Diary 6/11/10

November 6, 2010

Massive congratulations to FC United of Manchester, who progressed to the second round of the FA Cup by beating Rochdale 3-2 away, courtesy of a controversial last-second winner. It’s the stuff cup dreams are made of; FC play in the Evostik Premier Division and none of the players are professional – one is a residential childcare worker, one makes PVC windows, another is a steel erector… Meanwhile, League One promotion contenders Rochdale featured Craig Dawson, who has already been sold to Premier League West Bromwich Albion for £500,000 and Chris O’Grady, who has often been linked with moves to Championship clubs.

The FC story is a wonderful one. Formed by Manchester United fans who could not accept the takeover of their club by the Glazers, FC have very quickly progressed through the tiers of English football and are now three levels below the Football League. Their fans used Friday night’s ESPN coverage as a showcase for their vociferous, boisterous and positive support – singing constantly, with songs by Slade (‘Cum On Feel The Noize’), Sam Cooke (‘Under The Boardwalk’) and The Beach Boys (‘Sloop John B’) all adapted for their needs. Unfortunately, this excitement spilled into a pitch invasion when Nicky Platt scored the opening goal and red flares were lit at certain points.

Behaviour is less closely monitored at lower levels of the game, so there is a fear that certain undesireable elements of the football fraternity might adopt FC United as ‘their’ club, but I applaud the desire to build a United for the community, not for corporate raiders and star players to make millions. FC United welcomes paying members, who have a say on club matters. It’s similar to the FC Barcelona model (‘mes que un club’), which protects the institution from the sort of share-hoovering sharks who have scented blood in the TV money-soaked waters of the Premier League.

On Bonfire Night, FC United fans waved a banner bearing the image of Alan Moore‘s V, from V for Vendetta.  In Moore’s nightmare vision of a near-future Britain taken over by fascists, it is V who revives the spirit of Guido Fawkes and blows up the Houses of Parliament. Doubtless, the Rebels’ fans see themselves in the same light – independent spirits, rising against the tyranny of oppression, greed and vested interests, reclaiming something they see as rightfully theirs – the spirit of Manchester United.

I hope that FC managed to raise the money they need to move into their proposed new 5,000-capacity stadium in Newton Heath – if they do, I will certainly go to see them. The atmosphere their fans generated at Rochdale’s Spotlands was fantastic, in what was essentially a home tie for FC.

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