Monday, November 29, 2010

Droylsden ignored by local media despite Cup run

Source: When Saturday Comes

29 November ~ Supporters of Droylsden FC are nothing if not realistic. Standing geographically in the shadow of Manchester’s Premier League giants (almost literally since City’s move to Eastlands), those involved with the Blue Square North club understand that moments in the limelight may be fleeting and any recognition of achievement limited. However even with such reduced expectations fans still feel a little miffed by lack of reaction to tonight's FA Cup second round home tie with Leyton Orient. Despite this being the club’s second involvement at this stage in the last three years, it seems that local media now only have eyes for the new kids in town when it comes to non-League coverage.

Friday’s Manchester Evening News might serve as Exhibit A if Droylsden pursue an unfair treatment claim. The paper’s FA Cup weekend preview consisted of a double page spread featuring FC United of Manchester’s tie at Brighton, complete with large colour photograph of the team’s post-match celebrations after their previous round win. A single sentence footnote informed readers that Droylsden were also still involved in the competition. As cursory as that seemed it was still more than the Cup round-up on ITV’s Granada Reports provided later that evening, which consisted of a glowing five-minute piece on FCUM and no mention at all of the region’s other remaining representative.

Fortunately any website snippiness from some supporters (“apparently non-League football is only five years old”) has been more than offset by the fact that ESPN have chosen the Droylsden tie for second round live transmission. With BBC Radio 5 Live completing a multimedia experience, the match is due to generate over £100,000 when FA prize money and gate money are taken into account; for a club whose average gates remain obstinately below 400 not a penny of Droylsden’s share will go unappreciated. It will represent more than a full season of gate receipts.

The match also gives the club a chance to bring to a wider audience a team of whom the fans are justifiably proud. Owner/chairman/manager Dave Pace has – apart from challenging the myth about males and multitasking – spent well over a decade preaching the gospel of pass-and-move, which his sides have put it into practice. Their ascent up the non-League pyramid received a chastening blow when promotion to the National Conference in 2007 lasted just the single season during which they found themselves overpowered by full-time outfits but, undeterred, the Bloods continue to fly the flag for football’s purists.

If Droylsden give a good account of themselves tonight they believe they have an opportunity to dispel the notion that football at this level is more about physicality than technique, perhaps attract some new admirers through the turnstiles for forthcoming league fixtures, and maybe even snare a few extra column inches in the MEN. Modest ambitions, perhaps, but perfectly in keeping with this particularly grounded club. Tony Curran

Portsmouth await FC United in FA Cup

Source: MEN

Noel Gallagher set the Rebels rocking when he paired FC United with last year’s FA Cup finalists Portsmouth in the third round draw.

But first the Evo-Stik Premier League club, formed in protest over the Glazer family takeover at Old Trafford, need to overcome League One leaders Brighton.

They pulled off an incredible 1-1 away draw on Saturday that set up a second round replay at Bury’s Gigg Lane a week on Wednesday, thanks to a goal by Nicky Platt and Sam Ashton’s penalty save deep in injury time. FC United manager Karl Marginson, who had wanted to avoid Fergie’s superstars, said: “It’s mind-blowing to think we’re just one game away from playing last season’s beaten Cup finalists.

“To think Portsmouth went all the way to Wembley last May and now we could be meeting them, it’s unbelievable.

“But, before we start getting too carried away, we’ve got to remember we’ve still got a big job to do if we’re to get past Brighton.

“If we’re fortunate enough to do that, we can look forward to another terrific occasion because Portsmouth would no doubt would bring a big following up to Gigg Lane. That would mean lots of noise from both sets of fans and a cracking atmosphere.

“Pompey may be mid-table in the Championship but they have some great players and still have aspirations to get back into the Premier League.

“They’re going to be decent, but we’d have nothing to lose against them, so, from our point-of-view, it’s a great draw.”

Meanwhile Droylsden, Greater Manchester’s other non-league club going for money-spinning glory in the world’s oldest and most famous cup competition, are in second-round action against Leyton Orient at the Butchers Arms tonight. They have a real feast in store if Dave Pace’s ambitious Blue Square Bet North club win – a trip to Delia Smith’s high-riding Championship side Norwich.

All games are to be played on January 8 and 9.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Brighton 1-1 FC United

Source: Daily Mirror

Nicky Platt believes his side can still join Manchester’s other United in the FA Cup Third Round.

The FC United’s goal scorer says the rank outsiders fancy their chances in the replay at Bury’s Gigg Lane ground on December 8 – and a home date with Portsmouth.

Platt gave United the lead five minutes before the interval and they held on until seven minutes from time when Spanish striker Francisco Sandaza equalised for an increasingly desperate Brighton.

Gus Poyet’s League One leaders then wasted a glorious opportunity to seal a place in the third round in the fifth minute of stoppage time when Elliott Bennett had a well-struck penalty brilliantly saved by keeper Sam Ashton.

But midfielder Platt insisted his side had drawn enormous confidence from their gallant display, saying: “We can’t wait to get Brighton u p to our place, which I’m sure will be packed. Brighton will not have seen anything like it, I can guarantee it. You can see why they are top of the league – they were quality opposition. But I’m sure a lot of our lads could step up to play in League Two or in the Conference.”

Keeper Ashton, who made four crucial saves before Platt drove FC United ahead, admitted a tip from his assistant manager Roy Soule had helped him to foil Brighton.

Ashton said: “Roy Soule had watched a tape of Brighton’s penalty shoot-out at Woking and told me that Sandaza will go left and the rest will all put it to the right.

“I did go to my right and I touched it round the post. I could tell that he (Bennett) didn’t want to take it. He didn’t look as though he was confident to take it.”

FC United boss Karl Marginson felt the tie illustrated the magic of the FA Cup, and was overjoyed that his side – 112 places in the football pyramid below Brighton – had come so close to pulling off one of the biggest shocks in the history of the competition.

He said: “It was really a victory for us. To come to Brighton and get any kind of result was always going to be very difficult.

“We hung on by our fingernails at times, but that shows the belief the players have got.”

Brighton, without a win in six games in all competitions, have now missed four penalties this season and their assistant manager Mauricio Taricco believed this was a game they should have won easily.

He said: “We’re not very happy at the moment because we know we need to be more clinical.

“We must be doing something well because of the amount of opportunities that we’re creating, but the final touch has been missing.”

Sunday, November 21, 2010

FC United: A punk football fairytale

 Source: The Observer

 Dismayed by the way the professional game is heading, a group of Manchester United fans set up their own club five years ago. They don't have a ground and their striker is a tiler on £80 a week, but already FC United is the focus of passionate local support. Here, an astonished fan charts their remarkable rise from small-fry idealists to FA Cup giant-killers

FC United: A punk football fairytale

Dismayed by the way the professional game is heading, a group of Manchester United fans set up their own club five years ago. They don't have a ground and their striker is a tiler on £80 a week, but already FC United is the focus of passionate local support. Here, an astonished fan charts their remarkable rise from small-fry idealists to FA Cup giant-killers

* Julian Coman
* The Observer, Sunday 21 November 2010

It was a sight Manchester has seen many times before. Hordes of fans wearing red, white and black scarves, piling off a late-night train at Victoria, after a November night fixture away from home. Triumphant chants reverberating around the station forecourt. Dancing football players in red pictured on the front page of the newspaper the next day. Not unfamiliar stuff in a city that sees itself as the "new Milan" of world football. But there was one crucial difference.

This time the headlines made no reference to the reds of Manchester United. Instead, they celebrated a fireworks- night insurgency by another United, FC United of Manchester – the team formed by a group of football activists in opposition to the debt-financed takeover of the Old Trafford club by the American Glazer family in 2005.

To the acclaim of the wider football world, the delight of ESPN – the satellite sports channel which chose to show the match live – and the outright astonishment of their own travelling army of supporters, on 5 November non-league FC beat Rochdale AFC – a team 95 places above them in the football league pyramid – 3-2 in the first round proper of the FA Cup.

It was their first competitive match against league opposition and their first match at this stage of the world's oldest football competition. The game was shown in China, Germany, Scandinavia and beyond. And on a rainy Lancashire night, victory was achieved in a manner that suggested that on Guy Fawkes night 2010, the fates had finally decided to take the side of the rebel: the winner was scored in injury-time by centre-forward Michael Norton, who may, possibly, have kicked the ball out of the goalkeeper's hands.

A tiler by trade, Norton earns £80 a week playing his football in a city where Sheikh Mansour of the United Arab Emirates has spent £355m buying Manchester City a new team. Where Wayne Rooney has just signed a contract worth £200,000 a week after threatening to leave Manchester United to join them. By contrast, the £100,000 earned by FC on 5 November is enough to pay the wages of FC's playing and coaching staff for an entire season.

"Glory Glory FC United" announced the Manchester Evening News. The fan-owned, members-run club, once described as a bunch of "attention-seekers" by Sir Alex Ferguson, the manager of Manchester United, had succeeded in grabbing the attention of the entire football community. When Zoo magazine publishes a double-page spread comparing Rooney with Carlos Roca, the diminutive FC winger who works by day as a debt adviser, a threshold has clearly been crossed.

I should, at this point, declare an interest. Five years ago I became a founder member of FC United of Manchester, after a lifetime supporting Manchester United. Like 4,000 others that summer, I joined out of a sense of outrage at the takeover of United by a Florida-based businessman who bought a footballing institution with debt he then piled on to the club. Since 2005, Manchester United, previously debt-free, has paid out hundreds of millions of pounds to service the debt of the Glazer family. Levels of investment in players have dropped markedly and ticket prices have gone up by around 50%. Last season, the green and gold protest campaign, sponsored by the Manchester United Shareholder's Trust (Must), prompted tens of thousands of United fans to wear the original colours of the Newton Heath club that was the forerunner to the modern Manchester United. "Green and gold until United are sold" went the slogan.

