Friday, October 05, 2007

Blackburn's rallying cry to fans

By Mike Crowther

Park Avenue chief executive Bob Blackburn is urging fans to turn up in force for the visit of FC United of Manchester when a record crowd is expected at Horsfall Stadium.

The club is hoping to get near the 3,000 mark for their FA Trophy preliminary tie on Saturday, with the visitors set to bring well over 2,000 fans.

FC have surged up the non-league pryamid since being set up by Manchester United fans unhappy with Malcolm Glazer's take-over at Old Trafford and are notorious for their big following.

But Blackburn is keen for Avenue fans to turn up in their droves to ensure the home team are not out-shouted.

He said: "The ticket sales have been going well but the Manchester side is well in front. I hope our fans will get behind us in numbers, especially after our recent form.

"The ground has been re-graded and the capacity is 4,000 so there will be plenty of room for the Bradford public. I just hope they take up the opportunity to get behind a winning side. That will help us progress in another knockout competition."

Avenue's record gate for a competitive match at Horsfall Stadium is 2,100 when they entertained Bristol City in an FA Cup tie four years ago.

The club's financial director Mark Nelson confirmed that in the region of 500 home fans had snapped up tickets so far.

He said: "We average about 350 so to get 500 is good going but there is room for more. I must stress that the game is all-ticket.

"Spectators can buy tickets at the ground on Saturday morning from 10am and they are available on-line but they will not be allowed to pay at the turnstile before kick off. I would also urge people to get there early."

Boss Benny Phillips - who has signed striker Paul Gedman from Hyde United after the player impressed on loan - is hoping fans show the same backing they did on Monday in the 4-3 defeat at home to Ossett Albion.

Phillips was annoyed Avenue did not continue their winning streak, which had seen them score 18 goals in three games, but said: "The fans really stuck with us when we were 3-1 down and helped us get back to 3-3. We have clicked a bit of late which is why it was so disappointing to lose. It was down to unenforced errors and was a game we should have won."

Looking ahead to Saturday's game, he added: "United have fantastic support but we are at home and we want to make sure we give our fans something to cheer about."

Strikers Mike Moseley (calf) and Ben Jones (hamstring) are doubts for tomorrow but the club have confirmed the signing of keeper Jacob Giles from Newport County. That comes following the appointment of Karl Lenaghan as specialist goalkeeping coach.

3:03pm Thursday 4th October 2007