Thursday, April 30, 2009

'We'll be back'

Stuart Brennan

April 30, 2009

FC UNITED just missed out on promotion to the UniBond Premier League in a dramatic finish to the season.

The reds failed to beat Bradford Park Avenue in front of a 3,718 Gigg Lane crowd and results elsewhere went against them with promotion rivals Kendal scoring a late winner to pip United to a play-off place.

FC were on course for a place in the top five until a heart-stopping final five minutes at Gigg Lane when Bradford scored an equaliser.

It looked promising for the highest crowd of the season, many wearing Eric Cantona face masks as part of a publicity campaign from those behind the forthcoming Ken Loach film Looking for Eric, which stars FC fans.

Defender Adam Tong prodded in an eighth minute opener, and goalkeeper Sam Ashton pulled off two excellent saves to keep the reds on track.

But the drama intensified as Mark Bett headed in for 1-1, and news filtered through that Kendal - who had thrown away a two-goal lead - had managed a third goal against Buxton for 3-2.

A tense four minutes of added time saw Ashton make another fine save and in the dying seconds, the ball fell to Tong who had a great opportunity to grab all three points. Unfortunately, his effort went inches wide in what was the last real chance of the game.

That put paid to hopes of FC equalling Truro City’s British record of earning four successive promotions.

FC, who were languishing in mid-table at Christmas, finished the season with seven wins and two draws, despite losing top scorer Kyle Wilson for the final three months.

But, with many of his players still horizontal on the pitch having given their all in a tense match, manager Karl Marginson issued a rallying call.

He vowed to lead his flat-out heroes to the Unibond First Division North title next season.

Margy said: "If we can keep these players together for next season, with maybe a couple of additions, I can see us winning the league.

"We’ve had this group of players together since before Christmas and our form has been magnificent.

"I have already started speaking to the lads about staying for next season and so far their responses have all been positive."

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

We will come back even stronger, says FC boss

4:36pm Wednesday 29th April 2009

By Liam Chronnell

KARL Marginson believes FC United can win the UniBond Premier League next season after agonisingly missing out on the play-offs.

The Rebels came within two minutes of a top-five finish — and possible record-equalling fourth successive promotion — on a dramatic final day of the season.

FC were still on course for a play-off place even after Bradford Park Avenue equalised to make it 1-1 with just five minutes to go at Gigg Lane.

But an 88th-minute winner for promotion rivals Kendal Town against Buxton saw the Cumbrians leapfrog them in the table and claim the final spot.

Marginson, however, insists the breakaway club will come back stronger next season.

“If we can keep these players together for next season, with maybe a couple of additions, I can see us winning the league,” said the manager.

“Since we’ve had this group of players from before Christmas our form has been magnificent.

“I have already started speaking to the lads about staying for next season and so far their responses have all been positive.”

FC’s hopes of equalling Truro City’s British record of four consecutive promotions looked to be dead and buried at Christmas.

Languishing in mid-table and having lost 24-goal top-scorer Kyle Wilson to injury, only the most optimistic United fan would have thought they could continue their meteoric rise up the non-league pyramid.

But a stunning run in which they took 24 points from a possible 30 in an unbeaten run-in saw them go into the last game of the campaign occupying the final play-off spot.

Knowing a victory would virtually guarantee them a place in the end-of-season shake-up, FC made the perfect start through defender Adam Tong’s eighth-minute opener.

But Mark Bett’s late equaliser had a crowd of 3,718 — FC’s biggest for over two years — on tenterhooks, before Kendal sealed a 3-2 victory to end the dream of playing Blue Square North football next term.

“I was being updated and knew Buxton had got it back to 2-2, but it just wasn’t to be,” said Marginson.

“Little things didn’t go our way, but the main thing now is to stick together and get stronger as a club.”

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

FC United to stay in Bury for two more seasons

3:56pm Tuesday 28th April 2009

FC United of Manchester will groundshare with Bury FC for a further two years.

The club have signed a two year extension to the Ground Licence Agreement which keeps them at Gigg Lane.

A spokesman for the club said: "FC have played home games at Gigg Lane for the last four successful seasons and whilst we would like to have somewhere closer to the city centre we are grateful to Bury FC for the use of the excellent facilities at Gigg Lane."

FC United are in discussions with Manchester City Council about a ground of their own.

The spokesman added: "The extension to the agreement with Bury will hopefully see the club through to the fulfilment of our plans."

FC plot stadium move

Source: Manchester Evening News

Stuart Brennan

April 28, 2009

FC UNITED hope to move into their own ground in Manchester in two years’ time.

The Rebels have signed an extension to their ground-share deal with Bury which lasts until 2011 – and by then the Unibond League club is planning to have built its own stadium.

FC narrowly missed out on promotion this season after three successive leaps up the non-league pyramid since their inception in 2005, and also saw a slight increase in their average crowd to 2,152 for the season just ended.

The club has always intended building its own stadium, but the rental of Gigg Lane for around £5,000 a match – which has furnished the Shakers with much-needed revenue.

Said an FC United spokesman: “We have played home games at Gigg Lane for the last four successful seasons and, while we would like to have somewhere closer to the city centre, we are grateful to Bury for the use of the excellent facilities at Gigg Lane.

“Discussions with Manchester City Council about a ground of our own continue to progress positively and the extension to the agreement with Bury will hopefully see the club through to the fulfilment of our plans.”

Monday, April 27, 2009

FC United joins co-operative movement

Source: Crain's Manchester Business

Football Club United of Manchester, which is controlled though a supporters’ trust, has become a member of Co-operatives UK.

The UniBond League club, set up by disaffected and disenfranchised Manchester United fans after the Glazer takeover, has been an Industrial and Provident Society since it was first set up in July 2005.

Club members elect the board, decide ticket prices and membership fees on a one-member, one-vote basis.

Andy Walsh, General Manager at FC United says: “We are proud to be an Industrial and Provident Society and it felt like a natural progression to join Co-operatives UK.

“The whole ethos of the club is to let the people who really matter in football – the fans – have a vital role in the way the club is run.”

FC United were placed sixth after Saturday’s matches, just outside the play-off places.

This season has been a good one for supporter-owned clubs. Brentford won the League Two championship with Exeter and Bury vying to join them in being promoted. FC Wimbledon have clinched promotion to the Blue Square Premier League.

Sinnott: Promotion a bridge too far too soon

11:39am Sunday 26th April 2009

By Ian Whiting

FC United 1 Avenue 1

A frustrating draw in front of 3,719 spectators at Gigg Lane left two of the clubs tipped for the play-offs out of the frame for the end of season extras.

The only possible result that meant both would miss out was the stalemate that ensued, meaning they finish the season in seventh (Avenue) and sixth places in the UniBond League Premier Division – just two points behind Kendal Town, who leapfrogged the pair with a 3-2 home win over Buxton.

The supporters of FC United and Avenue were not short-changed though, as the teams battled it out.

The majority of the huge crowd were in raptures in the eighth minute when the home side opened the scoring through Adam Tong.

An immensely tense finale was set up when Mark Bett equalised five minutes before the end.

Bradford boss Lee Sinnott said: “It is so very frustrating for everyone involved but you could see it coming, two very evenly-matched sides cancelling each other out.

“At the end, in added time especially, it was gung ho from both sides.

“There was a great atmosphere at the ground with almost 4,000 there and it was a superb advert for UniBond football.

“Both teams will still be in it next year so the League must be pleased.”

Sinnot added: “I thought we were the more forceful of the two teams. I thought we created the better chances and our keeper Jon Worsnop had less to do than his opposite number.”

It will be a bitter pill to swallow but Sinnott went through a similar scenario when he was manager of Farsley Celtic and suffered disappointment later while in charge at Port Vale.

In his short spell as Avenue boss he has made a good start but during that time has faced all the predictable setbacks.

Avenue went into this crucial last game with some players sidelined and others walking wounded.

“We had Amjad Iqbal and Chris Hall back and while neither was one hundred per cent fit, I thought they put a full shift in.

“Promotion was always going to be in the balance because we have only had half a season to put the squad together and focus our aims.

“We tried to beat the odds but our efforts weren’t enough as it turned out. It was a bridge too far too soon but I cannot fault the squad for that, just the timescale that we were working within.”

FC United 1 Bradford PA 1

Stuart Brennan

April 26, 2009

MANAGER Karl Marginson vowed to lead his flat-out heroes to the Unibond league title next season after they were edged out of the play-off places.

The Rebels were on course for a place in the top five until a heart-stopping final five minutes at Gigg Lane - when opponents Bradford scored an equaliser and promotion rivals Kendal netted a late winner to leapfrog them in the table.

That put paid to hopes of FC equalling Truro City's British record of earning four successive promotions.

But, with many of his players still horizontal on the pitch having given their all in a tense match, Marginson issued a rallying call.

FC, who were languishing in mid-table at Christmas, finished the season with seven wins and two draws, despite losing top scorer Kyle Wilson for the final three months.

"If we can keep these players together for next season, with maybe a couple of additions, I can see us winning the league," he said.

"Since we've had this group of players since before Christmas our form has been magnificent.

"I have already started speaking to the lads about staying for next season and so far their responses have all been positive."

FC had been on course after defender Adam Tong prodded in a eighth minute opener, and goalkeeper Sam Ashton pulled off two saves which were, without exaggeration, world-class.

But the drama intensified as Mark Bett headed in for 1-1, and news filtered through that Kendal - who had thrown away a two-goal lead - had managed a third goal against Buxton.

"I was being updated and knew Buxton had got it back to 2-2, but it just wasn't to be," said Marginson, who next week takes his team to Sweden for a season-ending friendly against a team from Djurgardens IF.

"Little things didn't go our way, but the main thing now is to stick together and get stronger as a club."

A bumper crowd of 3,718, FC's biggest for over two years, gave further cause for optimism as it meant the season's average attendance rose for the first time after a steady decline from the 3,000-plus of the first season.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

My part in Cantona's film about United love

Source: The Observer

Ed; PDF version of the page (The Observer - 2009-04-26 - page 24)

* Tony Howard
* The Observer, Sunday 26 April 2009

For a diehard Manchester United fan it was a chance that was too good to miss: an offer to appear as an extra in a Ken Loach movie with Eric Cantona. Tony Howard recalls the dashed hopes and subterfuge that led to his date with destiny.

