You just haven’t earned it yet baby…
March 17, 2015 – 8:39 pm | No Comment | by:

Twenty three years ago I stood on several away terraces and sung “we’re gonna win the league” with Manchester United seemingly poised to win their first league title in a quarter of a century…

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You just haven’t earned it yet baby… by:
March 17, 2015 – 8:39 pm | No Comment

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By Jonathan Allsopp
As we’ve seen a few times in recent weeks being in a crowd can sometimes do peculiar things to you. At the end of the match at Torquay the other week as the fans applauded the players and the players applauded the fans and everybody got a bit misty-eyed at the wonder of this FC United of Manchester thing of ours, I found myself nearly joining in with a chorus of “we’re gonna win the league”.

For a split second it almost felt right, a note of defiance at the end of a game where we’d done ourselves proud against a team of full-time professional footballers from two divisions above. But then I came to my senses. It was only the first week in February after all. As any two-bit television pundit will tell you “league titles aren’t won in February, Clive”. And FC were in sixth place in the league, fourteen points behind the leaders, albeit with a few games in hand. Hardly a cue to crack open the champagne just yet. Most importantly though I swore in the summer of 1992 that I’d never indulge in any impromptu footballing giddiness ever again.

Twenty three years ago I stood on several away terraces and sung “we’re gonna win the league” with Manchester United seemingly poised to win their first league title in a quarter of a century. In pole position with games in hand on a Leeds side that appeared to be feeling the pressure of the title run-in it seemed only a matter of when rather if we could start making plans for an open top bus parade. The United We Stand fanzine declared that we would be “Champions At Last” and there weren’t many who disagreed.

Aside from football, 1992 was also a General Election year and this time it looked like, maybe just maybe, Labour might actually kick the Tories out of Downing Street. On the last day of March as we drove away from Carrow Road after United’s convincing 3-1 victory against Norwich the radio news announced that Labour had a seven point lead in the latest opinion poll. There was barely a week to go until election day. Surely they wouldn’t mess this up. It felt like the double was on and even more so the following Saturday as Party Politics won me a topical few quid on the Grand National and city thumped Leeds 4-0.

Of course Labour’s opinion poll lead proved to be a mirage. The Sun did its worst and an overly triumphalist Labour party rally in Sheffield probably didn’t help the party’s cause amongst floating voters either. It looked like the political equivalent of singing “we’re gonna win the league” too soon. Nevertheless going into election day there was still hope of success with many commentators predicting a hung parliament. But not long after midnight on election night as a grinning Tory with bad hair triumphed in the bellwether seat of Basildon, I headed to bed. Essex Man had spoken and after thirteen years of divisive Tory rule it felt like a kick in the teeth.

At work in Cambridge the following day I refused a lunchtime invitation to go out and celebrate the Tories’ election victory. I was despondent but at least there was United’s first title in yonks to look forward to.

Shockingly that flame of hope became a roaring Dantean inferno of despair as United blew it all in the space of five games in eleven dismal days in late April. Half a lifetime on it still pains me to recall this miserable handful of games but here goes. First up was a nervous Thursday night 1-0 win at home to Southampton before, two days later, a drab 1-1 draw away at a Luton side that we’d hammered earlier in the season.

Then on Easter Monday, Fergie left out Mark Hughes and we lost 2-1 at home to a Forest side that we’d beaten at Wembley in the Rumbelows Cup only a few days before. By now the early season swagger had vanished and we were on the ropes. On a horrible Wednesday night at Upton Park an already relegated West Ham delivered the knock out blow, playing out of their skins to win 1-0. Their supporters celebrated like they’d won the European Cup. Officially we lost the league at Liverpool the following Sunday but there was no coming back from this.

By the time United took to the pitch at Anfield Leeds had won 3-2 in the lunchtime kick-off at Bramall Lane and we needed a win to take the title race into the final weekend. The soil was however already tumbling over our heads. In truth, United played alright at Anfield, as if the unbearable weight of expectation of the last few weeks had been lifted. We hit the woodwork several times but Liverpool won 2-0. The scousers, of course, loved it, delighting in the fact that we had lost the title on Merseyside and reminding us of exactly how many times most of us had seen United win the league.

As me and a mate sat tight-lipped in the Kemlyn Road stand even the nearby stewards were joining in with the phlegm speckled choruses. United had lost the title at Anfield. Leeds had won the league. It didn’t get any worse than this. Whoever uttered that phrase about us needing to experience the lows in life to truly appreciate the highs was having a laugh.

As the sullen train home gathered pace through suburban Liverpool I turned to my mate and said that I didn’t think we’d ever see United win the league in our lifetimes. He muttered something in agreement. It felt like that was our best chance ever and we’d blown it. Later in the evening, still on my long journey home, I bumped into two women from work who’d been to see a show in London. They had, they informed me, had a lovely evening. “How about you?” they asked.

The thought crossed my mind right there of simply packing in going to football and just enjoying life. You know, doing the things that normal people do like going to the cinema or the theatre or going for a walk or reading a book. It sounded attractive and look how happy it made people.

The double whammy of the Tories getting back in and United’s self destruction in the title race left me unable to even pick up a newspaper for weeks after as I went on a self imposed news black out. From being a regular devourer of the morning papers, the front and back pages, I went cold turkey. A week after the end of the season I passed a newsagent’s and caught a glimpse of Howard Wilkinson and his players with the league title on the front of one of the red tops. A shiver ran down my spine.