But this season, the Glazers are still here. Or rather over there, in the United States. The family cannot freely walk the streets of Manchester for fear of attack. Meanwhile, among those who chose to give up their Old Trafford season tickets, in some cases after decades of attendance at matches home and away, something remarkable has happened: a club formed out of a sense of revulsion at the Glazer takeover, and run on the basis of one member one vote, has become the focal point of a strangely wonderful, slightly bonkers, always passionate football community.

The rise of FC United of Manchester is another sign of times in which, to paraphrase the Annie Lennox/Aretha Franklin hit, sisters and brothers are beginning to do it for themselves. In music, the pioneering American rock band Nine Inch Nails, after becoming exasperated with the corporate side of the business, cut out the executives altogether. Across Europe, workers' co-operatives of all kinds are booming. In Britain, new technologies have allowed a boom in self-publishing. Last month, the Portobello film festival in London celebrated good-quality DIY filmmaking done on the cheap.

At members-owned FC United, which won the UK's Cooperative Excellence Award in 2009, they call it "punk football" – "Our Club, our Rules". The famous Sex Pistols appearance at Manchester's Lesser Free Trade Hall in 1976, was voted one of the most influential gigs of all time. Rochdale might just have been a punk breakthrough on the football pitch.

On the fifth floor of a former mill in Ancoats, deep in what was once the industrial heart of Manchester, FC's 31-year-old club secretary Lindsey Robertson is dealing with the Monday morning aftermath of the Friday night before. Specifically, she is attempting to locate the owners of four lost pairs of keys. "Rochdale contacted us today," she explains. "They found four sets on the stand where the FC fans were." Given the bouncing atmosphere at Rochdale – former Celtic player Craig Burley told ESPN it was the best he'd experienced in years – it comes as no surprise that some people lost the contents of their pockets. After the match, when the FC forward, Jerome Wright, was asked by Norwegian television reporters what he thought of the club's fans, he turned the cameras on to a mass of jubilant teenagers and gave them the microphone, saying: "Give them a song." The implication was: "This lot can speak for themselves."

Or sing for themselves. Liberated from the stifling constraints of all-seater stadiums where groups of friends can rarely watch the match together – assuming they can afford to get in – FC fans have collectively found an anarchic joie de vivre that has inspired a succession of YouTube hits.

Their songs mix the defiant, the surreal and the simply comic. Some are Manchester United classics, sung to reaffirm a connection that for 99% of FC fans will never go away. Others are new, conceived by a hardcore of fans reared on the biggest matches in the biggest stadiums in Europe, and belted out at non-league grounds around northern England.

The Sex Pistols are reworked in "I Am an FC fan" to the tune of "Anarchy in the UK", in which a political manifesto is laid out at deafening volume: "I am an FC fan/I am Mancunian/I know what I want/And I know how to get it/I want to destroy Glazer and Sky/Cos I wanna be at FC".

In honour of new rivalries and one old one, the first season saw a lively reworking of a traditional supporter's favourite to the tune of "Land and Hope and Glory": "We hate Blackpool Mechanics/We hate Cheadle Town, too/We hate Manchester City/But United we love you." The club's first goalkeeper, the supermarket checkout worker Barrie George, was offered his own hymn of solidarity after his name attracted the crowd's attention: "Free Barrie George!/He wants the world to know/He didn't kill Dando!"

The Beach Boys ("Sloop John B") and the Carpenters have been adopted for cover versions, the latter taking off during a prestige friendly last season against the German fan-owned club St Pauli. For half an hour after that game – in the by-now deserted ground – the 300 or so fans perched in the highest section of a stand sang out the chorus: "I'm on top of the world, lookin' down on creation/And the only explanation I can find/Is the love that I've found, ever since you've been around/Your love's put me at the top of the world".

The mood created is quite intoxicatingly upbeat. A few days after the famous victory, Karl Marginson, the team coach, was still struggling to come down from the high. Marginson is a former player in the lower leagues who then became a fruit and veg delivery man ("We've got Margy with his fruit and veg van," sing the fans). "There is unbelievable positivity coming off those stands," he tells me. "At other clubs, people cheer when teams win and boo when they lose. FC fans don't boo. The atmosphere reminds me of how Old Trafford was when I used to go in the 1970s. It's got that sense of togetherness that there used to be when lads used to go and stand together on the terraces."

The sense of solidarity in the stands feeds into a commitment to the wider community. All of FC's players have visited schools around Manchester, training youngsters in the poorest areas of the city. Marginson in particular, say all associated with the club, "gets" the FC message. "Kids respond if you take the time to understand them a bit," he says. "I tell them to treat each other like they're in a dressing room. They need to look after each other and stick together."

The club's wiry grey-haired general manager, Andy Walsh, laughs at the mention of the songs: "It makes me laugh when people ask me, mystified, 'What's that Carpenters song all about?' I tell them: 'Think about it. It's a love song!' It's the spirit that comes from empowerment. The bedrock of this club is the constitution that gives each member one vote. And the most important thing about Friday night [against Rochdale in the FA Cup] is not the money, although that's certainly useful. It's the message that was given out on live television: that in football it's the ordinary fans and how they want things to be that matters more than anything else."

Walsh went to his first Manchester United match at the age of five in 1967. A former IT worker, he was pivotal in the successful campaign to stop Rupert Murdoch taking over Old Trafford in 1998. But in the late summer of 2005, after the Glazer takeover, he sat in his car outside Old Trafford for what seemed like an age, turning a letter over in his hands. "It was a request to withdraw my season ticket," he said. "Even after I posted it, I didn't know whether it felt right or not."

Discontent with the way United was being run had been growing for some time. In 1995 the Independent Manchester United Supporters Association (IMUSA) had been formed to represent fan's views in the wake of a Tannoy announcement during a crucial game ordering fans to sit down. It was an instruction that led to the immediate birth of the chant: "Stand up for the champions!" as the majority of spectators stood in protest. Stewarding became increasingly heavy-handed. The Stretford End, the famous former terrace and locus of United's most passionate supporters, was renamed the West Stand and its first tier filled with executive seats. A generation of fans felt that the whole experience of attending football matches was being transformed, and not for the better. For a younger generation, the escalating price of tickets meant that going to the match increasingly signified going to the nearest pub that carried games on Sky television. For the rebels, FC were to be the antidote to "modern" football (ticket prices today are £8 for adults, £5 for over-60s and £2 for under-18s).

According to Walsh, the late 1990s battle against Murdoch, which led to the BSkyB bid for United being blocked by then Labour minister Stephen Byers on competition grounds, provided the future founders of FC with an invaluable political education before the big leap into the unknown. By the time the Glazers took over, a significant cadre of United supporters, the majority involved in the club's influential fanzines, Red Issue and United We Stand, were ready for what was described as "the nuclear option" – the formation of a breakaway club. FC United was the provisional name. Rejected as too generic by the Northwest Counties league, which the new club was applying to join, the membership eventually settled on FC United of Manchester. A revolution conceived in FC's "Granita" moment – a Red Issue curry night in the Barbar restaurant in Rusholme – became a reality. In three years, backed by record-breaking crowds in excess of 2,000, FC achieved three successive promotions. From their vantage points in the raucous stands in Bury, FC fans "looked down on creation".

Five years on from year ZERO, not everyone wants to sing the Carpenters with FC. At the White Lion pub on Liverpool Road, the day after the FA Cup triumph, a packed pub was watching "Big United" struggle to overcome lowly Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier league. This was the pub chosen by Ken Loach for a scene in his film Looking for Eric, the story of a down-on-his-luck postman who forms an imaginary relationship with Eric Cantona, the undisputed hero of United's recent past. In the film, as a group of United fans gather to watch an important European midweek game on the pub screens, an argument breaks out between an FC fan and his mates, who accuse him of betraying the United cause. When he storms out of the pub, they cheer a nonexistent goal, leading their victim to dash back in, shouting: "Who scored?" to general laughter.

In real life, United – like FC the night before– grab an injury-time winner against Wolves. A group of men start directing jibes at FC. The general theme is: "There's only one United, right or wrong. You have nothing to do with United." Leaving after the match, a stocky man who says he has fought for United "all over Europe" and gone to jail abroad on their account, stops for a word. Earlier he told me that his son, a marine, follows the breakaway club. Now he says matter-of-factly: "I have to tell you that I will always consider you a bunch of traitors. You split us. And I will never be able to forgive you for that. That's the truth."

Such arguments have gone on since the inception of FC, across pubs and workplaces in Manchester, when friendships were broken and brief attempts were made by a small group of United diehards to stop fans going to Gigg Lane. But according to almost everyone I speak to, the tension now is much less than it used to be. On the Manchester United supporters' websites, the tales are legion of non-FC United fans who found themselves celebrating wildly when Norton's clinching goal put FC in the second round of the Cup. "There's a groundshift in opinion," says general manager Andy Walsh. "The recent 'Rooney saga' was a tipping point for many. And after the numerous ownership sagas, at Liverpool for instance, the club's ideas are gaining traction. After Rochdale, I got a message from a Red Issue stalwart who had not previously been supportive: 'You're idealists,' it said. 'But the people who established Newton Heath in 1878 had ideals. They didn't know where it was going to go. Hats off to you.'"