The text was intriguing: "Fancy being in a Ken Loach film? They're casting at the match on Wednesday night. Don't tell anyone for now."

Although I was a fan of Loach, I wasn't enthralled by the prospect of wasting time when there was a pint to be had before FC United of Manchester (the club formed by fans in the aftermath of the takeover of Manchester United by the American Glazer family) played a crucial game in March 2008 in their quest for a third successive promotion.

I rang the texter for more details and, by the time I put the phone down, I'd already planned my early getaway from work to be there on time, even if it meant being fired. The reason? The film was set to star one Eric Cantona, a man I'd spent my adult life idolising. A man who gave us memories to cherish and a great joy that is impossible to explain to anyone who is not a Manchester United fan. A man who represents what football was before it got taken away from us. The last great hero in red.

Loach and Cantona had got their heads together to create a film and they'd be using United fans as extras. I'd do anything, almost, to be a part of it.

Much to our disappointment, neither Eric nor Ken was there for the "casting", which entailed standing in a room at Gigg Lane, the home of League 2 side Bury, while a production assistant stuck a camera in your face. It was hardlyHollywood. But that was partly the point.

Loach had contacted FC United the previous autumn after Cantona and scriptwriter Paul Laverty had hatched an idea for a film involving Cantona appearing in a vision to a United fan whose life was falling apart. The main character had been priced out of going to the match with his mates and, as a vocal supporter of fan-owned football clubs, Loach had been impressed with the work FC United had done to make football affordable and to bring fans back together.

Both Loach and Cantona had stated their wish for United fans to feature as extras in Looking for Eric. Cantona wanted to say thanks to the supporters - those attending FC United, those still going to Old Trafford and those doing neither but still harbouring the same deep love for their football club, usually via a bar stool.

"We are a breed of memories," he once said. "That is why I have this love of Manchester and Manchester United. I am not on the pitch any more but I am still proud of that relationship. My feelings will always be in my heart." This was his homecoming. Any Red worth his or her salt had to be a part of it.

The proof of this love was evident in the build-up to filming. "I've just seen Eric in Sainsbury's on Oxford Road," was one more believable text; others were plain daft. "Sure, I've just seen Cantona downing a pint while stood on a table outside Sinclairs" seemed a bit less plausible.

His mere presence had resulted in a real buzz about the film before a scene had been shot. As expectations grew, the production company still hadn't contacted many of us. It was like waiting to hear the verdict after an interview for your dream job. Questions flew through my head. Was I too small? Was I too young? Did I not look hard enough?

Doubts grew as some mates started hearing back. They were given instructions on where to go and what to wear. My housemate was one of the lucky few: he rose bright and early on the Monday morning. He and several other friends had been told to wear dark clothes with no logos and to take either an FC United or Manchester United shirt to the meeting point. He came home that night with a broad grin across his face. He'd spent the day smashing up a house. Eric had turned up on set and posed for pictures with what seemed like the whole of Manchester. Except me. I was devastated.

The night after, he came home with a smile so wide his face was in danger of bursting. He'd spent the whole afternoon in a pub filming a scene featuring Eric. A day in the pub with Cantona - was he taking the piss?

That was it. "Put a word in for me, I've still not heard anything," was my desperate request. And he did, and I got a phone call telling me I'd receive a text on Thursday to film on Friday.

After days of heartache at missing out, I finally prepared to meet my idol. Except I didn't receive the promised text and looking at my phone well into the early hours didn't help. I was gutted - practically everyone I knew was going to be in the film and had met Eric. Maybe it just wasn't meant to be, I would never meet the one hero I had left in the world.

I phoned a mate on set on the Friday and she confirmed that filming hadn't started. "Sod it," I thought and jumped in a taxi, dressed smartly and clean shaven, as requested in the texts sent to everyone except me, and went to Salford University to bunk into the filming of a graduation scene.

The premise was that the main character's daughter was graduating and we were family members of another student. After we had been waiting around for hours, Loach appeared with his production crew and told us very little - as he often infamously does. Our instructions were to take pictures and clap a bit. We weren't really concentrating. Our minds were occupied with questions. Would Eric be in the scene? If not, would he be on set to say hello?

A painstaking afternoon was spent acting out the same scene, with forced smiles and aching hands from all the clapping. It was June, but as the sun fell in the sky and the night began to draw in, we were getting cold. And there was still no sign of the Frenchman.

There were plenty of false dawns. "That's him, he's there," was the day's second most common phrase, behind the hearty calls of "action!" During a break in filming, I and a mate, who was my "dad" for the day, gave chase after spying a recognisable figure sneaking behind the university building. We'd found a Cantona all right, but it was the wrong one. It was Eric's brother, Joel.

We'd begun to give up as filming drew to a close when my "dad" swore he'd finally spotted the right Cantona. This time he was correct and word spread quickly as the assembled extras made their way over to him for pictures. He posed and smiled for everyone before having to leave. I hadn't got near him. But there was always the "wrap party" that night.

The venue had been kept secret, but that didn't put us off. We'd get in by hook or by crook and finally meet our hero. I'd just added "bunking into a film set" to the CV, so a swanky bar in town would present few obstacles.

Only selected members of the crew had been invited, along with the small group of fans who had organised the extras. They were sworn to secrecy, but a phone call to a less than alert friend revealed the location.

"Hi, mate, you out tonight? Where are you?" I inquired.

"Loaf, on the locks," came the reply. All too easy.

We walked in as the bouncers were examining each other's shoes. I saw my housemate in the corner, deep in conversation with the man himself. Eric was casually sipping a Coke as he listened intently to my friend. We walked over, trying to act casual, and sat at the same table. They showed outtakes from the film on a big screen and Eric laughed with the rest of us, while looking over to fellow cast members and winking. It was surreal to be this close to a man you had spent so long admiring. I simply had to speak to him.

I'd been carrying a picture in my pocket all day that I wanted signing. It was crumpled and bent over at the edges, but it showed him in mid-flight, with the ball at his feet in his majestic pomp on the way to leading that young side to the double in 1996.

I couldn't drum up the courage to approach him, despite taking full advantage of the free bar. I'd never experienced this form of "stage fright" before. Through work I'd met members of the royal family, actors, television stars and even musicians I looked up to without being even slightly overawed. But with Eric it was different.

As my mate turned, I asked him what he'd been talking about. "Eric loves Manchester and what we're doing with FC and has promised to come to a game," was his excitable reply.

Then Eric got up to leave. Now had to be my moment or I'd regret it for the rest of my life. I leapt up and shook his hand as he went to pass. Stuck for anything to say and with my heart pumping I blurted out: "Thanks for everything, Eric. We owe you so much." It was one of the most cringe-worthy sentences I'd ever uttered.

"No, thank you. I owe you," was his reply. And with that he made his way through the throngs and out of the door.

Months later, at FC United's game yesterday against Bradford Park Avenue in the UniBond Premier League, 3,000 fans wore masks with Cantona's face on them as part of a publicity stunt from the film's production company. United fans sang his name, as they still do at Old Trafford. Thanks to this film, more than 10 years since he left our city, Manchester became Cantona's once more. And we were proper chuffed to have him around.

• Looking for Eric has been nominated for the Palme d'Or award at the Cannes film festival. It opens at cinemas in the UK on 12 June

Eric: from seagulls to kung fu

Born 24 May, 1966, in Marseille.

Status Somewhere between royalty and god. Manchester United fans refer to him as King Eric.

Career on the pitch Started with Auxerre in 1983, had spells with Bordeaux, Montpellier and Marseille. Joined Leeds in 1992, left for Manchester Utd the same year. Left the club when he retired in 1997 after scoring 64 league goals.

Career off the pitch Manages French beach soccer team. Fleeting appearance in the film Elizabeth

Character Fiery. Famously kung fu-kicked a Crystal Palace fan.

Outlook "When the seagulls follow the trawler, it's because they think sardines will be thrown in to the sea." . Also a tad romantic: "I'm so proud the fans still sing my name, but I fear tomorrow they will stop. I fear it because I love it. And everything you love, you fear you will lose."

Ed; PDF version of the page (The Observer - 2009-04-26 - page 24)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Lions ready to grab play-offs slot

11:30am Thursday 23rd April 2009

By Ian Whiting

Guiseley are the team with momentum behind them as the UniBond League season reaches its final weekend with six clubs scrambling for three places in the Premier Division play-offs.

Leaders Eastwood Town and second-placed Ilkeston Town have their own side issue of who wins the title and the one automatic promotion slot to the Blue Square North. The one who misses out will be in pole position for the four-team play-offs.

The Lions have done everything in their power to book themselves a place and their fifth straight victory, 2-0 at home to North Ferriby United on Tuesday, lifted them into fourth position.

They have timed their run to perfection as the other hopefuls have been feeling the pressure in the last fortnight. However, Guiseley will be fully aware that all their good work could be undone if they do not win at Witton Albion on Saturday.

Rivals FC United of Manchester and neighbouring Bradford Park Avenue are both two points behind the Lions and play each other tomorrow. A win for either will prevent the loser leapfrogging Guiseley, should they themselves falter, while a draw would rule both out of overhauling Steve Kittrick’s team.

Hednesford Town are four points adrift in eighth place, so are too far behind to worry Guiseley, so the dark horse on the rails is Kendal Town.

The Cumbrians, and a winner from the FC United versus Avenue clash, could push Guiseley out of the frame if the Lions lose at third-bottom Witton, who are trying to avoid relegation.

Should Guiseley draw then calculators will be going into overdrive as managers, players and fans try to decipher the complexities of the goal difference scenario.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Cantona sideshow for play-off battle

Source: Telegraph and Argus

12:26pm Friday 24th April 2009
By Ian Whiting »

There promises to be a carnival atmosphere at tomorrow’s clash between FC United of Manchester and Bradford Park Avenue – despite the pressure that is on both clubs.

