Thursday, April 02, 2009
Source: Manchester Evening News
April 02, 2009
GENEROUS FC United fans gave Yura Veretemko the pilgrimage of a lifetime by paying for him to see their team play Ossett Town last night.
The 21-year-old Ukrainian has been a fan of the supporter-owned club since its inception in 2005, but had despaired of ever seeing them play due to the high cost of air fares and the difficulty of getting a visa from his homeland.
But FC supporters who learned of his plight had a whip round and last night, as thousands of his countrymen headed for Wembley to watch their national team take on England, Yura was at Gigg Lane cheering on the Rebels.
The kind offer was the idea of FC kit man George Hayden, who has also put Yura up for the week at his home in Ashton-under-Lyne.
George said: "Yura has been coming on the FC supporters' internet forum for a long while, and has built websites about the club in Russian and English which have got other fans over there interested in us.
"We realised he might not be able to afford to come over, so we had a collection for him."
But that was not the end of it. Yura also had to go through the laborious process of getting a visa, and the club also did their best to help with that - and it still took 12 months before he could get on the plane.
Now, after a 15-hour, 1,500-mile journey, he is hoping to help cheer the Rebels towards the Unibond premier play-offs. "I liked the idea of the club when it started," he said. "And now everyone at the club has helped me to come here."
Yura will stay for Saturday's home game against North Ferriby United, but says he is not interested in events at Wembley.
"I don't like international football - it's not proper football," he said. "I prefer FC United to England and I prefer Ossett Town to the Ukraine team.
"I love only Manchester United, FC United and Shakhtar Donetsk.
"The Ukraine national team is like Dynamo Kiev reserves. For me to support them would be like a United fan supporting England even though the manager will only pick Manchester City players!"
Yura picked the right night to make his FC debut as the Rebels stormed back from 2-0 down to earn a 3-2 victory which puts them in the play-off places.
Phil Marsh scored his first goal for the club to begin the revival, Adam Tong and Simon Carden wrapped it up and FC survived a late red card for striker Carl Lomax.