Monday, April 30, 2012

Mike Norton fires Rebels into play-off final

 Source: MEN

 FC United boss  Karl Marginson hailed striker Mike Norton after his stunning goal helped sink Chorley to  secure a second successive Evo-Stik Premier play-off final appearance.

Norton broke the deadlock in the 63rd minute of a tight semi-final with a delicious curler before sub Astley Mulholland added a second to earn a trip to old foes Bradford Park Avenue.

“So often games such as this are decided by a scruffy goal, but Norts’ finish was straight out of the top drawer. He’s a born goalscorer,” Marginson said.

There was double play-off heartbreak in Tameside as Curzon Ashton lost in the Evo-Stik North final to Witton Albion while neighbours Stalybridge Celtic missed out on the Blue Square Bet North promotion knockout despite ending their season with a 4-2 win over Hinckley.

Newly-crowned champions Hyde signed off with a 1-1 draw at Histon.

Altrincham ended their campaign on a low note – tumbling 3-2 to play-off qualifiers Gainsborough at Moss Lane.

Droylsden wrapped up with a 5-2 rout of visiting Vauxhall Motors to finish ninth.

Stockport County concluded their first season in Blue Square Bet Premier by beating relegated Hayes and Yeading 2-1.

Ramsbottom clinched the North West Counties League title and promotion to Evo- Stik North by thrashing Winsford 5-2, Jon Robinson scoring twice.

Chorley hopes get the chop

 Source: Chorley Citizen

 Chorley’s dreams of a second successive promotion were shattered in front of an expectant 2,754 crowd in a scrappy Evo-Stik League Premier Division play-off semi-final not without controversy.

FC United were good value for their victory, generally playing the more cohesive football.

The visitors were stronger and Magpies’ strike pair, Ciaran Kilheeney and Steve Foster, lacked support.

The Reds had the better of a sterile first half but proceedings livened up considerably after the interval and within minutes Kilheeney rattled the United bar with from 12 yards. Had that effort counted, it could have been different.

As it was, the dangerous Mike Norton put United ahead on 62 minutes with a quality strike.

The introduction of John Cunliffe brought more composure to Chorley’s approach work but two controversialdecisions went against the Magpies as first Steve Foster had a goal disallowed for handball and then they believed they should have been awarded a penalty when Chris Denham was flattened.

And they were made to pay when Astley Mulholland wrapped up the win for United.

Red Rebels shatter Chorley's dreams

Jamie Vermiglio for
Chorley against FC
United of Manchester
 Source: Lancashire Evening Post

 Chorley’s dreams of a second successive promotion were shattered in front of an expectant 2,754 crowd as they were beaten 2-0 at home by FC United of Manchester in a scrappy play-off semi-final not without controversy.

In fairness, FC United were good value for their victory, generally playing the more cohesive football and rising to the occasion better than the home side.

The visitors were decisively stronger in midfield and too often the Magpies’ strike pair of Ciaran Kilheeney and Steve Foster lacked the close support needed to stretch the United defence.

Urged on by a vocal 1,000-plus fans packing the Pilling Lane end which they were attacking, the Reds had the better of a fairly sterile first half, although the Magpies might have taken an early lead.

Chris Denham broke through but his attempted square ball across the box to the unmarked Foster was cut out by a defender at full stretch at the expense of a corner.

At the other end, with the pace and trickery of Carlos Roca and Stephen Johnson down the flanks a constant threat, Andy Teague rescued Chorley by deflecting a Matthew Wolfenden drive just past the post.

Proceedings livened up considerably after the interval and within minutes, Kilheeney rattled the United bar with a cracking shot from 12 yards.

Had that effort counted, it could have been a different story. As it was, the ever-dangerous Mike Norton put United ahead on 62 minutes with a quality strike.

Gliding away from defenders he curled a delightful shot beyond Russ Saunders into the far top corner.

The introduction of John Cunliffe brought more composure to Chorley’s approach work and two controversial decisions, perhaps, crucially went against the Magpies.

An incisive move down the left culminated in Andy Russell playing in Foster who appeared to chest down the pass before comfortably beating keeper James Spencer but the celebrations were cut short as a linesman flagged to adjudge the striker guilty of handball.

Russell got in a well-directed header which Spencer held under the bar before in the 79th minute the referee inexplicably refused Chorley a penalty when Denham was flattened by a climbing defender.

It was a game-changing moment.

United immediately raced away and substitute Astley Mulholland, cutting in from the left, held off a challenge before clipping the ball past Saunders..

There was no way back for Chorley after that and FC United deservedly take their chance in the final next Saturday at Bradford Park Avenue’s Horsfall Stadium, where the Yorkshiremen comprehensively defeated Hednesford Town 5-0 in the other semi-final.

Southport enjoyed a 1-0 win over Grimsby Town with Darren Stephenson on target.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Bradford Park Avenue get chance for revenge over FC United in play-off final

 Source: Bradford Telegraph and Argus

 Bradford Park Avenue 5, Hednesford Town 0

Avenue are just one game away from promotion to Blue Square Bet North after cruising to victory over Hednesford Town.

The visitors were already 3-0 down and out of the game when frustration got the better of skipper Jay Denny.

The Town midfielder launched himself into a two-footed challenge on Richard Marshall and was sent off.

Marshall, who had opened the scoring with a 26th-minute penalty, escaped injury and went on to wrap up the scoring as Avenue went nap.

The play-off semi-final victory means John Deacey’s men will have home advantage over FC United of Manchester in the final.

Avenue host their red rose rivals next Saturday as they get a chance to gain revenge following last year’s semi-final Horsfall defeat to FC United.

Bradford had to overcome a testing opening period against Hednesford, with both clubs troubled by the elements but the visitors appearing to settle more quickly.

But once the home side got on top, they made their dominance count with the only setback coming when they conceded a late first-half penalty.

The deadlock was broken when midfielder Jordan Deacey was tripped millimetres inside the visitors’ area but the referee was right up with play and pointed to the spot. Marshall fired his spot-kick into the bottom corner.

Five minutes before the interval Deacey floated a corner to the far post and Adam Clayton headed Avenue’s second goal.

On the stroke of half-time, James Osborne went down in Avenue’s area after a defender stepped across him but home keeper John Lamb saved Chris Clements’ penalty.

Avenue had been playing against the wind in that first period and were even stronger with it at their back.

Hednesford gambled with a double substitution just before the hour mark and switched from a 4-5-1 to 4-4-2 system.

Martin Drury went on a run just after the hour and it opened up for him as he neared the visitors’ area so he decided to shoot, burying a low shot to make it 3-0.

Denny had his rush of blood soon after and once he had departed Avenue created plenty more chances.

Another Deacey corner was converted by James Knowles’ header then in the penultimate minute Marshall was in the way of a shot from a team-mate but controlled it before spinning round to fire home.

Avenue boss Deacey said: “Some will point at the penalty save as a turning point, going in at half-time 2-0 up when it could have been 2-1, but I believe we were in control and would still have won.

“It was difficult in the conditions and with the surface but we got the ball down and played our passing game. I thought the lads were tremendous.”

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Chorley's play-off dream dies

 Source: Chorley Citizen

 CHORLEY'S dreams of a place in the Blue Square Bet North were ended this afternoon as they were beaten 2-0 by FC United of Manchester in the Evo-Stik League Premier Division play-off semi-final.

A crowd of more than 2,700 turned out at Victory Park to cheer Garry Flitcroft's Magpoes on but their dreams were ruined by second half goals from Michael Norton and Astley Mulholland.

FC United will now play Bradford Park Avenue in the final next week with a place in the Blue Square Bet Premier at stake.

The White Rose side thumped Hednesford 5-0 this afternoon.

Chorley suffer play-off agony

James Spencer keeps the Chorley
attack at bay for FC United of
 Source: Lancashire Evening Post

 Chorley 0 FC United of Manchester 2

Chorley FC’s promotion dream ended in play-off heartbreak at Victory Park.

Two goals by Norton and Mulholland in the second-half secured the win for the visitors in the Evostik Premier play-off semi-finals in front of 2,754 fans.

FC United will play Bradford Park Avenue in the play-off final after the Yorkshiremen thumped Hednesford Town 5-0.

See on Sunday for the full match report

Chorley: Saunders, Ross, Roscoe, Teague, Russell, Vermiglio, Denham, Flitcroft, Kilheeney, Foster, Ince.

Subs: Cunliffe, Williams, Brown, Walwyn, Bowen

Friday, April 27, 2012

Flitcroft is aiming for the next level with promotion-chasing Chorley

boss Garry Flitcroft
 Source: Lancashire Telegraph

 GARRY Flitcroft believes Chorley’s financial problems have brought the squad closer together ahead of tomorrow’s Evo-Stik Leagie Premier Division play-off semi final, as he looks to avoid becoming the second member of the family to fall victim to an FC United upset.

An all-ticket crowd of almost 4,000 is expected at Victory Park for the clash, with Chorley at home to Bradford Park Avenue or Hednesford in next weekend’s play-off final if they win.

A place in the Blue Square Bet North is the prize for one of the four teams involved in the end-of-season shoot-out.

