Sunday, November 18, 2007

Brig's 3-0 bumper pay day

Published Date: 17 November 2007
Location: Preston

"The last time we had this many through the gate they were all here to see the Hollyoaks lot."

Brig's bumper day against FC United of Manchester - the breakaway club formed by disgruntled fans of Manchester United - ended with three points and a big pay cheque.

Goals by Ryan Salmon, new signing Dave Eaton and a deft header - sadly for FC United in the wrong net - sealed a 3-0 win for Phil Entwistle's rampant side in front of 1,435 fans at Irongate.

The crowd was the biggest for a Bamber Bridge game in years - forgetting a recent charity match.

"We had around 2,000 down for the match the other Sunday when the Hollyoaks cast played," said beaming chairman Terry Gammans. "If I could get Phil to pick one or two of them every week we'd be rolling in it!"

It was Brig's turn to milk the bandwagon cash cow that is FC United of Manchester and their vociferous band of followers, who founded the club in protest at the Malcolm Glazer takeover at Old Trafford.

Even before kick-off, it was obvious this was not going to be any normal Unibond League game.

Traffic cones, PNE stewards, police, 800 programmes instead of the usual 100 printed, a never ending pie stall queue and the best of all...a bar in an old changing room.

"We've got a second bar," said Terry, proudly. "It's in the old changing room at the back. We've called it the Lager and Beer Lounge."

Bemused neighbours whose homes overlook the ground were spotted peering out of their windows, bemused as to what all the racket was about.

Gary Thorpe, 41, was watching the action over his garden fence.

"I normally shut the curtains when they play on a cold Tuesday night, but this is great, set the club up for the season the money they'll make today.

"I had three lads with Manchester accents walk through my garden and jump over the fence and into the ground. Wife was going mad she was."

They probably wish they hadn't bothered coming at all.

Brig dominated the early part of the game and went ahead on 15 minutes, the ever-dangerous Ryan Salmon ramming the ball home from close range.

It could have been more but for FC United's impressive keeper.

Two goals in two second-half minutes sealed the win for Brig and it could have been more.

"Can we play you every week?" was the amusing chant from the hardy band of home fans.

"'We don't play for Sky Sports no more' and 'Let's pretend we're 3-0 up," came the retort.

Brig will net at least £10,000 - plus bar takings - from Saturday's brush with the ultimate fans' club.

And the best thing? The FC United cashpot bandwagon will be back at Irongate in February for another league fixture.

Let the tills roll...

Andy Sykes

Last Updated: 18 November 2007 2:08 AM