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.