Chorley have overcome hurdles to make the play-offs, after the Magpies were plunged into crisis earlier the season.

The Magpies finished seven points above FC United but the visitors have relished the tag of underdogs before, securing an FA Cup win last season at Rochdale – where Flitcroft’s brother David was assistant manager.

“My brother was at Rochdale then and FC United are a good side,” said Flitcroft. “But we have only lost three league games at home this season.

“We had to release lads but the players here have stuck by me when they were not being paid. We’ve got a great team spirit and I’ve always said that goes a long way.

“We won both of our home play-off games to get promoted last year and we won the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy at the Reebok Stadium, so the players have done well on the big occasions.”

Tomorrow’s game is all ticket, so tickets must be purchased by 10pm tonight from the club’s office.

By Chris Flanagan, Sports reporter

Rebels are out to gatecrash the promotion party

 Source: MEN

 Manager Karl Marginson insists FC United are good enough to seize the promotion lifeline the’ve been handed by the FA as they prepare to visit Garry Flitcroft’s Chorley in tomorrow’s Evo-Stik Premier play-off semi-finals.

FC narrowly missed out on automatic play-off qualification but have replaced runners-up Northwich in the four-team promotion knockout after the Cheshire club’s exclusion for financial reasons was confirmed this week.

The Rebels now travel to Victory Park to face a Chorley side who finished seven points above them in third, with the winners to then visit either Bradford Park Avenue or Hednesford to decide who accompanies champions Chester in going up to Blue Square Bet North.

FC will start as outsiders but Marginson is backing his players to cash in on their stroke of good fortune and make amends for the Rebels’ defeat to Colwyn Bay in last season’s play-off final.

The United chief said: “It’s a big relief for us just to be in the play-offs, but, now that we are, I genuinely feel we can win them.

“Chorley are a quality side, but we’ve beaten not only them but also Bradford and Hednesford on their own gounds this season so I’m sure none of them will fancy meeting us again.”


Marginson is also boosted by having a full-strength squad at his disposal, centre-half Adam Jones having recovered from the pulled hamstring which forced him to miss FC's 4-1 romp over Northwich last weekend.

Meanwhile, Curzon Ashton will be out to end four years of promotion heartbreak when they take on Witton Albion in the Evo-Stik North play-off final at the Tameside Stadium.

Having lost in four successive play-offs, the Nash, who finished just two points above Witton as runners-up to promoted champions AFC Fylde, will be seeking to triumph at the fifth attempt and finally secure a place in Evo-Stik Premier.

Stalybridge Celtic must beat visiting Hinckley in their final Blue Square Bet North outing to give themselves a chance of becoming the third local club to land a play-off spot.

Newly-crowned champions Hyde sign off with a trip to Histon, where they aim to round off an historic campaign with a seventh successive victory before making the big step-up to the Conference's national tier.

Altrincham and Droylsden both end the season with home games, the Robins hosting Gainsborough while the Bloods receive Vauxhall Motors.

Stockport County’s closing-day clash at relegated Hayes and Yeading in Blue Square Bet Premier is a 1pm kick-off.

Ramsbottom will be North West Counties League champions if they beat visiting Winsford, but failure could see them pipped to the title by Runcorn.

'Monster' match is perfect for Flitcroft

 Source: Lancashire Evening Post

 Chorley’s NPL Premier Division semi-final meeting with FC United of Manchester at Victory Park tomorrow has been labelled a ‘monster match’ by manager Garry Flitcroft.

The Magpies are just two games away from sealing a second successive promotion.

Victory tomorrow will see Chorley progress to a the final, where they are guaranteed to play at home against either Bradford Park Avenue or Hednesford Town.

There has been a certain amount of confusion this week as the club didn’t know who they would be facing in tomorrow’s semi-final up until Wednesday.

But with second-placed Northwich Victoria’s relegation to the NPL First Division North ratified, after they were found guilty of contravening a number of financial rules and regulations, sixth-placed FC United will take their place in the season end play-offs.

And Flitcroft feels a meeting against the Red Rebels suits his team fine.

He told the Evening Post: “We are well pleased to have them in a way.

“They have got a fantastic fan base, so there’s going to be a full house at Victory Park tomorrow.

“There’s going to be nearly 3,000 fans at the ground which is just going to be brilliant.

“FC United are a good side. They have got a lot of pace in their team, but we took four points off them this season.

“We have got a home tie and, should we progress to the final, we will be at home in that as well so we’re looking at winning a second successive promotion.

“It’s been a fantastic season for us especially after all the financial problems we have had. I told the lads after we beat Bradford Park Avenue 3-1 on Saturday that I was proud of them.

“Playing in front of a big crowd tomorrow is just what they deserve. It’s going to be a monster game.”

Flitcroft reckons all the uncertainty surrounding their semi-final opponents has not had an adverse effect on his team’s preparations.

“It’s not affected us. We knew we had a home tie and I have watched Hednesford, Bradford and FC United many times over the last couple of months.

“We have only been beaten three times at home this season and I think that’s second only to Chester.

“We feel we can beat anybody. We have got some big match players in our team – we saw that in the Lancashire FA Trophy final.

“We had some big performances that day which saw us beat Kendal Town.”

Thursday, April 26, 2012

TICKETS are selling like hot Chorley FC cakes

 Source: Chorley Guardian

 TICKETS are selling like hot Chorley FC cakes for the Victory Park for the play-off semi-final against FC United of Manchester.

This game has been designated ‘all ticket’ so fans will NOT be able to buy tickets on the day of the game.

So far, the allocation for home fans is 2500 and almost 1000 have been snapped up since they went on sale yesterday afternoon.

So avoid missing out on one of the biggest games of the season, supporters can buy them from the office today (Thursday) and tomorrow between 10am to 10pm.

It’s anticipated the game could be a sell-out as Garry Flitcroft’s Magpies close in on a second successive promotion.

Tickets selling fast for Chorley FC's crucial play-off tie

 Source: Lancashire Telegraph

 CHORLEY FC are expecting a crowd of more than 3,000 for their play-off semi-final as tickets are snapped up for Saturday’s game.

The Magpies face FC United in the EvoStik Premier Division semi-final at Victory Park at 3pm.

FC United have been fortunate to enter the knockout games after finishing sixth but disciplinary sanctions from the league mean ‘runners-up’ Northwich Victoria have been removed from the play-offs.

This game has been designated 'all ticket' so fans will not be able to buy tickets on the day of the game.

Tickets are on sale from the Chorley FC club office on Thursday and Friday from 10am to 10pm.

The allocation for home fans is 2,500 and nearly 1,000 of these have already been snapped up since they went on sale yesterday afternoon.

FC United have been allocated 1100.

It's anticipated the game could be a sell out as Garry Flitcroft's Magpies close in on a second successive promotion.

By Chris Gee, Reporter

Chorley have the Wright stuff for promotion

 Source: Chorley Guardian

 CHORLEY FC’S Ken Wright has seen it all from being a player, manager and chairman - but now he believes the glory days are coming back to Victory Park.

Garry Flitcroft’s side edged one step closer to back-to-back promotions by potentially setting up a home play-off final after a convincing 3-1 win over Bradford Park Avenue.

Chorley welcome FC United of Manchester in the first semi-final on Saturday afternoon at 3pm and Wright believes that Chorley have enough in their locker to book their place in the final.

He said: “We have had two great seasons even if we don’t get promoted because there have been some successful performances at this higher level.

“It is happy days for the club and long may it continue.

“We certainly have the fan base to be in the Conference as well as the potential and a great manager to take us forward.

“The fans have been great and we want them to come out just like they did last season for the game against AFC Fylde.”

Chorley held their 200 club raffle on Friday where their new sponsor was revealed.

Wright praised the local businesses for their support.

He believes that the Magpies will not be taking their opponents for granted at the weekend.

He said: “Anything can happen in these one-off games and we are delighted to be here.

“We know whoever we face will be a difficult challenge.

FA Ruling on Northwich and Woodley Sports

 Source: Football Trade Directory

 The FA heard appeals from two Evostik League clubs against sanctions imposed by the league following earlier hearings.

The appeal, held at the FA's Wembley Headquarters ruled in respect of Northwich Victoria FC, that the Club would not be allowed to participate in the promotion play-offs, however the Club would not be expelled from the Northern Premier League but relegated one step from the 2012/2013 Season.

The decision ensures FC United of Manchester a place in the end of season play-offs and they will now meet Chorley FC on saturday in the sem-final. With a big crowd expected this game has been made all ticket.

In respect of the appeal by Woodley Sports FC, the panel upheld the decision of the Northern Premier League and the Club will be relegated to a step to be determined by the Football Association.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

FC United of Manchester to launch women's team

 Source: Rochdale Online

 Fan-owned, community football club FC United of Manchester is launching a women’s team that will take to the field in the club’s distinctive red, white and black kit in time for the 2012/13 season.

FC United club secretary Lindsey Howard said: “With FC United’s recent “A Woman’s Place is at the Match” event showcasing women’s involvement at our club, more and more women getting involved in playing football and with our own ground on the horizon, we felt that the time was right to have a women’s team representing FC United of Manchester.

