Friday, January 28, 2011

Blues gear up for FC United of Manchester test

 Source: Hemsworth and Southelmsall Express

 FRICKLEY Athletic boss Peter Rinkcavage will be hoping his Blues side can take inspiration from what’s set to be a bumper crowd at the Tech5 Stadium for the visit of FC United of Manchester on Saturday (kick-off 3pm).

The Blues are expecting one of, if not the, biggest crowds of the season in South Elmsall as the Manchester club, backed by their traditionally large following, visit.

Rinkcavage insisted his players “shouldn’t be involved in football” if they couldn’t get up for a game in front of a big crowd at FC Halifax Town last weekend - a game which fell victim of a frozen pitch.

And he’ll be hoping a big gate at Westfield Lane will help steer the Blues to a much-needed three points rather than hinder them.

Frickley sit third-from-bottom in the Evo-Stik Premier Division and will be keen to get points on the board sooner rather than later to avoid an end-of-season relegation battle.

Rinkcavage’s reign started well but the Blues have slumped to four defeats from five games since the turn of the year.

The latest setback came in the League Cup third round on Tuesday night when Division 1 North side Durham City dumped them out of the competition thanks to a 2-0 victory.

Amar Purewal and David Dowson netted the second-half goals to put Durham into the next round to earn a home tie against Bradford Park Avenue.

One plus point to come from the match was the long-awaited return from a broken leg for winger Andy Catton, who made his first start under Rinkcavage.

The Blues’ priority is with the league though, and there’s no better time to kick-start a surge up the table than three points against one of the league’s bigger sides.

Karl Marginson’s men were tipped for promotion this season but impressive runs in cup competitions, in particular the FA Cup where they reached the second round, have made for indifferent form in the Evo-Stik Premier Division.

Blues fans can expect to see a winner on Saturday, with United the only side to have not drawn a game this season.

They sit mid-table thanks to ten wins and 11 defeats from 21 games so far this season.

But with their priority back on moving up the league, United will be a tough nut to crack for Rinckavage and his men this weekend.

The clash will be the first of two home matches for the Blues in four days, with Whitby Town the opposition at Westfield Lane on Tuesday night (kick-off 7.45pm).

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Gray thunderbolt seals Kendal victory against FC United

 Source: Westmorland Gazette

 10:49pm Tuesday 25th January 2011

 * By Patrick O'Kane » Senior News/Sport Reporter

Evo-Stik Premier League.

Kendal Town 3 FC United of Manchester 2.
A DOUBLE from central defender Shaun Gray sealed a 3-2 victory for Kendal Town as they made it four wins from five against FC United of Manchester tonight, Tuesday.

In a classic non-league encounter two of the league's form sides met and it was a great advert for the Evo-Stik Premier League.

Town took the lead on 39 minutes after Jake Cottrell lunged in on Chris Ward.

After a stoppage in play and a booking for Cottrell, Walmsley fired a ball deep into the box from the right touchline and Gray bagged his first Town goal with a well directed header to the bottom right corner.

But it was 1-1 before the break, despite Town dominating play.

Simon Carden collected 12 yards out and he struck low to the bottom corner under Newnes, who was struggling with injury.

Boss Lee Ashcroft replaced Newnes and the injured Mark Jackson (hamstring) with Tom Newton and Jack Smith at half-time, and Smith gave Town a lift as they looked to regain the lead.

But the sucker punch was dealt just four minutes into the second half, when FC United took a 2-1 lead.

Jerome Wright beat Newton to the ball out to the left of the Kendal area and knocked it goal bound.

Despite the efforts of George Melling getting back the ball crossed the line before he could kick it clear.

Town showed their grit and determination to get back into the game and levelled just two minutes later.

And it was another Walmsley specialty, this time from the left win which set up the goal and Carl Osman was on hand to head home beyond keeper Sam Ashton.

Just four minutes later Town had used all their subs when Osman pulled up with a hamstring injury and was replaced by Mat Ashcroft.

Town were rejuvenated after their equaliser and an end to end match had the 508 fans cheering throughout and when Gary Stopforth was fouled on the edge of the box, you would have expected Walmsley to have a strike.

But new boy Gray placed the ball for the free kick and blazed an unstoppable shot into the top corner of Ashton's goal for 3-2 on the 70 minute mark.

As Town pushed for a fourth FC United fancied a counter attack goal with Wright and Mike Norton both going close after escaping their markers.

And in the dying seconds Nicky Platt should have levelled from two yards out but the ball went through him from the corner and Melling blasted it upfield.

A draw would have been a fair result on the night but boss Ashcroft will be delighted with his side as they grow in confidence.

Town climb to seventh in the league and will travel to fifth-placed Marine on Saturday where they will aim to make it five wins from six.

HOW THEY RATED: David Newnes 7 (rep Tom Newton 45mins 7), Keiran Walmsley 8, Adam Sumner 7, George Melling 7, Shaun Gray 8, Gary Stopforth 7, Carl Osman 7 (rep Mat Ashcroft 61mins), Mark Jackson 7 (rep Jack Smith 45mins 7), Alex Taylor 7, Ashley Dunn 8, Chris Ward 8.

Subs: Dave Foster, Paul Osbourne Star Man: Shaun Gray - superb at the back and bagged a brilliant brace to give Town victory Att: 508

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ashcroft names same XI for FC United match

 Source: Westmorland Gazette

 7:17pm Tuesday 25th January 2011

 By Patrick O'Kane » Senior News/Sport Reporter

KENDAL Town boss Lee Ashcroft has named the same XI that beat Worksop Town on Saturday for tonight's Evo-Stik Premier League match against FC United of Manchester.

Town had a strong performance and the only squad change sees Tom Newton replace Shaun Gardner on the bench with David Newnes carrying a knock.

Starting XI: David Newnes, Keiran Walmsley, George Melling, Shaun Gray, Adam Sumner, Gary Stopforth, Chris Ward, Ashley Dunn, Carl Osman, Mark Jackson, Alex Taylor.

Subs: Tom Newton, Dave Foster, Paul Osbourne, Mat Ashcroft, Jack Smith

Monday, January 24, 2011

Heavy reverse for Town on travels at FC United

 Source: Hucknall Today

 LOOSE defending and slack finishing combined to cost Hucknall Town dear as they slumped to a heavy defeat at FC United of Manchester on Saturday (January 22).

