Tuesday, January 31, 2012

FC United good neighbours scheme

 Source: MEN

 The FC United stadium in Moston has got a lot of press coverage in north Manchester of late.

You can hardly fail to notice that something is going on in Moston – whether you’re in favour of it or not.

I think it’s also fair to say that, whatever your views on the stadium, the club themselves do a lot of work in the community.

Club bosses are now working with Greater Manchester Police, the council and other bodies to create a ‘good neighbours’ scheme.

Their volunteers will visit an older person who may be struggling with day to day tasks. They can visit once a week to help out with whatever is required, such as visits to the shops or the post office, DIY or just to come around for a brew and a

To arrange for a visit from a volunteer, or to become a volunteer, contact Michael Holdsworth or Robin Pye at the FC United office on 0161 273 8950.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pensioner ‘is likely to make full recovery’ after Shaw zebra crossing crash that killed wife

 Source: MEN

 A pensioner who suffered terrible injuries in a car crash that killed his wife is expected to make a full recovery. Police say Raymond Steele, 65, is recovering well after being hit by a car on a zebra crossing – although he remains in hospital. His wife Lynn, 60, died in the accident. The pair were hand in hand on a zebra crossing on Milnrow Road in Shaw, Oldham, when they were hit by a Toyota Yaris. Mrs Steele suffered fatal injuries and died in hospital. Her husband was sedated and was in a critical condition at Salford Royal Hospital all last week. He started to recover over the weekend and now he is said to be sitting up in hospital and doing well. A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said: "He’s made a significant recovery and there’s a good chance he’s going to make a full recovery now." Meanwhile, police have interviewed the driver of the Yaris under caution. It is understood she remained at the scene following the collision. She has not been arrested. One line of enquiry is that she may have been dazzled by the low sun at the time of the incident, 3pm on January 16. The Steeles, who moved to Shaw from Rochdale six years ago, were on their way back from booking a holiday when the tragedy happened. Eyewitnesses have told how the couple were holding hands as they crossed the road. Paying tribute last week, their daughter Sarah said her mother was ‘young at heart’ and ‘will be sadly missed by all of her family’. Mrs Steele was retired but stayed active by swimming, cycling, and walking. Mr Steele is a fan of FC United. Sarah said they were a loving couple and doted on their grandchildren, Jessica, and Georgina. Police are investigating and anyone with information about the incident is asked to call 0161 856 8473.

John Scheerhout January 25, 2012

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Plans For New £4.5m Stadium Move Forward

 Source: Build.co.uk

 Plans for a new £4.5 million football stadium in North Manchester with facilities which will benefit the wider community are moving forwards.

Members of Manchester City Council's Executive were updated on the progress of the ambitious scheme.

A feasibility study into FC United's proposal to create a new home for the club - working in partnership with Moston Juniors FC - at Ronald Johnson Playing Fields in Moston has concluded that the site is suitable for development.

The project had already received planning permission on 27 October, subject to a number of conditions designed to maximise community benefit and manage any impact on parking and traffic being met.

The plan is to create a 5,000-capacity stadium with a full-sized artificial turf pitch and two junior-sized grass pitches for use by both clubs and the community.

It will also involve the creation of a new landscaped public space for community and school events and a clubhouse with multi-functional spaces, including educational facilities, for use by local groups and young people as well as supporters.

FC United working with Moston Juniors FC - one of the biggest amateur junior football clubs in Manchester with 21 affiliated teams - are also committed to increasing sporting participation in the area as well and doing other sports-based outreach work in the community.

24/01/2012 (CD/GK)

Friday, January 20, 2012

£500,000 loan for FC United

 Excerpt from; Manchester Confidential's "City News In 250 Words: Friday 20 January"

 DESPITE money troubles of its own, Manchester CIty Council is offering a £500,000 loan to FC United. It was recently discovered the football club did not have enough money to fund its new £4.5million stadium in Moston, prompting the council to intervene. Residents have raised concerns over the move, believing it is a mistake for both the council and the club.

Storm as Manchester council offers FC United a £500k loan towards new Moston stadium

 Source: MEN

 Rebel football club FC United can get a loan of up to £500,000 from cash-strapped Manchester council.

Town hall chiefs stepped in after it emerged the club had failed to raise enough money to pay for a controversial new £4.5m stadium in Moston.

They have promised to bridge a funding gap of about £200,000 and cover any overspend on the 5,000-capacity ground on the Ronald Johnson Playing Fields – if the club needs the money.

But people opposing the building of the stadium are furious.

