Sunday, 14 February 2010

FC United of Manchester v. Worksop Town - UniBond League Premier Division

Saturday 13th February 2010. UniBond League Premier Division.
At Gigg Lane, Bury

FC United of Manchester (1) 2 (Carden 2)
Worksop Town (0) 0

Admission £7.50 (all seated), Programme £2
Attendance 2137 (102 visiting supporters, total declared by home club)
Personally, I would've gone via the M62/M60/A56, but the bus driver's
preference was 'the long and winding road' that is the Woodhead Pass

A great gesture from the Lion Hotel on Bridge Street in Worksop, saw them sponsoring the supporters club coach over to Bury today, which meant Tigers fans could travel for just £5.
The coach was by no means full, which was a shame, but over 100 Worksop fans still made the trip over the Pennines to see their struggling side in action.
I know 102 sounds like a generous estimate, but just prior to kick off I did a quick headcount and there were about 90 in the away fans section then, with a few more coming in as the game was starting ... but even I'm not anal enough to carry one of those clicky counter things around in my pocket, so I couldn't really give a 100% totally accurate figure of how many Worksop fans were there, not that anybody would be nit pickingly sad enough to lose any sleep over it anyway.
This hardcore nucleus have stuck by the club through thin times and ever thinner times in recent years and they demonstrate both the level of support and loyalty the club has to fall back on during this lean period in the club's existence in exile and the potential following the club has once this rocky patch has been navigated.
If only a few more of the 700 plus who travelled to Bournemouth for an FA Cup 1st Round tie a few years ago would still make the effort sometimes, it would go a long way to helping balance the books.
Being a football supporter is not just about turning up and pledging allegiance when things are going well ... I don't recall having read in the news anywhere about mass carnage on the northbound motorways after that game at Dean Court, so I can only assume that all the "Worksop 'til I die!" chants that day, were just shallow words and lies belted out by an army of day tripping posers.
Obviously there will always be a good few band wagon hopping types at such games, but where have all the others gone?
Answers on a postcard to the usual address.
FC United of Manchester ...
more flags and scarves than the rest of the UniBond League combined together

I know Ilkeston is a pain in the arse to get to when the traffic is bad through the 'average speed camera' section of the M1, I know that sometimes the team aren't playing especially well at present, but if there was a hint of truth in those "Worksop 'til I die!" chants, then it's about time a few of the glory hunters put in at least an occasional appearance at a Worksop Town game.
I heard an 'excuse' from one lapsed regular follower of the club who said, "Oh, I don't go since they moved out of Worksop, but I'll watch them again once they move back"
Two things to say in response to that:
1) Worksop Town did not ask to be locked out of their ground and be forced into exile and they still need money coming through the turnstiles to survive until such a time as they do return home.
They are not playing rent free at the New Manor Ground after all.
2) Ilkeston, though being at the wrong end of one of the worse stretches of the M1 to travel on from the Worksop area, can be reached in far less time and at a fraction of a cost than it would take to get to Bournemouth, Tiverton, Forest Green and all those other long distance and far flung places hundreds of people travelled to when it was boom time for Worksop Town FC.
And even though Ilkeston does not have a railway station, if you don't have a car to get there, the supporters club run transport to ALL games.
If you need details of the travel arrangements call the WTSC at either 01909 478178 or 07795512902 ... Don't be bashful now ;-)
Unmoved by the scenery en route, a lonely traveller was missing his missus

