Many have proclaimed the modern game as lacking passion, characters and the representation of what it really means to us. Strutting superstars devoid of class have divided us, the fans, from the reality television world of the pitch.
As events at Toronto FC have recently shown, the gap between supporter and club has become a huge gulf. Organisations have taken the proverbial “mick” for far too long, pricing fans out of the game they love. None more so than at Manchester United, where the takeover by the Glazer brothers has left a bitter taste in the mouths of so many. Saddled with huge debts and a lack of understanding for the inner workings of football, the buyout caused a huge rift that left to the Green and Gold Brigade, a band of hardy supporters who adopted the club’s original colours to protest the Americans’ manner of running the club.
These efforts are admirable. However, they are a shade of the passion and determination of a group of former Manchester United fans who’d had enough. They were so angry, they decided to form their own team that embodied what they once loved in their club.
The name? FC United of Manchester.
Being an Arsenal fan, I naturally find it difficult to agree and certainly empathise with someone who thought it was once a good idea to follow the Red Devils. But what these supporters have brought back to the game, in the form of their own ‘people’s club’, is the faith and love we once had for our sport.
Basing themselves out of the suburb of Bury, a hotbed of red Mancunian passion, they formed as a semi-professional club. They were shrewd, too. Players were signed on loan from the local big boys, and youngsters were recruited from nearby Rochdale and Stockport for almost next to nothing prices.
And new supporters, sympathisers in the views of this new team, flocked in droves. Average attendances reached 4,500, and a shirt sponsor was banned in the interest of ethics.
Last Friday FC United reached its greatest height so far. Away at Rochdale in the first round of the FA Cup, they scored in the last minute (having thrown away a two goal lead already) to progress to the next round. 3,500 fans ran on to the pitch to celebrate amid wild scenes. It was raw chaos, and I loved it.
It’s corruption in football that led to the existence of this club. But I tell you what, I’d turn a blind eye if the FA announced that instead of the traditional lottery method of deciding who plays who, they’d gone against morality and fixed for Manchester United to play FC United of Manchester in the second round.
We, as fans, would all win.