Campaigner Mike Pattillo said: "It’s not the place for the council to be financing a semi-professional football club and it feels like a kick in the teeth. We feel that the council have gone against the wishes of the vast majority of people who live here and the fact we’ll end up paying for it makes it worse."

Another resident, who did not wish to be named, said: "There’s also the huge irony of the fans setting up FC United in response to the huge debt the Glazers placed Manchester United under when they took over. Who is the guarantor of this money and what happens if they default or go bust?"

Campaigners have protested against the stadium plan being built on precious green space. They also say an existing covenant on the land prohibits it being used for such a purpose, and are worried it will bring an increase in anti-social behaviour and traffic problems.

FC United plan to raise £1.6m through a community share scheme but so far only £1.4m has been pledged by fans. Council bosses said the loan would be repaid in full with interest at no cost to the taxpayer. The offer of the loan comes on top of a £750,000 grant the council is making towards the stadium.

FC United have relaunched the share scheme and made it clear they want to raise the extra £200,000 themselves.

As part of the plans, Moston Juniors FC – who currently lease the site from Manchester council – will be given youth pitches inside the new development and a third pitch at Boggart Hole Clough in Blackley. There will also be an artificial pitch, and a public medical room managed by club physiotherapists .

Mike Amesbury, from the council, said: "Any loan to FC United would be at commercial rates, with interest, and not cost the council or council taxpayers a penny. What it would do is enable this important development to go ahead, with all the social and economic benefits that will bring. The partnership between FC United and Moston Juniors will not only result in around £4.5m of new investment in the area, it will also create the basis for an excellent sporting hub in North Manchester."

Andy Walsh, FC United's general manager, said: "Our members have already raised over £2m to bring this project forward. We are now going to work hard to close the gap so we don't have to draw on any borrowing."

Comment: Now is not the time to lend or be saddled with a big debt

 Source: MEN

 One can understand a certain anger in Moston at the discovery that Manchester council has made provision to lend £500,000 towards the building of FC United’s new stadium.

Many residents who objected to the plans for the 5,000-capacity stadium now see the prospect of their council tax being given over not just in grant funding, but also in this potential loan to the club.

Undoubtedly, some people living in Moston did support this grand plan, but the objectors felt that many of those campaigning in favour of the stadium came not just from outside Moston but outside Manchester. Those objectors will feel a further sense of injustice that ‘out-of-towners’ will also now benefit if this loan option is taken up by FC United if the club is unable to raise enough through its community share scheme.

Storm as Manchester council offers FC United a £500k loan towards new Moston stadium

That said, this stadium should be an enhancement to Moston. Regeneration has gone hand- in-hand with sport in Manchester; that is beyond dispute. And a population with such problems of chronic ill-health and obesity – particularly among children – needs all the sporting opportunities it can get.

Let us not forget that the FC United stadium directly benefits Moston Juniors FC, which gets youth pitches in the development, and the wider community who will be encouraged to get involved in activities at this new public space.

But should a council still reeling from a disastrous cut in its grant from central government really be investing in a comparatively new football club?

This will be a loan given at commercial rates of interest, yes, but you do not have to go far to find long-established football clubs unable to pay their debts.

Would the prudent solution be to wait until FC United raises this cash through its own share scheme?

This will avoid the need to take up the council’s offer of the loan and allow the club to move forward without the burden of debt.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Manchester Council’s £500,000 bail out for FC United's new stadium in Moston

 Source: North and East Manchester Advertiser

 Cash-strapped Manchester council has agreed to lend FC United up to £500,000 to build their controversial new ground.

Town hall chiefs stepped in after it emerged the club had failed to raise enough money to pay for the £4.5m stadium in Moston.

FC United planned to have generated £1.6m through a community share scheme towards the cost. But so far only £1.4m has been pledged by fans.

Now the council has stepped in with a promise to bridge the funding gap if the extra money is not raised.

The town hall will also cover any overspend, up to a limit of £500,000 – provided the club comes up with a ‘robust’ plan to pay the money back, with interest.

The promise comes on top of a £750,000 grant the council is already making towards the stadium. Council bosses stressed the money would be a loan, to be repaid in full, that would guarantee an ‘important’ development could go ahead.

Mike Patillo, who campaigned against the stadium, said: "I think it’s amazing that they can find half a million pounds when they’ve cut Sure Start budgets and they are closing down libraries."

The loan was agreed at a meeting of the town hall’s exectuve committee this week. Councillors also agreed to lease the club the land, on Ronald Johnson Playing Fields, for rent of £1 per year. FC United have made it clear they still want to raise the extra £200,000 themselves.

They have relaunched the community share scheme, which gives local people the chance to invest in the club. The stadium, which has proved highly divisive, was granted planning permission in October.