The Yellows held their own for chunks of the match in front of a bumper crowd of 1,883 at Coca-Cola League Two side Bury’s Gigg Lane ground and created their fair share of chances.

But The Red Rebels were more clinical and little bit tighter in defence and recorded a 4-1 win to bolster their own play-off aspirations in the Evo-Stik League, Premier Division, while simultaneously denting Town’s hopes.

Yellows boss Tommy Brookbanks stuck with the same 11 that had beaten Worksop Town 2-0 in the Evo-Stik League Cup four days earlier.

But his young, inexperienced defence, led by stand-in captain Martin Ball, was caught in the headlights early on and conceded after just five minutes.

FC United frontman Jerome Wright got in behind the Town defence and his cross was tapped in by strike partner Mike Norton.

To their credit, Town’s backline didn’t fold and The Yellows set about getting back into the game.

Ball headed over a cross from winger Callum Lloyd and centre-back Joe Pheasant levelled the score on 25 minutes when he nodded home Dean Gent’s corner.

But the good work was undone 12 minutes later when left-back Sam Clare lost an aerial challenge and, while he lay in a crumpled heap on the floor, the ball dropped to Wright, who fired past ‘keeper Ross Whalin.

Town started the second half brightly and thought they had equalised again when Pheasant flicked home Lloyd’s centre. But the defender was flagged offside.

On the hour mark, the sizeable home crowd upped the decibel level and their players subsequently increased the tempo on the field as three efforts were thwarted in quick succession.

Up the other end, substitute Anthony Griffith Junior flashed a free-kick just wide.

Then, FC United put the game beyond doubt with two goals in the final 12 minutes.

First, former Oldham Athletic striker Matty Wolfenden lost Dion Chambers in the box and calmly slotted past Whalin.

The final nail was drilled into the Town coffin on 88 as Jake Cottrell’s 25-yard, left-footed curler beat an unsighted Whalin.

TOWN LINE-UP (4-4-2) - Whalin/ Boafo, Ball, Pheasant, Clare/ Smith, Gent, Chambers, Lloyd/ Nightingale, Gill. SUBS: Chaplin (for Nightingale 45), Brindley (for Clare 63), Griffith Junior (for Gill 70), Holmes (not used), Burge (not used).

CROWD: 1,883.

Akuneto wants to help our Eaglets soar

 Source: NEXT (Nigeria)

 By Ifeanyi Ibeh

 January 23, 2011 01:43AM

 Current coach of the Nigerian under-17 team, Monday Odigie had better watch out as Chukwuma Akuneto has his eyes on the Golden Eaglets coaching job.

Akuneto, a former Nigerian junior international with over seven years experience in coaching, most of it in England, believes he is in a better position to handle the Golden Eaglets especially in the aftermath of the team’s failure to qualify for the African U-17 Championship, which was concluded yesterday in Rwanda.

It was the second time in a row that the Golden Eaglets would be missing at the tournament which also serves as the qualifying tournament for the FIFA U-17 World Cup coming up in June in Mexico.

In Nigeria’s absence, Congo, who had eliminated the Golden Eaglets during the qualifiers, along with Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire and Rwanda secured the continent’s four World Cup slots ahead of the likes of Senegal, Mali, Egypt and former African champions Gambia who were most pundits pre-tournament favourites to qualify for the World Cup. Odigie, in a recent interview with NEXT, revealed that he had submitted his programmes ahead of the next round of qualifiers to the Nigeria Football Federation and only expecting their go-ahead to begin preparations in earnest for future engagements.

That go-ahead may however not materialize as there are some NFF board members who are still aggrieved by the failure of the Eaglets to make it to Rwanda, especially with the abundance of talent in the country.

As a result, Odigie may eventually go the same way as other coaches who had in times past failed to excel with the Eaglets, with the NFF left with no choice other than to pick a new handler for the team.

If that ends up being the case, Akuneto is hoping he will get to be the one to get the nod of the NFF as he believes he has the knowledge and experience to develop and churn out potential super stars for the country.

“It will be a great honour to be given the privilege of serving my country in a coaching capacity,” Akuneto informed NEXT. “I want to use my knowledge and experience to help identify, prepare and develop the young ones to restore our great country back to its true position in this age category and provide a solid base for the players to develop and represent Nigeria at the under 21, under 23 and even senior levels.”

Vast experience

The former Stationery Stores, ACB, Concord, Udoji United and Enugu Rangers defender, has since 2006 been the Head Football Coach and Sports Tutor at Manchester College and has led the college’s team to numerous titles most notably the 2008 Football Youth Conference League, the 2009 British Colleges Elite Cup, the 2009 British Colleges Futsal Cup, as well as the 2010 Greater Manchester County Schools Cup.

The team currently tops the Youth Conference League standings after 10 games.

Besides his work with Manchester College, Akuneto, who had previously coached in India, has since 2009 combined his work with the renowned institution along with the job of Youth Coach at lower league side FC United whose youth team are still unbeaten in the North West Youth Alliance League after 12 games.

In his spare time he scouts for Premier League side Blackburn Rovers and is currently studying for his UEFA A Coaching Licence, and it is all these experience that he will be bringing into the Nigerian cadets team set-up.

Much travelled

“I have worked in Nigeria, India, Cameroon, Vietnam, Maldives and England so my successful experience and expertise at coaching young people, improving them and then turning them into better players technically, tactically, mentally and physically is what I’ll be bringing into the team,” Akuneto said.

“The numerous skills and knowledge I have acquired by being educated to a high level here in Europe and being around the game on a daily basis in a professional capacity, and the invaluable experience I have acquired by having been involved with the game in three continents also stands me in good stead for the job,” he said.

But if he does get the nod of the NFF to tinker the Eaglets, what are his short and long term plans for the side?

“On the short term, my ambition is to lay the foundations of a solid team through a carefully planned youth development programme with inputs from people in Nigeria who also understand the process involved,” he continued.

He says his long term plan would be to turn the Nigerian U-17 team into a team that brings joy to millions of Nigerians through the way it plays and gets good results we produce, as well as the long term development of the players, a greater percentage of who will end up playing important roles for the Eagles in years to come.