"We’re really excited about this development, which is a significant one for our club.”

The team will be run by John Marsden, former manager at Birkdale United Ladies, and Denton Girls manager Lee Sutton. Both John and Lee have valuable coaching knowledge and experience in women’s football and both are looking forward to building a team and achieving great things in the women’s game.

John Marsden commented: “Forming a women’s team is something we’ve been trying to do for a while and I’m delighted that FC United is going ahead with this. It will be good for the club and it adds to our vision of working in all communities.

"While it would be great to have an inaugural season like the men’s team had, initially we’re just hoping to build a stable women’s team that can hold its own and compete in the league.”

The FC United of Manchester women’s team will be applying to play in the Greater Manchester Women’s Football League, which plays its matches on Sunday afternoons.

Manchester FA’s Get into Football Strategic Football Manager, Fiona Callaghan, said: “This is a welcome boost for women’s football, especially in the north of the city of Manchester.

"Football is the biggest team sport for females in England at the present time so if clubs within the male game, such as FC United with their passion and track record in community football, are looking to create new teams, inevitably it will enable more women to play competitive football and further raise the profile of the game. This is really good news.”

The club is waiting to confirm a venue for its home ground as well as dates and information on trials for women who wish to have the chance to represent FC United on the pitch.

Women can register their interest in playing for the FC United of Manchester women’s team by emailing

Rebels take over Vics' berth in the play-offs

 Source: MEN

 FC United are to take part in the Evo-Stik Premier promotion play-offs after all – despite having failed to qualify in their own right.

The Rebels, who just missed out on a top-five qualification spot in finishing sixth, are now preparing for a semi-final trip to Garry Flitcroft’s Chorley on Saturday.

It comes after league bosses last night confirmed FC are to take the place of runners-up Northwich Victoria in the contest to decide who accompanies champions Chester in going up to Blue Square Bet North.

The league management’s announcement follows an FA appeal panel decision to support their move to bar Vics from the play-offs for breaking three of the competition’s financial rules.

Northwich have, however, won their fight against expulsion from the league on the same grounds, with the FA ruling they should instead be relegated to either Evo-Stik North or South.

Meanwhile, at a separate Wembley hearing, the FA rejected Woodley Sports’ appeal against being booted out of Evo-Stik North following their failure to achieve the necessary ground grading.

The Stockport club, whose Neil Rourke Stadium is currently undergoing an £8.6m re-development, will now be relegated to a level to be determined by the FA.

Stalybridge Celtic’s bid to win the Cheshire Senior Cup for the first time in 11 years ended in heartache as they crashed 1-0 to Nantwich in last night’s final at Chester’s Deva Stadium.

Bridge fell to Michael Lennon’s 26th-minute strike but wasted a host of chances to equalise with Rhys Meynell hitting the bar and Dennis Sheriff pulling a shot wide when it seemed he must score.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Northwich owner Jim Rushe said he was protesting too during Saturday's demonstration by fans

Northwich Victoria owner
m Rushe holds aloft a red
card of his own during
Saturday's demonstration.
Picture: Paul Simpson.
 Source: Northwich Guardian

 NORTHWICH Victoria owner Jim Rushe denies he took part in Saturday’s protest by the club’s fans after holding aloft a red card while they demonstrated.

He told the Guardian on Monday that the gesture was his way of showing what he thought of supporters calling for change in the way their favourite club has been run in recent years.

“It was my way of protesting against the protest. I wasn't showing myself a red card,” said Mr Rushe.

“Some people were chanting for me to go, others simply for change.

“There were people openly shouting their support for me as well, which was heartening to hear.”

Northwich fans held high pieces of coloured paper to show their anger at how the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League outfit, expelled from the competition last week, has been managed over the past decade.

Followers of their opponents and hosts, FC United of Manchester, sang their support during the contest at Bury’s Gigg Lane.

Mr Rushe, sat metres away from fans of his club, responded by taking a piece red card from his pocket and waving his while they did.

He had earlier repeated the gesture before the game while stood pitch side.

“The messages were noted. I listened, but I'm no wiser as to what the majority of protesting fans actually want,” he added.

“What was the message? I spoke to FC United fans outside of the ground who didn’t have a clue why they had a card to hold.”

Mr Rushe will be at Wembley tomorrow morning, Tuesday, to represent the club at an appeal against its expulsion from the Northern Premier League.

League bosses found the Wincham outfit guilty of breaking finance rules, and failing to admit that it had, at a disciplinary hearing earlier this month.

The team, which has finished second in the Premier Division table behind Cheshire neighbours Chester, has been banned from taking part in the promotion play-offs as part of the club’s punishment.

Former FC United ballboy Ben Obiora dies aged 16 after collapsing on football pitch

Ben Obiora , 16, died
after he collapsed on
a football pitch during
a match on Saturday
 Source: MEN

 A teenage footballer died after collapsing while playing for his team.

Asthma sufferer Ben Obiora, 16, fell to the pitch during a match. Attempts were made to resuscitate the former FC United ballboy in front of horrified teammates – but they proved unsuccessful and he died after being airlifted to hospital.

Devastated pals have flocked to pay tribute to Ben, who was from New Mills, Derbyshire.

He was described as ‘a terrific young man who loved his football and always had a smile’.

Ben was playing for New Mills Reserves in a match against Blazing Rag in the Hope Valley League on Saturday.

More than 1,000 people have joined a tribute page on Facebook and his school, St Thomas More in Buxton, was opened for stunned former class mates to pay their respects.

Jane Newman wrote: “So shocked and devastated by this tragic news. Ben, you were a bright, charming and cheeky young man.

“You had such a great future to look forward to. You have left a lasting mark on everyone that knew you and you will be missed terribly. Heaven has a bright new angel.”

Head teacher Brendan Hickey, wrote on the school’s website: “I am sorry to report the sad news that Ben Obiora, one of our year 11 students, passed away this afternoon. ”

A spokesman for FC United said: “We are devastated to announce that Ben Obiora, one of our ballboys until quite recently, died. Ben left ballboy duty to play regular Saturday football. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends and two of our current ballboys who are lifelong friends of Ben and played regularly at New Mills FC with him.

“Ben was a terrific young man who loved his football and always had a smile, he will be sadly missed. “

A spokesman for the Hope Valley League said: “Ben Obiara, a Dove Holes player, collapsed at the ground during a game against Blazing Rag. After treatment at the ground from the Air Ambulance, Ben was rushed by ambulance to hospital but tragically he did not revive.

“The League extends their sincere condolences to Ben’s family and friends and would request that all teams hold a period of silence in respect of Ben, a sixteen year old youth from Buxworth who just wanted to play football.”

FC United plan to hold a minute’s silence before their next match as a mark of respect for Ben.

A post mortem is expected to be carried out shortly.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Northwich Victoria fans' protest is supported by their FC United of Manchester counterparts

FC United of Manchester
followers supporter their
Vics counterparts during
Saturday's protest.
Picture: Paul Simpson.
 Source: Northwich Guardian

 FOOTBALL supporters called for change in how their favourite club is run at a protest during their team’s final match of the season on Saturday.

Northwich fans held aloft red cards to show their anger at how the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League outfit, expelled from the competition last week, has been managed in recent seasons.

Followers of their opponents and hosts, FC United of Manchester, sang their support during the contest at Bury’s Gigg Lane.

Vics owner Jim Rushe, sat metres away from fans of his club, responded by taking a piece of the same coloured card from his pocket and waving his while they did.

He had earlier repeated the gesture before the game while stood pitch side.

Northwich fan Mark Riding organised the demonstration, dubbed the 1874 Protest in reference to the year in which Vics were formed.

“I’ve got huge respect for the FC United fans for taking part and supporting our message,” he said afterwards.

“There were many more than just me involved in the protest’s organisation in the end, and I’m grateful to everybody that helped.”

He arranged for fans to raise their red cards after 18 minutes of the Premier Division encounter.

They did exactly that, Vics fans chanted ‘We want change’ while hundreds of their FC United counterparts replied with cries of ‘Green Army’ in reference to the visitors’ traditional colours.

The message was the same when the clock reached 74 minutes, this time the Rebels’ fans responding with cries of ‘Take control’.

It was then that Mr Rushe, laughing, held aloft his red card.

He left the ground with his family shortly afterwards.

Not all Northwich supporters at the game took part in the protest, trying instead to drown out fellow fans with slogans of their own.

Vics, who lost the match 4-1, were kicked out of the league last Friday after officials found the club guilty of breaking finance rules.

The team has been barred from playing in the promotion play-offs as part of the punishment.

An FA panel listens to the club’s appeal on Tuesday.

By Andrew Simpson

FC United punish Northwich Victoria's defensive errors to run out convincing winners

Northwich midfielder Tom
Field challenges FC United's
Stephen Johnson during
Saturday's Evo-Stik NPL
Premier Division encounter.
Picture: Paul Simpson.
 Source: Northwich Guardian

 FC UNITED of Manchester’s players did what they could on the pitch to keep alive their club’s hopes of playing in next week’s promotion play-offs.