It is the last round of fixtures in the regular UniBond League Premier Division season and whoever wins this game is likely to be involved in the play-offs for a place in the Blue Square North.

Avenue have encouraged their supporters to turn out in replica kits as a green and white army and even reduced the price of their shirts so more fans could join in.

The home side are well supported and regularly pull in crowds in excess of 2,000.

Tomorrow at Bury’s Gigg Lane, which is FC United’s rented home, the makers of a film due to be released in June are distributing thousands of Eric Cantona masks to fans.

The crowd scenes are to be filmed and may be used by Icon Films as promotion material in their ‘Looking for Eric’ production.

Avenue and FC United, the club born out of disquiet by so-called real fans of the Old Trafford giants of a similar name, were divisional rivals last season. Avenue came up as champions and FC United via the play-offs.

They cannot both go up this year as only one team from the four in the play-offs can gain promotion. However, they could be rivals for a third season on the trot next term if both were pipped to promotion by any of four other clubs still in with a shout as the battle has gone right to the wire.

Meanwhile, Avenue’s La Liga Soccer Centre will be hosting a tournament during the summer featuring some famous names after they confirmed a visit by the Liverpool Legends.

Mark Wright, Neil Ruddock, Alan Kennedy, Bruce Grobbelaar, Jan Molby and John Aldridge are due to appear in a five-a-side squad that will play against a team who have qualified for the privilege of facing them.

Avenue owner Bob Blackburn said: “We are delighted to finally get the Legends here, as we have worked hard on it for a long while.

“There was a suggestion that our first team would play against them as a pre-season friendly way back last July. Unfortunately, because of possible dates and availability, that didn’t happen.

“Now they are coming for a different event but they are coming. Everything is signed and sealed.

“I think this is yet another indication of Bradford Park Avenue’s pulling power. It’s a coup for us and the city,”

Thackley In his first season with Thackley, and despite missing several games through injury, striker Chris Coy has set a new scoring record for the Dennyfield outfit.

Coy began his career in the youth ranks at Sheffield Wednesday and has attracted interest from clubs higher up the pyramid system since Reds boss Billy Fox brought him in at the start of the season.

Club secretary and press officer Chris Frank said: “He has 33 league goals for the season, before tomorrow’s short journey to Eccleshill United, and I have checked the records and that is the best for us at this level.

“We have been in this division for 26 years, since its inception in 1982. In fact, we are the only ever-present club in that period of time.

“When Chris scored a hat-trick in the 7-2 win at Nostell on Easter Saturday, he equalled the club record.

“When he scored the winner in the 2-1 victory at home to Bridlington Town last weekend, he set a new total. That goal took him past Stuart Taylor’s 32 league goals in the 1994-95 season.”

Taylor went on to play for Accrington Stanley and later joined a very elite group – along with former England international and Huddersfield Town legend Frank Worthington – by scoring a hat-trick on his Guiseley debut.

Coy has so far spurned attention from UniBond League and Blue Square North clubs and Thackley have had the foresight to place him on contract, so there would be some compensation were he to move on before the club do.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Winner takes all in Avenue decider

12:30pm Thursday 23rd April 2009

By Ian Whiting

The scene could not have been better set by a Hollywood director as Bradford Park Avenue travel to Gigg Lane on Saturday to face FC United of Manchester in what could be a UniBond League play-off decider.

What was not in the script was Avenue’s defeat at relegated Leigh Genesis on Tuesday. However, that was Avenue’s game in hand and it would not have guaranteed their inclusion in the end-of-season Premier Division promotion drama had they won it.

Avenue and FC United are locked together on 71 points, in sixth and fifth spots respectively. Avenue are just outside the cut-off zone following their midweek loss but, with four points separating six clubs, only three can claim a play-off place and anything could happen.

Horsfall boss Lee Sinnott said: “Tuesday’s result was unexpected but there are always a few twists and turns towards the end of any season. I would sooner look at the glass half full rather than half empty, as it hasn’t made any difference to Saturday’s game.

“It makes the situation clearer and the players will be hurting after the midweek game, so what I’m looking for is a reaction to that. Both ourselves and FC United have to win, so you would expect the game to be cagey but expansive.

“There will be a big crowd, a Football League ground, a great surface and what should be a cracking atmosphere. These are the games that you want to be involved in.”

Avenue had midfielder Matty James and striker Danny Davidson back at Leigh after the pair missed last weekend’s 2-2 home draw through injury. Chris Hall and Amjad Iqbal could be in contention for recalls.

The final match of the regular season was always going to be a big game because of the fixture itself. With that in mind, Avenue slashed the price of their replica kit and have been urging their supporters to make the journey across the Pennines as the green and white army.

Sinnott said: “We might have Ammers (Iqbal) back and we have missed Chris up front but he may also recover in time. One player definitely ruled out is Andy Campbell. The second opinion we sought on his foot injury suggests a stress fracture.

“Tuesday was hugely frustrating. We didn’t play in the first half and didn’t have good delivery into the area. Also, you can’t give goals away, identical ones, at key times and expect to win, whoever you are playing. We have discussed that at length since because that is what needs to be addressed.”

D-Day for FC

April 23, 2009

FC UNITED manager Karl Marginson says that the club’s fans can be the difference between success and failure as they go into their play-off decider this Saturday, April 25, kick-off 3pm.

If the reds beat promotion rivals Bradford Park Avenue at Gigg Lane and other results go their way, they will qualify for the UniBond Premier League play-offs and have a chance to progress to the Conference North.

Should United pull it off, they will set a new British football record of four consecutive promotions but BPA will be a tough nut to crack as they too are chasing a play-off spot.

Margy believes that his team have the fans to thank for roaring them into contention.

He said: "When I said before Christmas that I thought we still had a good chance of making the play-offs there were a few raised eyebrows. But the team and the fans have pulled together and helped us go on a great run, which has left us with a great chance of going up.

" Bradford beat us 2-0 earlier in the season but both sides are completely different outfits now.

"The fans have got behind us and when a few of the lads have been getting tired they have managed that extra 10 per cent because of the backing they have received.

"We hope for more of the same on Saturday and then, if we win that game, we will be going all out to win the play-offs too.

"I will send my team out to attack in the best United tradition and our supporters really appreciate that."

The reds set themselves up for the play-off decider with a last minute 1-0 win at title chasing Ilkeston Town at the weekend.

Danny Williams’ scrambled effort settled the encounter when it looked like FC were down and out.

"Danny’s goal was a stroke of luck we’ve deserved," said Margy. "We hit the bar four times against Nantwich so we were owed some good fortune and, hopefully, we can carry that on into the next game and maybe the week after too, should we make the play-offs."

The play-off campaign will take place next week with the highest placed team earning a home tie. Second will play fifth and third will play fourth with the highest placed winners hosting the final on Saturday, May 2.

Admission for Saturday’s do-or-die game costs £7.50 for adults, £5 for over-60s and £2 for under-18s.

Here's to FC going fourth

Ryan Davies

April 23, 2009

A MAN fast becoming a legend among some football fans is Karl Marginson, manager of the infamous FC United of Manchester .

The right result on Saturday would see them in the play offs battling for their fourth promotion in as many years since the breakaway team was founded in 2005.

I do not get the chance to go to as many FC games as I would like these days saddled as I am by the twin demands of a ten-month-old son and a season ticket at Manchester United.

So a visit to the little man’s grandparents in Derbyshire this week provided the perfect excuse to catch FC as they travelled to Ilkeston Town for a crucial Unibond league game.

Not only were the 900-odd FC fans who made the trip rewarded with a cracking atmosphere under the East Midlands sun, they were even treated to a last minute goal to keep FC’s promotion push alive.

This was football the way it used to be, on open terraces with fans changing places at half time and free to enjoy a few pints in the ground while watching the game.

The celebrations at the winner were a joy to behold, and there was no trouble in the FC end at the ground despite the best efforts of a small but neanderthal section of the home supporters.

A small group of United fans have previously tried to create divisions between United and the off-shoot founded by their supporter, but one fan is Eric Cantona, who recently said of FC: "They have a great idea. I hope they will become a great club and win the European Cup in 50 years time."

If they continue at the rate they are going, who knows, it may be even sooner than that.

FC sign 2,000 Cantonas

Source: Manchester Evening News

Stuart Brennan

April 23, 2009

FC UNITED will have over 2,000 Eric Cantonas on their side as they seek a place in the Unibond premier play-offs.

Fans attending Saturday’s crunch match against fellow promotion chasers Bradford Park Avenue will be handed rubber masks for a publicity stunt organised by the company behind the new Ken Loach film “Looking for Eric”.

But once the silliness is over, FC will knuckle down to play a game which they must win to ensure their hopes of a fourth successive promotion stay alive.

Even a victory will not assure FC of a place in the top five – if Kendal can beat Buxton by three goals more, the Rebels could end up slipping to sixth on goal difference in a tight finish to a great season.

Manager Karl Marginson has been boosted by the expected return of striker Carl Lomax after suspension and illness, anmd he feels his team has the bit between its teeth after last week’s last-minute win at second-placed Ilkeston.

“We have been building towards this for a while, but every game for the last six or seven weeks has been a ‘must-win’ and the players have responded magnificently,” he says.

“They say you make your own luck, in terms of effort, and that must mean we are the luckiest team in the league.

“It was tight at Ilkeston last week but they hadn’t been beaten for 23 games – we were the last team to beat them, in fact – but some of our football was great.”

FC were boosted by Bradford’s shock midweek defeat at relegated Leigh Genesis, but Marginson will warn his players that that plus might have a negative side.

“That was a defeat Bradford weren’t expecting, but it might be one that sharpens their focus,” he says. “If they had gone to Leigh and steamrollered them, they would have come to Gigg Lane on Saturday only needing a draw. Now they have to win, we have to win as well, and winning well would be a bonus for us.

“If Kendal can score a bucketload of goals against Buxton they will deserve it, because Buxton don’t normally concede many.”