Mike Amesbury, the council’s executive member for culture and leisure, said: "Any loan to FC United would be at commercial rates, with interest, and not cost the council or council taxpayers a penny.

"What it would do is enable this important development to go ahead. The partnership between FC United and Moston Juniors, one of the largest junior football clubs in Manchester will create the basis for an excellent sporting hub in North Manchester. "

Andy Walsh, general manager of FC United, said: "The club welcomes the decision of the executive committee. There is still an outstanding grant from the Football Foundation to be processed.

"There is still a way to go but we are confident that we can raise the money needed to provide much-needed investment in Moston."

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Defender’s Church Lane return

 Source: Buxton Advertiser

 DEFENDER Nick Swirad has re-signed for New Mills AFC.

After trying his luck at Mossley and Ashton United, making only a handful of appearances, the 2010/11 Manager and Players’ Player of the Season has decided to return to Church Lane.

A product of the youth academy at FC United of Manchester, Swirad, 20, also played for Rossendale before joining the Millers, helping them to the North West Counties League title.

Swirad, who was expected to have been included in the Millers squad to face Brigg Town last weekend, was ineligible to play at Irlam on Tuesday after featuring for Ashton in an earlier round of The Manchester FA Premier Cup.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Street and Read emerge heroes as Boro celebrate win

 Source: Staffordshire Newsletter



STAFFORD Rangers stunned promotionchasing FC United of Manchester with a much improved performance at Gigg Lane to return home with all three points.

Rangers were forced into one change from the side beaten by Hednesford Town on Bank Holiday Monday. Harry Clayton was laid low with tonsillitis and his place was taken by Jon Sheldon.

Boro boss Greg Clowes chose a 4-5-1 formation to match their high-flying opponents and it certainly worked with United intent on building slowly and being stifled by Rangers’ hard-working midfield.

Rangers went close in the 17th minute when Sheldon’s inswinging corner dropped onto the roof of the net. On 27 minutes, a cross from Sheldon was almost turned into his own net by Adam Jones.

Three minutes later, Rangers were celebrating as they took the lead. A fine through ball from former United midfielder Michael Carr picked out Peter Heler who hit a fierce shot which James Spencer found too hot to handle and the ball flew past the home keeper and into the net.

Things got even better for the Rangers four minutes before the break when they doubled their lead with one of the goals of the season.

Rangers were awarded a free-kick outside the area. Carr delivered the ball into Ryan Dicker who had found space and the centre-back flicked the ball off his heel and into the top corner.

United bounced straight back and Kevin Street was on hand to chest a volley from Mike Norton off the line.

Rangers started the second half in the same positive light with United bringing on Carlos Roca after 53 minutes to add some pace into a lethargic performance.

United were gifted a glorious chance on the hour when a diabolical back pass from Luke George failed to reach Danny Read. Norton nipped in, rounded Read and was then brought down in the penalty area by Dicker.

Dicker, somewhat surprisingly, was only shown a yellow card and to compound matters for the home side, Read pulled off an excellent penalty save for the second game running to thwart Roca.

United were building up a head of steam and Read was again called into action to save from Ben Deegan who was allowed a free-header in the six-yard box.

The home side eventually pulled a goal back 16 minutes from time. Roca’s corner was met by Jones whose header was well saved by Read but the rebound fell to Norton who nodded home.

Rangers were again indebted to Street in the 82nd minute. Another corner from Roca was headed goalwards by Jones and Street was on hand to clear off the line.

The ball came out to Norton whose volley was deflected for a corner. As hard as the home side pressed, Rangers held on to record an excellent victory.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Stafford stun big-spenders

 Source: This is Staffordshire

 A TIRELESS display from Neville Thompson helped Stafford Rangers to a thrilling victory over promotion hopefuls FC United.

And although the targetman was not among the goals at Gigg Lane, manager Greg Clowes praised his efforts after naming Thompson as his sole striker to face the big-spending Mancunians.

On-loan Crewe forward Harry Clayton pulled out of the squad with a bout of tonsillitis leaving the Rangers boss with few options.

"When you are up there on your own it's difficult because you have to occupy two centre-halves but Neville did very, very well," Clowes admitted.

"But I will be working even harder this week to bring strikers in.

"We have made three offers for three players. Last week was a frustrating week and losing Harry Clayton did not help."

Peter Heler handed Stafford a 31st-minute lead with a well-taken goal that saw him latch on to Matthew Bell's perfect pass.

Defender Ryan Dicker doubled the lead with a clever back-heel just before the break, prompting more praise from the manager.