If they take part then it will be because their opponents’ appeal to be reinstated, to be heard by the FA on Tuesday, has failed.

The Rebels were emphatic winners.

For Northwich, whose supporters protested against how the club has been run in recent years, it was an afternoon – for football reasons – to forget.

If Vics owner Jim Rushe can not convince the game’s governing body that the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League is wrong to kick out the club for breaking finance rules, then it will be their last at this level for a while.

In that context it is conceivable that previously high standards – not least in defence – should slip against hosts in no mood to show mercy.

FC United need the points, plus an unlikely favour from Worksop at Hednesford, to make safe their place in the table’s top five.

Instead a stalemate in Staffordshire leaves Karl Marginson’s men, fluid when they needed to be and clinical with it, putting on hold their holidays, for now at least.

Former Northwich winger Carlos Roca might have scored as soon as the second minute, but his angled effort scraped the far post.

The home team led on 24 minutes when Jake Cottrell, with the freedom of Bury to pick his spot, thumped a rising shot past goalkeeper Ben Hinchliffe after Kyle Jacobs’ raid had taken him to the touchline.

Ryan Wade’s swerved cross clipped the crossbar at the other end, but Vics were soporific as an attacking force.

Stephen Johnson, making the most of charitable defending, blasted a second goal for FC United 10 minutes after the first had arrived, this time after Vics’ backline was slow to reach a loose ball.

If the defending was sloppy for before the break, then slapstick was to follow.

The visitors failed to clear a corner soon after the restart and, after Hinchliffe had blocked an initial effort, Dominic Collins diverted Matthew Wolfenden’s prodded effort over the line via an upright.

Top scorer Michael Norton skidded a header off target from Roca’s centre, while at the other end substitute Michael Clarke should have done better than to send Nathan Woolfe’s cross skywards.

Vics’ woes worsened on the hour.

Roca glided past Graeme Law before feeding Norton, whose shot crashed against the bar before an alert Wolfenden pounced on the rebound to score.

They cruised to the finish, blotting their copybook in stoppage time when Clarke applied the finishing touch to Wade’s cross after Tony Evans flicked on.

It was a rare moment of cheer for Vics’ travelling supporters, uniting them briefly after a minority had chosen not to play a part in a protest by the contingent’s majority.

Northwich finish the season second behind champions Chester, the reward for which is usually home advantage in the play-offs.

Whether that prize will be theirs is soon to be determined.

FC United (4-5-1) Spencer (GK), Jacobs, Stott, Stones, Neville, Roca, Wolfenden, Cottrell (Grimshaw 87), Platt (Battersby 78), Johnson (Cheetham 73), Norton
Subs not used Worsnop (GK), Mulholland
Goal Cottrell 24, Johnson 34, Collins 49 (own goal), Wolfenden 61
Booked Battersby (foul)

Vics (4-3-3) Hinchliffe (GK), Law, Kearney, Collins, Fitzpatrick, Armstrong, Field (Evans 57), Roddy (Clarke 57), Wade, Budrys (Johnson 57), Woolfe
Subs not used Smyth, Abbott
Goal Clarke 45 (+2)
Booked Armstrong (foul)

Referee Ian Hussin (Liverpool)
Attendance 2,542

Northwich Victoria co-manager Alan Wright explains his players' poor performance at FC United

 Source: Northwich Guardian

 ALAN Wright admitted that Northwich Victoria’s off-field problems had affected his players’ performance on the pitch in Saturday’s heavy defeat at FC United of Manchester.

Vics’ co-manager told the Guardian that the visitors’ week – and their season if an appeal against expulsion from the Northern Premier League fails on Tuesday – had ended with a whimper.

“If it is to be our last game, then we’d have preferred to go out with more of a bang,” he said.

“As soon as we went behind, the white flag went up.”

The former Aston Villa full back revealed that his team had talked about how they had struggled to focus knowing they have been banned from competing play-offs for promotion despite finishing second in the standings.

FC United took advantage, running out emphatic 4-1 winners.

Wright said: “I feel for them because they’ve worked hard all season to finish second in the league.

“Yet it looks like they won’t get a chance to take part in the play-offs through no fault of their own.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen, nor do the players.

"It’s difficult for them, and they said as much after the game.

“I understand why they might have questioned whether to give everything.”

Substitute Michael Clarke scored in stoppage time to avoid Vics being on the end of their heaviest league defeat of the season, but by then the contest had long been over.

Wright, while unhappy with Vics’ display, saved praise for the Rebels.

“FC United are the best team I’ve seen play against us since I came to the club; how they are not guaranteed a play-offs place already is a surprise to me,” he said.

“We were ragged, and couldn’t cope with the movement of their attacking players.

“I thought we were second best all over the pitch; they were sharper and brighter than we were, and played with a greater energy.

“We lacked passion and desire, which disappointed me.”

It took Vics’ players to tell Wright, plus co-boss Martin Foyle, that the Premier Division play-offs semi finals had been postponed until next weekend.

Wright added: “There’s an awful lot gone on away from the pitch, most of which out of our hands.

“We only found out after the game, because they players let us know, that the play-offs have been put back “It’s hard to plan what to do this week, so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens with the appeal.”

Exclusive By Andrew Simpson

Friday, April 20, 2012

Northwich Victoria supporters to protest at FC United match against how their club has been run

 Source: Northwich Guardian

 NORTHWICH fans will show what they think of how the club they love has been run in recent years in a protest at tomorrow’s match.

They plan to show the red card – literally, with hundreds of coloured papers due to be given out by volunteers around the ground before kick off against FC United of Manchester – during the game to Vics owners past and present.

“Enough is enough,” said Mark Riding, the man behind what has been dubbed the 1874 Protest, a reference to the year in which Vics were formed.

“Our club has been around for close to 140 years, the past 10 of which have been disastrous off the pitch no matter who has been in charge.

“We want to send a simple message; Northwich fans are fed up of the club lurching from one crisis to another and we want that to change, now.

“This is our last chance, this season anyway, to make people aware of just how strongly we feel.”

He said that supporters, including those cheering for the hosts, will raise the red card after 18 minutes of Saturday’s Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division encounter.

They will chant ‘We want change’ while doing so.

The message will be the same when the clock reaches 74 minutes, with arms aloft once more.

Officials at FC United, plus stewards from Bury – the club which owns Gigg Lane where the Rebels host their home matches – have granted permission for the demonstration.

“I’ve organised this for the fans to have a voice,” said Mr Riding, who has watched the team since moving to Northwich a decade ago.

“The reaction so far has been really positive, including from FC United fans, so I’m hopeful we’ll succeed in letting people know how disillusioned we are.

“This is not an anti-Jim Rushe stunt; the club’s problems date to before he took over.”

Northwich were expelled from the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League last Friday after officials found the club guilty of breaking finance rules.

The team has been barred from taking part in the promotion play-offs too.

An FA panel will listen to the club’s appeal on Tuesday.

FC United need to beat Northwich, and hope Worksop spring a surprise against fifth-placed Hednesford, to make safe a place in the top five.

They currently occupy sixth spot in the standings, but could be offered Vics’ place in the play-offs if the latter’s appeal is unsuccessful.

“As a fan-owned club, FC United supports the right of fans to make their views known and we have informed Bury’s safety staff to avoid any concerns that may arise,” said a spokesman for FC United.

“We also respect the constitution of the Northern Premier League and respect the right of Northwich to appeal against the league’s decision.”

Independent fans’ group Northwich Victoria Supporters Trust issued a statement on Friday outlining their position on the planned protest.

It read: “The trust board have real sympathy with those Vics supporters who have suffered over the past few months.

“We are aware too that a large majority of fans are extremely unhappy with the way the club has been run for a number of years.

“Indeed, it has been a series of off-field matters that appear to have left our proud football club limping out of existence.

“We continue to work hard preparing for the possibility of having to start a new club in order to prolong the long history of one of the oldest clubs in Cheshire.

“The trust board has waited for contact from the club’s owner, but it has not been forthcoming. It seems then, that with the backing of a large number of supporters, that our plan will have to be implemented.”

By Andrew Simpson

Northwich Victoria co-manager Alan Wright says his team will worry only about football this weekend

 Source: Northwich Guardian

 NORTHWICH co-manager Alan Wright says he will try to keep his players' focus on football ahead of tomorrow’s crunch clash with FC United of Manchester.

It could be Vics’ last match in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League for a while if the club’s appeal against expulsion from the competition for breaking finance rules is unsuccessful.

“We’ll have to prepare as if we will be in the play-offs and if we’re not, then that’s the moment to deal with that situation,” said Wright.

“That’s not an easy thing to do, but it’s the way we have to approach both this game and next few days ahead.”

Ryan Wade’s headed winner against Bradford Park Avenue in midweek made certain that Northwich will finish as runners-up to Cheshire neighbours Chester.

However the team has been barred from the promotion play-offs unless owner Jim Rushe can convince an FA appeal panel on Tuesday that such a sanction is unjust.

Wright and co-manager Martin Foyle were told of the league’s decision in the minutes after last Friday’s defeat against Hednesford Town at Leek’s Harrison Park.