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

FC set for final-day thriller

Source: Bury Times

4:12pm Wednesday 22nd April 2009

DANNY Williams’ last-gasp winner mean FC United will go into Saturday’s nailbiting final day of the season knowing victory will all but guarantee them a play-off place.

The super sub’s scrambled 89th-minute strike at title-chasing Ilkeston, coupled with Bradford Park Avenue’s shock defeat at second-bottom Leigh on Tuesday night, kept alive the Rebels’ hopes of a fourth successive promotion.

Three points against rivals Bradford at Gigg Lane will secure Karl Marginson’s side a top-five finish in the UniBond Premier League – unless Kendal Town go goal crazy against Buxton.

With one game to go for all the promotion hopefuls, the breakaway club now sit in fifth – the final play-off spot – on 71 points, the same number as Bradford and Kendal but with a goal difference of plus 24, compared to 22 and 21 respectively.

Victory on Saturday would see them finish above their Yorkshire rivals, but Kendal could snatch the final place if they beat mid-table Buxton by three more goals than the Reds beat Bradford.

If United draw against Bradford then they would need both Kendal and Hednesford, who entertain Leigh, to drop points. Third-placed Nantwich and Guiseley, one place below them, could still miss out on the end-of-season shake-up if they lose in an incredibly close finale to the season.

Carl Lomax is available after serving a one-game ban, while and 24-goal top-scorer Kyle Wilson could play some part following three months out with a knee injury

Monday, April 20, 2009

The big match: What happened when 'good socialist' Ken Loach met Eric Cantona, a legend of one of the world's richest football clubs?

Source: The Independent

One is a softly spoken, campaigning film-maker and a 'good Socialist'. The other is a legend of one of the world's richest football clubs (and a bit moody). So when they united on the Manchester location of the director's latest film, did Ken and Eric play nicely?

The Robert Chalmers interview

Filming is over for the day, which is just as well because everybody who's still on set, observing the spectacle unfolding in front of them, has an identical look in their eye. It's an expression that great directors such as Ken Loach seek to discourage in their actors; one which says: can this possibly be real? Loach himself is looking on with amused disbelief. In front of us, on the lawn of a detached house in north Manchester, are 50 Manchester United supporters, most in the scarlet shirt. Each is wearing, or holding, a rubber Eric Cantona mask. Some are wielding croquet mallets. At the heart of the mêlée, his head tilted back at a suitably regal angle, is Cantona himself.

At 6'2", the footballer is taller than most of his admirers, and his face is clearly visible as the fans break into "Ooh-ah Cantona", their favourite hymn to their hero. They sing as if they're never going to stop: loud, with feeling, and, most disturbingly of all, almost in tune. Rachida, his wife, is standing next to me. "Look," she says. "He's crying."

If there have been two incidents which have symbolised the bond between the big man from Marseille and the city of Manchester, they are the kung-fu kick which Cantona delivered in response to the racist taunts of a so-called supporter at Crystal Palace, in January 1995, and the penalty he dispatched against Liverpool nine months later, on his return after suspension. The celebrations that followed that goal were a tangible demonstration of the loyalty shown by both parties following that FA punishment, when either club or player might easily have walked away. Cantona purists might mention his 1996 strike against Sunderland but, for most of us raised in the red half of Manchester, those were the two iconic moments. I think everyone present would agree that the tears Eric Cantona shed this afternoon, on a threadbare lawn in Worsley, constitute a third. Even though it's started to rain, and he has no coat, Cantona stays until every fan has had his picture taken with him, and every shirt has been signed.

"Did you notice," I ask one of the supporters, "that he was crying?"

"Well... yeah," the man says, as if he's informing on a friend.

"You wouldn't get Ronaldo doing that."

"We wouldn't do this," he replies, "for Ronaldo."

Ken Loach has been shooting the climax of his forthcoming film Looking For Eric, in which a postman (Steve Evets) , also called Eric, whose life is disintegrating, has visions of the ex-footballer, who plays himself. The scene they filmed today required the 50 masked Cantonas, recruited mainly from FC United (the breakaway club formed in 2005 by Manchester United supporters, following Malcolm Glazer's controversial takeover of the Premiership team), to trash a house with mallets, baseball bats and golf clubs.

Earlier in the afternoon, the supporters had lined up on the lawn, preparing to demolish the living-room, when a people-carrier pulled up in the drive. Cantona and Rachida emerged and walked up the path, followed by the actor's brothers, Joel and Jean-Marie. Observing the effect of Cantona's arrival on Loach's extras, who were ordered to hold their positions, was rather like watching a troop of Knights Templars who have been commanded not to break their battle formation even though they've just seen Jesus stroll by, swigging from the Holy Grail.

While the director prepares the fans for the next scene, Cantona takes up a position close to where I'm standing, next to Loach's sound man. I shake Cantona's hand and give him a copy of the French edition of one of my books. I brought it specially: I have to admit that, to an extent that I haven't experienced since I was with the late George Best, all hope of journalistic objectivity has vanished. "Is it fiction?" Cantona asks, in his Marseille-accented French, assuming from the title ' on the book's jacket that I must be French. I tell him it is, and that one sequence takes place in his home town.

"Where in Marseille?"

"At La Bricarde; it's in the 15th arrondissement; you know where La Castellane is ..."

La Bricarde is one of the most challenging housing estates in the city. The footballer, who grew up in a more comfortable area on the other side of Marseille, but played football on the beach below these so-called "difficult" areas, smiles politely.

"I know," he says, "where La Bricarde is."

Twenty yards away, on the lawn, the red army is restless. Every eye is on him.

"I'm so proud that they still like me," Cantona says. "United fans are so loyal. We are bonded forever. I am still in love with United."

Words like aura and charisma have been debased to the point that it is extraordinary when you meet somebody who genuinely has both. Those dark eyes sear through you. Meeting Eric Cantona reminded me of an interview I once had with an American carnival performer who was accompanied by an untethered pure-bred wolf. With Cantona, you get the same sense that – as is recommended practice when dealing with that animal, which regards a direct stare as a provocation – it might be safer to look at him sideways on.

Where her husband is concerned, Rachida believes, "behind the man who dares, there is also a man who doubts".

"I've always been paranoid about the telephone," Cantona says. "Meeting one to one, I can judge whether the other person is open. On the phone, it's so easy to lie. I prefer speaking face to face."

Friends say his trust is not easily gained but that, once gained, you have it forever.

"As Serge Gainsbourg remarked," says Cantona, "I can count my friends on the fingers of Django Reinhardt's hands."

If your only memory of Cantona, now 42, is his appearance in the 1998 film Elizabeth, you might be forgiven for not taking him seriously as an actor. More recently, he has confounded critics who ridiculed his new career. It's true that, in the 1998 film Mookie, there is a scene where Cantona has to wheel an alcoholic monk out of a Mexican bar, using a pushchair that has become available because Eric has temporarily lost his talking chimp. But Mookie is what it is: a comedy for children, and Cantona doesn't let down his seasoned co-star, the late Jacques Villeret, who worked with directors such as Jean-Luc Godard, Bertrand Blier and Claude Lelouch.

The real proof of what Cantona can achieve is in Thierry Binisti's 2003 film L'Outremangeur (English title: The Over-Eater), in which he plays Richard Séléna, a bulimic police inspector. Séléna, 160kg, eats agricultural quantities of food every evening, in tears, alone in his baroque mansion on a cliff overlooking Marseille. When he discovers that Elsa, a young woman of North African origin, is a murderer, he agrees to protect her on condition that she walks up to accompany him over dinner, every evening. Improbable as this may sound, in L'Outremangeur, Cantona's performance in a fat suit is deeply moving. If you didn't already know, there's no way you could guess which member of Binisti's otherwise experienced cast could work miracles with a football, except for the fact that, when the inspector suffers a heart attack, the corridor leading to the light, in his near-death experience, is decorated in Manchester United colours. It was on L'Outremangeur that Cantona met Rachida Brakni, who played Elsa, and became his wife in June 2007.

"I'm ugly in that film," Cantona says. "Rachida is young and beautiful. I can't bear my reflection. But I fall in love; I look into her eyes and for the first time in my life I've found the only mirror I can look into."

He has two children from his first marriage, to Isabelle Ferrer. (A new, comprehensive biography, Cantona: The Rebel Who Would be King, by leading French writer and broadcaster Philippe Auclair, is published in August.)

The prevailing atmosphere on most film sets is one of boredom punctuated by murmured resentment about the privileges extended to the stars. On a Ken Loach shoot, there is none of this. The director, 72, softly spoken and retiring as he may appear, commands immediate respect. His combination of thoughtfulness, diffidence and effortless authority means that he comes across rather like a professor whose jacket is known to conceal a .44 he has never had to use. If you want to know what happens if you underestimate Loach (once described by The Times as "worse than Leni Riefenstahl"), you might watch the YouTube footage of his recent Newsnight debate on the miners' strike, with Nigel Lawson. Loach, who trained as a lawyer, gently skewers Lawson who, with his sagging jowls, looks increasingly like a bewildered pantomime dame who has wandered into the wrong studio.

During the filming of Looking For Eric, Loach tells me, Cantona exhibited none of the arrogant behaviour that enemies might have predicted. "If anything, it was the reverse. He showed real humility. He'd often ask: 'Was I OK? Really? Are you sure?'"

And was he? "He is very, very good."

(If you watch the out-takes on DVDs of Cantona's French films, it's noticeable that, whereas experienced cast members snigger when they ruin a scene, the former footballer looks mortified at his mistakes.)

I've never met Ken Loach before, even though, as I tell him, he was the first name I ever suggested, as a freelance, as a subject for an interview. "The editors I spoke to at that time had no interest in you whatsoever. Their attitude was, who could possibly care about this Socialist dinosaur who once made a film about a bird?" [Kes, Loach's adaptation of a Barry Hines novel about a Barnsley schoolboy who escapes an impoverished existence by flying a kestrel, was released in 1969.]

"When was this?"

"Late Eighties."

"As a company," he says, "we've survived through our contacts with Europe; through co-productions. Without that, there's no way we could have done the work we have."