"As centre-halves go, Ryan Dicker is a lad who can play football and it was a lovely finish," added Clowes. "He's not one of those ugly central defenders."

United came more into the game after the break, but keeper Danny Read denied them on the hour when he kept out a Carlos Roca penalty.

Mike Norton finally netted from close range on 74 minutes but this proved just a consolation for the home side as they suffered their first home defeat since October.

NANTWICH Town are expecting their young striker Ben Mills to complete his move to Macclesfield Town this week.

A small initial fee has been agreed between the clubs for 22-year-old Mills, who is discussing personal terms with Macc manager Gary Simpson.

Nantwich boss Jimmy Quinn, who has recently spent extra time with Mills on the training ground, said: "It would be a great opportunity for the lad and great for the club because we are producing players for Football League clubs, but Ben has a lot of hard work to do."

Potteries-based Mills was left out of the Nantwich side that drew 1-1 with Mickleover Sports at the Weaver Stadium on Saturday, but Quinn said they would aim to replace him.

The player who took over from Mills up front, regular centre-back Mat Bailey, scored the goal that gave Nantwich the lead after 40 minutes but Mickleover levelled through Alex Steadman 10 minutes from time.

Nantwich had Darren Moss sent off early in the second half for a sliding tackle while Steadman also saw red for a second bookable offence.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Five-star Rebels off to flyer in New Year

 Source: MEN

 FC United made the perfect start to 2012 as they recovered from the shock of falling behind to Bradford Park Avenue to thump their Evo-Stik Premier promotion rivals 5-2 at the Horsfall Stadium.

Curtis Bernard seized on slack defending by the Rebels to put Bradford in front after a quarter-of-an-hour but FC then scored three times in five first-half minutes to turn the tables on their Yorkshire hosts.

Firstly Paul Armstrong set up Nicky Platt for a well-taken equaliser before giving United the lead when his cross sailed over red-faced home keeper John Lamb.

Mike Norton quickly added a third and Bradford were then sunk without trace by further goals from Adam Jones and Matthew Wolfenden midway through the second half.

Nathan Hotte reduced the arrears late on but that didn’t take the gloss off a triumph which takes FC to within a point of a play-off place.

Ashton United were unable to prevent visiting Northwich closing the gap on leaders Chester to a single point with two goals by Chris Budrys and a Tom Field penalty giving Andy Preece’s second-placed Vics an emphatic 3-0 victory at Hurst Cross.

Garry Flitcroft’s Chorley won 4-2 at Marine to strengthen their hold on fourth spot.

Curzon Ashton increased their lead at the top of Evo-Stik North to three points despite being held 3-3 by neighbours Mossley at the Tameside Stadium.

Paul Ashton (2) and Michael Oates struck to give Trafford a surprise 3-0 win at Witton, while Radcliffe dented Woodley’s promotion challenge with Ben Wharton and Steve Burke scoring to sink the Steelmen 2-0.

Salford City had to settle for a 1-1 draw with lowly Prescot Cables at Moor Lane.

Tony Glennon
January 03, 2012

Engelska landslaget består av rockstjärnor

 Source: Expressen (SWE). Google translation: http://s.coop/7sew

 MANCHESTER. Ett halvår före EM är England ett delat fotbollsland.
På den ena sidan står toppklubbarna, stjärnorna och fansen som betalar deras höga löner.
På den andra sidan står de som har tröttnat och hellre fryser arslet av sig i de lägre divisionerna för att få sina fotbollskickar.
Det här är framför allt ett reportage om dem.

När Eric Allison som liten var på väg till Old Trafford hände det att han hamnade på samma buss som sin idol. Det var inget konstigt med det, Manchester Uniteds lagkapten Roger Byrne rörde sig som vem som helst i staden på 50-talet. På bussen brukade folk komma fram och prata med honom. Några ord om den senaste matchen, några om den kommande. Allmänt snack om väder och vind.
- Föreställ dig Wayne Rooney ta bussen till matchen och prata med fansen, säger Eric Allison och skrockar.
Eric har tagit med oss till en restaurang i centrala Manchester. Maten är god men Eric nöjer sig med en pint. Då och då smiter han ut på gatan för att röka. Han är 67 år och har ett hårt liv bakom sig. Han växte upp i arbetarstadsdelen Gorton, men trots att omgivningen var tuff och förväntningarna låga vill Eric inte skylla på det. Hans föräldrar var hederliga, hans syskon var laglydiga.
Eric begick brott. Den 6 februari 1958 befann sig Eric på ett ungdomshem för olydiga gossar. Reglerna var hårda. På kvällen var barnen tvungna att vara helt tysta för att lära sig vad disciplin var. Men just det här datumet gjordes ett undantag. Anledningen var en flygkrasch i Münch-en där åtta av Manchester Uniteds spelare (bland andra Roger Byrne) rapporterades omkomna.
- Ni får prata om det här i två minuter, sa läraren. Sedan ska det vara tyst igen, pojkar.