“There’s been all sorts of turmoil behind the scenes if I’m honest,” said Wright.

“Martin and I felt we’d been kept in the dark a little bit, but the chairman did at least come to us before kick off on Tuesday to explain what the situation is.

“We’re still a bit at sixes and sevens though as we don’t know what will happen next.”

The former Aston Villa full back, appointed as then caretaker manager Paul Simpson’s right hand man in February following Andy Preece’s resignation, praised the players’ reaction on the pitch in Tuesday’s 1-0 win.

By Andrew Simpson

Wade’s winner, steering Nathan Woolfe’s curved cross past Bradford custodian John Lamb with power, was not without planning either.

Wright added: “We’d been working on Ryan [Wade] arriving at the back post to get on the end of crosses. I don’t think he wanted to head it, mind!

“The back four were solid at the other end too, so it was nice to keep a clean sheet.

“I don’t think they threatened us at all, which was pleasing. We didn’t need to chase the game in the second half either as we already had our noses in front.”

FC United v Vics: preview - FC United of Manchester seek much-needed three points

 Source: Northwich Guardian

 FC United of Manchester v Northwich Victoria (Kick off 3pm)
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Premier Division
Venue Gigg Lane, Bury, BL9 9HR
Away travel Leaves memorial hall at 12.30pm (Adults £8, Concessions £6)
Admission Adults £8, Concessions (NUS/OAP) £6, U18s £2
Odds (bet365) FC United 8/11, Draw 27/10, Vics 14/5
Previous Meeting FC United 1 Vics 0 (April 9, 2011)

FC United (from) Spencer (GK), Worsnop (GK), Battersby, Jacobs, Jones, Krou, Neville, Stott, Cheetham, Cottrell, Grimshaw, Johnson, Platt, Roca, Stones, Norton, Mulholland, Wolfenden
Doubtful none
Injured none
Suspended none
Disciplinary (to end of March 2012) Y54 R7
Top scorer Michael Norton (22)
Form (Past six home in league) D L W W W W
Record (Home) P20 W10 D5 L5 F41 A24 Pt35
Record (Overall) Pos6 P41 W20 D9 L12 F79 A50 Pts69

Vics (from) Hinchliffe (GK), Collins, Disney, Fitzpatrick, Kearney, Law, Smyth, Abbott, Armstrong, Field, Roddy, Woolfe, Budrys, Clarke, Johnson, Evans, Wade
Doubtful none
Injured Riley (knee), Short (groin)
Suspended none
Disciplinary (to end of March 2012) Y50 R5
Top scorer Wayne Riley (17)
Form (Past six away in league) D W L W L W
Record (Away) P20 W13 D4 L3 F37 A20 Pt43
Record (Overall) Pos2 P41 W26 D8 L7 F72 A39 Pts83 (three points deducted)

Match pointers
FC UNITED of Manchester must beat Northwich – and hope Worksop surprise Hednesford – to make safe a place in the play-offs.

The Rebels will take part in any case if Vics’ appeal against expulsion from the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, to be held at Wembley on Tuesday, is unsuccessful.

The hosts have lost form at the wrong moment, failing to win any of their past four matches with three of those ending in defeat. It is their longest sequence without a victory this term as well.

Wednesday’s home draw with already-relegated Burscough did little to help, although it did mark the return of top scorer Michael Norton from suspension.

Northwich secured second spot in final table by beating Bradford Park Avenue in midweek, the 17th consecutive Premier Division encounter in which they have scored a goal.

Vics have a better record than anybody on the road against teams in the table’s top half, winning six of nine trips. Only champions Chester have a superior goals per game average too.

Management pair Martin Foyle and Alan Wright are likely to be without injured duo Wayne Riley (knee) and Lewis Short (groin) again, but John Disney is available after serving a three-matches ban.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Boss wants a top half finish

 Source: Matlock Mercury

 Last Saturday was a good day all round for Matlock Town and now manager Mark Atkins has issued a “let’s finish the season on a high” challenge to his players.

After the encouraging second half performance in the unlucky 2-1 defeat at Buxton on Easter Monday, the Gladiators carried on from where they left off against FC United of Manchester.

Ian Holmes put Town ahead against the play-off chasing Reds, and although an Adam Yates own goal saw FC draw level before half-time, Liam King struck the decisive blow with 17 minutes left to win all three points for Atkins’s men.

Just as satisfying as the result was the bumper attendance of 1,319 as around 900 travelling fans came down to one of their favourite venues to back their side.

“I was very pleased with the way the lads went about their work,” said Atkins. “We had a game plan and went 4-3-3 to try and combat the way FC United play. We got in amongst them and didn’t let them get into their stride and we just about deserved the win.”

This was United’s third loss on the bounce inside a week but Atkins believes they will make the play-offs, their task being made all the easier due to Northwich Victoria’s expulsion from the league at the end of the season, and their ban from the play-offs. following off-the-field difficulties.

“United are a very good side and if you finish above them then you have a very good chance of promotion,” Atkins insisted.

““I’m sure they’ll make the play-offs. but we played very well ourselves on the day. First half I was a bit disappointed as we played hoofball a little too much, but I said to the players at half-time “let’s get the ball down a bit and play” and they did.

“We created a number of good opportunities. Now the aim is to carry on in the same vein until the end of the season and secure a top half placing.”

The Gladiators played their final home match of the campaign against Whitby Town last night (Wednesday) before finishing at Rushall Olympic on Saturday.

The Pics have had a good debut season in the top flight, currently lying in ninth spot as well as reaching three cup finals.

A last-gasp penalty from Lewis McMahon gave Town a 1-0 win at the Reynolds Stadium in February.

“Rushall have done great and are a tough side to play against. It was a hard match at our place but we won and I’m confident we can go there and get something if we play like we did on Saturday,” said Atkins.

Striker Nathan Joynes is likely to be missing after his operated-on knee swelled up after two full games over Easter, forcing his exclusion last weekend. Lee Featherstone has a hamstring problem which could also force him out.

Acknowledging he has a small squad, Atkins says they deserve credit for battling on.

“We didn’t go out and bring players in around the deadline because we had the budget to consider and that is very important.

“So the players have had to battle on and some have played when not fully fit. Kris Bowler, for example, has had two knocks on his ankle plus a bad back but was still keen to pull on that blue shirt. They’ve buckled down and it was so pleasing to get a good result last Saturday.”

Fans travelling to Dales Lane on Saturday can take advantage of reduced admission prices. Adults will pay just £5 and concessions are priced at £2.50 for the final game of the season.

Matlock’s Annual Presentation Night takes place next Friday (April 27) in the Social Club. Admission is free and there will be a buffet and disco.

The Matlock Mercury-sponsored Fans Player of the Year will be announced and will be one of a number of awards made on the night.

Former Matlock striker Ross Hannah also hopes to be in attendance.

FC United promotion hopes still in the balance

 Source: MEN

 FC United's Evo-Stik Premier promotion hopes are still in the balance after they were held 1-1 by relegated Burscough at Gigg Lane on Wednesday night.

Dean Stott gave the Rebels a 44th minute lead when he blasted in a penalty awarded for a foul on Stephen Johnson.

But the visitors equalised midway through the second-half after Adam Jones's handball offered Phil Clarke the chance to level from the spot.

Marine Youth clinch championship advantage after double header with FC United ...

 Source: Crosby Herald

 MARINE Youth took a vital step towards clinching the North West Youth Association title with a double header against closest rivals FC United of Manchester, writes Colin Begbie.

Marine Youth 2 – 0 FCUM Youth

A bright but cold evening at the Arriva Stadium saw a pulsating encounter which played a big part in deciding the title.

Early action was largely in midfield as the two table topping sides battled for control. Although FCUM caused the Marine defence some problems, they were unable to capitalise and it was largely due to some wayward Marine shooting the first half ended goalless with Jack Flynn and Billy Smart proving difficult to handle. The former brought a smart save from the FCUM keeper.

Marine had a claim for a penalty turned down as the ball made contact with a defender’s arm. The linesman signalled the offence was just outside the area, but the free kick flew just wide of the keeper’s left hand post.

The second half started evenly but it was Marine who found their shooting boots. After having a goal disallowed Jack Flynn fired home to break the deadlock on the hour. The second came in the 81st minute when Jack McCluskie intercepted a ball around half way. His pass to substitute striker Paul Pruden left the defence stranded and Pruden went on to fire in top corner.

Despite some frayed tempers near the end, Marine held out for a great victory.

FCUM Youth 3 – 3 Marine Youth

The second part of this top of the table double header served up a game with everything.

FCUM raced to a 2-0 half time lead having played some good football in the process. Not to be outdone, Marine showed why they are worthy favourites for the title with a three goal burst to put them ahead.

Kevin Farrell was unchallenged as he headed a free kick home and five minutes later Matty Devine punished some hesitant defending to equalise. Paul Pruden then found space at the far post to tap home Marine’s third.

FCUM then regained the momentum with an 80th minute equaliser to set up a tense finish but Marine held out well with the only blemish the late dismissal of Billy Smart.

Marine now need four points from the remaining three games to secure the title.