It is in Newton Heath, within view of the vast Eastlands stadium where Sheikh Mansour's multimillion-pound signings play in a different world, that FC fans hope the next phase in this football insurgency will take place. On 25 November, a few days before their second-round FA Cup tie, the club hope to be given the final go-ahead by Manchester City Council to build a 5,000-capacity stadium in an area that was a hub of the Industrial Revolution, but which now ranks among the most deprived inner-city areas in the country. At present the club pay a rent of £5,000 per match to play at Gigg Lane in Bury, a 30-minute tram ride from Manchester.

The proposed move is pregnant with footballing symbolism. The Newton Heath Lancashire and Yorkshire Railwaymen Football Club was formed here in 1878, moving across the city to Clayton in 1893 and renaming itself Manchester United in 1902. Untroubled by tourists, the streets of a modest council estate are named after the lost Busby Babes, the eight United greats who died in February 1958, when the team plane crashed on take-off at Munich airport. But after the songs, sentiment, colour, pride and energy of the past five years, this is where the revolution gets technical.

In negotiation with the council, the FC board of directors have agreed that through a "community share issue" (CSI) the club will raise £1.5m towards the cost of developing the crumbling Ten Acres Lane sports site, which currently boasts a dilapidated all-weather pitch and a modest sports centre. The CSI will allow fans and investors – who must become members – to buy a minimum of £200 of shares in the club and a maximum of £20,000. The money cannot be withdrawn for three years, after which it is hoped that an interest rate of 2% above the bank base rate will be paid on the investment.

An "asset lock" will ensure that the stadium and its facilities – including an artificial pitch, function rooms, a clubhouse bar and a regenerated sports centre – cannot be used for anything other than the benefit of the local community. In addition, the club have guaranteed to find £500,000 from their development fund, raised through donations collected by the 300 volunteers who keep it going. The fund total already stands at £300,000. If FC can raise the £1.5m, the council will play its part by offering a peppercorn rent and a lump sum to eventually be repaid with interest.

Nothing like this has ever been attempted by an English club. "The idea of FC United – its ideals and vision of community – needs a home," says Adam Brown, one of the club's founding board members. "We can be a catalyst here for other things to happen. We already do loads of work in communities, but it's important to have a base. What we hope is that ethical investors who like what we're doing will put the money in."

Call it punk football, DIY football or just old-fashioned community values, reasserted after a close encounter with a carpet bagger from Florida. Whatever it is, it's happening in Manchester. Inevitably there is already a song for the new ground, sung to the tune of Ewan McColl's "Dirty Old Town": "We'll build our ground at Ten Acres Lane/We'll lay the pitch by the old canal/We'll live the dream down in Newton Heath/We're gonna build our own ground/We're gonna build our own ground".

To find out more about the FCUM Community Share Scheme and to see plans for Ten Acres Lane, visit

Thursday, November 18, 2010

This badge is your badge, this badge is my badge

 Andy Hudson describes the joys of following a community, co-operative football club - and travels with FC United of Manchester fans to experience one of the greatest nights in their short history:

A curry house in Rusholme sounds an unlikely setting for a revolution, but over chapattis came final consensus that modern football was out of touch with its fans. The story of what happened in 2005 when Malcolm Glazer knocked on the door of Old Trafford and demanded the richest club in the world be saddled with huge debts has been well documented, especially during the week that FC United of Manchester introduced themselves to the nation by defeating Rochdale, who currently play a whole four divisions above them, live on TV in the FA Cup. Suddenly the media and football fans were either queuing up to love them or lining up to run them down.

We live in a time where football fans have less say than ever in how their football club is managed but over in Manchester it is the fans of FC United that make their own decisions. All members have an equal say in what happens and if they don't agree then they will display that first through debate and then through a 'one member one vote' system.

The decision to move the Rochdale game for television caused debate across the members' base - many were in favour of the move while there were those who refused to attend due to the change from a 3pm kick-off on Saturday. For a club that sinks every spare penny they have into the development fund for their new stadium, the £67,500 TV money makes a significant contribution towards running costs after yearly losses. Make no mistake, FC United are far from flush with money, and still refuse to consider a shirt sponsor. Being without their own ground brings many problems, such as paying rent to Bury FC for the use of Gigg Lane and fixture clashes with their landlords resulting in home games already having to be moved to other dates. Agreeing to move a game so that it can be televised on a Friday night, 5 miles from where they usually play, is different to a forced change when the game is in London for example; something that fans of 'big' clubs have experienced on a regular basis in the past.

Where FCUM really lead the way in how football clubs conduct themselves is through their community schemes. The club is a co-operative and their groundbreaking initiative to raise funds for the stadium development at Ten Acres Lane, Newton Heath offers fans a chance to buy community shares and own a part of their community's regeneration. As General Manager Andy Walsh stated, "This is a landmark opportunity to invest in a club bringing football back to the heart of its communities and leave a lasting legacy for future generations". Newton Heath suffers from a number of problems, such as education, skills and employment issues, activity provision and crime. Football can play a role within communities as part of a broader regeneration strategy and FCUM have prioritised developing projects with socially excluded young people, providing positive and healthy activities and providing education and skills development. FC Community Coach Steve Bennett explains that "working within the community of Manchester is an integral part of the work that FC provides. We work in inner city schools with every age group and support multi-sports, nutrition and out of school activities. FC encourage parents to bring their children to the games and we often put transport on to get them to Bury, in the hope that when the move is made to Newton Heath there is a strong fan-base of young kids."

FCUM were one of the first clubs in the country to offer a pay-what-you-can-afford season ticket, which raised more money than charging a set price the previous season, and as part of the TV agreement with Rochdale they managed to agree on a reduced ticket price for the match so that attendance was more affordable to both sets of fans.

The fans actively participate in anti-racism projects and are one of the few teams to be invited to play in the annual Antira football tournament, organised by the fans of the German club FC St Pauli, where anti-fascist and anti-racism ideas are discussed and networks and friendships forged with fans from teams such as Sampdoria, FC Winterthur and Fortuna Düsseldorf. To many FCUM fans the politics are of utmost importance, this being a club that for some time have actively encouraged gay and unwaged supporters to attend their matches.

Under the direction of Robin Pye, FCUM have recently launched a 16 week apprentice scheme aimed at 16-19 year olds, of either gender, who are out of employment and not in further education. The focus is not on personal football ability but on developing skills that one can use on a personal level and within the community. There are a number of FCUM volunteers working on their coaching badges, which the apprentices will also work towards, and sessions are regularly arranged for kids across all areas of Manchester. Manager Karl Maginson, who sold asparagus as a fruit and veg man when he first became manager of FCUM, now spends his week travelling around Manchester with Roy Soule, another member of the FC management team, coaching in schools, youth offenders institutes and prisons as two of ten community coaches who also run FC's Community Sports Leaders Award.

This volunteer sense strongly prevails at FCUM. Not only do members help out on match days but you'll often find the office staffed by folk doing a few hours of work here and there. It was estimated that 200 volunteer hours managed to get FCUM Radio ( on-air during October 2010 and along with live radio commentary of every match there is also streamed 'television' coverage available online.

The atmosphere so loved by the watching television audience for the Rochdale match wasn't a show for the cameras. Karl Marginson once described FCUM as a 90/90 club, where "90% of the fans sing for 90 minutes". I've been to the glamour grounds of Rochdale, FC St Pauli and Ramsbottom United and Margy is wrong: it's more like 99% of the fans singing for over 90 minutes. Before the teams make their way out for kick-off there's the chant of "bring on United" which reaches a crescendo just as the teams emerge from the tunnel. The noise then continues unabated for the rest of the match. The difference between attending a Premier League match and going to watch FCUM is simple: the atmosphere is vastly improved watching FC; whereas most Premier League grounds struggle to produce 6 different songs during a match, you are likely to witness over 15 at FC; and you get flags at FC. Lots of them. For those with any experience of German football, the fan culture is more aligned to our Teutonic cousins than to our fellow countrymen.

And what specifically of that Rochdale match? I joined the Stockport branch for the day, meeting up at a pub for a 5.30pm coach departure time. I arrived at 2pm expecting the pub to be quiet. Giddiness had gotten the better of some of the members (I mean when was the last time you were able to watch the team you co-own make their FA Cup First Round debut?) who were already flowing with beer. A packed pub then embarked on a slow coach journey, Manchester's traffic allowing us to progress at a speed similar to that of the Cup winners on their open-top bus trip in May, before ditching us outside of Spotland and the Krypton Factor like challenge of getting served inside the Church Pub, just along from the Willbutts Lane stand which had been given over in it's entirety to FC for the evening.

Standing just to the right of the ESPN commentary team, Jon Champion (who had made a special appearance on the live FCUM Radio commentary the week before against Ossett Town) and Craig Burley (who had been making a brew for the FCUM Radio team prior to kick-off), at the back of the stand I witnessed a tornado of red, black and white cascade down below me. The night was freezing and the steam rising from 3,200 voices singing in unison could have powered Stephenson's Rocket to far flung destinations such as Vancouver and Sydney where official supporters' clubs were watching live. Nicky Platt scored just before half-time and the guy in-front had me in a massive bear hug. Jake Cottrell scored a tremendous goal just after half-time, a goal that would be analysed over-and-over again if it were scored in the Premier League, and the noise volume of the crowd seemed to double. Whereas most fans would be subdued if their team were then pegged back to 2-2, the Punk Football that The Red Rebels sing about was displayed; defiance, a "you've equalised, so what?" attitude prevalent and the singing continued. And then there was Mike Norton bundling the ball from the 'keeper to score with seconds left. Voices eventually started to crack; throats would be sore.