To achieve he says he would have to, “liaise with the NFF and other coaches in Nigeria, the various State FA’s, organisers of age group tournaments, local football clubs and the Press who can help to make sure that we do select players who are truly within the specified age group.”

Friday, January 21, 2011

FC United trip should hold no fears for Hucknall

 Source: This is Nottingham

 HUCKNALL Town should relish rather than fear their trip to FC United of Manchester, coach Jamie Brough insisted today.

The Red Rebels reached the FA Cup second round this season where they took League One Brighton to a replay after knocking out League Two Rochdale.

Karl Marginson's men have been less impressive in the league, having won nine and lost ten of their 19 games.

But they can always bank on a healthy following of fans at their adopted Gigg Lane home, with tomorrow sure to be no different.

Brough expects FC to be a tough proposition now they no longer have their cup distraction, but believes Hucknall will have learned from playing in front of a big crowd against FC Halifax earlier in the campaign.

"It's going to be similar to the Halifax game, where they will have big backing, there will be good facilities and a nice big pitch," said Brough. "But I think everyone who is involved in football aspires to play in front of decent crowds and wants to step up to the next level – if you don't then you shouldn't be involved.

"This gives us a taste of what that would be like and I would hope we can rise to the occasion.

"I love playing at Watnall Road in front of our own fans, but it is nice when you go away to play in games like this.

"FC United did very well in the cup and it will have made them a small fortune.

"But it is a challenge for them to raise their game playing Hucknall Town after Brighton and Rochdale.

"They have probably under-achieved in the league, which is what can happen, but I'm sure their manager will be given time after their cup exploits."

Hucknall were beaten 2-0 at home by Northwich Victoria at the weekend, but bounced back with a 2-0 victory over Worksop Town in the third round of the League Challenge Cup on Tuesday night.

Brough says the contrasting results show the need for Hucknall to maintain a strong work ethic.

He added: "The two goals we conceded against Northwich were because we switched off.

"Fair play to Northwich because they worked harder than us over the 90 minutes and deserved their win.

"But we played some of the best possession football we have played in a long time against a good Worksop side – that was made possible because we worked exceptionally hard.

"Just like in life, those who work harder tend to get further."

Hucknall were landed with a £5,000 bill for their broken floodlights, whose failure caused the abandonment of their home clash with Buxton.

The system is up and running again now, but the club still need to pay off the amount after taking out a loan.

Abound £700 was raised with a bucket collection against Northwich, but the club are seeking further donations.

"I don't know the ins and outs of what was wrong, I think it was something to do with the cabling," said Brough.

"But we have got 28 days to repay what we owe, so any contributions would be gratefully received."

The club have added former Ilkeston central midfielder Josh Burge, 21, to their ranks following his release by Boston United.

But the player, most recently at Rainworth, may have to wait for his opportunity, with Brough saying: "He would have started against Worksop in midweek but was unavailable.

"With the other lads doing well, Josh may not get straight in the side, but he has a good attitude and I'm sure he'll flight for his place."

Grant Brindley is expected the return from a thigh injury.

Fußball: Torhüter schießt aus 100 Metern Entfernung und trifft

 Source:, GER

 Beim Fußball-Match zwischen dem FC United of Manchester und Retford United gelang dem Torhüter der Mannschaft aus Manchester, Sam Ashton, ein kurioses Tor aus 100 Metern Entfernung.

Einen Rückpass schlug der Torhüter einfach nach vorne und der gegnerische Torhüter verschätzte sich, der Ball sprang ein Mal auf und sprang über den Torhüter hinweg ins Tor. Sam Ashton wurde daraufhin für seinen außergewöhnlichen Treffer von seinen Mannschaftskollegen bejubelt.

Es war das Führungstor in der Begegnung und das Match gewann der FC United of Manchester letztendlich deutlich mit 4:0. Ashton gab in einem Interview nach dem Match an, dass seine Mitspieler behaupten würden, dass der erzielte Treffer nur Glück gewesen sei. Es sei aber, so Ashton, Absicht gewesen.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

FC United youngster shocked by England call-up

 Source: MEN

 FC United starlet Scott Cheetham has spoken of his shock after becoming the first player to win an England call-up in the club’s history.

The 18-year-old Openshaw youngster has been selected in the 18-man England Schoolboys squad after impressing during trials at the FA’s school of excellence at Lilleshall.

The young attacking midfielder will now be in line for selection for England’s four Centenary Shield matches against Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland in March and April.

Cheetham said: "I thought I’d done well down at the trials but I was still surprised to get the call and it’s a great honour for me.

"The club’s been fantastic and really helped me with my development, in particular the under-18s manager Chuck Akuneto who has supported me and helped me improve as a player.

"I’m excited about getting the chance to pull on the England shirt but I’m not going to get carried away and want to carry on what I’m doing here at FC United and hopefully get myself into the first-team on a regular basis."

The former Wright Robinson pupil, who has made two appearances for the Rebels senior side, could be called into England action as early as January 30 when Andy Williams’ men face a warm-up game against Loughborough University.

FC United manager Karl Marginson hopes the fledgling star will become the first of many youngsters winning international honours at the club.

He said: "It was always something we aspired to when we set up the youth system as it benefits the players, the club and the wider community as well.

"Scott reminds me a lot of myself when I was his age and I think he has the potential to go on and play at a higher level. But also as a club we are looking to grow, and if players like Scott stay with us and reach that higher standard playing for FC United then it works all-round."

Cheetham is one of several players who have arrived at FC United through the club’s partnership with the Manchester College, where he is studying for an NVQ in exercise and fitness.

Football fans do not expect to pick the team

 Source: The Guardian

 Supporters just want clubs to be run democratically, rather than by the dictatorship of chairmen

o Dave Boyle
o The Guardian, Thursday 20 January 2011

In her column on the role of fans in the ownership and governance of football clubs, Louise Taylor debates whether it's better to have "benevolent dictatorship or democracy" (Power to the people is false economy, 13 January). But in siding with the former, she says that "some supporters need reminding that purchasing a season ticket buys the rental of a seat rather than the right to elect a new manager or left-back".