Även som yrkeskriminell följde Eric Allison sitt Manchester United. Så gott det gick. Sista gången han satt i fängelse var mellan 1996 och 1999.
- Det är lustigt, säger han. Jag begick ett bedrägeri mot en bank alldeles runt knuten här.
Eric hade aldrig haft ett riktigt jobb men hade alltid varit intresserad av att läsa och skriva. Ute i friheten igen fick han syn på en platsannons. Tidningen The Guardian skulle skapa en ny tjänst och sökte en särskild fängelsereporter som skulle skriva om förhållandena innanför murarna. Eric sökte tjänsten, mest på skoj, och blev mycket förvånad när han fick jobbet.
- Livet är märkligt, konstaterar han.
Ett par år senare var Eric på promenad i Gorton med sina två hundar när han fick syn på några ungdomar som spelade fotboll på gatan. Han hade sett dem förut, de verkade duktiga. Men Eric misstänkte att de inte hade oddsen på sin sida i livet. Det brukar vara så med ungar från Gorton.
- Är ni med i något lag? frågade Eric.
- Nej, svarade killarna.
- Varför startar ni inte ett?
- Du kan väl starta ett åt oss?
- Glöm det, sa Eric. Jag har inte tid.
Men ungdomarna tjatade och till slut gav Eric Allison med sig. Så kom det sig att West Gorton FC bildades; lika mycket ett socialt projekt som ett fotbollslag.

På restaurangen går Eric över från öl till vin. Han skrattar åt det faktumet att han, den gamla kåkfararen, vid 63 års ålder blev fotbollstränare.
- Det kostar ungefär 4 000 pund om året att driva West Gorton FC, säger han. Det är mycket pengar. Men om man tänker att det samtidigt håller 18 killar borta från gatan blir det plötsligt billigt.
Varje söndag spelar West Gorton FC match i Tameside Football League. Laget är ungt, många av spelarna är arbetslösa. Eric brukar hjälpa dem med att skriva jobbansökningar.Samma dag som upploppen i England nådde Manchester i somras skulle West Gorton ha träning. Eric såg bilderna på tv och undrade om några av hans killar var ute och krossade skyltfönster. De stämde in perfekt på karikatyrbilden av den unge bråkmakaren.
- Men den kvällen kom 18 av 18 spelare till träningen, säger Eric. Då blev jag glad.
Fortfarande går Eric Allison ibland till Old Trafford och ser Manchester United spela. Men han gör det utan den passion han kände förr. Han tycker att biljettpriserna är för höga och att fotbollskulturen har drunknat i alla pengar.
- Det kan vara 25 000 personer på en läktare men ibland känns det som att stå i ett bårhus. Storklubbarna ser fansen som kunder i dag. Man tar dem för givna. Det är äckligt.
När Eric är på Old Trafford är han noga med att aldrig köpa matchprogram, souvenirer eller mat. Matchbiljetten är hans enda utgift. Han ogillar ägarfamiljen Glazer och vill inte ge dem mer pengar än absolut nödvändigt.
- Däremot köper jag gärna souvenirer när FC United spelar. De killarna har all min respekt. De har tagit tillbaka fotbollskulturen från dem som förvandlade den till plast.

Radioprataren Ben Hughes har dragit ner sin keps så långt att ansiktet knappt syns. En timme före avspark är han redan genomblöt, sändningsutrustningen försöker han hålla torr med hjälp av en genomskinlig presenning. Men trots de yttre förutsättningarna är Ben Hughes på topphumör. Det är han alltid när FC United of Manchester ska spela match.
Men blir det verkligen någon match i dag? Snöblandat regn har fallit över Manchesterområdet på förmiddagen och hemmalaget Northwich Victorias plan är täckt av ett tunt islager. Ändå är den i bättre skick än vad Ben Hughes hade vågat hoppas på. Han sätter på sig sina hörlurar och ger en första rapport till FCUM Radios lyssnare:
- Ni lyssnar på FC Live Radio från Northwich Victoria! Här är det svinkallt. Det blåser, det regnar, allt ni kan tänka er. När jag tittade ut genom fönstret i morse tänkte jag "Jaha, det blir ingen match i dag. Det blir ett besök med frugan på Ikea." Men så fick jag höra att Northwich Victoria har tillgång till en planpresenning! Jag menar, vem har det i den här serien? Domaren har inspekterat planen och säger att 85 procent av den är spelbar och att 15 procent är värdelös. Den goda nyheten där är att domaren kan matematik, den dåliga är att matchen fortfarande är hotad.
FC United of Manchester bildades 2005 som en protest mot affärsmannen Malcolm Glazers övertagande av Manchester United. Den ägs helt av supportrarna. Två av dem heter Duncan Hempson (döpt efter den före detta Unitedspelaren Duncan Edwards, som även han dog i flygkraschen) och Dave Callacher. Vi träffar dem utanför den lilla arenan, samtidigt som domaren ger klartecken för spel.
- Jag vet precis när jag tröttnade på Old Trafford, säger Duncan. Det var en vanlig hemmamatch och jag ställde mig upp och vrålade en ramsa. Du vet, som man gör. Då säger folk till mig att sitta ner och vara tyst. Jag menar, kom igen. Var tog passionen vägen?