FCUM will play Brighton & Hove Albion in the FA Cup Second Round. Many FC fans immediately cast their mind back to the 1983 FA Cup Final. That year they supported the overwhelming favourites; this year they support the overwhelming underdogs. Steve Bennett, who is also the radio commentator for FC told me, "I fond memories of that game as it is my first FA Cup memory, but now we are FC United of Manchester. The spirit and camaraderie between the two groups of fans is already apparent as a number of Brighton fans have been up to FC. This is an opportunity to express ourselves and show that community, co-operative football is the way forward. We're still on a high after beating Rochdale and the management of FC will be going into the game feeling they can win. From the fans perspective it's all about the weekend, meeting new fans and flying the flag for co-operative football clubs. The more we can achieve the better it will be for the co-operative movement within football."

The FA Cup party continues but the real one began over 5 years ago when these fans started something that every football fan wants: a club that appreciates their love.

Stowaways, Viz and 100 signed Andy Cole posters

 Source: FourFourTwo (Andy Mitten)

 FC United of Manchester did well to reach the FA Cup first round by knocking out a Barrow side two divisions above them.

Financially and geographically, the draw was kind: Rochdale away. FC quickly sold out their 3,200 £12 tickets for Spotland and the ESPN television money of £67,500 came at the right time for a club planning to move to their own ground in Newton Heath.

I expected FC to enjoy the occasion, but get battered by Rochdale’s best side for years.

Among United fans, I’ve got friends who loathe FC and friends who go to every FC game. Plenty are somewhere in between. Some argue about FC day after day and have done for five years. It’s all wrapped up in the bigger argument about the Glazers’ ownership of United. They’ll probably never stop, the same arguments involving the same people going round in circles: passionate, angry and entrenched views.

Nobody can deny how well FC have done in this season’s FA Cup. Spotland was bouncing, FC’s last minute 3-2 victory the shock of the first round. The away end smelt of beer, cannabis and the sulphur from flares.

Under Spotland’s bright lights, it was perfect for a big cup match. FC’s victory was a reward for a lot of people who’ve put time and energy into the club, but their biggest challenge remains raising funds for their new home. They’ve drawn Brighton away in the next round, a tough prospect given the Seagulls current sit top of League One.

A more sterile atmosphere was to be found for Wolves at Old Trafford the following day. We had the 200th issue of United We Stand on sale, 21 years after we started. Manchester even stayed dry and sunny, which always helps when you’re selling.

Inclement weather affected plans the next day. I intended to climb some Lakeland fells, but snow and gales kept us below 1,500 feet and drove us into Ambleside and Stuart Clarke’s magnificent Homes of Football exhibition. Stuart’s a fine photographer – as is shown in the latest FourFourTwo.

Wednesday saw a much-hyped Manchester derby. I sat in the City end to write a newspaper piece about being a Red surrounded by Blues. The fans around me were good humoured but tense. They feared – and I hoped – for another injury time United winner. I’m not sure I could manage to be so genial if I had to watch the turgid negativity they are regularly served up at home.

Thursday brought an interview with midfielder Tom Cleverley in Altrincham. He’d played well for Wigan against Liverpool the night before and Alex Ferguson has said that he’ll bring him back from his loan spell in January. I saw his United debut goal in South Africa in 2008 before he was sent on loan to Leicester and Watford, where he was player of the season last year.

An England Under-21 regular, he’s a down-to-earth lad from a good family. He’s versatile, but prefers to play as an attacking midfielder. His nickname is ‘Chunks.’ That’s nothing to do with him being chunky, but because he when he was a young player at United he could not say ‘Tr’ properly. So swimming trunks became ‘chunks’ and so did Cleverley.

From there, it was time to do a book signing for the Rough Guide to Cult Football with Andrew Cole at the Trafford Centre. Sky Sports came along to film, together with all kinds of readers. Like the bloke who turns up with a hundred posters whenever I do a signing with a player. Cole was polite but firm.

“I’m signing three and that’s your lot,” he said. The man begged for more. Cole rightly glared at him and repeated “No.” Why does someone need 100 posters, unless they plan to sell them?

I went for dinner with Andrew after and talked about his future. He’d been a guest on MotD and has received some decent offers, for work with his boots on and off. I’m not surprised - he’s made the right impression with those he’s worked with since retiring from playing two years ago.

The week ended with a trip to Carrington to interview Michael Carrick for UWS. As a journalist, you spend a lot of time waiting around for footballers, so it was a surprise to get at call at two minutes to twelve from United. I was due to meet him at 12.

“Michael’s waiting, where are you?” asked the official.

Carrick was sitting in his club tracksuit ahead of a bus trip to Birmingham. He was pleasant and spoke for longer than we agreed. His favourite cartoon character is Viz’s Sid The Sexist.

I went down to Villa Park myself the following day on what’s affectionately known as ‘the monkey bus’, possibly because of the calibre of passengers it attracts.

A disparate group were on board. One was reading The Economist while another tried to climb fully into the overhead locker for a laugh. Like you do. He’d squeezed into the ten inch gap before, but couldn’t get his legs in this time, despite people pushing him (see below). He cursed his misfortune, much like my brother did later in the afternoon.

He’s 34 in a few weeks and carrying several injuries. Assistant manager at Irlam, a team based to the west of Manchester between the M62 and the Ship Canal, he came on as an 81st minute sub with his team 3-1 down in an FA Vase second round game against the gloriously named Norton & Stockton Ancients from near Middlesbrough.

As well as getting involved with a scuffle with their centre half which saw the player dismissed and my brother’s face badly bruised, he scored twice in four minutes to make it 3-3. As they pushed for the winner, the home team counter-attacked and scored to make it 4-3.

The poor lad was floored, his dreams of reaching Wembley as a player over forever. FC’s, meanwhile, remain very much alive.

Clinging on and on the way up: A tale of two fan clubs

 Source: Independent

 Both run by supporters but with wildly differing results on and off the field, Ebbsfleet and AFC Wimbledon meet in the FA Cup tonight. Glenn Moore looks at two new-model outfits.

To own your own club is the dream of many a football fan, but unless you are a petrodollar billionaire, or business tycoon, the options appear to be limited. It is not, however, impossible and tonight two very different fan-ownership models take centre stage in the FA Cup.

The ESPN cameras are at Stonebridge Road, the unprepossessing north Kent home of Ebbsfleet United, for the visit of AFC Wimbledon. At stake is a place in the second round, and an unglamorous, if winnable, home tie against Stevenage, but there is a bigger picture.

AFC are the club created by Wimbledon fans after the Football Association allowed the original club to be transplanted to Milton Keynes eight years ago. Most supporters were hugely relieved when Stevenage defeated MK Dons on penalties in a first-round replay on Tuesday as they felt a meeting between the two "Dons" would "legitimise" the League One club.

Ebbsfleet United, who changed their name from Gravesend & Northfleet in honour of the Eurostar terminal three years ago, are the club bought by ground-breaking internet venture MyFootballClub in January 2008. The 30,000-plus subscribers were told they would be selecting the team in a real-life version of the computer game Football Manager.

AFC Wimbledon are football's fairy tale. They began in the Combined Counties League with a team picked from public trials on Wimbledon Common. Four promotions in seven seasons later they lead the Blue Square (Conference) Premier, own a 6,000-capacity stadium in Kingston, south-west London, and have designs on building a 20,000-arena back in their old borough of Merton. The club is wholly owned by a supporters' trust and attendances average around 3,500, higher than some of the gates the original club achieved when winning promotion to the old First Division under Dave Bassett in 1986.

The MyFootballClub experience has been more chastening. The non-profit-making Industrial & Provident society bought 75 per cent of Ebbsfleet amid a blaze of publicity, much of it based on the prospect of picking the team via web broadcasts of matches and training sessions.

An initial 27,500 fans paid £35 to join, rising to 30,000-plus the following May as Ebbsfleet lifted the FA Trophy at Wembley. However, while members were able to vote on ticket prices and kit design, team selection remained the province of the manager, Liam Daish. Members were asked to vote on whether to sell striker John Akinde to Bristol City for £150,000 in August 2008 but recruitment, and most transfers out, remained in Daish's hands.

Unsurprisingly, many members did not renew. Membership tumbled to below 10,000 after a year and is now around 3,500. With subscriptions a key source of income the squad suffered and in May Ebbsfleet were relegated from the Blue Square Premier. They now sit just outside the play-off places in the Blue Square South, with average gates below 1,000. Plans for a new ground are on indefinite hold; instead they remain at the council-owned Stonebridge Road, much of which looks as if it has not changed since Wimbledon first visited in the Southern League 45 years ago. Tonight's tie provides a welcome boost, both in terms of profile and finance.

How serious the club's problems had become are evident when the current chairman, Phil Sonsara, says: "At the start of the season the most important thing was that Ebbsfleet United still had a club at the end of the season."

Sonsara is The Fleet's fourth chairman since MyFC's takeover. Unusually in football, the manager has survived while his chairmen have changed. A Tottenham season-ticket holder, Sonsara was in the first wave of members. He had no previous links with the club but did have financial expertise, being an accountant, and time – he had quit his job and is separated without children. A year ago he offered his services, and now finds himself trying to emulate Spurs chairman Daniel Levy's ability to produce a balanced budget.

"Spurs make money, which is unusual in football, but it shows it can be done. My aim is to make the club self-financing so any income from MyFC can be ploughed into better facilities to support the club's long term."