Fans would hardly ask for their ashes to be scattered over the pitch if their relationship with the club were so cold and simple; but the notion that the fan-ownership movement is about wanting to pick the team is a fallacy. Taylor seems to have taken the idea about voting for the squad from Ebbsfleet, which is unfortunate since that club is not part of the move to fan ownership and democracy – it was based on a canny marketing hook about the wisdom of crowds, not the wisdom of fans creating a vehicle to have strategic control over their club. Instead of Ebbsfleet, she would have been better looking at clubs which are part of that movement, and which paint a rather different picture.

FC United of Manchester have raised £1m in a community share issue via a one-member, one-vote co-operative. AFC Wimbledon, promoted four times in eight seasons and sitting at the top of the non-league pyramid, was re-formed by fans after their club was stolen from them. Exeter City's supporters' trust picked up the pieces of a club in decline, and it has now been promoted twice, with gates increased by 70%.

Taylor criticises club chairmen for "fuelling daft, disingenuous fantasies of democracy"; but the notion of fans being given ideas above their station by owners keen to share power and responsibility over these cherished institutions is risible. Over the last 10 years we have helped fans form over 170 supporters' co-operatives across the UK, representing over 250,000 supporters.

While some enlightened clubs, such as Arsenal, recognise the benefits of a dialogue with supporters' groups, the sad reality is that the contribution of most chairmen is merely to highlight the need for supporter democracy through their own greed, mismanagement and, in some cases, criminality. Fans know that today's "benevolent dictator" is likely to be tomorrow's false god, asset-stripper or capricious egotist.

Taylor suggests that fans should demand more tangible goals, such as lower season ticket prices and better facilities – as if these were not linked to club ownership and governance. Does she really believe that it was simply an absence of benevolence that let British stadiums become crumbling deathtraps, or which caused ticket prices to rise so ludicrously above inflation? The root cause was that the people making decisions were unaccountable to those on the receiving end.

If you want to see what clubs do when they are accountable and democratic, go and watch a game in Germany. The stadiums are new and atmospheric, and the ticket prices are cheap. That model of ownership is a requirement of the German Bundesliga; that's the kind of benevolent dictating we need here.

United are blown away as FC United breeze away with maximum points

 Source: Retford Times

 Retford United 0 FC United of Manchester 4

FC UNITED of Manchester rolled into town to face Retford United at Cannon Park on an afternoon when the blustery conditions would make their mark.

The Badgers gave a home debut to Luke Herriott in goal, and striker Michael Blythen took his place up front after signing from Dinnington Town. Retford had an attacking bench with Steve Owens, Jake Vernon and Matt Booth all hoping to see some action.

Luke Herriott received an early warning of the conditions when his goal kick swirled in the oncoming wind and barely left his own half.
Click here for more

And he was left red faced on three minutes, when a Retford attack fizzled out, the ball being played back to Sam Ashton, the FC United keeper. Ashton sent the ball upfield and with the wind assisting the long kick, Herriott failed to judge an awkward bounce and the ball looped over him into back of the net.

It has since been worked out that the goal would have been scored from approximately 107 yards.

There was little in the way of chances for either side until the 21st minute when FC United extended their lead. A surging run by Jerome Wright saw the striker run into the box and slide the ball low past the diving Herriott.

A free-kick whipped in from the touchline by James Holden was a fraction wide of the upright, then after more pressure, Blake was forced to concede another corner as he got the final touch from Norton's shot on target to deflect away.

The onslaught continued as the half-time break approached. Herriott got a hand to a cross with Matt Wolfenden unmarked in the box. The all was eventually cleared by Matt Caudwell.

As the first half came to a conclusion, Retford made a rare foray into the FC United half, winning a free-kick after Boggild had been felled.

The free-kick was taken by Ryan Hindley, but the FC United defence were in place to clear the ball and keep the scoreline in their favour at the break.

The second half saw Retford secure more possession. A cross from Blythen to Boggild was headed into the feet of Sam Foulds.

The ball was played out for Lee Whittington who then found the run of Austin on the right, who won a corner.

The ball floated in by Hindley lacked the distance required and FC United cleared the danger.

FC United attacked once again, as Wright's run found Cottrell and Herriott did well to save his shot.

It was frustrating for the home supporters as Retford once again lacked the firepower to haul themselves back into the match.

Blythen almost found himself in a goalscoring position, challenging Ashton but the FC United stopper kept control to clear.

FC United should have been three up on the hour mark, a cross by Norton was hit over at the far post by Wolfenden.

Steve Owens entered the game in place of Joe Boggild, his early contribution saw a cross from the right for Whittington who was inside the six yard box but could only put his effort over the bar from close range.

Ryan Hindley burst through making a run forward; he was caught with two men tracking him and despite going down in the box, a corner ball was the expected outcome.

However, the referee decided on a goal-kick.

Ashton then found himself on the receiving end of the windy conditions; his clearance was blown back, being picked up by Ian Robinson who played in Blythen, only for Ashton to collect the ball from the debutantes feet.

There was another half-hearted shout for a Retford penalty when Whittington and McManus tangled in the box.

Whittington seemed to be pulled over, but the game was allowed to flow as FC United hooked the ball clear.

The third goal for the visitors fell for Wolfenden on 71 minutes, his first shot was blocked well by Herriott, but the rebound fell back to his feet and he cooly slotted the ball into the bottom left corner.

Retford had another chance soon afterwards. A long goal-kick from Herriott found Blythen who took the ball to the edge of the box, but then snatched at his shot to fire his effort over the bar.

The game was over on 77 minutes, a lay off by Wolfenden for Cottrell was hit home for FC United's fourth sending their supporters home happy, after being in fine voice all afternoon.

In the dying minutes, Herriott pulled off a great save from Carden's shot and Blythen's shot was saved by Ashton, with Owens hitting the follow up straight at the FC United keeper.

Another disappointing afternoon for Retford as they continue to be cut adrift at the foot of the Evo-stik Premier League table.

Retford now face another home game on Saturday, this time Ashton United are the visitors. (KO 3pm).

Attendance: 544

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Football returning to the 'normal' people

 Source: Taranaki Daily News, NZ


 OPINION: Bob Geldof, in his Boomtown Rats days, said "watch out for the normal people - there's more of us than there's of you".

It's an appropriate line to start a piece on two phoenix clubs - Wimbledon and Newport County.

Wimbledon were ripped out of South London and reinvented as Milton Keynes Dons a little under 10 years ago. Newport died in 1989, an early victim of an overseas owner's failings. And in both cases fans, left with no club, rebuilt their own.