"One of my best memories is going to see a double bill of Riff-Raff and Raining Stones at a small neighbourhood cinema in Barcelona. The audience weren't people who'd necessarily go to the cinema regularly. The place was packed. At the end, they all stood up to applaud."

"This cinema ..." he says. "Where was it?"

"Calle Verdi."

"Is it still there?"

"As far as I know."

Loach is well-practised at guiding conversation away from his own achievements.

Looking For Eric, while far from being a light comedy, isn't the kind of territory you would expect the director to explore. A writer from The Guardian recently told Loach that the film reminded him of Play It Again, Sam, in which Humphrey Bogart materialises to give advice to Woody Allen.

If that comparison is an imaginative one, Looking For Eric does, unquestionably, have echoes of another work. In Alan Bleasdale's 1984 TV series Scully, the eponymous hero, played by Andrew Schofield, is comforted in moments of stress by visions of Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish, who appears as himself. In Looking For Eric, the actor you will probably best recognise is John Henshaw. A former bin-man who plays the bumbling manager in the Post Office's recent commercials, ' Henshaw was given his first break by Bleasdale, in the classic 1991 Channel 4 series, GBH.

That said, you have to ask how much even Shakespeare would have suffered if "pre-loved" dramatic concepts (eg regicide) could never be replicated. "Oh, please," Loach told The Guardian, "don't compare this to other films."

Kenneth Loach grew up in Nuneaton, Warwickshire; his father supervised the maintenance shop in a machine-tool factory in Coventry. He read law at Oxford, then seems to have drifted for a period. He spent two years "as a typist in the RAF" and worked as a supply teacher. For a year, he directed repertory productions in Northampton. ("Our Miss Marple had a wobbly memory. Some nights she forgot the name of the murderer. Audiences left mystified.")

Loach then enrolled on a BBC training programme. One lecture was called "What to do With Your Cameras". He directed episodes of the police series Z Cars and achieved national prominence in 1966 following the transmission of Cathy Come Home. The TV drama charted the descent of his main character, played by Carol White, from the joy of young motherhood to abject homelessness. The play galvanised the development of the homeless charity Shelter. Loach, however, has repeatedly expressed disappointment at the legacy of Cathy Come Home.

"We stimulated energy and it led nowhere. It persuaded a few people to send a few shillings to Shelter. That's all. I would have liked Cathy to lead to the nationalisation of the building industry and home ownership."

There are still people who, when you mention the name of Loach, wince at the thought of a dose of worthy realism. "Not so long ago," I tell the director, "I heard you interviewed on BBC Five Live by someone who used the word 'gritty' so often in the first three minutes that you had to ask him to stop."

"I don't recall that conversation. It has happened."

In terms of the subjects which have attracted him – they include miners, dockworkers, builders, the Fylde coast and the urban dispossessed – Loach is strongly reminiscent of his contemporary Colin Jones, who has been described as "the George Orwell of British photography". Although Loach, like Jones, comes from the southern half of Britain, both men have gravitated towards the north, whose working communities each has approached with the fresh sensibility of an empathetic outsider. (Loach's 2007 BBC Radio Three documentary on Blackpool is an unhailed triumph.)

For many years, people have tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade Loach to articulate his credo. I'm not sure he could do better than a passage that Jones hung alongside his photographs at a recent London exhibition: an excerpt from Norman Mailer's report on the 1983 General Election. "Michael Foot," Mailer wrote, "had a cogent point of view, at least. It said: we are not here in the world to find elegant solutions, pregnant with initiative, or to serve the ways and means of profitable progress. No, we are here to provide for all those who are weaker and hungrier, more battered and more crippled than ourselves. That is our only certain good purpose on earth, and if you ask me about those economic problems that may arise if the top is deprived of their initiative, I would answer: 'To hell with them. The top is greedy and mean and they will find a way to take care of themselves. They always do.'"

Though he has matured in a career spanning more than four decades, Loach is unusual in that, where certain aspects of his working methods are concerned, he arrived fully formed. Long before Kes, he had espoused the practice of showing actors only the next few pages of a shooting script, so that events come as a surprise to them. David Bradley, who plays young Billy in Kes, didn't have to feign distress when he found the body of a bird which he believed to be the kestrel he had been working with for weeks. When Julie Brown received a visit from loan sharks in Raining Stones, the actress had no idea that her wedding ring would be taken from her in a scene of almost unwatchable brutality.

On the set of Looking For Eric, I had lunch with scriptwriter Paul Laverty. "In the scene where Eric [the postman] sees Cantona for the first time," Laverty told me, "he had no idea of what was coming. You can see the amazement in his eyes." Loach's ability to get actors to conspire in this way, allied to a unique gift for fostering improvisation, and identifying acting potential in people with no experience, make him, I would argue, our greatest living cinema director.

Ken Loach, who has little enthusiasm for volunteering confidences, has rarely spoken about his memories of 2 May 1971, when a wheel sheared off a car being driven by a Harrow publican on the M1, precipitating the crash in which his five-year-old son Nicholas, and his wife's mother, were killed. (He and his wife Lesley have four surviving children.) He didn't work for a year after. By 1980, while he had completed an impressive body of television work, including Days of Hope, his 1975 BBC series about the years leading up to the General Strike, he hadn't made a cinema film for almost a decade. It was, Robert Altman remarked, "a disgrace".

Undeterred by the miserable state of the Socialist movement in the 1980s, Loach never wavered from his belief that "the only class worth connecting with is the working class".

"He gives a respectable platform," wrote Nicholas Wapshott in The Times, in 1981, "to those who are regularly called 'wreckers, troublemakers and Trots'." To which I can hear Loach muttering: "Regularly, Nick? Maybe in your house."

Even the director's most optimistic admirers couldn't have foreseen his extraordinary renaissance in the 1990s. Land and Freedom, his 1995 masterpiece about the Spanish Civil War, was written by long-standing collaborator, Jim Allen. Allen, a former miner, died in 1999. The torch he dropped has since been carried, brilliantly, by Paul Laverty. Laverty, born in Calcutta and raised in Glasgow, has, like Loach, a background in law. His unorthodox film apprenticeship also includes a philosophy degree and several years spent monitoring human-rights abuses in Nicaragua, in the 1980s. The writer, who appears as an actor in Land and Freedom, has unquestionably encouraged a wider international dimension in Loach's work. Carla's Song, their first collaboration, released in 1996 (the moving story of a romance between a Glaswegian bus driver and a Sandinista) took Loach to Nicaragua. Laverty initiated, and wrote, Bread and Roses, their ambitious 2000 production about the exploitation of Mexican cleaners in Los Angeles.

"We have governments like Mr Blair's," Loach said, before Bread and Roses was shown at Cannes, "who talk about flexibility of labour but are continuing the policies of the right, which are all about the rights of the employer." The Government delegation boycotted the screening.

Laverty also wrote The Wind That Shakes the Barley, which follows two brothers from Cork, during and after the Irish War of Independence. The film won the 2006 Palme D'Or at Cannes. In his recent collaborations with Laverty, Loach has increasingly travelled north of the border, but each of their ' films has remained faithful to the director's fundamental instinct – namely, that you can illustrate universal truth however localised the setting.

There are moments when Loach, Laverty and Rebecca O'Brien, Loach's long- standing and distinguished producer, sound less like hardened professionals, more like amiable co-conspirators. On the set of Land and Freedom, O'Brien remarked, without irony, "everybody was a good Socialist".

At lunch during the shooting of Looking For Eric (served at Swinton Cricket Club, a friendly location that Loach, a supporter of Warwickshire and Bath City FC, chose as his HQ) everybody – including actors, Loach, O'Brien and Laverty – queues up like everyone else. Nobody has a trailer to sulk in. It was an ethos Cantona warmed to immediately.

"He became one of us," says Loach. "He was literally one of the lads. I suppose it's something you learn in football; how to be part of a team."

After the filming, I met Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United's training ground. Ferguson explained how important this sense of belonging is to Cantona, who had experienced many difficulties in France. (Some, it has to be said, began when he called his national coach Henri Michel "a shitbag".)

"If there was ever one player, anywhere in the world, that was made for Manchester United, it was Cantona," Ferguson told me. "I think because he had travelled to so many different countries. There's a bit of the gypsy in some people. He'd been searching all his life for somewhere he could look at and feel: this is my home. And when he came here, he knew: this is my place. You could just tell. He was calm. His training performances were fantastic. He got on with everybody."

Ferguson recalls a recent conversation with club captain Gary Neville. "Neville says: 'You know what I really loved about Cantona?'" The manager pauses. "I have to admit that this is not a great story in terms of the way I run this club. Anyhow, Gary said: 'Occasionally, we'd have a night out and hide it from you. We'd all say, "Don't tell anybody anything about this; especially where, or at what time, we're meeting." And then during training, Cantona would say: 'Right! I'll see you all later! At nine! In... such and such a place.' And they were all going: 'Shut up! The boss is here!' The point is that he was so proud and so keen to have nights out with the boys. And he wasn't a big drinker, Cantona. A beer. A glass of wine. But he loved being part of that culture; part of a group; that feeling of being together. And that," Ferguson continues, "was something he'd never experienced in France."

"It's funny you say that, because when he shakes your hand and looks you in the eye..."

"I know," Ferguson says. "It's daunting."

Loach – who, in Kes, wrote probably the best footballing scene in British film, refereed by the late Brian Glover – has played down reports of the United manager's regard for his films. Talking to Ferguson, though, it's obvious that his interest in Loach is informed and intelligent. He was especially enthused by The Wind That Shakes the Barley.

"The thing about that film is the way it captured that defining moment in Irish history," Ferguson says. "I'm thinking of that scene where news of the treaty had come through; when Michael Collins came back from London [with a peace treaty]. That meant the division of Ireland. In that room you had 20 people giving their opinions about what should be done. It meant the division of families; the point at which brother kills brother. If you remember that scene, it was amazing. Absolutely fantastic."

