of Manchester – 2
FA Trophy, 30th October 2010
A lot have been made of FC United of Manchester. Including revolutionaries, hooligans, friendly bunch, deluded & god knows what else is in between. A football club set up after Malcolm Glazier took over as owner of Manchester United, crushing the club under a mountain of debt. FC United of Manchester had one mantra – “Making Friends, not Millionaires”.
Well they’re not making themselves millionaires, but are they making friends? On Halloween 2010, I was to find out.
One thing that FCUM (for short, and amusingly for about three seconds mispronounced “fuck’em”) are is footballing nomads, spreading their games between Gigg Lane in Bury & Bower Fold in Stalybridge. The day’s game, FC United vs. Colwyn Bay in the FA Trophy, was played at Bury.
At the time, I’d been living in Manchester for 6 months, and – although a frequent user of the Metrolink – I’d never been to Bury. On my trip to pastures new, I looked at the stops & wondered if they had a football team. Besses o’ th’ Barn FC? I’d love that. Or if it all goes tits up with the Seagulls, I may just start it up as a offshoot phoenix club.
Unforunately, Bury isn’t particularly football friendly, with the football ground a decent walk from both the local transport links & the nearest pub, but after about a 20 minute walk past the ground, I managed to find an alehouse where the Bay fans had camped out. Although there were a few FC United there, they were remarkably cordial – looking forward to the game, how’s your season going – the like. Maybe they are about making friends.
I arrived at the ground with a bag (which contained my halloween costume, a fairly average lookingUndertaker costume I threw together myself, and a camera). Furthermore, rumours began to circulate that there would be no food sold inside the ground. Not wanting to risk it, I grabbed a burger & chips outside the ground. I was due to be subjected to a bag search, but seeing my hands full of tasty snacks & the fact I look like any riot I start will be manageable & pathetic, I was ushered through with “Y’alright love”.
Into the ground, and one thing that FC United have is a following that are skilled flag makers, which put our two CBFC flags to shame. Hell nested amongst the flags was a Welsh flag from FC United fans of Colwyn Bay. Heathens!
The game itself was a watchable affair – Jerome Wright of FC United the difference maker in the first half as although Colwyn Bay had most of the pressure, our ability to be unable to hit a barn door with a banjo cost us, with 3 balls hit against the woodwork, and – when the keeper was beaten - the ball was cleared off the line. Jerome Wright however, with literally the only two chances FC United made (which is not a shot to them, they enjoy employing a more patient pressurised build up their namesakes won countless titles with in the mid 90′s), put FC United 2-0 up.
Although there seemed to be little with concencissions beyond having a piss, we didn’t care. Least of all me – the three pints drunk at the Swan & Somethingorother before the game meant that I wasn’t in the mood continuing, particularly with one eye on the Halloween celebrations later in the evening.
The second half was another watchable affair, and with a cheap link, slightly more scary. Tackles became a little more rash, with FC’s left back Lee Neville (yeah, I’m unsure if they are related) tackling being particularly rash, earning the brunt of the travelling fans abuse. So, it was a sense of shaudenfraude when he was substituted injured midway through the second half. Bay eventually managed to pull one back, and although we hit the woodwork a few times (my tally was 6, others was a more conservative but still frustrating 3), FC United proceded to the next round of the FA Trophy with a 2-1 win.
Trust me, this isn’t a biased & jilted fan’s response. In fact I questioned the logic of supporting both FC United & Liverpool, as adopting them as a team I follow & occassionally watch. Many FC United fans shared my view that they were fortunate. I didn’t care. For all the grief that you hear about them, I must admit, I do not share this view. They are a wonderful club with only the best intentions.
So it was with immense joy when – 4 days later – FC United was again successful in a cup competition, beating Rochdale 3-2 in the FA Cup – a cupset if you will. I was watching it in the pub with a few people who shared my day out at Gigg Lane. Imagine my shock when we got a mention – when discussing the left back, the commentator said “The original left back, Lee Neville, was injured in a game at the weekend against Colwyn Bay.”.
Piping up, my mate commented “Well he should learn how to tackle then, the fucking prick.”.