För Dave Callacher var det mer en kostnadsfråga. Han jobbar som lärare och tycker inte att det är rimligt att behöva göra så stora ekonomiska uppoffringar för att se på toppfotboll en gång i veckan. Nu följer vännerna i stället FC United långt ner i det brittiska seriesystemet. Saknar de inte de stora matcherna? Ibland, erkänner Dave, men både han och Duncan är överens om att fördelarna med FC United överväger.
– Stjärnorna i Manchester United och i det engelska landslaget är inte fotbollsspelare längre, säger Duncan. De är som rockstjärnor. Rockstjärnor med fula frisyrer.
– True, säger Dave. Här är det ingen vägg mellan spelarna och fansen. Och du vet att de som går på matcherna verkligen är 100 procent passionerade.
Har ni vänner som tycker att ni har gjort fel?
– Definitivt, säger Duncan. På mitt jobb kallar de mig förrädaren. Men jag tycker mig märka att fler och fler börjar tröttna på den moderna fotbollen.
Dave, du talade förut om en kostnadsfråga. Hade du gjort samma val om du hade varit miljonär?
Dave Callacher funderar en lång stund innan han svarar.
– Jag vet faktiskt inte. Alla supportrar vill ha framgång. Paradoxen är att jag inte gillar det som kommer med framgång. Då blir det mer industri än fotboll.
Förra säsongen tog FC United en meriterande seger när man slog ut Rochdale i FA-cupen. I nästa omgång blev det förlust, 0–4, mot Brighton, men många supportrar minns det ändå som en oförglömlig dag. I slutet av den matchen sjöng fansen: "We're not gonna win the FA Cup, but we're so fucking proud of you"
Någon sådan ramsa hörs inte under matchen mot Northwich Victoria. Däremot är det gott om nidsånger riktade mot Malcolm Glazer. Den isiga gräsmattan inbjuder inte till något skönspel, men så är det heller inte klacksparkar som kännetecknar de här lagen. När en hemmaspelare slår en dålig passning i sidled får han genast skäll av den i kylan shortsklädde andretränaren Andy Morrison:
– You're not bloody Barcelona!
Till slut lyckas ändå Nortwich Victoria FC vinna matchen med 2–1.

Nästa dag skiner solen och vi gör oss redo för mötet mellan Manchester City och Arsenal. Men låt oss först stanna kvar en stund vid Andy Morrison, andretränaren i Northwich Victoria. För bara tio år sedan spelade han i Manchester City. Där var han känd för sin tuffhet. I en omröstning nyligen utsågs han till den näst hårdaste spelaren i klubbens historia, före bland andra Stuart "Psycho" Pearce.
I dag känns det otänkbart att en spelare som Andy Morrison skulle ha något att göra med Manchester City. Efter shejk Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyans intåg i klubben badar City i pengar. Landslagsspelare finns på alla positioner och fansen har snabbt fått vänja sig vid sin nya identitet som maktfaktor i brittisk fotboll.
Det gäller till exempel 17-årige Paul Downing. Hans tidigaste minnen av City är från tiden då laget pendlade mellan den högsta och näst högsta serien, nu håller han plötsligt på Englands bästa lag. Paul är glad över det och det händer att han fascineras av vilka effekter en fotbollsintresserad shejks investeringar kan få. För några år sedan provspelade Paul Downing för Citys ungdomslag. Tränarna sa att han var för klen, det blev inget kontrakt. I dag är han i stället målfarlig anfallare i Eric Allisons West Gorton FC.
– Good boy, Paul, säger Eric.
Paul och hans två år äldre bror Aaron bor precis bredvid Manchester Citys arena Etihad Stadium. Unitedsupportern Aaron fnyser åt arenanamnet.
– Det roliga är att Etihad tydligen betyder United, säger han och flinar.
Båda bröderna är klädda i West Gortons rödsvarta tröja. Deras tränare Eric Allison står bredvid och röker. Då och då kommer han med små utfall om Manchesterklubbarnas girighet.
– Johan, visste du att Paul ska jobba på Citys match mot Arsenal? Och vet du han tjänar? 4,50 pund i timmen! De är miljardärer och betalar 4,50 i timmen. Hur går det ihop?
Jag frågar Paul vad hans jobb går ut på.
– Servera mat, svarar han.
Får du se på matchen också?
– Nej, då måste jag jobba. Jag har varit på några ligacupmatcher då biljetterna är lite billigare. Men när det är bättre matcher jobbar jag. Fast ibland kan jag se några minuter av spelet när jag är ute och slänger sopor. Om jag har tur, alltså.

