Friday, April 04, 2008

For the love of United

Source: North East Manchester Advertiser

Annette Lord
4/ 4/2008

MORE than 100 poems are going on sale to try to help find a new home for a grassroots football team.

Blackley poet and author Mike Duff has put pen to paper to create 'Of A Mancunian' - a celebration of forgotten Manchester people and characters from all walks of Mancunian life.

And all profits are going into a fund to finance a Manchester ground for FC United, the breakaway football team which has climbed two divisions since being formed three years ago and is currently fourth in the Unibond League First Division.

Mike - an FC United fan - was asked for the poems by Mark O'Rourke, who is on the club's development team. The individual poems have been written over the past three or four years and most have not been published before.

Home games at the moment are played at Bury FC's Gigg Lane ground, where 'Of a Mancunian' will be launched on 12 April, a day when the club is hoping for a bumper gate as under 16s can watch its game against Lancaster for free.

Mike, who has previously written stuff for The Reds' United We Stand and FC United's magazine The Soul is One, said: "I'm sick of the attitude of professional football players, the way they treat the fans and the celebrity culture around them.

"At FC United it is about making friends, not millionaires. It's bringing football back to the people."

The front cover of the book is taken at Harpurhey cemetery by the graveside of Nancy "dickybird" Cunningham, one of Manchester's forgotten characters. Nancy, who died in 1931, spent half her life drunk and was arrested 173 times for being drunk and disorderly.

Mike, 52, who lives on Victoria Avenue, said: "It starts with a poem about Nancy and finishes with what I would like to happen to my ashes when I die. There's also one about a man who was killed on the first day of the Somme, so there's a bit on the history of Manchester too."

The books are being sold at Gigg Lane and Wigan Athletic for £5 and are also available through Mike's website

MIKE is to see his first book turned into a film.

Low Life received critical acclaim when it was released in 2000 and the publicity - including a favourable Guardian review - saw it translated into French and re-released as La Racaille de Rochdale Road.

Now a deal has been signed and sealed to bring Low Life to the small screen. London-based Ruby Films are in the process of making a short film based on Mike's day in the life of a thieving north Manchester scally.

Directing the work will be Adam Smith, who has directed some of the Skins programmes for Channel Four, as well as music videos for Chemical Brothers and The Streets.

Mike, of Victoria Avenue, Blackley, said: "I was first contacted by Ruby Films two years ago but I'm a bit of a cynic, so I thought 'I'll believe it when I see it.'

"The contracts were signed about two months ago and now the screenplay is being written. I'm over the moon about it."

Mike's poem In the Rain, a celebration of Manchester's cultural diversity, won the 2004 Poem for Manchester competition and can be seen on the Manchester Curve bridge, linking Piccadilly Place to the mainline station.