FC United will be playing Trafford FC at Moss Lane.

And why is this significant, you ask? Because it will mark FC United’s debut in the FA Cup, the world’s oldest cup competition and the trophy Manchester United have won 11 times.

It may only be the preliminary round of the competition – almost, but not quite, as early as you can embark on the road to Wembley. But it marks another milestone for the little club born two years ago, and forged out of protest and anger.

Victory at this stage of the competition is worth £1000 to a club – nothing if you’re the Premiership champions, but a hell of a lot to sides further down the pyramid.

At this level of the cup, the names may be unfamiliar but the stories aren’t. London ASPA won their extra preliminary replay against Sporting Bengal last week – making them the first Asian team to make the preliminary round.

For the sides taking part in this weekend’s fixtures, they’re just 11 rounds away from the final.

Both teams were founded from passion and a disenfranchised community – be it at the semi-pro level, as players wanting to be a standard bearer for Asian football in the UK, or at the top of the Premier League, left out in the cold by United’s takeover by the Glazer family and the direction of the club.

And both now find themselves, like around 600 others, on the road to Wembley.

Forget all the hype, all the media glitz and glamour. That’s the real magic of the FA Cup.