Etihad Stadium är fullsatt. Man City spelar för att ta tillbaka serieledningen i Premier League och matchen mot Arsenal har alla förutsättningar att bli en höjdare. Managern Roberto Mancini står välklädd vid sidlinjen och ser sina spelare skaffa sig ett litet spelövertag. Publiken exploderar då och då men överlag är stämningen en besvikelse. 48 000 personer borde kunna låta mer, särskilt i England.
En stor banderoll på ena långsidan tackar shejk Mansour för alla pengar han pumpat in i klubben. Utan honom hade varken Mario Balotelli eller David Silva spelat i City. Nu är det i stället en självklarhet att laget bara köper de bästa spelarna och i inledningen av andra halvlek gör också Silva matchens enda mål, efter förarbete av Balotelli.
I programbladet har Roberto Mancini i sin kolumn riktat ett extra tack till fansen som hejar fram Manchester City under matcherna.
Jag tänker att om en av dem hade riktig tur med soporna den här dagen så fick han kanske se en glimt av David Silvas mål.

Av Johan Orrenius

Bradford Park Avenue come unstuck against bogey side again

 Source: Bradford Telegraph and Argus

 Bradford Park Avenue 2, FC United of Manchester 5 FC United of Manchester maintained their recent domination over Evo-Stik League rivals Bradford Park Avenue as they cruised to a comfortable Premier Division win at Horsfall Stadium.

Avenue directors and volunteers worked hard to get surface water off the pitch to ensure the game between the promotion rivals went ahead.

But it proved a thankless task as FC United closed to within a point of their sixth-placed hosts, who have a game in hand.

Quick-fire doubles in both halves gave the visitors victory by a landslide margin.

Avenue press officer Lewis Sale said: “In the first half we were unlucky because we were arguably the better team but defensive errors and lack of cutting edge cost us yet again.

“I think FC were on top in the second half but 5-2 flattered them. It is a big chance missed to take points off one of our promotion rivals once again by us.”

The first-half turning point came with ten minutes remaining. Having brought it back to 1-1 just after the half-hour mark, the visitors raced into a 3-1 lead with two goals in as many minutes.

A poor goalkick from John Lamb allowed FC United right back Paul Armstrong to lob in and then a slip by Avenue centre back James Riley gifted Mike Norton a chance to fire home.

That was in contrast to the beginning of the roses clash as Avenue had got off to a bright start, with Rob O’Brien and Michael Duckworth both going close before Adam Clayton headed a Jordan Deacey free-kick onto the bar.

Avenue did break the deadlock when Curtis Bernard slotted in after good work from Nathan Hotte.

But the 15th-minute opener was cancelled out by Nicky Platt’s thunderous 20-yard shot into the top corner in the 32nd minute.

Martin Drury went close with a cross-shot early in the second half but FC United countered with a Jake Cotterill free-kick that went just over.

Avenue boss John Deacey decided to ring the changes on the hour by making his first two substitutions. Billy Law came on for Richard Marshall and Matty James replaced goal-scorer Bernard.

Unfortunately for the home side it had a negative effect and within minutes the visitors had racked up an unassailable 5-1 lead.

Lamb misjudged an Adam Jones free-kick in the 62nd minute and the ball found its way over the line. Then five minutes later a cross into the area from Stephen Johnson cut out both home centre-backs and Matt Woffenden fired in.

With the game won, FC United made a double substitution as Richard Battersby and Matthew Tierney replaced Paul Armstrong and Daniel Grimshaw.

The hosts did pull one back when Hotte converted an 80th-minute corner from Deacey.

But as if to underline their superiority, FC United had the ball in the net again only to see the strike disallowed for offside.