There are those, including ex-secretary and former director Roly Edwards, who feel the MyFC concept is, as he told the BBC, "damaging the club", but Sonsara puts up a strong defence.

"The fans are not as directly involved [as some expected] but I have met supporters from all over the world who come to matches to be a part of it. At the first FA Cup tie [12 days ago] with AFC Wimbledon there were two from the New York area, I've met fans from Germany, Holland, Norway and so on. Many people thought membership would settle down to be 2,000-3,000. At £50 a head that is still £100,000-£150,000, which is significant at this level.

"As for picking the team, I was involved at the very beginning and I never thought I should pick the team. We appoint a manager, we should let him get on with the job. I have ideas on tactics and players but even in my position I don't watch enough training sessions or matches to pick the team."

The membership has had the chance to vote for the right to pick the team, and always rejected it. Last month, however, a vote was passed to have the final say on transfer acquisitions. MyFC thought this would increase membership but Daish expressed concern and Ebbsfleet's secretary threatened to resign. As only 132 members voted, with 80 in favour, there has since been some backtracking. It now appears members will only be able to vote on transfers made with extra cash from outside the season's budget.

They may soon be poring over the website as Fleet have made £65,000 in TV payments and prize money from their Cup run so far.-Winning the replay would be worth another £90,000. Not that Sonsara intends to splash it all on a centre-forward. "It's important we are responsible about that and don't put it all into the playing budget," he said.

It doesn't sound very romantic, but running football clubs is not very romantic. FC United of Manchester rather contradicted their founding principles to accept Friday night television coverage of their first-round tie because they needed the cash. Football clubs always do. As I speak to Sonsara the ground is being readied for the TV cameras, mainly by volunteers. "There's Chris Pilkinton," says Sonsara, who himself works gratis. "Chris has been a fan of the club for years. He's been cutting ivy, now he's doing some electrical work, next he'll be ironing our new shirt-back sponsor's logo on. We couldn't survive without volunteers."

Like Ebbsfleet, AFC Wimbledon rely on a lot of unpaid labour, but such is the passion this phoenix club invokes there are 250 regular volunteers ("I wish I had 50," said Sonsara enviously). Like Ebbsfleet the AFC chairman is a financially literate professional with time to spare. Erik Samuelson is a former partner of PriceWaterhouseCoopers, now retired, with his children grown up. He is paid a guinea a year, which he does not take.

"People want to be involved with the club. It is very social," he said. Samuelson added: "Our structure means we cannot be bought, moved or sold by anyone without a significant majority of the membership agreeing.

"There are immense challenges around funding but unlike a lot of trust-run clubs we were able to start with a clean slate. We were not rescuing a club with massive debts."

MyFC were – Ebbsfleet approached them – and have found it hard going. Tonight, however, both clubs can enjoy the sort of evening in the spotlight that sustains all those volunteers and long-distance internet fans through the hard grind of non-League budget balancing. And when it is over the fans can celebrate that it was their club which won or lost, not one owned by a porn baron, transatlantic property developer or shady financier.

How the clubs compare
Ebbsfleet United/AFC Wimbledon
Gravesend & Northfleet Original name Wimbledon Old Central FC
1946 Founded 1889
2007 Reformed 2002
7th in Conference South (6th tier of English football) League position 1st in Conference National (5th tier of English football)
Stonebridge Road (5,011, 500 seated) Ground capacity Kingsmeadow (4,722, 1,265 seated)
950 Average attendance 3,400
Stonebridge Road pitch Train at King's College Sports Grounds
Clubhouse bar for home fans Ground facilities Large rooms holding weddings/parties/comedy nights
Eurostar Sponsor Sports Interactive
3,500 (paying £50-£100 per year) Number of members/Trustees 1,800 (£25 per year)
£11 Adult ticket prices £14 to stand, £16-18 to sit
Michael Gash, £20,000 (from Cambridge City, 2008) Record signing Jon Main, undisc (Tonbridge Angels, 2007)
£189-£210 Adult season ticket price £240-£340
4th Round, 1963 (as Gravesend & Northfleet) Best FA Cup finish 1988 Winners (as Wimbledon) 1st round for past three seasons

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bay kick off crucial month with important win

 Source: North Wales Pioneer

 Published date: 17 November 2010 | Published by: Aaron Haley

COLWYN BAY’S early season promotion hopes were given a huge boost by beating title hopefuls Buxton 2-1 at the weekend.

John Newby was again the deciding factor, slotting home an 80th minute penalty to take all three points.

The win puts the Bay fourth in the table, having claimed 30 points from their opening 17 games, and are now just six points off top team Halifax Town.

Seagulls manager Dave Challinor was delighted with the vital victory, which kicks off a tough run of matches which look likely to shape this season’s fortunes.

"It was a massive win for us and I was delighted with the performance and particularly our work rate,” he said.

“It was the start of three huge games which we feel will go a long way to deciding whether or not we are going be up there or there about at Christmas."

Player-manager Challinor also hopes he has cracked the conundrum of his side’s patchy home form, with a 5-3-2 formation forcing opponents to play to the Bay’s strength, allowing a back three of Danny Grannon, Joe McMahon and himself to repel visiting attacks.

“Obviously our home form has not been as good as when we are away, but that has something to do with the way teams are line up against us at home, so we believed If we can put pressure on teams and force them to play long then myself, Danny and Joe can clean things up at the back all day.

Challinor’s new-look line-up again paid off, with his charges putting in an up-tempo display to enjoy the best of the play, creating a number of chances and restricting their second placed opponents for most of the game.

After a goaless first half, the Seagulls took the lead on 57 minutes when Danny Grannon capitalised on Buxton’s inability to clear from a corner, heading home Karl Noon’s cross.

But the lead lasted just four minutes, with Mark Read finding space to head home.

The introduction of Gareth Evans for Mick McGraa gave some impetus to the Bay attack, and the sub was brought down by Buxton captain Gregg Anderson ten minutes from time to give Newby his match winning chance from the spot.

Last night (Tuesday), the Bay welcomed FC United of Manchester to Llanelian Road, while on Saturday, they travel to Matlock Town (KO 3pm).

FC United face Brighton in FA Cup second round

 Source: MEN

 FC United will travel to Brighton in the second round of the FA Cup after the Seagulls defeated Woking on penalties on Tuesday night.

The Rebels earned their place in round two with a memorable victory over Rochdale and must now conquer League One opposition again for a potential glamour tie in round three.

Meanwhile, FC United are cashing in on interest generated by their FA Cup heroics as fans flock to support the club's ground-breaking community share scheme aimed at raising £1.5m of the £3.5m needed to pay for a proposed new 5,000-capacity stadium in Newton Heath.

The Evo-Stik Premier outfit, who banked £113,000 in prizemoney and TV revenue from their record-breaking run to the second-round, have announced that investment in the shares has already topped £500,000 – just six weeks since the scheme was launched.

FC’s general manager Andy Walsh said: “We’re delighted with the response to the share issue, which is attracting both ordinary fans and wealthy investors alike.”

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Colwyn Bay FC v FC United

 Source: Daily Post, North Wales

 COLWYN Bay will bid to enhance their top four status with a second home win in four days when they take on FC United at Llanelian Road tonight (7.45pm).

Victory could even lift Colwyn Bay into second place on their own if Northwich fail to win at Marine, but player-boss Dave Challinor is not underestimating the task his side face.

And he will again be looking for the same high level of performance and workrate that the players showed in last Saturday’s win against second-placed Buxton.

FC United, who are just one tie away from going into the hat with the Premier League big guns for the third round draw of the FA Cup, have just had an impressive seven-match winning run, including an FA Cup success at Rochdale, ended by last Saturday’s 1-0 league defeat at Northwich Victoria.

They will be keen to bounce back from that tonight, but they were somewhat fortunate to beat Colwyn Bay at Gigg Lane in the FA Trophy recently and Seagulls fans will be hoping their side can avenge that result tonight.

Colwyn Bay will need a late check on midfielder Mick McGraa who aggravated an ankle injury last Saturday, but the player-boss expects to have everyone available and says players on the bench will play a key role later in the game.

FC United are still without first choice keeper Zach Hibbert (broken nose), but are expected to include most of the players who won at Rochdale.

These include Jake Cottrell, who is one of five players shortlisted for the FA Cup Player of the Round award which is due to be announced next Monday.

FC United share issue boost

 Source: MEN

 November 16, 2010

 FC United are cashing in on interest generated by their FA Cup heroics as fans flock to support the club's ground-breaking community share scheme aimed at raising £1.5m of the £3.5m needed to pay for a proposed new 5,000-capacity stadium in Newton Heath.

The Evo-Stik Premier outfit, who banked £113,000 in prizemoney and TV revenue from their record-breaking run to the second-round, today announced that investment in the shares has already topped £500,000 – just six weeks since the scheme was launched.

FC’s general manager Andy Walsh said: “We’re delighted with the response to the share issue, which is attracting both ordinary fans and wealthy investors alike.”

FC United visit Colwyn Bay tonight.

Meanwhile, tonight’s also a big night for Manchester's other semi-pro Cup glory-hunters, Dave Pace’s Droylsden.

The Bloods face a Blue Square Bet North derby date at Stalybridge Celtic.

Manchester approve plans for FC United stadium


 James Evison

 Manchester city council have approved plans to build a new stadium for FC United of Manchester - the controversial club created in the wake of Manchester United's takeover by the US-based Glazer family.

The non-league club, formed in 2005, have drawn up plans for a 3.5 million-pound, 5000-capacity stadium at the Ten Acre Lane sports centre in the city.