Apr 19 2012

by Joe Thomas, Crosby Herald

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Don't leave (MCR) without...

 Edited from: Virgin Australia inflight Magazine (no online content)
 Football fans should take an official tour of Manchester United or Man City's home grounds of Old Trafford and Etihad Stadium respectively. But, if you want to get a real flavour of the local football scene (without spending a fortune on a Premiership ticket), see the Football Club United of Manchester (, a team formed in 2005 by Manchester United supporters in protest of the takeover of their club by US owner Malcolm Glazer. Part of the Northern Premier League, FC United is a members-owned club and attracts crowds of about 2000 at games.

Monday, April 16, 2012


 Source: Derbyshire Times

 Ian Holmes and Liam King scored the goals as Matlock won a great game played in front of their highest crowd of the season.

Around 900 fans backed the play off chasing visitors, which led to a cracking atmosphere and a game which was a credit to the Evo-Stik NPL.

From the Matlock viewpoint, it was a case of hard work bringing its reward, for they had to be on top of their game to repel United’s attacking threat.

King returned to the starting line up with Paul Riley and Ben Algar in place of Gareth Davies, Chris Bettney and Nathan Joynes. United arrived having lost their two previous games, but with news of Northwich Victoria’s expulsion at the end of the season, they looked well set to take their place in the play offs.

United pushed Matlock back in the early stages with winger Carlos Roca a constant threat.A fine run and cross from the right saw Matthew Wolfenden glance narrowly wide in the 3rd minute and as United continued to attack, central defender Adam Jones nodded the second of two quick corners wide.

But it was Matlock who drew first blood from their first attack of substance on 9 minutes. Algar found Riley with a square pass for the number eleven to unleash a piledriver which was brilliantly tipped over the bar by Spencer. McMahon’s hoisted corner to the back post was headed back across goal by Adam Yates and HOLMES was on hand to force home from close range.

United sought a response and again Roca threatened on the right and it needed a fantastic clearing header, at the expense of a corner from Lukic, to prevent Wolfenden from benefitting. Then there was danger from the opposite flank as Astley Mulholland cut inside Yates but Kennedy beat away his shot aimed towards the near post.

But United levelled in the 31st minute with an own goal from Yates who was powerless to stop Wolfenden’s cross shot from going in after United had won back possession from a Matlock throw. United looked to quickly gain the lead but Nicky Platt’s shot was blocked and from a quickly taken free kick Roca shaved the woodwork. Kennedy was well placed to hold Daniel Grimshaw’s shot but it could so easily have been Matlock in front come the interval. With just seconds to go before the whistle, Holmes poked a great chance wide after being well found by Lewis McMahon.

Kennedy showed just why he is one of the top goalkeepers in non league football with a fine save from Platt who then scooped the loose ball high over the bar. Kennedy’s ave, just two minutes after the restart was vital. It was good to have King back in midfield, winning his tackles and distributing the ball well plus supporting the attack. Wolfenden was just about to shoot when King appeared from nowhere for the tackle of the game.

As the half wore on Matlock grew in confidence and stature and Featherstone’s great run and cross ought to have been converted just after the hour. Then on 67 minutes Holmes set up McMahon who drove inches too high. Lee Neville was forced to head behind a fine Holmes cross destined for substitute Gareth Davies in Matlock’s best attacking spell of the contest. But they had Kennedy to thank for a fine save from Platt before Mulholland curled off target.

Matlock though, scored the winner with seventeen minutes left. Holmes had a shot blocked before efforts from McMahon and Algar suffered a similar fate but the ball ran loose to King on the edge of the area who drove true and firm beyond Spencer’s despairing dive to the right as the ball nestled neatly in the bottom corner.

King was mobbed and now Matlock had something to hold on to, which they did without too much alarm. United’s attempts became increasingly desperate, as Neville proved with a shot from distance which was yards over the bar. It was Matlock who came closest to scoring again when Algar’s low free kick beat a flat footed Spencer only to flash inches wide of the far post.

A magnificent win for Matlock which takes them past the fifty point mark and a pleasing performance. There were big performances all over the park and while United will feel aggrieved to go home with nothing, Matlock can take pleasure from beating a very good side in what was probably their best display since hammering Chorley 4-0 back in October.

MATLOCK TOWN: Jon Kennedy, Adam Yates, Lee Featherstone (Liam Wilkin 79), Liam King, Laurence Gaughan, James Lukic, Ben Algar, Kris Bowler, Ian Holmes, Lewis McMahon, Paul Riley (Gareth Davies 58) Other subs: Kris Witcombe, Nick Buxton.

REFEREE: E Smart--Birmingham ATTENDANCE: 1319 STAR MAN: Liam King.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Bumper Crowds Expected For Gladiators v FC United Of Manchester

 Source: Chesterfield Post

 Matlock Town could well have their biggest gate of the season on Saturday with the visit of FC United of Manchester.

1,036 fans watched the single home defeat to champions Chester three weeks ago, and like the Cestrians, United always travel with a healthy following, with their fans proclaiming that Matlock is one of their favourite trips of the season.

On the field they will be wanting to get their play off charge back on track after Easter Holiday defeats by Buxton and Ashton United, which means they lead sixth placed Hednesford Town on goal difference only.

Last season's game attracted 1,249 on a balmy April day - and the indications are that there could be a similar turnout this time.

As for Matlock, their Easter return was just one point from six, which ought to have been better, given their second half dominance at Buxton on Monday when they should have added one, if not all three points to the one they gained in last Saturday's 1-1 home draw with Marine.

Captain James Lukic grabbed an 88th minute equaliser against the Mariners, and Lewis McMahon was on the scoresheet at Buxton, before it was the Gladiators who were on the receiving end of a late goal as the Bucks pinched all three points with a breakaway 89th minute winner.

A win on Saturday will finally put to bed any lingering relegation fears, (Matlock are14th and are 99.99% safe anyway), but also see them reach the 50 point mark.

Manager Mark Atkins is convinced that the half century of points should have been claimed at the SilverlandsManager Mark Atkins (left) is convinced that the half century of points should have been claimed at the Silverlands, but acknowledges that poor defending for both Buxton goals proved to be their undoing.

"Giving away the goals in the way we did upset me because over the ninety minutes, we had more possession, some good chances and it's probably the best we've played for a while. It's ever so disappointing to lose, as both goals were down to poor defending. Buxton had three chances yet scored twice.

"I was very pleased with the performance, they gave it their all, were up for it and dominated most of the game. Perhaps we showed naivity in trying to win the game, there are times when it's best to settle for a draw and that's probably what we should have done. But having said that, we now have three games left and we've got to try and win them and be positive."

Some fans criticised the entertainment value in the Marine game, but Atkins replied "People have got to realise that Marine are a very good side who have done very very well away from home (they had won thirteen out of nineteen league games on the road losing just twice). The plan was to keep it tight, although we didn't do as well attacking wise as I'd hoped. We did well defensively, only to make a bad error from the free kick for their goal. But the lads deserve credit for they kept going and got their equaliser."

Atkins was also delighted with striker Nathan JoynesAtkins was also delighted with striker Nathan Joynes (left) who has played for the whole ninety minutes in both Easter fixtures having initially been ruled out for the rest of the season after knee surgery.

"Nathan's done great with two ninety minutes over Easter. It was touch and go whether he played at Buxton, but he wanted to give it a go and he did very well for he gives us a different dimension."

Gareth Davies (cut head) and Laurence Gaughan (knee) both picked up injuries at Buxton but should be fit to face the Reds. The same goes for Liam King (deadleg) and Paul Riley (ill) who did not feature on Monday, although King was an unused substitute. Striker Liam Wilkin, who has missed the last three matches with damaged ribs is likely to need a fitness check.

Given the potential of a bumper crowd on Saturday, Matlock officials are urging fans to arrive earlier to avoid congestion at the turnstiles.

"Given FC United's position and the fact that Matlock is a popular venue for their fans, we expect it to be busy on Saturday, so supporters should try and get down a little earlier than usual" said a club spokesman. "The turnstiles will be open from 12 noon and the Social Club will be open for the televised football.

"We very much look forward to welcoming FC United and their fans to our ground and trust they enjoy their day, they've been impeccably behaved on every visit so far, and are a credit not only to their club, but to the Evo-Stik League and non league football in general. I'm sure we'll see an entertaining game."

Matlock bring the curtain down on their home campaign on Wednesday night when Whitby Town visit the Reynolds Stadium, and their season ends on Saturday week at Rushall Olympic.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Glamour game for Gladiators

 Source: Matlock Mercury

 Matlock Town stage one of the season’s glamour home games on Saturday when play-off chasing FC United of Manchester come to town.

United are currently holding on grimly to the last play-off spot with sixth-placed Hednesford Town trailing them only on goal difference.

Defeats by Buxton and Ashton United over Easter have damaged their challenge so they will be keen to get back on track at the Reynolds Stadium.

Matlock fared marginally better over the holiday period, securing a 1-1 home draw with Marine before unluckily going down 2-1 at Buxton on Monday.