They formed AFC Wimbledon and Newport AFC, resumed life 20,000 leagues under the sea and began what appeared to be an impossible journey back to the Football League.

Well, it's 2011 and guess what? AFC Wimbledon are top of the Conference and Newport, now carrying their old County moniker, are fourth. Both are in the running to play in the Football League next season.

And when the clubs clashed in Newport recently they played out a thriller, finishing 3-3 in front of 3462 fans. I'd love to report MK Dons are drawing smaller crowds, but in fact the club with no right to call themselves Dons are drawing more than twice that to most home matches.

And, lest I be accused of blatant anti-Manchester United-ism, there's another phoenix-style club I should mention.

FC United of Manchester is the ultimate club for the normal people. To quote the website, their corporate structure is a Community Benefit Society and membership is open to all, with everyone an equal co- owner, holding one voting share in the club.

It was formed in 2005 by fans frustrated with the running of Manchester United, and ultimately the takeover by American Malcolm Glazer. The club enjoyed a good FA Cup this season and plan to build a new home at Ten Acres Lane, Newton Heath, where Manchester United were formed.

The club are in the premier league of the Northern League, led by the Shaymen, FC Halifax. Halifax are the club formed after their original body was torched by that arch enemy of football, Inland Revenue Destroyers (IRD) and booted out of the Conference in 2008.

The second division north they won last season, by the way, is led by another phoenix. Chester FC were formed by fans of Chester City last May after that club also became a notch on the IRD bed head.

Yer Arab Sheikhs, Russian oil squillionaires and American tycoons might rule the roost at the top level, but scratch the surface and the grassroots fans still stand shoulder to shoulder.

And come the glorious day, AFC Wimbledon fans will dance in the streets after their lot beat MK Dons. Nothing personal against the current stewards at Milton Keynes, but as I say most weekend: Come on Phoenix!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Keeper scores in FC United rout of Retford

 Source: Retford Today

 Published on Mon Jan 17 09:21:36 GMT 2011

RETFORD United suffered a 4-0 defeat at home to FC United of Manchester on Saturday, and conceded a truly bizarre opener.

Visiting keeper Sam Ashton got on the scoresheet after three minutes when he punted the ball clear from his own box, it bounced over Retford stopper Luke Herriott and went into the net.

Badgers’ afternoon got worse as Jerome Wright, Matthew Wolfenden and Jake Cottrell found the net on 21, 71 and 77 minutes.

For a full report see this week’s Trader Guardian.

See Ashton’s 107-yard opening goal here -

Video: Goalkeeper Sam Ashton scores FC United wonder goal

 Source: MEN

 Tony Glennon

 January 17, 2011

 FC United keeper Sam Ashton showed his strikers how to do it by bagging the opening goal in their 4-0 Evo-Stik Premier romp at rock-bottom Retford.

The Rebels’ popular No1 took just three minutes to get on the scoresheet when his huge, wind-assisted clearance sailed over the head of opposing goalie Luke Herriott and into the net.

FC went on to complete a routine victory with further goals from Jerome Wright, Matty Wolfenden and Jake Cottrell.

But all talk after the game was about Ashton’s moment of magic, with the 24-year-old keeper cheekily insisting he’d intended to shoot.

Ashton, who once played up front in a cameo for Bolton, said: “I told the lads I only need one shot – I know where the net is.

“It was really windy, Scott McManus passed the ball back to me and I just wanted to get something on it because the pitch was awful.

“I made good contact and then thought “that’s going in” as the ball went over their keeper and rolled in the bottom corner.

“No-one can believe it. The lads are saying it was a fluke, but it wasn’t – I meant it!”

There was no such delight for Ashton United as their slide towards the drop-zone continued with a 6-3 home defeat to fellow strugglers Frickley.

The Hurst Cross Robins contributed to their own downfall with own-goals by Ben Smith and Ian Bennett plus the dismissal of skipper Craig Robinson.

A late Alastair Brown penalty secured Radcliffe a surprise 2-1 Evo-Stik North victory over neighbours Salford City.

Curzon Ashton lost further ground in the title race as they were held 1-1 at Witton Albion, while Mossley’s promotion battle with Warrington also finished all-square at 1-1.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Manchester side to bring big crowd for meeting with Retford at Cannon Park

 Source: This is Retford

 RETFORD UNITED joint manager Dave Lloyd feels his side face a stern test this Saturday, as they welcome FC United of Manchester to Cannon Park (3pm).

Retford currently lie rock-bottom of the Evo-Stik Premier Division and suffered a 7-0 defeat to Buxton last weekend.

Now Lloyd thinks his side can learn from that defeat and improve in time for this weekend's clash.

"It was very disappointing last weekend, we need to do better against FC United and get back on track," said Lloyd.

"It will be a tough game this weekend certainly, against a very good side.

"For this level they are a very big side, a well-supported side and we know how they play.

"I remember earlier on in the season they beat us 5-1 over at their place in what was a very hard match."

However Lloyd did feel they were unlucky last weekend and the scoreline did not reflect their performance.

"When the score was 0-0 we had a couple of chances to take the lead, if one of those had gone in it could have been a different result," said Lloyd.

"But when we conceded one goal we collapsed like a pack of cards and they ran riot."

Lloyd is expecting a good sized crowd this weekend, with the visitors being among the best supported sides in the league.

"Hopefully they will be able to bring a few hundred along to the game and we can get a good atmosphere at the ground," said Lloyd.

"They are coming off the back of a strong cup run and hopefully that might benefit us."

Badgers chairman Bill Wyles echoed those sentiments, as he expects the attendance could reach 600 on Saturday.

"Hopefully they are going to bring along a good following meaning our gate receipts will be boosted," said Wyles.

"It is a good game to have so soon after we missed games because of the bad wintry weather."

Lloyd was hopeful, however, that a new signing could be on the horizon.

"I've spoke to a lad about possibly joining the club," said Lloyd.

"Hopefully he will get back to us by the end of the week."

Rebels on a roll

  Source: Bury Times

  LATE goals from Carlos Roca and Jerome Wright gave FC United their first win over Bradford Park Avenue and a priceless three points at Gigg Lane.

A man-of-the-match performance from goalkeeper Sam Ashton, which inluded numerous top-class saves was largely responsible for keeping the Rebel Reds in the game.