Anyway, back to today, we arrived in Bury in plenty of time to be sociable in the Bury FC social club, even though the large function room side of it, that I've used before for league matches at Gigg Lane, wasn't in use for some reason.
Some people took advantage of the early arrival and nipped off to the famous Bury Market, to buy, hmm ... some paint brushes. Sadly I wasn't able to stock up on fish and the internationally acclaimed black pudding, because I would probably have been made to walk home for stinking the bus out by the time we were going home, but I will put a cool box in the car next time I'm over.
I personally had to abstain from partaking in alcoholic beverages until I'm fully on the mend from some recent disruption to my internal (and external) organs in Bassetlaw Hospital, typically, that would be the case when I'm not driving.
The pre match mood was fairly fairly upbeat and the various cliques amongst the away fans and the FCUM supporters mixed freely in the bar without any hint of any hostility whatsoever.
Worksop would have their new signing Ryan Mallon from Gainsborough Trinity playing today, with more new faces said to be on their way soon, FC United for their part were riding high on the back of a four game unbeaten run, including a 6-1 away win at Nantwich Town last weekend.
All things being relative, both sets of fans had reasons to feel positive.
FC United of Manchester.
Hmm, what are we to make of this football club cum phenomenon?
Formed out of a protest against the USA based Glazer family bastardisation of the established football institution that is Manchester United FC, a 'takeover' of which the full gory implications of are still only just starting to be truly revealed, you really have to say 'well done' and 'fair play' to the people behind FCUM for making an 'enough is enough' stand and for refusing to be exploited by a family who seem to have only moved in on Old Trafford as a way of relocating the burden of their already massive debts onto a football club, who I think I can safely say have probably the largest fan base in the world.
The Glazers have no truck with the heritage and traditions of Manchester United, they merely view the Red Devils as a cash cow to be slaughtered for their own ends.
FC United have sought to go back to the roots and the true history of Manchester United Football Club, as opposed to another entity known as Man Utd PLC.
And I have an immense amount of respect for them for doing that.
However, I do have a few reservations.
Though 'their' roots are obviously based in the history of Manchester United; FC United of Manchester are in essence a relatively new club, who started out on their impressive upwardly mobile climb through the Non League pyramid in the North West Counties League Division 2 as recently as 2005.
Did they not, by severing themselves away from the parent club, however painful the move must have been, abdicate all of the history, pride and tradition, along with any unwanted baggage they off loaded and become a completely brand new football club?
If that is the case, then isn't it just a little bit ironic and contradictory that they still sing songs about Eric Cantona (a football genius in my eyes too, even though I've never for one moment had any leanings towards MUFC) and 'cheerful' ditties about hating 'Leeds scum'?
To my knowledge, none of the current FCUM first team has slept with Dani Behr either, though she may have slipped down the celebrity listing standings to UniBond League level by now for all I know and the nearest this new team has ever got to to coming face to face with Leeds United on a level playing field was a trip or two to Guiseley in West Yorkshire, which is geographically speaking anyway, in the same sort of area.
I've checked the league tables and though Leeds fall from grace was nothing short of spectacular, they addressed their plummet and landed on their feet in Football League Division Three, or League One as it's called nowadays unless they changed the name again when I just nipped out to get this months issue of Pedantic News.
Even during the Elland Road club's most desperate back peddling with a broken chain spell, when they appeared to be in complete free fall, I think they would have still managed to halt their decline at Conference North level and wouldn't have actually slipped all the way through to the UniBond League ;-)
Like I've said, I'm all for FCUM being a supporter owned club who are uniquely sticking up two fingers at the fat cats who are whoring the thick end of the football wedge ... I personally have only ever attended one top flight game since the Premier League was formed myself (I needed to visit Ewood Park to complete my 92 grounds at the time, my anorak tendencies got the better of my principles that night), so I know to some extent where they are coming from.
In my book, their efforts and determination are a great example of what can be achieved by organising and mobilising fan power, even if they did possibly have a significant head start on any other club's fans who might feel the need to rip it up and start again, by the sheer number of potential ready made followers they already had in situ.
So, FCUM, good luck in your quest to produce (reproduce?) a football club run along the right lines and in the correct manner, within the true spirit of the game, I think what you're doing is quite awesome and highly commendable, I just think there are a couple of little contradictions that need a bit of tweaking.
But what do I know!?
"Weicom Worksop Town sup Enjoy the game"
And a slightly more confusing notice at the away fans entrance

One thing I do know, is that the music you hear in football grounds is for the most part dire and likely to induce nausea attacks in most sane thinking people.
The FCUM fans repertoire of virtually non stop singing was impressive (save for the the songs that possibly belong to another club in the Great Manchester area), but their match day announcers selection was even better.
"tedious dross"
I have never heard Jimi Hendrix being played at a football match before, it made a great change to the usual tedious dross you tend to hear in grounds and was complimented by one of Paul Weller's finest moments (he did churn out a few duff tunes in his time too mind you). The crowning glory of Otis Redding topped off the experience, completely uninterrupted from start to finish.
If there was ever a case to bring terraces back to grounds like Gigg Lane, it would be that there is no room to dance in between the rows of seats when the sound system is this good.
St. Johnstone made the effort to play a few half decent songs a few weeks ago when I was up in Perth, today FC United topped even that half time entertainment with some great tunes.
Who will be the next club to take up the crusade to rid our football grounds of shit music?
Any thoughts on the matter Ray!!!???
Penalty taking. Don't show off and bugger about in front of the noisy
home supporters, just hit the bloody thing ... and hit it hard!

Alas, I have rambled on long enough trying to avoid the inevitable for as long as possible, but I suppose at some point I really better mention the fact that there was actually a game of football being played here today too and say a few things about it.
Bugger, I'd been hoping you'd have forgotten about that by now and that I could just slope off unnoticed out of a quiet side exit without passing any comment or judgement.
Worksop started well on Gigg Lane's hard and rutted pitch and looked as if they were going to give their hosts a real game of it.
But in the end, well ... to be frank, they didn't.