The club's business plan was approved by the council - who own the site - earlier this week, and will now go out for consultation with the local community.

General manager of the club, Andy Walsh, told the Press Association: 'The significance of this location is historical while it also showcases a new model of facility development, based on football supporter ownership and community involvement.'

FC United currently play home games at Bury's Gigg Lane ground. If the stadium is constructed, it could see action by as early as the start of the 2012-12 football season.

Monday, November 15, 2010


 Edited from: Daily Mirror


 Stadium announcement of the decade came at FC United's away game to Northwich Victoria on Saturday afternoon.

Before the minute's silence, the Tannoy man announced they would be "remembering the servicemen and women of two World Cups... ah, I mean World Wars."

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Northwich Victoria return to winning ways against FC United of Manchester

 Source: Northwich Guardian

 By Andrew Simpson »

FOOTBALL fate decided that a Scouser should finally end FC United of Manchester’s seven-matches winning run in league and cup.

Andy Fowler’s flourish was the best moment of quality in an absorbing contest, arrowing a shot past keeper Sam Ashton on the hour.

Vics then hung on with ten men following David Thompson’s dismissal.

“A real striker’s goal,” was Andy Preece’s verdict of the winner.

And he should know.

Fowler made space for a shot by exploiting Richard Battersby’s discomfort of playing out of position, following deft headed touches by John McAliskey and then Wayne Riley.

But the Rebels, who twice saw shots from the left boot of Jerome Wright hit the crossbar rather than the net, piled on the pressure after that.

They might have nicked a point in the contest’s final attack, but substitute Simon Carden could not stretch far enough to divert Sam Ovington’s cross past James Spencer.

Instead Vics end their worst run of league form this term – three games without a win – to wrestle back a share of the Premier Division’s second spot.

Preece added “It’s a huge win for us.

“After a couple of defeats it was important to bounce back to stay in contention at the top of the table.”

His team started brighter, the visitors perhaps still recovering from the brilliance of their FA Cup win at Rochdale last weekend.

But the ex-Bury boss played his part too, switching on-loan Dominic Collins to full back to combat Wright to lessen FC United’s attacking threat from the outset.

Riley twice went close, his first shot deflected to safety by a defender after Steve Woods’ free kick had fallen kindly, then Scott McManus timed his block perfectly after Vics’ own FA Cup hero from a year ago had picked Kyle Jacobs’ pocket.

At the other end Spencer scooped Karl Munroe’s header out of the top corner from Wright’s set piece.

Neil Sorvel should have done better than to shoot off target after Fowler had cut back Collins’ pass, then McAliskey conjured a chance for himself that he failed to make the most of.

Ex-Northwich winger Carlos Roca should have broken the deadlock when he raced onto McManus’ defence-splitting pass on 42 minutes, only to scuff weakly wide with only Spencer to beat.

After half time the hosts should have made him pay from their best move of the match.

Steve Woods’ raking pass reached Fowler who, as he would in his match-winning moment, danced past Battersby before squaring for McAliskey.

But he failed to force the ball over the line with just Ashton in his way.

Fowler’s finish followed, only for Vics to cede the initiative when Thompson was sent off as punishment for a second caution.

FC United sensed there was a point to pinch, but they could not land the same knockout blow that did for Dale.

Vics’ Star Man Paul Henry. Classic case of you don’t know what you’ve got until its gone.
Henry’s energy and ball recovery was relentless, freeing up Wayne Riley and Neil Sorvel to do the things they do best.
Andy Preece’s team has a better balance with the ex-Witton Albion captain in the centre of the field, and Vics won that battle against subdued Jake Cottrell and Nicky Platt.
A word too for Dominic Collins, brilliant in the face of Jerome Wright – FC United’s most potent attacker – even in an unfamiliar role at full back.
Vics (4-4-1-1) Spencer (GK), Collins, Cherel, Woods, Thompson, Fowler (Crane 90), Sorvel, Henry, Rowe (Fitzpatrick 82) Riley, McAliskey (McArdle 90)
Subs not used Flowers, Summerskill
Goal Fowler 62
Booked Woods, Thompson (both fouls)
Sent off Thompson (second caution)
FC United (4-4-2) Ashton (GK), Jacobs (Holden 10), Munroe, McManus, Battersby, Roca, Platt, Cottrell, Wright, Deegan (Ovington 75), Hurst (Carden 75)
Subs not used Wolfenden, Parker
Booked Battersby, Munroe (both fouls)
Referee Daniel Meeson (Newcastle-under-Lyne)
Attendance 1, 665

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Northwich Victoria hope to recover walking wounded to face FC United

 Source: Northwich Guardian

 By Andrew Simpson »

ANDY Morrison has urged Northwich Victoria’s forwards to be braver in front of goal if they want to beat FC United of Manchester tomorrow, Saturday.

Vics’ assistant manager told the Guardian that the holders had not been ruthless enough in their Cheshire FA Senior Cup win over Cheadle in midweek.

“We need to sharpen up in the final third of the field,” he said.

“That was apparent on Tuesday as we totally dominated the game but we didn’t ask enough questions of their goalkeeper.

“We need to get our shots off quicker, deliver better crosses and show more desire to score a goal.”

Northwich play a league game in front of their own fans this weekend for the first time since shipping six goals against Kendal Town.

They have failed too to win any of their past three Premier Division encounters.

But Morrison is hopeful that the starting line-up on Saturday will be bolstered by the return of top scorer Ollie Ryan and midfielder Wayne Riley.

The duo will be given until the last minute to prove their fitness.

“We’ll see who’s ready in the morning,” said Morrison.

“The midfield and front line will only be decided in the hours before kick off. That’s what we have to deal with when we’ve had so many injuries.

“It’s obviously not the best for our preparation but we want to have our big players available to play in what is a big game for us.

“It’s a case of getting people off their sick bed,” he said.

“The team we picked in midweek would have been the same had we had a league game because they are the only players we had available.

“That’s how tight things have been.”

Ferenc Fodor returns to the backline following a trip to his native Hungary, while Stockport County wing man Danny Rowe arrived on a month-long loan yesterday, Thursday.

Steve Woods, who played the first half of Vics’ 3-0 win in midweek, could make his first start for a month too.

“Woodsy got 45 minutes under his belt and that’s really important,” added Morrison.

“He’s been left frustrated since he signed because it’s been so stop-start for him but I hope he’s over the [injury] problems he’s had.

“He feels stronger and that’s great for us because as the season goes on he’ll be a key player for us.”

E.ON Player of the Round


 Pick your favourite from the First Round Proper.

The FA Cup sponsored by E.ON
First Round Proper
E.ON Player of the Round
Click here for the Second Round Proper ties

Five players have been nominated for the E.ON 'Player of the Round' award following their performance in The FA Cup First Round Proper.

A five-strong panel will nominate their candidates after each round (up to and including the Semi-Final) and you can vote for your favourite on

The panel comprises FA Cup hero Ricky George, E.ON’s Executive Director Graham Bartlett, Radio 5 live presenter Mark Chapman, The Daily Star’s Sports Editor Howard Wheatcroft and TV personality and FATV presenter Tim Lovejoy.

The selections for the First Round Proper are as follows:

Josh McQuoid, AFC Bournemouth
McQuoid opened the scoring in the first minute and grabbed himself a second just three minutes later, as the Cherries found themselves 3-0 up after only seven minutes. After a superb fightback from Tranmere, levelling the scores at 3-3, McQuoid restored the lead for Bournemouth and in doing so he bagged a first senior hat-trick. A great performance from the Cherries striker, and a 5-3 finish meant the home side booked their place in Round Two (Ricky George).

Adam Birchall, Dover Athletic
Birchall opened the scoring with a superb 25-yard strike, firing into the top corner after shrugging off one and skipping past another of the Gillingham defenders. He then played a key part in Dover’s second, winning possession for the away side before Luke I'Anson supplied the finish (Mark Chapman).

Mark Scott, Swindon Supermarine
In their maiden FA Cup First Round Proper tie in their 18 year history, Swindon Supermarine claimed a famous victory over Eastwood Town to secure their place in the next round. The victory was largely thanks to the acrobatics of goalkeeper Mark Scott, who was called into action to maintain their narrow advantage. Constant shots on goal were denied by Scott and an impressive one-handed save late on was a highlight of his key role in this momentous occasion (Tim Lovejoy).

Jake Cottrell, FC United of Manchester
A solid display from Jack Cottrell was capped with a superb left-footed strike from distance in this dramatic FA Cup tie. With one of the goals of the round, Cottrell helped keep United’s FA Cup dream alive before they went on to beat Rochdale 3-2 (Howard Wheatcroft).

Gary Madine, Carlisle United
20-year-old striker, Gary Madine scored four as Carlisle hit Tipton Town for six. A first-half hat-trick helped United go in 5-0 up at half-time. Madine added a fourth with a late strike to help his side ease into Round Two (Graham Bartlett).

You have until midday on Monday 22 November to vote for your favourite and the player with the highest number of votes will receive a commemorative trophy and two VIP tickets to The FA Cup sponsored by E.ON Final on 14 May 2011.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Lower league sides must be run by the fans

 Source: Daily Post, North Wales

 Andrew Gilpin

 THE day of the community club is coming... because who’d want to be a football club owner?

You’re on a hiding to nothing if you want to make money because you start with a certain amount of fans and slowly lose them through your decisions.

Supporters don’t like the manager. That’s a thousand gone. They’re unhappy with the prices. Say goodbye to another 500. Sold a top player? That's a 100. Had a crappy burger? That’s at least one person who’s never coming back.