10:19pm Monday 2nd January 2012 in Sport
By Ian Whiting

Monday, January 02, 2012

Berlin football club sells its soul – but only to fans

 Source: The Guardian

 FC Union is selling shares to survive but has limits to avoid them being bought en masse by investors looking to make money

Standing in the mud outside FC Union's woodland stadium, Frank Fritz reflected on the sacrifices he has made for his favourite football club. "I spent a hundred hours here pouring concrete," he said, pointing to the steps on the western stand. "Two weeks' holiday it took, including weekends." But it was worth it, said the 45-year-old Berlin refuse collector. Fritz was one of more than 2,000 Union fans who gave their time to rebuild the club's worse-for-wear ground when it became clear the team could not afford the renovations itself.

Now, Berlin's "other" football side, the down-at-heel rival to footballing heavyweight Hertha Berlin, has gone one step further and is asking fans not just for their time but for their money. The club has been selling 10,000 shares in the Alte Försterei (Old Forester's House) stadium in the east Berlin district of Köpenick, allowing fans to have a say in how the ground develops in the future. The shares cannot be bought en masse by an oil-rich sheikh or an American family looking for a neat way to juggle billions of dollars of debts. No one can buy more than 10, and to invest, you have either to be a club sponsor, or a club member.

Letting fans own a piece of their club is not a first. Several British clubs, including FC United and Ebbsfleet United have experimented with fan ownership, and German clubs have historically required a minimum 51% ownership by members – the 50 plus 1 rule. But what makes Union's stance rather unusual is the way it is soliciting for shareholders.

"We're selling our soul – but not just to anyone," proclaim posters on billboards around former east Berlin, featuring pictures of unwelcome investors, including Red Bull, Silvio Berlusconi and Sepp Blatter.

Each share costs €500 (£418) – a snip for a Glazer or a Sheikh Mansour, but a lot for Fritz, who queued up in the cold to become one of the first fans-turned-shareholders. "I'm paying in instalments, five lots of €100," he said.

Tobias Hellweg, a 21-year-old electronic engineer, said he had blown an entire month's spending money on his share. "But it's worth it. I wanted to be a part of what makes Union Union (and not Hertha) – its togetherness with the fans."

Talk to any Union fan about what makes their club special and they are likely to draw an unfavourable comparison with Hertha BSC, which competes in the top flight Bundesliga. Comparison between the two clubs illustrates perfectly the chasm which still exists in many walks of German life between the east and west of the country, 21 years after reunification.

In the leafy far reaches of west Berlin stands the Olympic stadium, built by Hitler for the 1936 Games and now home to Hertha. After extensive renovations, the ground seats 74,500 fans, protected from the elements by a state-of-the-art glass roof.

Thirty kilometres east in working Köpenick, second division Union play in the Alte Försterei, which resembles a pre-Hillsborough second division ground – mostly standing room only, with an eight-foot wire fence to deter pitch invasions. Fans drink pints of Berliner Pilsner and chainsmoke while chanting and singing continuously for 90 minutes; at halftime men urinate against the perimeter fence before buying €2 Eberswalder sausages – a local brand which sponsors the scoreboard.

But most Union fans want to keep things lowkey. "In England, football isn't football any more," said Nils Ludewig, 24. "You can't stand any more, you can't wave big flags. It's all about the money." Even Hamburg's St Pauli – a Bundesliga team with a punk rock attitude usually held up as the ultimate example of a football club with soul – is dismissed by many Union fans as "too commercial".

"At Hertha, fans are happy only if they're winning. At Union, we celebrate whether we win or lose," said Hellweg. Fritz said that a game at Hertha is all about the "event" – "At Union it's all about heart and soul".

Union has long prided itself on its outsider status. In communist times, it positioned itself as a fiercely anti-Stasi team, in comparison to its rival, Berliner FC Dynamo, which was openly favoured by the East German secret police – Stasi boss Erich Mielke used to manipulate the outcome of the team's games and ensure its dominance.

But this pariah mentality can have its downsides: for years, Union has been saddled with a reputation for hooliganism, particularly by the Ultras, who sit in the Waldseite (Woodside) stand during home games.

At a recent away match in the northern city of Rostock, they defied a ban on fireworks and earned the club a hefty fine after putting on an impromptu pyrotechnic show inside the stadium. At the game against Dynamo Dresden on 2 December, one skinhead deliberately pushed over the Guardian – "Piss off media bitch" – and another spat in the photographer's face. After the match, the press spokesman apologised, and said he had never heard of such a thing happening before.

Helen Pidd in Berlin
guardian.co.uk, Monday 2 January 2012 15.52 GMT