Ferguson's perceptive take on Loach's work is interesting, not least because there is a default assumption in some circles that a football man who exhibits any cultural interest should be regarded as a buffoon until proven otherwise. Few have suffered from this prejudice more than Cantona, perhaps because his still-hesitant English makes it hard for British reporters to tell when he's joking.

His sense of irony – on or off screen – is subtle and well developed.

The title of Cantona's 1993 autobiography, Un Rêve Modeste et Fou (literally, A Modest, Crazy Dream) is taken from a work by the Communist poet Louis Aragon. When he discusses his enthusiasm for art – discovered first in the studio of his father Albert, a psychiatric nurse and amateur painter, and nurtured in galleries displaying Munch and Picasso – he is insightful and straightforward. It's the same when he discusses his affection for the film director Maurice Pialat, or the singer Léo Ferré. If you've come across Ferré's songs, or the great films of Pialat, such as Under Satan's Sun, in which Gérard Depardieu gives one of his finest performances as a priest who meets the devil, you will know that these are simply not the kind of artists anybody would pretend to appreciate in order to impress. No more than they would direct, as Cantona has, a short film version of poet Charles Bukowski's story Bring Me Your Love.

In Marseille, before he first came to England, Cantona visited the house of the late industrialist Jean-Luc Lagardère. "On his wall there was a painting by Miró, one of my favourites. I could hardly believe it was the original. Lagardère gave me a book on Miró. So I was holding a print of the picture, looking up at the original. Afterwards, while I was waiting for a cab, I tried to calm myself down."

Cantona's philosophy, widely portrayed as risible, is not that far from Loach's. Which English footballer would have sought to house his family in modest accommodation, as Cantona did, first in the ethnically mixed area of Roundhay, Leeds (where he played for less than a year), then at Boothstown, near Manchester? Which domestic star can you image publicly extolling the courage of the International Brigade in Catalonia? (Cantona moved to Barcelona, home of his grandfather, after leaving Manchester, before returning to France.) Which player would voice contempt for Bernard Tapie, crooked former chairman of Olympique de Marseille, quite so frankly?

"Where there is money," Cantona believes, "you have cheats. The two go together." While neither Ken Loach nor Eric Cantona has been driven by the pursuit of wealth, they risk, despite themselves, making a fortune with this film. I make this point to Loach, a few months after the filming, when we meet in a London editing suite, where he's cutting Looking For Eric.

"Aside from your own constituency," I suggest, "if even one in six United fans around the world goes to see this film, just imagine..."

"I never approached this," Loach says, "with that in mind."

He's editing a scene that begins with a family lunch at a house in Chorlton, south Manchester. It explodes into something resembling the more alarming scenes from Raining Stones. One actress looks terrified.

"Did she know this was coming?"


I can't help being struck by the customary gentility of Loach and the mayhem unfolding on the screen in front of us. He still works, as he always has, with his trusted editor, cutting film with a razor blade. Each section is patiently numbered, and filed.

"There are one or two people in Hollywood who still edit like this," Loach says. "One of them is Steven Spielberg."

"Let's look ahead," Loach says, "and see if we find any good bits."

"Any good bits? I repeat. "What other legendary director would say that? Spielberg? Scorsese?"

The sequence, when he's finished it, is wonderful. Extraordinarily for such a robustly eventful narrative, almost every shot, when frozen on screen, is a beautifully composed still picture. That said, my most striking memories from this experience are of that day last summer, in Worsley. At one point, Loach went in to examine the living-room after it had been trashed by the fans who, once they were let loose with their weapons, seem to have experienced a degree of what is commonly called "mission creep".

"I'm not sure," Loach said, as he examined some fragment of mirror, TV set, or table, "that this was supposed to go..."

At the end of the day's filming, I'd shaken his hand and thanked him for allowing me on the set. "You're welcome," he said. "Just one thing."


"The next time in your life when there's a day that you do something utterly ridiculous; some day when you risk making a complete fool of yourself," Loach adds, "please call me. I'd like to come along."

'Looking For Eric' screens at the Cannes Film Festival next month and opens here in June

Ilkeston Town: Title hopes hit as Robins' unbeaten run finally ends

Source: This is Derbyshire

Monday, April 20, 2009, 07:30

A LAST-MINUTE goal saw Ilkeston Town taste league defeat for the first time in five months on a day when they could have gained a couple of points on UniBond Premier Division leaders Eastwood Town.

The goal was lashed home from an improbable angle by FC United substitute Danny Williams after both teams had thrown everything into attack.

At least the Robins can finish no lower than second, meaning a home tie in the play-offs.

This was also the first league defeat under Paul Hurst and Rob Scott, who have built meticulously on the work of David Holdsworth since Christmas.

Sadly, the Robins were below their best for the visit of FC United, also the previous team to beat them in the league.

It was their 15th game in 42 days and Scott said: "We tried to shuffle the side around but there are going to be tired legs.

"If you don't have tired legs at this time of the season, you have not been doing your job properly and you certainly can't say that about the lads.

"They are bitterly disappointed but I told them great teams go on good runs and bounce straight back when those runs end. That is what we need to do."

The Ilkeston defence was kept busy by wingers Carlos Roca and Jerome Wright in a game which often lacked fluency.

After 33 minutes, Amari Morgan-Smith nearly turned in a corner from Ben Pringle, who later won the Supporters' Player of the Season award.

As Ilkeston got a grip on the game, Sam Duncum squirmed free of two challenges before slipping as he was set to shoot.

But home keeper Chris Adamson was busy forcing away efforts from Tunji Moses as well as Wright and Roca.

Leading scorers Jon Douglas and Tom Cahill were called into action for a late assault on the United goal.

But an Ilkeston goal would not come and United adopted the same tactics as the home side, throwing plenty of men forward when they had the ball.

It worked in the 90th minute, giving the Robins only seconds to respond.

Douglas got his head to a cross, only for United's defence to whack the ball away.

ILKESTON TOWN: Adamson, Harrison, Hurst, Church, Weaver, Murphy, Sleath (Douglas 67), Pringle, Morgan-Smith (Cahill 62), Newsham, Duncum (Istead 76). Other subs: Wild, Thompson.

FC United: Ashton, A Carden, Garner, Platt, Tong, Nugent, Roca, S Carden (Baguley 78), Marsh (Chadwick 72), Wright, Moses (Williams 60). Other subs: Neville, Wilson.

REFEREE: D Street (West Yorkshire).


Williams rescues Rebels

April 19, 2009

FC UNITED had substitute Danny Williams to thank for keeping their hopes of squeezing into the UniBond premier division play-offs alive with a dramatic last minute winner at second-placed Ilkeston.

He fired in off the inside of the post to give the Rebels a 1-0 victory.

The win guarantees they'll still be in the running for a top-five spot when their league campaign reaches a nailbiting conclusion at the weekend with the visit of fellow promotion candidates Bradford Park Avenue.

It lifts FC up three places to third, where they head a cluster of five play-off hopefuls now separated by a single point.

But with three of those in hot pursuit of Karl Marginson's men - Bradford, Guiseley and Nantwich - all due in action again tomorrow, FC are almost certainly going to be faced with having to beat the visiting Yorkshiremen if they're to book a ticket to the knockout stages.

Meanwhile, Ashton United denied Eastwood the chance to clinch automatic promotion as champions by holding the leaders to a 2-2 draw at Hurst Cross.

The Robins threatened an upset when they led 2-0 through Gareth Richard and Iain Howard, but the visitors hit back to snatch a point.

Relegated Leigh Genesis crashed 2-0 at home to Matlock, while Witton Albion slipped nearer to joining them in going down as they could only draw 2-2 at Worksop.

Curzon Ashton rubber-stamped their place in the first division north play-offs with Matt Russell's stunning 25-yard strike giving them the victory they needed over visiting Garforth.

Vodkat League title-chasers New Mills seized on AFC Fylde's goalless draw with Newcastle to reduce their lead to just two points with Carlos Meakin scoring twice in the High Peak side's 4-0 rout of Ramsbottom.

Police tackle trouble at Ilkeston Town clash

Sunday, April 19, 2009, 22:57

TWO people were arrested for public order offences during a police operation at Ilkeston Town's match at the weekend.

Derbyshire police said "about half a dozen" Town supporters were also removed from the club's New Manor Ground during the Northern Premier Division clash with FC United of Manchester on Saturday.

A force spokesman added: "Officers escorted away fans who were in coaches and on foot. Several pubs closed in the run-up to the match.

"Fans were kept apart during the game by a segregation system arranged before the match by police and officials of the club."

The game itself ended in a 1-0 victory for FC United, with the winning goal coming in the last minute.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Danny’s killer blow to Ilkeston

Ilkeston Utd 0
FC United 1

By Mic Capill

Non-League Paper

Sunday, April 19, 2009

(No on-line content)

A last minute goal from substitute Danny Williams kept alive United's hopes of a play-off place in a game both sides desperately needed to win.

The first half was a nervous affair with chances few and far between.

A misplaced pass by Danny Sleath was picked up by Carlos Rocca, who made a fine run into the Ilkeston box before seeing his cross blocked by Simon Weaver.

From the resulting corner, the ball found its way to Tunji Moses whose fine volley from 25 yards was tipped round the [post by goalkeeper Chris Adamson.

At the other end, an inswinging corner from Ben Pringle almost caught out goalkeeper Sam Ashton who just managed to punch the ball off the line.

The dangerous Roca again threatened but saw his mishit shot easily held by Adamson.

On 38 minutes, Sam Duncum ran clear after intercepting a loose United pass but lost control and the chance was gone.

United pressed after the break without seriously testing Adamson who dealt with a cross from Adam Tong and a bouncing shot from Moses.

The Robins had a great chance take the lead when a weak clearance from Ashton was picked up by substitute Tom Cahill who forced his way clear before firing straight at Ashton.

Ilkeston looked dangerous in the latter stages, with Cahill beating Ashton to a long ball but, without an angle, his shot was easily scrambled away.

Substitute Jon Douglas saw his shot well held by Ashton, but the killer goal came in the last minute when Williams’ low strike entered the net off the inside of a post.