Karl Marginson’s men aim to continue their climb up the Evo-Stik Premier Division at Retford United on Saturday.

Sam's the man in FC United win

 Source: MEN

 January 13, 2011

 FC United had keeper Sam Ashton to thank for finally burying their Bradford Park Avenue hoodoo as his heroics helped the Rebels beat their bogey team 2-0 at Gigg Lane, writes Tony Glennon.

Ashton was in inspired form as FC recorded their first-ever victory over their West Yorkshire visitors.

Late goals from substitute Carlos Roca on 83 minutes and Jerome Wright in the dying seconds saw them end their jinx.

United’s stalwart shot-stopper twice denied Bradford’s Aiden Savory in one-on-ones as the home side’s determination to press for a winner saw them occasionally leave big gaps at the back.

FC’s boldness was eventually rewarded when visiting keeper Mike Hale could only divert a Wright cross into the path of Roca, who finished with ease from close range.

And Wright then put the result beyond doubt with a 25-yard screamer, wrapping up United’s second Evo-Stik Premier win in less than a week.

It takes Karl Marginson’s men up three places to 15th. The Rebels now sit just one spot below neighbours Ashton United, who followed up their defeat to FC five days earlier by crashing 4-1 at Burscough.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Fight to stop FC United coach being deported

 Source: MEN

 Alice McKeegan

 Hundreds of football fans have backed a campaign to try to stop a popular FC United coach from being deported.

Asylum seeker Mehdi Mirzae, a volunteer community coach at the club, faces being sent back to his native Afghanistan after an appeal to keep him here failed.

But his supporters fear he will be murdered if he is forced to return home.

He fled Afghanistan in 2003 after his family were killed due to his father’s involvement in an anti-government group.

Mehdi, 26, was captured but his uncle helped him escape to Britain and he settled in Harpurhey. But he has spent the past two months in a detention centre near Gatwick after the authorities told him he was in the country illegally.

Now, friends and FC United fans have joined forces to raise awareness of his plight.

They showed their support before the club’s match against Bradford Park Avenue, with campaigners staging a five-a-side football game outside Gigg Lane, Bury.

Jenny Loudon, co-ordinator of the Mehdi Must Stay campaign, said they were heartened by the support, and told how Mehdi is the driving force behind Manchester-based refugee team Omid FC.

She said: "Mehdi has become such an important figure in the Manchester community.

"He has been instrumental in supporting vulnerable and isolated young people to get involved in football and the Home Office is underestimating the impact he has had on his local community in Manchester.

"Given what has happened to him and his family in Afghanistan we think it would be very unsafe to send him back there.

"Mehdi also has a number of health problems for which he would not get treatment if he were returned to Afghanistan so we’re determined to do everything we can to make the authorities re-think their decision."

Campaigners fighting against the plans need to raise up to £8,000 to continue his fight after he had a judicial review turned down.

Graham Stringer, MP for Blackley and Broughton, has also written to Home Secretary Theresa May in support of Mehdi.

A spokesman for FC United urged supporters to write to the Home Secretary on Mehdi’s behalf and asked them to donate to his fighting fund.

The spokesman said: "Through hard work, dedication and a commitment to our communities, FC United is in the privileged position of being able to make a difference. Mehdi Mirzae shares those values and has shown as much in his work with us.

"We would like to return the favour."

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Bradford Park Avenue fail to turn pressure into points

 Source: Bradford Telegraph and Argus

 By Ian Whiting

 FC United of Manchester 2 Bradford Park Avenue 0

Avenue suffered their first defeat under John Deacey’s current reign but the result did not reflect events at Gigg Lane.

FC United’s keeper turned in a man-of-the-match display to foil the visitors and the home side netted twice in the last seven minutes.

The defeat sees Avenue drop to 12th in the Evo-Stik Premier Division table.

There was a surprise in the Avenue line-up, with Matty James making a return after being re-signed from Guiseley in midweek.

While that was surprising, just as big a shock was seeing the skilful, attacking midfielder played at right back.

The rest of the side was the same as the one that ripped Ossett Town apart on New Year’s Day – that 6-0 victory being Avenue’s last run-out.

They set off as though they were going to build on that last win, creating virtually all of the chances, but just could not make the breakthrough.

James started the move that led to the first opening.

A break down the flank gave him the opportunity to put a through ball to Tom Greaves. His cross found Steve Burton, whose shot was blocked and Luke Gibson hit the loose ball over the crossbar.

A shot from Adam Clayton was superbly tipped over by the home keeper, who also got something in the way of the next chance. Avenue had forced a corner that Tom Claisse whipped in to Burton but his shot cannoned back, off a combination of keeper and crossbar, in a blur.

Avenue’s own keeper, Michael Hale, was put to work for the first time just after the hour.

The visitors were soon back on the attack and a free-kick from Martin Drury was headed into the net, Burton getting the last contact in a crowd of players, but the assistant referee’s flag went up.

FC United were on the ropes at that point and how Avenue failed to score on their next foray forward remains a mystery. Aiden Savory went through twice with only the keeper to beat but both times he was thwarted.

Before the ball was cleared, Rob O’Brien, on as a substitute, rifled in a shot that was tipped for a corner and from the flag kick the same man sent in another effort that brought yet another fine save.

FC United began their smash-and-grab through their own substitute. Carlos Roca thumped the ball in after Jerome Wright had cut in from the flank and drilled a hard cross through the six-yard box.

Two minutes into stoppage time they snatched a second when Wright cut in again and this time elected to try his own luck from 25 yards.

Avenue will have no time to dwell on it as they host FC Halifax Town at Horsfall Stadium in a League Cup third round tie tomorrow night.

Friday, January 07, 2011

The magic of the Cup - ESPN's FA Cup memories

 Edited from: ESPN


Ray Stubbs - ESPN UK presenter

 I could go on for hours and hours, I'm going to have to make a list. My first away game watching Tranmere away to Coventry at Highfield Road; actually scoring in the FA Cup in the millionth qualifying round, playing for Oswestry Town - we got beaten but to score was terrific; Tramnere's great run when they went to the last eight a few times at the turn of the century. Also, being part of going to finals as a broadcaster, and first and second round matches too. When you see the way an entire community gets onside, that really made a big impact on me down the years.

