Monday, December 10, 2007

The way we were

Source: IC Burton

Disenfranchised, alienated and angry, I turned my back on Villa Park on November 3 and headed north to get back in touch with football the way it used to be.

A Derby fan among the thousands of FC United who descended on Bridlington Town's Queensgate ground, my head was full of questions.

Fundamentally, they all boiled down to: "Is the football club, spawned from the bitterness at the Glazer brothers' take-over of Manchester United, taking on a life of its own?"

The sheer numbers turning up on the Yorkshire coast from Manchester (and they did all seem to be from that area - none of your Cockney Reds here) gave the first clue. Bridlington fans were outnumbered ten-to-one, as the FCUM fans spread out to all corners of the little ground.

Slogans on banners, such as "Together," "Rebels," "This is how it feels" indicated pride in the enterprise and a common feeling. But was the common feeling a love of Manchester United, of bitterness and resentment or was it a belief that FC United is a model for the future?

There is no doubt that the parent club still loom large in fans' minds but that is to be expected - after all, it's only two years or so since these people were helping to pack Old Trafford.

The songs won me over in the end. Players had their own songs and some of them were corkers. What about a version of the Sex Pistols "Anarchy in the UK" which has the line: "I know what I want and I know how to get it - destroy Glazer and Sky". That's something I can relate to.

Most poignantly, to my ears, was a straight version of "Sloop John B." In this context it seemed like a lament for a football club stolen from its supporters. With a lump in my throat, I found myself joining in.

FC United won 3-0.