Saturday, March 17, 2012

FC United of Manchester-Real Football

It's been some time since I wrote about FC United of Manchester so here goes, a bit of an update for you.

Our club was formed when the Glazers took over Manchester United. Don't get me wrong, that wasn't the sole reason. For years we had seen football being screwed by money men who had turned big clubs into huge corporations so far removed from the idea of a sports club that you could barely recognise them. I say 'our club' because it is owned by the fans. If a rich Arab wanted to buy the club 51% of us would have to vote yes. We had a vote about having a shirt sponsor. We voted no. It's quite simple and it works, if you're interested in real football and the ethics of your club rather than selling your heritage and soul to buy a trophy or two.

Does anybody think Abramovitch woke up every Sunday morning from childhood desperate to find out how Chelsea went on the day before? No, it's his play thing. That's another thing too, football on a Saturday afternoon. Remember those days? If you don't there was a time when football games kicked off at 3-00pm on a Saturday, or midweek on a Wednesday night. When Newcastle play Southampton on a Monday night do the authorities actually give a toss about the supporters? Course not, they get more cash from the telly than those mugs who buy tickets.

Today FC United are playing in the Evo-Stick Northern Premier League. We had rapid promotion from the North West Counties League, where we started life in 2005, and lost the play-off final last season to Colwyn Bay, who are now doing very well in the Conference North. We're away to Henesford Town today and I'll be picking up one of the supporters' coaches around 11-30 in the shadow of Old Trafford, a sweet irony. Hednesford is a huge game as they are up there in the play-off spots where we are fighting to be. There will be well over 1000 fans at the game when the average in this league is around 250. Our home games usually attract around 2000 and we have over 3000 members.

"So what's it like giving up your season ticket at one of the world's biggest clubs to watch non-league?" I get asked a lot. And I always answer that I haven't enjoyed my football as much as I have these last seven years in decades. When I was travelling to watch United in Barcelona, Florence, Athens, Prague, Turin and many more wonderful European cities, I never dreamt that I would soon be travelling to Northwich, Whitby and North Ferriby instead, and loving it!

So if your sick of the sterile atmosphere, the ridiculous price of a leather-burger let alone the astronomical ticket prices at your league club get down to your local non-league club. You'll probably pay well under a tenner, find a cosy clubhouse selling proper, affordable beer and you can have a bit of banter with the other fans without facing a line of yellow jacketed jobsworth stewards and hyper-twitchy robocops in riot gear. In other words, a proper Saturday afternoon. You can even swap ends at half time.

Bloody hell, is that the time? Better get ready to drive to Old Trafford to get the coach to Hednesford Town FC. . It's a true promotion six pointer. Will we win promotion this season? It would be nice, but if we don't it will mean another trip to Whitby (if they don't blow it and get relegated) next season for fantastic fish and chips before the game. Now that beats tapas before a game at the Nou Camp any time.

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