I could go on an on but finally, Rochdale v FC United of Manchester - ESPN's first live game in the competition - the FC United fans nearly nicked the cup to take it on an impromptu lap of honour purely out of exuberance. Yes, we are now celebrating the first round and it's great that the Premier League teams are in but 759 clubs entered - the grassroots of football should never be forgotten, it's a Cup that unites everybody.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Rebels look to build on win

 Source: MEN

 FC United ended an unhappy sequence of four Evo-Stik Premier losses with a hard-fought 2-1 win over neighbours Ashton United at Gigg Lane on Monday.

It was Ashton who struck first through Liam Dawson on five minutes and he almost added to their lead when he blasted a free kick against a post.

FA Cup hero Mike Norton seized on a Richard Battersby cross to snatch an 18th-minute equaliser before setting up Matthew Wolfenden for FC’s winner midway through the first half.

It moved FC United up to 19th place in the league and showed they had responded after chief Karl Marginson urged his reeling Rebels not to let their heads drop after suffering a 10th loss in their last 13 league games at runaway leaders FC Halifax on Saturday.

Marginson’s men were given a head start as Jerome Wright fired them in front with a 33rd-minute penalty as they sought to avenge a 1-0 defeat by the table-topping Tykes in their last outing back in early December.

But, cheered on by the bulk of a bumper crowd of 4,023 – a new Evo-Stik League record attendance – Halifax hit back to win 4-1 and leave United still just one place off the foot of the Premier Division.

The scale of the defeat was, however, harsh on the struggling visitors, who were pushing hard for an equaliser before finally being undone by two injury-time goals, much to their manager’s consternation.

Marginson said: "This game was always going to be difficult for us, but once again we’ve not got our just rewards for all the effort we put in.

"We’ve now had two good contests with the best team in our division, pushing them all the way on both occasions, and we have to stay positive as we look to start climbing the table."

They hope to build on Monday’s victory when eighth-placed Bradford Park Avenue visit Gigg Lane on Saturday (kick-off 3pm).

FC United 2 Ashton United 1

 Source: MEN

 Bryan Marshall-

After Saturday’s convincing win over second-placed Colwyn Bay, United started this match confidently.

Steve Hall turned cleverly before striking a low shot that had Sam Ashton diving full length to push the ball around the post.

Two minutes later the visitors were in front, Liam Dawson scoring his third goal in two games with a well placed shot.

Fewer than ten minutes later the same player came within a whisker of doubling the lead as his free kick came back off the upright.

The momentum swung in favour of the home side once Mike Norton equalised in the 18th minute.

Ex-Robin James Holden, who had a fine match, played a superb through ball to Norton, who coolly chipped the ball over Terry Smith.

Seven minutes later Norton turned provider, pulling the ball back from wide on the right for Matthew Wolfenden to strike the ball into the top left-hand corner.

For the remainder of the first half Ashton were chasing shadows as the home side dominated possession, aided by some wayward passing.

Holden headed over and Nicky Platt’s overhead kick went just wide, while Ashton were restricted to the odd breakaway.

After the interval, Ashton enjoyed more possession and started to create the bulk of the chances.

Marlin Piana ran purposefully at the home defence, but seemed to run out of steam before he could unleash an effective shot on goal.

Dawson then latched onto a poor defensive header, but found the side netting.

Midfielder Hall hit another shot just wide and substitute Jonathon Bathurst headed over.

Despite the pressure Ashton couldn’t find a second goal as the home side were glad to hear the final whistle.

Attendance: 2,062

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

FC United kick-off campaign to be winter warmers for homeless

 Source: MEN

 Pamela Welsh

 FC United have launched their annual drive to get supporters to donate spare winter woolies to charity.

The football club, known as the Rebels, and opponents Ashton United laid aside their rivalries for one day to help the city's homeless.

The clubs appealed to both set of supporters to bring along spare big coats and winter clothing prior to their game at Gigg Lane yesterday.

Bury FC – FC United’s landlords – also asked their local supporters to contribute if they can.

The clothing will be distributed by local charities the Mustard Tree and Boaz Trust.

The collection is now in its third season and last year alone saw more than four tonnes of clothing donated by supporters.

This year the collection has again been giving the backing of Manchester politicians and actors, including Bury South MP Ivan Lewis, who said: "At this time of the year we should be thinking about those who are vulnerable and lonely.

"FC United should be congratulated on this excellent initiative which will help those who need it most and is a fine example of the club’s commitment to our local communities."

Stars of the stage and screen are also calling for people to get behind the collection. They include Johnny Vegas, Sue Cleaver who plays Eileen Grimshaw in TV’s Corrie, Maxine Peake, together with Justin Moorhouse, James Quinn and the rest of the cast of 'Zack', currently running at the Royal Exchange Theatre.

FC United’s general manager Andy Walsh said: "We christened this event Big Coat Day as a bit of fun but there’s a serious message behind it – the homeless of Manchester need these donations, never more so in the middle of the winter. We’re pleased Ashton United and Bury also worked with us on this."

Wovon Leipziger träumen: Matthias Löffler – Vom FC United of Manchester beeindruckt

Es war ein Fußballfest mit Rekordkulisse, als 2006 der FC United auf den 1.FC Lok traf. Ohne das Engagement von Matthias Löffler wäre diese Partie wohl nie zustande gekommen.
Foto: Jan Kaefer (Archiv)

 Source: Leipziger Internet-Zeitung (GER)

 Jan Kaefer

 [link to Google translation of original:]

 Fußball ist aus dem Leben von Matthias Löffler nicht wegzudenken. Was der freie Journalist zur Entwicklung beim 1.FC Lok Leipzig denkt und warum er regelmäßig zu den Spielen eines englischen Vereins aus der 7. Liga reist, verrät er für die L-IZ-Serie "Wovon Leipziger träumen".

Würden Sie sich unseren Lesern bitte kurz vorstellen?

Seit meiner Geburt am 1. September 1982 bin ich Leipziger mit Leib und Seele. Als freier Journalist arbeite ich derzeit beim Mitteldeutschen Rundfunk und habe von 2006 bis 2009 für den 1. FC Lok Leipzig ehrenamtlich bei der Pressearbeit mitgewirkt.