Whatever initiatives you put into place you’re not going to grow more fans if the team isn’t successful, so you can’t make money from gate receipts.

You’ll have to look at the other assets.

You could sell on some players, but thanks to some guy called Bosman your first team is more or less worthless. You might as well try selling on the youngsters to keep it all going.

Then there’s the land. When you redevelop all that, what's left? You can’t grow any more of it.

Even the mega rich Premier League owners don’t have it easy.

Manchester United fans hate Malcolm Glazer. So much so a large group would rather set up their own club rather than give him any of their hard-earned cash.

FC United is a true example of the community club. Two thousand fans who rule by committee. No shareholders. No grab for cash, unlike the club’s estranged big brother. Supporters are a part of the club at every turn and so the team’s victory is truly their victory.

It’s the future, a club you can call your own and players you can relate too.

In fact do Premier League owners really rule their clubs, or do the players?

The damage the Wayne Rooney debacle has done – holding a great of world football to ransom for a few thousand more – will come back to haunt the mega bucks player, because the link between them and the rank-and-file fan has gone.

To pay the likes of Rooney his pieces of silver the Glazers will screw the supporters that little bit more. And how much longer can they put up with a family ticket price of £200. £40 on food. Five pound for a programme. Club memberships fees, a shirt a year for the kid(s), blah, blah, blah.

Just as supporters were being turned off the sport by the violence in 70s and 80s, greed is doing the same now.

Foreign owners have come in thinking with the TV deal in place and season ticket sales, the Premier League is a sure thing.

That’s fine if you’re Roman Abramovich or Sheikh Mansour, but Tom Hicks and George Gillett have just found out that the stadiums aren’t paved with gold.

And the Glazers may find it out very soon, because if they continue to put the squeeze on the fans, many will become disillusioned with the Premier League. Just like the people who set up FC United.

They can’t go cold turkey on football, the game is too ingrained into the British psyche.

But you can wrestle control back from big business and give it back to the people who matter most in it all – the fan.

The future is a club you can feel a part of. Where you want to give them your money, not resent doing it.

For North Wales I want that community club to be Wrexham, but in truth we’re light years away from that.

Somewhere along the line the relationship between owner Geoff Moss, chairman Ian Roberts and the fans has been eroded.

It may be something to do with a multi-million pound student flats project built on something the club has very little of now – land.

When that goes what does the club really have left? How can you make a profit?

You always hear the well-meaning fans say: “If I became a millionaire I’d buy Wrexham.”

Would you? Would you really pour money into a club that in all honesty will always lose you cash. Where you’d leave yourself open to personal attacks even though you thought you were doing your best.

Football clubs – especially lower league ones – shouldn’t be owned by one or two people, they must be owned by communities.

Maybe the true essence of the community club is to start again and drop down the leagues – like FC United, like AFC Wimbledon, like Chester. As long as you have a ground, it’s do-able.

Most fans hope this doesn’t ever happen at Wrexham. But if that’s the price of getting their love for football back, they’ll probably pay it.

Football clubs were set up over a century ago by a small group of like-minded people to enjoy.

It’s time for football to come full circle.

FC United of Manchester head to Northwich Victoria following FA Cup win

 Source: Northwich Guardian

Northwich Victoria v FC United of Manchester (Kick off 3pm)
Evo-Stik League Premier Division

Venue Victoria Stadium
Referee Daniel Meeson (Newcastle-under-Lyne)
Admission Adults £12 (£10 to stand), Concessions £10 (£8 to stand), U16s £5, U12s £2
Odds ( Vics 9/10, Draw 9/4, FC United 5/2
Previous Meeting Vics 3 FC United 0 (October 24, 2009)
Vics (from) Spencer (GK), Morrison (GK), Cherel, Collins, Flowers, O’Brien, Sumner, Thompson, Woods, Clegg, Crane, Fitzpatrick, Henry, Riley, Rowe, Sorvel, Fowler, McAliskey, Ryan
Doubtful Henry (calf), Riley (groin), Ryan (calf), Woods (match fitness)
Injured Brown (groin), Disney (broken leg), Peers (hamstring)
Suspended Connor (one match)
Top scorer Ollie Ryan (13)
Form (Past six home in league) L W L W W W
Record (Home) P7 W5 D0 L2 F18 A14 Pts15
Record (Overall) Pos4 P15 W8 D3 L4 F31 A20 Pts27
FC United (from) Ashton (GK), Hibbert (GK), Ayres, Battersby, Chadwick, Holden, Jacobs, Munroe, Neville, Parker, Carden, Cottrell, Ovington, Platt, Roca, Wright, Deegan, Hurst, Norton
Doubtful none
Injured none
Suspended none
Top scorer Michael Norton (13)
Form (Past six away in league) W L W L L W
Record (Away) P6 W3 D0 L3 F8 A7 Pts9
Record (Overall) Pos17 P12 W6 D0 L6 F21 A20 Pts18

Match Pointers
NORTHWICH Victoria host FA Cup heroes FC United of Manchester in their worst run of league form this season after failing to win any of their past three matches.
The hosts lost back-to-back Premier Division games for the first time when they went down 2-1 at Frickley Athletic last weekend, so Andy Preece will be looking to bounce back in style on Saturday.
He will wait until the last possible moment to check on the fitness of top scorer Ollie Ryan (calf), while Paul Henry (calf), Wayne Riley (groin) and Steve Woods (calf) will have late tests too.
Mark Peers (hamstring) is out injured, while Michael Connor serves a one-match ban.
However Vics did defeat FC United in the two clubs’ first meeting in the FA Cup last term, a game in which Wayne Riley scored in a 3-0 win.
FC United, fresh from their stunning first round win at Rochdale last Friday, have won their past seven matches in league and cup.
However they are playing catch-up in the league after a slow start to the term that saw them lose four of their first seven Premier Division games.
Vics fans will no doubt want to welcome back Richard Battersby and Carlos Roca after they played a part in the club’s Football Conference North title-winning season back in 2006.

Boss bolstering back line

 Edited from: MEN

 One bright spot for Vaughan over the last week has been the FA Cup headlines generated by his former club FC United.

The Trafford boss, who used to coach FC United’s reserve side, was thrilled to see his good mate Karl Marginson lead them to a shock first-round win at Rochdale last Friday night.

"Margy is my drinking partner, and FC United are a club close to my heart," Vaughan said. "I was absolutely thrilled for them. It’s what the FA Cup is all about. It was brilliant when Micky Norton got the winner. I played with Micky for three years at Woodley Sports, and we had our arguments, but he’s a top lad."

FC United of Manchester mit Pokalerfolg

 Source: (in German)

 Der von enttäuschten Manchester United-Fans gegründete FC United of Manchester hat in der ersten Runde des FA-Cups für einen Paukenschlag gesorgt. Der Siebtligist siegte beim Drittligisten Rochdale mit 3:2 und zog damit in die zweite Runde in. Nicky Platt und Jake Cotterill trafen für den Underdog. Damit könnte der FC United einem Duell mit Manchester United einen Schritt näher gekommen sein. In der dritten Runde wäre ein Aufeinandertreffen mit dem "großen Bruder" möglich.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Jake's an FA Cup giant-killer

 Source: MEN

 Mike Floyd

 Former Cardinal Langley pupil Jake Cotterell was the toast of Manchester on Friday after helping FC United to an exhilarating first-round FA Cup victory against Rochdale at Spotland.

The Rebels’ 3-2 win represented an historic giant-killing act for the Evo-Stik League minnows.

And Cotterell capped off a memorable evening by scoring FC’s second goal, an absolutely stunning 25-yard strike that rocketed into the top corner of Dale keeper Josh Lillis’ net.

Though Rochdale cancelled out FC United’s two-goal lead, Michael Norton handed the underdogs victory with a controversial stoppage time winner, kicking the ball from Lillis’ grasp before sliding home the decisive strike.

It meant FC United progressed to the second round and a tie against either Brighton or Woking.

There to witness the exploits was Danny Dyson, manager of Heywood St James where young Cotterell started out his career. He was delighted with what he saw.

He said: "It was a cracking match. To be honest I didn’t know who to support so I stayed neutral. But it was superb that Jake scored. It gave me a buzz. I felt proud they had both played for Jimmies."

Dyson, though, was bemused by the television pundits, who seemed to think that Cotterell was using his ‘swinger’ when he scored his goal, an opinion shared by FC United manager Karl Marginson.

He added: "It amused me that they said on the television that Jake had no left foot. When he played for us he was all left foot and played on the left of midfield."

Ex-Saints stars in FA Cup epic

 Source: MEN

 Two former Heywood St James players went head to head in Friday night’s exhilarating first-round FA Cup tie between Rochdale and FC United at Spotland.

The clash resulted in an historic giant-killing act for the Evo-Stik league minnows.

In the blue corner for Rochdale was centre back Craig Dawson, while in the red for the visitors was midfielder Jake Cotterell, both of whom played for the Phoenix Park outfit.

And the Jimmies old boys made major contributions to a thrilling contest; Cotterell unleashing an unstoppable left-foot shot from 20 yards out to put FC United 2-0 up, Dawson heading home a Brian Barry Murphy corner to level the scores at 2-2.

Cotterell, though, had the final say when FC United striker Mike Norton poked home a controversial injury time winner to put his team – 95 places below Rochdale in the league pyramid – through to the second round and a tie against either Brighton or Woking.

Dawson played for Heywood St James from under 14 to under 18 and was centre back for the under 18s team which won the Manchester County Youth Cup.