Star man: Carlos Rocca (United)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Last minute goal flattens Ilkeston Town 's title hopes

Published Date: 18 April 2009

UniBond League Premier Division
Ilkeston Town 0
FC United of Manchester 1

ILKESTON Town's UniBond League Premier Division title hopes all but disappeared after a 90th minute Daniel Williams goal gave visitors FC United of Manchester all three points in front of 1,313 on Saturday at the New Manor Ground.

The victory pushed United up to third and kept their play off hopes alive but although leaders Eastwood Town had to come from two goals down to claim a single point in a 2-2 draw at Ashton United, it was a crushing blow for the Robins who now have to score a hatful of goals in their last two games to have any chance of overhauling the Badgers.

Indeed, if Ilkeston fail to beat Marine at home on Tuesday night, the champagne corks will be popping erly just up the road at Eastwood and will leave the Robins facing a home play off semi final tie on Tuesday, April 28 against the club which finishes fifth in the final table next Saturday.
Full report to follow.

Easter goal treat for Town supporters

Source: Rochdale Observer

April 18, 2009

ROCHDALE Town had their best attendance of the season last Friday when the club entertained a team representing FC United of Manchester.

More than 350 saw United edge an entertaining game 4-3.

United took an early lead when manager Karl Marginson beat Mark Canning with a shot into a top corner of the net.

Town responded well, and strikes from Micky Bartholomew and former manager Tom McKenna put them in front, only for Reece to bag an equaliser before half time.

United regained the lead early in the second half when Marginson beat replacement keeper Hicks with a great shot, and Darren Lyons added a fourth when Town were caught out by a quick break.

The scoring was rounded off by Town’s Bartholomew.

Vodkat League leaders Bootle came to Town on Monday and showed why they are the best team in the division as they registered a 3-1 win.

Town found it tough going in the face of a powerful performance.

They were not allowed time to settle on the ball, but they did take the lead. Whitehouse was felled in the area, and Doyle netted from the penalty spot.

The lead lasted only two minutes. A cross caused problems for Town, and in the scramble that followed the ball ended up in the net.

Another scramble saw Bootle take the lead in the last minute of the first half.

A similar goal came on 50 minutes, and that was that.

It was tough on Town who had defended brilliantly. Canning hadn't had a shot to save, but he had picked the ball from the back of the net three times.

Bootle then shut the game down and defended in numbers with the result that Town didn't get another sniff of goal.

Town travel to play Leek CSOB today, kick-off 3pm.

They entertain Stone Dominoes at Castleton Sports Centre on Tuesday, kick-off 7.45pm.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Two wins for play-offs - FC boss

10:05am Friday 17th April 2009

KARL Marginson is convinced six points from FC United’s final two games will guarantee them a place in the UniBond Premier Division play-offs.

The Rebels dropped out of the top five after Monday’s goalless draw with rivals Nantwich Town.

The Gigg Lane tenants are one point adrift of the play-off spots, having played at least one more game than most of their rivals.

But Marginson is adamant that victories at Ilkeston this weekend and at home to Bradford Park Avenue in their final game – who lie second and third in the UniBond Premier League table respectively – will keep alive the Reds’ promotion hopes.

“We said before the match with Nantwich that we thought seven points from our last three games would be enough and we still do,” said the FC manager.

“We probably didn’t expect the draw to come here but at least we now know what we have to do.

“We’ve beaten Ilkeston already this season, so we know we can do it again.”

FC’s play-off hopes remained on a knife-edge following the draw with the fourth-placed Cheshire club.

Three times the hosts hit the woodwork but they could not break the deadlock in a pulsating clash in front of a crowd of 2,860 at Gigg Lane.

Marginson, whose side are unbeaten in eight games, said: “We’ve been on an incredible run and had a great momentum over the last six or seven weeks.

“Now we just need one final push.”

Ilkeston Town: Robins keen to avoid double trouble in their title bid

Friday, April 17, 2009, 07:30

ILKESTON Town are aiming to crank up the pressure on UniBond Premier Division leaders Eastwood Town this weekend.

But to do so they must get past the last team to beat them in the league, FC United of Manchester, who visit the New Manor Ground tomorrow.

Since the 3-1 reverse at Gigg Lane in late October, second-placed Ilkeston have gone 26 league games without defeat.

"They are the last team to beat us in the league and that is something that will come up in the team talk," said Robins joint boss Rob Scott (right).

"We don't want to let them do the double over us.

"They are just outside the play-offs and are looking for points.

"They will bring a fair few supporters, so it should be another good crowd.

"They are a good side and like to get the ball down and play.

"But maybe that will suit us because they will have to come at us and win the game. So it could be an open match."

Ilkeston have taken seven points from three games in the last seven days, including crucial wins over rivals Eastwood – watched by a bumper crowd of 2,288 – and Nantwich Town.

In between, they were held to a goalless draw by Boston United.

"Against Eastwood, we controlled the game, pretty much from start to finish, and it was a great result," said Scott.

"That left things in our own hands but we were a bit disappointed with the Boston result on Monday.

"Again, we dominated the game but just couldn't make the breakthrough.

"We have played a massive amount of games in a short space of time and I think it showed a bit in terms of fitness in that match.

"But we keep coming back whenever we are faced with a bit of adversity and did it again at Nantwich.

"The lads showed great desire to get the win. The first-half display was one of our best performances of the season – we were outstanding.

"In the second half, we played with our heads and looked fairly comfortable.

"That result put the pressure back on Eastwood.

"All we can do is keep winning games and whatever will be, will be."

Ilkeston and FC United fans are to be segregated at the ground tomorrow.

Town supporters will have to use turnstiles on the clubhouse side of the ground.

They will have to watch the match in an area stretching from the Clocktower end to the Co-op Stand.

FC United supporters will enter the ground via turnstiles at the car park end of the ground.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Robins will fight to the end

Published Date: 16 April 2009

ILKESTON Town's promotion battle intensified this week as they prepared for Saturday's visit of the club with the biggest support in the Unibond Premier Division.

Play-off contenders FC United of Manchester arrive at the New Manor Ground for a match which could beat Good Friday's home record league gate of 2,288.

After a victory over Eastwood Town, Ilkeston's title hopes slipped when they drew at Boston United on Monday while the Badgers were chalking up a big home win.

It prompted Ilkeston coach Rob Scott (pictured) to outline his disappointment at the Boston result, saying: "If ever there was a side which dominated a nil-nil draw, it was us today.

"It was another clean sheet, another game unbeaten. Unfortunately we need wins," he said before declaring that FC United will provide "a massive game, another tough game."

He was warm in his praise of the players who delighted fans by beating the Badgers but was quick to caution against irrational exuberance. "We are doing all right but we have not won anything yet.

"We have won one game but I know when you are up, football smacks you down again. It's the biggest cliche but we are now looking to the next match.

"I felt we controlled the game quite well. We were under a bit of pressure attacking-wise towards the end when they slung the ball forward. We stood up to the test really well.

"It was not a classic but we nullified them quite well. It was a very professional performance and we went out and got those three points.

"It is credit to the players who did everything we asked of them. We would not swap them for anyone in this league.

"But we knew this match was never going to win the league and no-one is jumping up and down," said Scott. He had kind words for Liam Wild, who made way for fit-again captain Simon Weaver.

"Liam has been doing well but Simon Weaver gave us a bit more experience. He was outstanding and has a bit of leadership," he said.

And unsung Simon Harrison was described as "outstanding" after stepping into the right back role from midfield following an injury to Lee Thompson.

Scott felt striker Jon Douglas had another fine game against Eastwood, often working alone against their two central defenders. When they resorted to fouls, it was obvious he was troubling them, he said.

Keeper Arron Jameson has torn a thigh muscle, returned to Sheffield Wednesday and is unlikely to return.

"He has been brilliant for us, we thank him and Sheffield Wednesday," said Scott.

That led to a return for goalie Chris Adamson, who has overcome injury in time for the run-in.

Marine visit on Tuesday, April 21, kick-off 7.45pm for the final home league match of the season. The Robins travel to Whitby on the Saturday, kick-off 3pm.

The win over Eastwood meant that Ilkeston clocked up 23 league games without defeat, prompting Scott to say: "It doesn't matter what level you are at, that is an achievement.

"You have to praise these players who have been through a lot of turmoil and the departure of the manager had an effect for weeks. But they have taken on board what we have told them and done everything asked of them."

- Fans are to be segregated for the visit of FC United of Manchester to the New Manor Ground, Ilkeston on Saturday.

Ilkeston Town supporters will have to use turnstiles on the clubhouse side of the ground for the match, which kicks off at 3pm.

They will have to watch the match in an area stretching from the Clocktower end to the Co-op Stand. Extra toilets will be provided.

FC United supporters will enter the ground via turnstiles at the car park end of the ground. All turnstiles will open at 1pm with adults charged £7 with concessions offered at £4.

All bars will be closed during play but should be open at half-time.

The match is expected to attract more than 1,000 spectators and could match the 2,288 for the visit of Eastwood Town.

During that game, police were called and they segregated fans behind the goal at the car park end. Beer was thrown and a smoke canister was lobbed into the ground from someone outside.

Nobody was hurt and police made no arrests. The force helicopter hovered over the ground for most of half-time.

After Saturday's game, there will be several presentations on the pitch but fans must remain off the grass unless invited.

Trophies will be handed to the Supporters' Player of the Year as well as the choice of the two coaches and the Players' Player of the Year.

FC's D-Day

April 16, 2009

FC UNITED are facing D-day in their battle for a play-off place as they travel to Ilkeston this Saturday, April 18, kick-off 3pm.

The reds are down to sixth place in the UniBond Premier League table, one spot below the play-off zone, after they drew 0-0 with Nantwich at Gigg Lane on Easter Monday.

It is crucial that they return from Derbyshire with three points at the weekend or their season will effectively be over.

Ilkeston are also in the promotion mix. They currently sit second with four games left to play.

United did everything but score against promotion rivals Nantwich, hitting the woodwork on four occasions.