Wie zufrieden sind Sie persönlich mit dem zu Ende gehenden Jahr? Welche Wünsche und Pläne haben sich erfüllt? Was lief nicht so optimal?

Anfang des Jahres konnte ich mein Studium der Politikwissenschaft, Sportwissenschaft und Journalistik nach gut fünf Jahren erfolgreich beenden. Daher bin ich schon zufrieden mit 2010. Zudem habe ich mit zwei Freunden eine interessante aber leider zu kurze Reise in die Mongolei unternehmen können. Dabei haben wir auch gleich am ersten Mongolia-Marathon teilgenommen – aber nur über die halbe Distanz von 21 Kilometer.
Nicht so optimal beziehungsweise eher suboptimal verlief dieses Jahr der sportliche Werdegang für meinen 1. FC Lok, der seit 1985 und dem ersten Stadion-Besuch mit meinem Vater mein Verein ist.

Haben Sie "gute Vorsätze" für 2011 oder lassen Sie das Jahr lieber auf sich zukommen?

Mit Vorsätzen ist es so ähnlich wie mit Karneval: Auf Kommando und an einem bestimmten Datum wird alles gemacht, was auch zu allen anderen Zeitpunkten gehen würde. Das ist eher nicht mein Ding, wobei man natürlich in diesen Tagen vorm Jahreswechsel Zeit hat mal innezuhalten und nachzudenken, was man zukünftig anders oder genauso machen könnte. Ansonsten gehe ich im Januar nach Manchester, das wird bestimmt eine feine Sache. Dort werde ich dann beim FC United mitarbeiten.

Fußball scheint in Ihrem Leben eine wichtige Rolle zu spielen, Sie fahren unter anderem regelmäßig zu den Spielen des FC United of Manchester. Was verbindet Sie ausgerechnet mit diesem kleinen Verein, wie ist Ihre Leidenschaft entfacht worden?

Das ist eine längere Geschichte. Im April 2005 habe ich in einem Leipziger Pub mit einem Engländer aus Manchester geplaudert. Er erzählte mir davon, dass Fans von Manchester United einen eigenen Verein gründen wollen, da der amerikanische Spekulant Malcolm Glazer den großen Klub kaufen will. Zudem ging es den Anhängern darum die groteske Kommerzialisierung, die astronomischen Eintrittspreise und den Umtausch von Fans in Kunden zu kritisieren. Genau dieser FC United of Manchester spielte dann am 12. Mai 2006 – haargenau ein Jahr nach der Übernahme von Manchester United durch Glazer – im Bruno-Plache-Stadion vor 7.426 Zuschauern gegen den 1. FC Lok Leipzig, Endstand der Riesenparty: 4:4. Noch immer die größte Kulisse vor der der FC United seit seiner Gründung gespielt hat. Der Heimrekord wurde am 8. Dezember 2010 aufgestellt, da war ich auch zu Gast. Im FA Cup Wiederholungsspiel der 2. Hauptrunde setzte es eine 0:4-Niederlage gegen Brighton & Hove Albion vor 6.731 Zuschauern. Bedenkt man aber, dass etwa 120 Teams und drei Ligen zwischen beiden Teams lagen, ist das ein großer Erfolg.

Seit gut fünf Jahren gibt es nun den FC United, nach drei Aufstiegen spielen sie derzeit in der 7. Liga und haben 2.000 Zuschauer im Durchschnitt. Zudem arbeitet der FC United an einem eigenen Stadion-Gelände, da sie seit Gründung nur Mieter bei einem Viertligisten sind. Ein Projekt für etwa 4,5 Millionen Euro, bei dem der Verein über Spenden und ein Beteiligungsprogramm über 2,5 Millionen einbringen will, ein Großteil der Gelder und die Baugenehmigung sind bereits da. Wenn die 5.000 Zuschauer fassende Arena steht, rückt auch ein Rückspiel gegen den 1. FC Lok immer näher. Mit seiner absoluten Fannähe, der sozialen Verantwortung durch verschiedene Programme innerhalb von Manchester und dem professionellen Ansatz es anders machen zu wollen, beeindruckt der FC United. Auch mich beeindruckt das.

Außerdem hängt Ihr Herz am 1.FC Lok Leipzig - wie sollte Ihrer Meinung nach im kommenden Jahr die Entwicklung dort weitergehen?

Zunächst sollte ein möglicher Abstieg in der laufenden Saison verhindert werden. Für den Gesamtverein ist es aber vor allem wichtig, dass es wieder Visionen und ein tragfähiges Konzept gibt. Denn die treuen Anhänger müssen wieder mehr ins Boot geholt werden. Ein Gefühl des Miteinanders soll herrschen. Denn genau darin liegen die stärken eines Vereins im Gegensatz zu einem Projekt.

Lok-Fans haben dazu aufgerufen, für die Nachwuchsabteilung zu spenden, um so den im Raum stehenden Kooperationsvertrag mit Rasenballsport abzuwenden und die darin vereinbarte Zahlung von jährlich 10.000 Euro aus eigener Tasche aufzubringen. Was halten Sie davon? Ist das ein Weg, der Erfolg verspricht?

Der positive Aktionismus dieser Initiative ist toll. Anfangs wurde diese Idee allein über das Internet-Fan-Forum verbreitet und inzwischen sind bereits über 7.000 Euro eingegangen. Das zeigt doch wie wichtig eben doch Tradition, Identifikation und Herzblut sind. Gepaart mit einem vernünftigen Konzept ist Erfolg garantiert. Aber nicht nur im sportlichen Sinne. Wenn die Struktur und das Vereinsleben stimmen, können auch mal die Ergebnisse schwanken.

Was möchten Sie darüber hinaus noch sagen?

Bleiben wir beim Fußball. Erstligafußball wird immer uninteressanter für mich. Der Zuschauer im Stadion ist eher störend und sollte, wenn überhaupt, mit zurückhaltendem Klatschen auffallen. Die Atmosphäre, die Emotionen, die von allen Werbetreibenden immer mit dem Fußball verbunden werden, gehen immer mehr verloren. Richtiges „Fußball-Feeling“, also auch die Langeweile eines Spiels, das eben kein Event mit dauerndem Feuerwerk ist, werden wohl bald nur noch in unteren Ligen zu finden sein. Schade, aber damit muss man leben und das Beste daraus machen.