Cotterell turned out for 12 games, two seasons ago, as a left-sided midfield player, before departing for Oldham Town.

There to witness the exploits of his ex-players was Heywood St James long-standing manager Danny Dyson, who was delighted with what he saw.

He said: "It was a cracking match. To be honest I didn’t know who to support so I stayed neutral.

"But it was superb that they both scored good goals. It gave me a buzz. I felt proud they had both played for Jimmies."

Dyson, though, was bemused by the television pundits, who seemed to think that Cotterell was using his ‘swinger’ when he scored his goal, an opinion shared by FC United manager Karl Marginson.

He added: "It amused me that they said on the television that Jake had no left foot.

"When he played for us he was all left foot and played on the left hand side of midfield."

So did Danny see the potential in both players?

"You could see Craig had the potential to go a long way, but it wasn’t as obvious that Jake could play at a higher level to be honest.

"Craig’s dad Ken was the manager of the under 18s and Craig was totally involved. He used to cut the pitch and help his dad who did a lot of work in the clubhouse.

"That said I am thrilled for both lads and hope they go on to greater things."

Dawson has already done that, having been signed by Premier League outfit West Bromwich earlier in the season. He has been loaned back to Rochdale for the remainder of the 2010/11 campaign.

Rebels’ dream goes on

 Source: Bury Times, Liam Chronnell

 FC United’s reward for their FA Cup victory over Rochdale is a trip to Brighton or Woking in the second round.

The Rebels shocked the League One club 3-2 at Spotland on Friday night to pocket more than £100,000.

Striker Mike Norton was the hero in front of the live television cameras as he grabbed an injury-time winner to pull off the upset of the round and cap a famous night for the breakaway club.

Manager Karl Marginson said: “With a few minutes to go I put five in the middle and thought ‘let’s hold on’. Then we scored. I don’t know if we deserved it but it’s all about results and it was a fantastic result.”

Nicky Platt grabbed a 42nd-minute opener before Jake Cottrell’s screamer four minutes after the restart put Marginson’s men in control.

But Rochdale, 97 league places above them, fought back to make it 2-2 with 12 minutes to go, only for Norton to send FC into dreamland.

They must now wait until Tuesday’s replay between League One leaders Brighton or Woking, of the Blue Square South, to discover who they will play next.

FC return to EvoStik Premier League action at Northwich Victoria on Saturday before travelling to Colwyn Bay on Tuesday night.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

FC United We Stand


 Written by Rob EDWARDS

 The FA Cup is underway again and we’ve had our first of many upsets. Rochdale 2-3 FC United of Manchester. On a chilly Friday evening at Spotlands, the magic of the cup was in full flow. Goals, drama, and Adrian Chiles reporting from a caravan made for compelling viewing. I enjoyed the match as a neutral, but never have I been so biased towards a team I have no affiliation towards.

FC United of Manchester formed in 2005, after Malcolm Glazer and company forced Manchester United shareholders to sell up. The Glazers have  privately owned the club ever since, so a  number of Man United fans turned their backs on Old Trafford and formed the ‘Red Rebels’  as a result of these events. This is why I see Friday evening’s scenes as a victory for football, but more specifically a victory for fans.

I have nothing against Rochdale. They played their part in a cup tie worthy of television coverage and maybe deserved more from the game. But it’s so interesting to see how far raw fan power can get you. Admirably rare in fact. To put things into perspective, consider how unfairly clubs now treat fans. Ticket prices are ever increasing, often pricing your everyday fan to revert to the armchair for their football fix.  This considered, the fans turning their back on such a global brand as Manchester United is to be noted on many levels, especially in the Old Trafford board room.

It made me proud to be a fan of the sport. Seeing fellow football fans protesting against what is wrong, and doing it in a successful way. Many of whom have followed FC United from day one, or converted from ‘The Red Devils’ to ‘The Red Rebels’ during their existence. Resisting the temptation of watching Rooney, Vidic and Scholes every week in favour of the rough and tumble of The Evo-Stick Premier Division. I have to say I was rejuvenated by an aspect of the FC United following on Friday. These are fans that have celebrated numerous League Championships, FA Cup wins, and European glory. Yet the passion they greeted Friday’s final whistle with, was phenomenal. It ignited emotions that are normally seen after Man United dumped Barcelona out of the Champions League. A mass pitch invasion and chanting of The Red Devils songs ensued. Raw passion from real fans. A massive component of the game we all love.

Is this the first step to fans regaining an element of power in their Club? Maybe, because we shouldn’t be ignored as fans. Without us there would be less passion, less interest, less atmosphere and empty grounds across the country. As an integral part of a Club, we have every right to be heard. And hopefully FC United will continue to make noise.

The Club have certainly returned to the roots of football. Sensible ticket prices, standing on the terraces, rubbing shoulders with real fans who are there for the football, and only the football. Miles away from prawn sandwiches, and where the closest thing to a corporate box is a goalkeeper standing in a penalty area in his pre match suit.

Admittedly it’s still early days for FC United in the 2010 FA Cup and they may struggle to overcome Brighton or Woking in the 2nd Round. But they’ve certainly got the media attention and glory that their initiative deserves. How far they can go? Only time will tell but I for one will keep a keen eye on the developments of one of the country’s most unique clubs.

Written By Rob Edwards

Hill: We're down but not out

 Source: MEN

 Guy Nelson

 Keith Hill won’t let Dale’s shock FA Cup defeat to FC United derail his plans for the season.

The Rochdale boss understands the criticism following the 3-2 home defeat to the Rebels at Spotland on Friday night, but he won’t be making wholesale changes to his side.

"It’s disappointing but it’s not dispiriting," said Hill.

"When you think of how far we’ve come in the last few years there shouldn’t be too much disappointment.

"Football is a game of short memories, which is typical of our society which has no patience and is always looking for a quick fix.

"I won’t be ripping up the plan and making major changes.

There’s not an awful lot wrong. I’ve just a few minor critiques and we’ll be looking at those.

"I can understand the criticism of supporters after we lost the game. Our fans have been magnificent and I’m sure they will be for the rest of the season.

"FC United fans are singing for a cause and they generated an unbelievable atmosphere – the best support I’ve witnessed in three-and-a-half years.

"Our fans have to balance out Friday’s result with how far we’ve come in recent years."

The defeat was especially painful for Hill after referee Geoff Eltringham allowed Mike Norton’s controversial winner to stand after the striker had prodded the ball out of keeper Josh Lillis’s grasp.

"We didn’t do enough to win the game, but we shouldn’t have lost it either," said Hill.

"I expect referees to get major decisions right but the referee didn’t on Friday night. We’ve been on the wrong side of major decisions in three of the last four games.

"Decisions like that have a massive impact on managers, players, fans and football clubs. A competition like the FA Cup can be a good source of revenue for clubs like ours.

"I spoke to FC United boss Karl Marginson after the game and he apologised for the manner in which they won. He was of the same opinion as me over their winner."

Hill is confident his side can bounce back when they travel to Sheffield Wednes-day in the league on Saturday.

"I always get a good reaction from the players," said Hill. "I was disappointed with the performance against FC United as well as the result, considering who we were playing against.

"The facts are that we were at home and we are the league club and we should not be conceding three goals to FC United."

Dale’s FA Cup exit was matched by Oldham Athletic’s defeat at Accrington Stanley in the first round.

That means that the pair’s re-arranged League One game will now go ahead on Saturday, November 27 – a date set aside for FA Cup second round games – subject to police approval. The original game at Spotland last Tuesday was abandoned after just eight minutes because of torrential rain.

"It’s much better to play it on a Saturday," added Hill.

"It should be a great atmosphere."

Poyet wants his players to reach for the stars

 Source: The Argus

 9:30am Wednesday 10th November 2010

* By Andy Naylor »

Albion chief Gus Poyet has told his potential record-breakers to keep on reaching for the stars.

Poyet’s runaway League One leaders are on the brink of club history at Hartlepool on Saturday.

The Seagulls are unbeaten in 12 games and another victory at Victoria Park will clinch their best-ever start to a season, eclipsing a standard set in 1926.

Poyet has urged his players to keep on trying to break records in their quest for promotion to the Championship.

He told The Argus: “You need to aim for the best if you want to become successful in any job.

“We are going there with the mentality of winning the game, then we need to deal with Hartlepool, the weather, the pitch, the referee, normal things.

“The aim is to be the best and make every kind of record we can. That doesn’t mean we are going to achieve it but if you don’t aim for it you have got no chance.”

Casper Ankergren, Gordon Greer, Adam El-Abd, Radostin Kishishev and Elliott Bennett, pictured, are all poised to return to the starting line-up in the North East after they were rested for last Saturday’s 0-0 FA Cup draw at home to Woking.

Hartlepool will be without suspended skipper Ritchie Humphreys after losing their FA appeal against the first red card of his 600-game career in the FA Cup draw at Vauxhall Motors.

Poyet wants Albion to adopt an open door policy at Withdean for fans of second round opponents FC United of Manchester if Albion negotiate next Tuesday’s replay at Woking.

FC United, formed by disenchanted Manchester United fans, have attracted lots of publicity and Poyet would like to see Withdean packed out for their possible visit.

He said: “The bigger the crowd the better for the players. If, with all respect to Woking, we go through then I would like them to bring as many fans as they want.

“I know the club have to think about security and plenty of other things but, from my point of view, if they want to bring 4,000 then let them bring 4,000.”

Albion have been allocated 1,350 tickets for the Woking tie, available to season ticket holders from 5pm yesterday, blue members from 5pm today and white members from 5pm tomorrow.