It really did look like promising to be a champagne performance from the Tigers if the early exchanges were anything to go by, but in reality it turned out to be more like a bottle of Happy Shopper lemonade that went flat after a few minutes, once the lid had been removed.
Inside the first five minutes FCUM's David Chadwick jumped in an attempt to head away a cross and landed with his knees in Gary Townsend's back, which knocked the Tigers player to the ground.
It didn't look especially malicious or pre-meditated, but never the less it was a foul and it had floored Townsend inside the penalty area.
In spite of the Non League Paper claiming it was Ben Tomlinson who Chadwick collided with, it was definitely number 9 Gary Townsend.
A spot kick was awarded and the 'straight up and at 'em from the very off' tactics Worksop had adopted appeared to be paying dividends.
There was a delay while Gary received treatment, during which the supporters behind the goal upped the noise in an attempt to put the designated penalty taker Adam Burley off.
But Adam was having none of it!
Oh no!
He was completely unfazed by it all (ahem) and to prove a point he decided to put the keeper off and shut up the supporters in one fell swoop, with an improvised penalty technique.
He took a bizarre zig-zag style run up to trick the keeper into diving early, stopped when he got to the ball quite deliberately, did an odd little jig and then kicked the ball.
Alas Sam Ashton in the FCUM goal didn't commit himself early and saved the weakly struck penalty with ease ... the supporters didn't exactly fall silent as a consequence either.
I know Burley has used this penalty taking ritual before ... now I have never taken a spot kick in front of a noisy throng of people all willing me to miss it before in my life, so I have no first hand experience or expertise to draw on for my analysis of the situation but ... I genuinely hope he never repeats the trick and that if he is ever called upon to take a penalty again, he just hits it hard and on target, without all the show boating.
At least there were still around 85 minutes left to make amends for the miss and lets face it, even international footballers sometimes fluff penalties at more crucial moments than Adam Burley did today, take for example that one against Portugal for England that former FC United of Manchester player David Beckham took that ... err, whoops, genuine mistake, profound apologies, he played for the other United didn't he!?
FCUM players run behind a pillar to celebrate the first goal.

After the penalty 'mishap' Worksop's enthusiasm for holding on to the early impetus they had created seemed to evaporate.
The home side stepped up their game a bit and began to make some in roads, particularly down the left flank.
But both teams were struggling to make the ball move about to much effect on the 'difficult' surface.
With half time fast approaching, Peter Rinkcavage must've been looking forward to the break, so he could refocus his players and point them back in the direction they had come out of the blocks in originally and possibly also advise Adam Burley about any further penalty kicking that might be required.
But just as half time was almost upon us, FC United struck.
Ben Deegan got on the end of a Jerome Wright free kick and headed goal bound ... Tigers keeper Jon Kennedy got down to it but could only parry the ball away, Simon Carden gratefully seized on the rebound and hit the ball home from close range.
Half time 1-0
The home side stole Worksop's first half master plan after the break and came out all guns blazing.
They did come close to increasing their lead when Deegan headed against the post right at the start of the second period, but the breakthrough they were pushing for came in the 55th minute, when Carden netted his second, from a left wing cross fired into the mix by Wright (again), by virtue of deflecting the ball home via his chest.
They all count and some forms of improvisation in front of the goal are more effective than others, aren't they!?
Especially that particular goal.
The Tigers now seemed to be making even harder work of finding any rhythm on the difficult surface, though they did shut up shop and prevented FCUM from making any further advances through the channels they had been exploiting.
For a while it did look like 'the Rebels' (as I believe FCUM are called) would open the floodgates but belatedly Worksop repelled the danger FC were posing and stood strong.
But the game was now fast become a bit of a stalemate with the likelihood of any further goals from either side looking unlikely ... and that was hardly going to worry the team who seemingly already had all three points points in the bag.
All in all, a frustrating and disappointing afternoon for Worksop after they had shown so much spirit initially.
Ryan Mallon put in a good shift and looks like a good signing in the making, but at times the Tigers appeared to be lacking sharpness after the enforced winter break has starved them of match practice. That will hopefully only be a temporary situation as the games now start coming thick and fast again.
To that end, that is why the friendly game at Long Eaton United was hastily arranged recently.
But there's no substitute for the real cut and thrust.
Ben Tomlinson almost scored a consolation goal for the Tigers, Danny Bacon looked purposeful when he came on, but all in all I don't think anybody could have any complaints about the final outcome.
Fellow strugglers Frickley Athletic visit the New Manor Ground on Wednesday 17th February, for a UniBond League fixture, a good result against the South Elmsall side last season at 'home' (AKA in Hucknall) paved the way for an end of season run of form that moved the Tigers out of the drop zone ... an omen maybe?
Let's hope so.
In 20 consecutive games since the Tigers last played (and beat) FC United of Manchester 3-1 at 'home' they have recorded only 4 victories and 2 of those were against the UniBond Premier's whipping boys Durham City. Though let it be said, that run of results has come against a backdrop of uncertainty and strife that has almost seen the club go to the wall more often than anybody would dare even think about.
Worksop Town's fate in the league this season is still in their own hands.
A victory on Wednesday, over the side one place below them in the table, would be a massive stride in the right direction.

People of Worksop, are you really "Worksop 'til I die!" or not? Your club need you more on Wednesday night than they ever did on any FA Cup 1st Round proper weekend piss up at a south coast seaside resort.
Are you going to stand up and counted or not?
Go to Google maps on your computer and type in DE7 8JF for directions to get to the match, what else are you going to be doing on Wednesday night anyway?
Mural on the wall behind the away supporters seats.
I don't recall Phil Lynott ever being a Rotherham United player.