Manager Mark Atkins will be hoping his side can play as well as they did in the second half at the Silverlands this weekend and he will also remind the players of their dominant second half display against United at Stalybridge on February 29.

Two goals down at the interval, the Gladiators rallied superbly but had just an Ian Holmes goal to show for their efforts.

The Gladiators are in 14th spot and are 99.99 per cent safe from relegation, but a win on Saturday would take them to 50 points with games at home to Whitby Town on Wednesday and away at Rushall Olympic on Saturday week to finish off their season.

Atkins believes that Matlock should have reached the half century of points at Buxton but paid the price for poor defending.

“Giving away the goals in the way we did upset me because over the 90 minutes we had more possession, some good chances and it’s probably the best we’ve played for a while.

“It’s ever so disappointing to lose as both goals were down to poor defending. Buxton had three chances yet scored twice.

“I was very pleased with the performance, they gave it their all, were well up for it and dominated most of the game. Perhaps we showed naivety in trying to win the game. There are times when it’s best to settle for the draw and that’s probably what we should have done. But having said that we now have three games left and we’ve go0t to try and win them and be positive.”

Atkins answered criticism about the entertainment on offer in the Marine game by countering: “People need to realise that Marine are a very good side who have done very very well away from home.

“The plan was to keep it tight although we didn’t do as well attacking wise as I’d hoped. It was a bad error from the free kick which gave them the lead, but the lads deserve credit for not giving up and they got their equaliser.”

There was special praise from the boss for striker Nathan Joynes who has returned to the side in recent games after a knee injury which threatened to rule him out for the rest of the campaign.

“Nathan’s done great and now has two full 90 minutes over the Easter period. It was touch and go whether he’d be fit to play at Buxton but he wanted to play and did well for us, giving us a different dimension.”

The Gladiators have “three or four knocks” head of United’s visit which could attract Town’s best gate of the season, beating the 1056 who saw champions Chester win narrowly on March 24. Last season 1249 were in attendance.

Gareth Davies cut his head open and Laurence Gaughan collected a knee injury at Buxton but both should be fit. Liam King was only partially fit on Monday after his deadleg against Marine so was an unused substitute, while Paul Riley was ill. King and Riley should also be available while striker Liam Wilkin will need a fitness check after missing the last three games with damaged ribs.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Free kicks for women at FC United's football celebration

Diane Maguire at the
exhibition about women
at FC United
 Source: MEN

 FC United let women in for free as part of a drive to make football more female-friendly. The event, called A Woman’s Place is at the Match, saw women with a special voucher get free admission to the club’s home clash with Buxton.

There was also a photo-exhibition on the history of women’s football, a short documentary about the club’s female supporters, and a specially-themed matchday programme.

FC United volunteer Lucy Pendlebury said: "Women’s football is the fastest growing sport in Britain, with more than one million women and girls playing the game regularly.

"One of the main reasons for this event is to highlight and celebrate the important role that women play in the game and especially at FC United.

"A high proportion of our volunteers are female, so it goes without saying that the club would not function as efficiently without them."

The club – which is moving to a new ground in Moston next year – has a female club secretary and nutritionist, as well as thousands of women fans and volunteers.

FC United club nutritionist Helen Walker said: "This is still a male-dominated sport, even though women’s football is on the rise, and there is a very traditional attitude in some places, particularly at some away grounds. But at FC United I have been very accepted. It is great to see so many women involved with FC and we are welcomed without any question.

"We have women involved at every level of this club – at the top, on the board, physios, programme sellers and turnstile operators, which shows our importance."

FC United manager Karl Marginson added: "I would like to praise the club for the work surrounding the women at football event.

"We have women directly involved with the players with physiotherapy and nutrition and they do an excellent job and are accepted as part of the team, just as the male staff are.

"We wouldn’t even have a team without all those hundreds of volunteers and I want to pass my thanks on to them from us all."

Pamela Welsh April 09, 2012

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Chester FC: Blues youth team ready for big cup semi-final test

 Source: Chester Chronicle

 CHESTER FC Youth face their biggest game of the season on Sunday.

The young Blues will bid to cause a shock when they host FC United of Manchester Youth in the semi-finals of the North West Youth Alliance Neil Thomason Cup.

Chester are the underdogs going into the last-four clash, which takes place on the main pitch at the Cheshire County Sports Club in Upton.

But Bernard Concannon, Chester FC’s head of youth development, believes they could not have a bigger incentive to upset the odds.

Concannon said: “It will be a tough game against the league and cup favourites, who are predominantly a year older than our current youth team squad.

“Saying that, on our day we are more than capable of rising to the occasion and producing the performance needed to progress to the final which has the added incentive of it taking place at the Exacta Stadium.”

Kick off on Sunday is 11am.

Two young Chester FC teams got the chance to play at the Exacta Stadium last Sunday.

A crowd of more than 100 watched the fledgling Blues under 10s and U13s in action.

The U10s, managed by Jason Bowdler, Calum McIntyre and Ashley Field, displayed some sublime passing and movement as they ran out 4-0 winners against Flint Town United U10s.

Joseph O’Gorman was named man of the match after bagging a brace.

Will Goodwin and Joe Burrows completed Chester’s scoring.

The U13s, managed by Russ Martin, continued their unbeaten run with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Dublin touring side St Kevin’s Boys Club U13s.

Harry Deponeo and Joe Hickson got the goals for the under-strength Blues, for whom Cameron Drury and Corey Sherman shared the man-of-the-match award.

Apr 5 2012 by Paul Wheelock, Chester Chronicle

Video: A woman's place is at the match, say FC United

 Source: MEN

 FC United are urging female fans to come to Saturday’s game against Buxton – and it won’t cost them a penny.

The supporter-owned club have organised several community initiatives such as a People United Day, a Youth United Day and a Big Coat Day, the latter to help local homeless charities.

And now for the first time they are hosting an event focused on the fairer sex, called “A Woman’s Place ... is at the Match”.

Women are not only being offered free admission for Saturday’s home match at Bury’s Gigg Lane – when the Rebels hope to maintain their bid for promotion from the Evo-Stik Premier –  FC United are also hosting an exhibition in the Gigg Lane social club, celebrating women’s role in football and, in particular, with the Rebels.

The exhibition will feature photos on the history of women’s football, a radio documentary and a video documentary about what FC United means to some of its female supporters, as well as volunteer biographies showcasing the role of women in running the club.

Their nutritionist Helen Walker said: “This is still a male-dominated sport.

“There is a very traditional attitude in some places, particularly at away grounds, but at FC United I have been very accepted. It is great to see so many women involved.

“We have women at every level of the club – at the top, on the board, physios, programme sellers and turnstile operators – which shows our importance.”

Volunteer Lucy Pendlebury added: “A high proportion of our volunteers are female, so the club would not function as efficiently without them.”

The exhibition opens at noon, with a £1 donation requested.

Free admission is via a voucher, is available from the FC membership stall on Saturday or by calling 07791 997602.

Click below for a video on the campaign

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Residents in last ditch bid to block FC United stadium in Moston

 Source: MEN

 A group of residents opposed to FC United’s plans for a new stadium have launched an 11th-hour legal bid to kick them into touch.

Residents United Residents Association (RURA) want a judicial review of Manchester council’s decision to approve proposals for a 5,000-capacity, £4.6m complex in Moston.

They have collected £10,000, instructed a barrister and expect to serve papers on the authority ‘within the next few days’.

They will argue that the planning process was flawed and the decision should be looked at again. Once their appeal is lodged it will be up to High Court judges to decide whether to grant a full review.

Club officials said they were confident due process was followed throughout.

FC United are hoping to be in the new stadium, on the site of the Ronald Johnson Playing Fields, for the 2013/14 season.

But Annette McGovern, from RURA, said they would ‘fight it to the end’.

She said: “We will be serving the legal papers on the council in the next few days.

“Since October, we have been raising money to fight this and we have been amazed by the terrific support we have received.

“We have instructed a barrister to represent us. Our intention is to take the planning decision to a judicial review. We said that we will fight it to the end and it’s not over yet.”

Annette claimed that the ‘overwhelming majority’ of those living close to the proposed site, just off St Mary’s Road, were opposed to the plans.

That is despite the fact a city council consultation exercise found most people with local postcodes were in favour.

Kathy Crotty, a St Mary’s Road resident and member of pro-stadium group M40 4FC, said: “I welcome the investment from FC United to provide facilities which will benefit the youth of Moston.

“Although some of us support other clubs, we appreciate that this club is different because of the community aspect it has. RURA does not represent all Moston residents and the council received twice as many letters in support than against the plans.”

Mike Keegan April 04, 2012

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Northwich Victoria now consigned to sleeping on neighbours' floors

The Victoria Stadium was
perceived to be the answer
to Northwich Victoria's
problems – now it has
become a problem with
no ready answer.
Photograph: Clint Hughes/
PA Archive/Press
Association Ima

 Source: The Guardian

 After selling the Drill Field, their much-loved home for 127 years, it has been downhill all the way for the now almost destitute Vics

From mid-Cheshire, home to historic football clubs and chemical-industry giants, comes a tale of heartbreak and wandering, with just a glimmer of far-off redemption. For 127 years the evocatively named Northwich Victoria owned, played at and were justly famous for one of the world's oldest football grounds, the fabled Drill Field, yet now Vics, of all clubs, find themselves homeless.