Nicky Platt saw two fantastic efforts rebound off the bar but the fifth-placed visitors held firm to share the spoils.

FC manager Karl Marginson said: "It’s going to be very difficult but we’re not out of it (the play-off fight).

"We’ve got to concentrate on doing our own thing and we need to win our remaining games and see what happens."

After Ilkeston, FC will face Bradford Park Avenue at Gigg Lane in the final game of the season.

BPA are gunning for a play-off spot themselves so it could go right down to the wire.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Reds challenge is hotting up

Source: Bury Times

1:33pm Wednesday 15th April 2009
By Liam Chronnell »

KARL Marginson is convinced six points from FC United’s final two games will guarantee them a place in the play-offs.

The Rebels dropped out of the top five after Monday’s goalless draw with rivals Nantwich Town.

The stalemate leaves the Gigg Lane tenants one point adrift of the play-off spots, having played at least one more game than most of their rivals.

But Marginson is adamant that victories at Ilkeston, on Saturday, and at home to Bradford Park Avenue in their final game – who lie second and third in the UniBond Premier League table respectively – will keep alive the Reds’ promotion hopes.

“We said before the match with Nantwich that we thought seven points from our last three games would be enough and we still do,” said the FC manager.

“We probably didn’t expect the draw to come here but at least we now know what we have to do.

“We’vet beaten Ilkeston already this season, so we know we can do it again.”

FC’s play-off hopes remained on a knife-edge following the draw with the fourth-placed Cheshire club.

Three times the hosts hit the woodwork but they could not break the deadlock in a pulsating clash in front of a crowd of 2,860 at Gigg Lane.

Nicky Platt thought he had opened the scoring in the first half but his thunderbolt shaved the upright.

The midfielder also saw his curling 25-yard effort come back off the crossbar three minutes after the restart, while substitute Jamie Baguley’s deflected free-kick rattled the woodwork in the final minute.

But it was not all one-way traffic though, and Town’s Andy Kinney saw his 71st-minute header cleared off the line.

“We did everything but score,” said Marginson, whose side are unbeaten in eight games now. “We’ve been on an incredible run and a great momentum over the last six or seven weeks.

“Now we just need one final push.”

Nantwich rewarded for battling display

Source: This is Staffordshire

Tuesday, April 14, 2009, 08:39

UniBond League Premier Division

FC United of Manchester 0

Nantwich Town 0

NANTWICH returned from a sun-bathed Gigg Lane with a useful point from an enthralling encounter with FC United.

It was just reward for a hard-working display against the league's form side and keeps the Dabbers in the play-off zone with games in hand.
Click here!

Despite the lack of goals, the all-action clash provided excellent entertainment for a crowd of almost 3,000 fans.

Nantwich shaded a hustle and bustle first half, but the Rebels cranked up the ante after the break and the Dabbers had to work hard to ensure their share of the spoils.

Early on, Nantwich had looked the more threatening of the two sides.

Former Crewe Alex winger Rodney Jack led United right-back Adam Carden a merry dance with his pace and trickery and was a constant threat in the first period.

He also unleashed a sizzling drive that rasped over the bar.

Nantwich's best chances, however, fell to Dave Walker, who was sent clear inside the United box by Michael Lennon just after the half-hour. Rebels' keeper Sam Ashton needed to spead himself well to block Walker's shot.

Soon after, Walker muscled in to get a toe on to a long clearance, looping the ball over Ashton only to see it bounce just wide of the target.

United came out all guns blazing after the break. Nicky Platt carved out a chance for Simon Carden, who forced a quality save from Lee Jones.

A minute later, there was a let-off for the Dabbers when Platt's curling shot bounced back off the underside of the bar with Jones stranded.

Adam Tong narrowly headed over his own bar from Lennon's cross as Nantwich counter-attacked, but it was the home side who were now on top.

Phil Marsh clipped the ball just wide of the target from the edge of the area and Nantwich survived a major scare when Carden's corner pinged between a handful of players just yards from goal before being scrambled clear.

For the visitors, substitute Andy Kinsey almost netted with his first touch, but his header from Dave Tickle's corner was booted off the line.

Referee Jason Whiteley then waved away two shouts for penalties as firstly FC appealed the ball had hit Darren Tinson's arm inside the box and again when Tickle tangled with Marsh on the six-yard line.

But Nantwich's hard-working defence thwarted FC's late surge and, when fortune was needed, the underside of the bar came to the rescue for a second time to deflect Jamie Baguley's free-kick with minutes remaining.

FC United: Ashton, A.Carden, Garner, Platt, Tong, Nugent, Roca (Baguley, 79), S Carden (Neville, 83), Marsh, Wright, Moses (Chadwick, 67). Not used: Williams, Dieyte.

Nantwich: Jones, Beeston, Tickle, Tinson, O'Loughlin, Blackhurst (Parkinson, 79), Carter, MacPherson, Walker (Kinsey, 70), Lennon, Jack (Gibson, 83). Not used: Whittaker, Hawthorne.

Attendance: 2,840.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

FC United 0 Nantwich Town 0

8:14pm Monday 13th April 2009

By Liam Chronnell

FC United’s play-off hopes remain on a knife-edge after a goalless draw with promotion rivals Nantwich Town.

Three times the Rebels hit the woodwork but they could not break the deadlock in a pulsating UniBond Premier League clash at Gigg Lane.

Nicky Platt thought he had opened the scoring in the first half but his thunderbolt shaved the upright.

The midfielder also saw his 25-yard effort come back off the crossbar three minutes after the restart, while substitute Jamie Baguley’s deflected free kick also rattled the woodwork in the final minute.

United felt they should have had two penalties, but it was not all one-way traffic and Town’s Andy Kinsey saw his 71st-minute header cleared off the line.

Radcliffe Borough sealed mathematical safety in the UniBond Division One North with their second successive victory – a 1-0 home win against mid-table Mossley.

Boro made the breakthrough in the 62nd minute. Two minutes after coming off the bench, Tom Brooks struck when he followed up Mark Drew’s speculative shot which bounced back off the keeper, and prodded home.

The game drifted back into stalemate and Boro saw through the victory which gave them a vital three points.

Mossley’s bad day got worse when they had a man sent off for dissent five minutes from time. But it was a different story for Boro who have bounced back in style after taking just one point in 12 by taking six out of the last six.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

FC are on a roll

April 09, 2009

AFTER a great weekend, both on and off the pitch, FC United are gathering momentum for their promotion push as they host Nantwich Town on Easter Monday, April 11, kick-off 3pm.

The UniBond league’s biggest crowd of the season saw FC swat aside North Ferriby 4-0 on Saturday thanks in part to veteran Simon Carden’s stunner, which made him the club’s second all time top scorer.

The match was played out against the back drop of Youth United Day, which brought over 3,000 people from all walks of life to Gigg Lane.

The other goals were scored by Carlos Roca, Jerome Wright and Tunji Moses as the reds pushed up to fourth spot in the table, with promotion challengers Nantwich the next team to visit.

Manager Karl Marginson said: "We looked at our squad a few months ago and were confident that we could still make the play-offs.

"I said as much in December and a lot of people scoffed. Well, I’m not getting too big headed yet but we have a serious chance of proving me right.

"It was similar last season when we came from nowhere to gain promotion via the play-offs. Hopefully, we will match last season’s achievement.

"Nantwich are a good team in with a shout of winning the league, so it will be tough. But we have beaten some of the top sides already this season and, on our day, we are as good as anyone."

Admission to the game costs £7.50 for adults, £5 for over-60s and £2 for under-18s.

Pre-season event

April 09, 2009

BURY, Radcliffe Borough and FC United have agreed to compete in an inaugural round-robin pre-season tournament.

The matches will be held at Bury’s and FC United’s Gigg Lane home and at Radcliffe’s Stainton Park base in July and August with family themed fun days attached to every game. And £1 of every adult and concession ticket sold will be given to the clubs’ chosen charities.

David Murgatroyd, Radcliffe’s chief executive, said; "We thought it was an excellent concept and have been working on it for a while before we decided to approach Bury FC and FC United, who also liked the idea.

"It is a win-win situation for all of the clubs and a fantastic way of showing the caring side of each club and their supporters by linking in with their chosen charity."

The date of one of the tournament’s games has already been confirmed with FC playing Radcliffe at Stainton Park on Saturday, August 8.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Rebels on the rise

April 06, 2009

BOSS Karl Marginson issued a "catch us if you can" challenge to four of FC United's fellow UniBond premier promotion contenders after seeing his red-hot Rebels step up their sensational late push for a place in the play-offs with a 4-0 rout of North Ferriby.

Inspired by a magical Carlos Roca performance and watched by a bumper Gigg Lane crowd of 3,120, Marginson's men tore into the Humberside visitors with three goals inside the opening half hour from Jerome Wright, Tungi Moses and Simon Carden, effectively ending the game as a contest.

Roca made it four in the 70th minute by lashing home Simon Garner's cross, rounding off a victory which takes United up to fourth with just three games left. FC's charge appears to have come too late for them to overtake either Nantwich or Ilkeston, even though they still have to play both, while the title's definitely out of reach as they trail leaders Eastwood by 10 points.


But United's latest triumph, which coincided with keeper Sam Ashton's 50th clean-sheet for the club, means two from trailing quartet Bradford, Hednesford, Kendal and Guiseley now have to catch them in the closing-straight if they're to be denied a crack at a fourth successive promotion.

Karl said: "The lads have worked their socks off to get us into this position and now the pressure's on the teams below us.

"We never gave up hope of making the play-offs even when some people seemed to have written us off."

Meanwhile, Altrincham's alarming Blue Square Premier slump continued with an embarrassing 2-0 defeat at relegated Lewes - a result which prolongs the agony for the rocking Robins as they desperately seek the single victory which would surely see them safe from the threat of demotion.

To make matters worse for ailing Alty, who have now lost seven of their last nine league games, they had Anthony Danylyk sent off in the dying seconds.

Doomed Northwich crashed 1-0 at Ebbsfleet and are now on the brink of joining Lewes in going down.