The club have been evicted by a neighbouring chemical company, Thor, bringing a cruel full-stop to a decade of calamity. In 2002, previous Vics directors sold their greatest, defining asset, the Drill Field, for housing, and for ambition to build a new stadium on an industrial estate. Had the world been different the Drill Field would have been protected, for Northwich and future football generations, but the Conference, itself pumped up with professional ambitions, was insisting all its member clubs have 6,000 ground capacities, able to be enlarged to 10,000.

Near-tragically, as it turned out, the Conference reduced that rule to a more reasonable 4,000-capacity requirement just after Vics made their decision, so it could have been saved, but the directors decided to plough on anyway.

Formed in 1874, founder members of the Football League Second Division in 1892 when Billy Meredith, later of Manchester City and United, turned out for them, senior non-league competitors throughout the 20th century, Northwich Victoria sold the Drill Field to Bryant Homes, which dug it up and demolished it for 102 new houses.

The old board began to build the Victoria Stadium on the Wincham business park at the edge of town, with the hope that the bar and restaurant which they planned would make them money to climb the football ladder. Northwich, the town, club and fans, always seemed a non-league stalwart, not an out-of-town bar-and-restaurant sort of place, and the move was blighted from the start.

In early 2004 the money from selling the Drill Field proved not to be enough to complete the new stadium, and the club collapsed into administration. A Manchester nightclub owner, Mike Connett, bought the Vics and the new ground from the administrator, and oversaw its completion, with the bar and restaurant.

For a time it seemed as if Northwich's directors' vision of a better future could be realised at Victoria Stadium; in their first season, 2006-07, the team won promotion to the Conference Premier and reached an FA Cup third-round tie at Sunderland's Stadium of Light. But the financial hangover hit the following October and with the club at risk of falling into administration again, Connett kept the ground, and sold the club to a Manchester go-cart-track owner and property investor, Jim Rushe.

Rushe, still Vics' owner now, sank £325,000 in to pay wages and running costs, as did his then partner, Nick Bone, but it was insufficient to bail out the club and by May 2009 Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs had issued a winding-up petition for £433,902 unpaid taxes. Rushe took the club into administration again, and bought it back himself. "It was my dream to own a football club with a workable model," Rushe explains. "I knew what I was doing, and I still believe it is workable."

Connett, too, was having difficulties. In October 2008 Deloitte was appointed as receiver of the stadium by Clydesdale Bank, which had lent money to Connett, and the bank repossessed Vics' new ground. January 2009 was one of the grimmest periods in Northwich Victoria's long history, as they were forced to wander for the first time since they arrived at the Drill Field in 1875. Ultimately they returned to play their games at Victoria Stadium, but only on a short-term licence from the receiver, which was looking to sell it.

Rushe formed a new company and tried to borrow the money to buy the ground but due to the credit crunch, he says, no bank would lend to a venture whose anchor tenant was a non-league football club. The Conference insists that clubs emerging from administration pay all their debts and in 2010, despite another storming FA Cup run, in which Vics beat Charlton Athletic live on ITV in the first round, the club were expelled and relegated to the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League.

Rushe says he had paid a deposit in another serious effort to buy the ground, but could not secure the funding again. Finally Thor Specialities which, the company's managing director David Hewitt says, makes preservatives for a range of water-based products including flame retardants and hairspray, bought the ground for £598,000.

"We are a sustainable manufacturing company employing 85 people, and we bought the site to build a distribution centre and develop our own expanding business, which will create further jobs," Hewitt explains. "We have not forced the club to move; we bought the site with vacant possession."

When the receiver served the club with the eviction notice in January, Daniel Butters of Deloitte said it was repossessing the ground with "some regret". Owners of a special, atmospheric football home from 1875 until only 10 years ago, Vics are now doing the football club equivalent of sleeping on neighbours' floors. Mostly they have played their matches at Nantwich, but also at Macclesfield and Kidsgrove. Rushe has just announced a ground-sharing agreement for next season with Stafford Rangers, 40 miles away, which is filling no fans' hearts with glee.

Andrew Simpson, sports editor of the Northwich Guardian, which has chronicled all of this, roots the difficulties back to the sale of the Drill Field: "The club and the town lost one of its prime assets, somewhere everybody seemed to know, which put the town on the map."

On the field in the Northern Premier, the Vics have been doing remarkably well, under the management of the former Port Vale and Oxford United striker Martin Foyle and Aston Villa full-back Alan Wright, comfortably in the play-off places behind the leader, the supporter-owned and revived Chester FC.

Off it, groundless, Rushe says he will not be able to fund the club with their current wage bill next season, although he insists the club will stay in business. "With no stadium and no income streams, it is very hard to sustain," Rushe says. "I'm trying very hard, on a week-to-week basis."

In all this wreckage, there are chinks of cheer. Hewitt, of Thor, says he will donate the Dane Bank stand, floodlights and other movables to the club if they, and a new site, can be proven sustainable. The supporters trust, working with Supporters Direct, is actively seeking a "community-owned" future for the club. Sport England has a statutory right to object in any planning application if a sports site is disappearing with no new one to replace it, so a solution may need to be found before Thor can develop.

It is, then, possible to foresee a decent future for a venerable old club, somewhere over a mountain of toil. Yet it makes you want to bang your head against the locked gates of Victoria Stadium, and the house fronts on the old, great, gone Drill Field, at the needlessness of it all.

Community shares option

Northwich Victoria Supporters Trust are exploring a possible community share issue as a means of raising money to buy a stake in their stricken club. At an open meeting last week, the trust referred to similar offers, in which money has been invested by supporters and the wider community, at supporter-owned clubs FC United of Manchester and Wrexham.

The community share offer, developed by Supporters Direct, invites investment from supporters on a mutual and long-term basis primarily to help a club become sustainable. Investors agree not to seek withdrawal of their money before a specified number of years, and postpone interest until the club makes a profit and the directors decide it is prudent. FC United of Manchester, the club formed in 2005 by Manchester United fans opposed to the takeover by the Glazer family, recently raised £1.6m via community shares, towards the planned building of a new stadium in Moston, north Manchester.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Plans to build £4.6m FC United stadium on Ronald Johnson playing fields are ...

 Source: MEN

 Plans to build £4.6m FC United stadium on Ronald Johnson playing fields are challenged by his great nephew.

One of the last descendents of Ronald Johnson – the man on whose playing fields FC United plan to build a 5,000-capacity stadium – has contacted town hall chiefs to oppose the plans.

The relative, one of two remaining great nephews, wrote to Manchester council to say he and his family ‘stand opposed’ to the proposals.

The news comes after town hall bosses approved the £4.6m project – which includes plans for a public medical room and other community resources. The Ronald Johnson fields, in Moston, were bequeathed to the people of Manchester.

It is understood at least part of the site was placed under a covenant requesting it be reserved for community recreational use.

Some people who live in the surrounding area have fought a campaign against the stadium. But a public consultation carried out by the council suggested most people who expressed a view were in favour of the plans.

The great-nephew’s letter – seen by the M.E.N. – expresses surprise that the authority has not contacted a member of the family for their thoughts on the planned stadium.

The relative, who lives in Cheshire, writes that the land – on which the Richard Johnson, Clapham and Morris wireworks once stood – was handed over by the family to benefit those who lived nearby.

He adds that those people are ‘in the main firmly against the proposed stadium’ and concludes ‘after careful consideration we also stand opposed’. The relative, who does not want to be named, claims in the letter to be a spokesman for the entire family.

But the M.E.N. has contacted a second great-nephew, who said he felt it ‘inappropriate to support or oppose’ the plans because he lives in Kent.

He added that, now planning permission had been granted, he wished the project well – and hoped the Ronald Johnson name would be retained in some form.

FC United are completing legal formalities before work can start.The club declined to comment on the letter.

But Neil Fairlamb, head of sport for Manchester council, said: “The council is satisfied there is no legal reason why the scheme, which will provide extensive community benefits to Moston and North Manchester, should not go ahead. A descendent living in Cheshire, came forward saying they opposed the scheme.

"We have contacted him and offered to meet to explain the plans. He was offered a number of potential dates but he was unable to make these.”

The club hope to be in their new home for the start of the 2013/14 season.

The memory of fallen soldier Ronald Johnson has been kept alive for 90 years - thanks to the playing fields named in his honour.

Johnson – whose family ran a wireworks near the park – lost his life in the trenches of World War I aged 27.

After a high-flying education he had originally taken up a job at the family firm's Australian outpost.

But when war broke out he returned to the Britain to enlist and was signed up to the Royal Field Artillery 23rd Division.

He said he wanted to fight alongside the men who worked in his family's factory.

After surviving a bullet in the Battle of the Somme he returned to the front line, but was killed in action in May 1917.

He is buried at the Brandhoek military cemetery in Belgium.

His will requested that the fields in Moston be purchased for the factory's workers - and in 1922 they were opened in his name.

Mike Keegan April 02, 2012