Twenty three years on and our red shirted heroes of FC United of Manchester have a great chance of winning promotion to the Conference North. Our best chance yet after seven seasons in this division which have included four appearances in the dreaded play-offs. We’re top of the table with not many games left and giddiness abounds.

There’s even talk among some excitable young things of when and where (not if) we might actually win the league. Call me an old curmudgeon whose glass is always half empty but after that double kick in the bollocks of 1992 I’ll be refraining from any rash predictions that may come back to bite us later. The scars are still there from Anfield and Upton Park. Until I see Margy sipping champagne from summat large and silvery with over-sized handles you can count me out of any “we’re gonna win the league” light-headedness.

The same applies to the forthcoming election; the possibility of the Tories getting back in and those fruitcakes from Ukip enjoying any sort of success is simply unthinkable for the survival of our NHS. Come on you Red bastards.

The readies under the bed…
February 20, 2015 – 6:54 pm | No Comment | by:
The readies under the bed…

Thanks to everyone who has contributed in any way. To those who have created and sold the publication, bought it at matches and to those who have bought magazines and T-shirts away from FC United via our stockists Cornerhouse, the National Football Museum, Working Class Movement Library and our online stall (home and away with Stu from the Bay).

A hijacked legacy? Tony Wilson at 65
February 20, 2015 – 12:31 pm | No Comment | by:
A hijacked legacy? Tony Wilson at 65

I have an uneasy feeling that Manchester’s success has been somewhat hi-jacked and, it’s almost as if Tony Wilson has been written out of that history…

Moving the goalposts
February 19, 2015 – 3:13 pm | No Comment | by:
Moving the goalposts

From the official FC United website:
FC United fanzine A Fine Lung has contributed £4,300 to the Development Fund raised through sales of the fanzine and associated merchandise. The donation will contribute toward the costs of …

To Hough End in a Handcart
February 15, 2015 – 3:07 pm | No Comment | by:
To Hough End in a Handcart

Welcome to Brokebackadhurst Mountain
Finally the bombshell we’ve all been waiting for, but hoped would never drop, exploded this week with the news that there is to be a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender supporters branch …

Brit Flop
February 15, 2015 – 1:29 pm | No Comment | by:
Brit Flop

Not long now to the Brit Awards. Feb 25th is the date for your diaries. Excited? Noel Gallagher is. He’s getting himself giddy by saying he’d rather drink petrol straight from the nozzle than listen …

Shake Your Friends Maker
February 10, 2015 – 9:16 pm | No Comment | by:
Shake Your Friends Maker

FC may have gained a whole host of  admirers after their exploits on the south coast this weekend, but our new friends from Torquay aren’t  the only ones. At last season’s game against King’s Lynn, …

Love United Hate What?
January 2, 2015 – 12:20 pm | No Comment | by:
Love United Hate What?

Some things to bear in mind before publicly announcing you think politics have no place in football, courtesy of the excellent Llandudno Jet Set:
The parts of the internet that have held my recent attention have …

A Methodist in the Madness
December 5, 2014 – 11:42 pm | No Comment | by:
A Methodist in the Madness

One of FC United of Manchester’s Course You Can Malcolm collective has sent us the following for publication on their behalf:
‘Twenty-two is a number that found its spiritual home at Course You Can Malcolm.
Whereas bingo …

Potteries Climbdown
December 1, 2014 – 10:01 pm | No Comment | by:
Potteries Climbdown

The N40 are in town on Tuesday so there’s bound to be mayhem and carnage. With that in mind, here’s our own hooliologist Angry Bear’s dissing of Staffordshire’s most feared firm, which originally appeared in …

It’s raining goals at Highbury…
November 24, 2014 – 11:02 am | No Comment | by:

At some point towards half time I blacked out and came round to find myself in Arsenal’s first aid room. “What’s the score?” I asked one of the medics. “3-0 to you lot”. “You’re joking”. Unbelievably he wasn’t.

Good news about AFL fundraising
November 16, 2014 – 10:59 pm | One Comment | by:
Good news about AFL fundraising

We are pleased to announce that due to positive dialogue between AFL and FC United’s board, great progress has been made on this and just this past week we have come to an initial, possible agreement on what the money may be spent on.

Seven shades of red
November 11, 2014 – 10:00 pm | No Comment | by:

While passing the line of teenagers like ourselves we couldn’t but help notice that some of them were wearing black bin liners. We stood and stared. “What ya looking at?” “Why the bin liners?” “‘Cause …

Explore the past, change the future – get up close to historic activist material at the Working Class Movement Library
October 7, 2014 – 9:42 am | No Comment | by:
Explore the past, change the future – get up close to historic activist material at the Working Class Movement Library

Here’s a message for activists and campaigners from our friends at Salford’s Working Class Movement Library:
Fighting for a better world?
Wednesdays 15, 22, 29  October, 6.30-8pm
Come along and spend three evenings exploring what you’ve got in …

Standing in the shadows of the miners’ strike…
October 1, 2014 – 2:15 pm | No Comment | by:
Standing in the shadows of the miners’ strike…

The much anticipated Manchester screening of ‘Still the enemy within’, the crowd-funded film about the 1984-1985 Great Miners’ Strike, takes place this coming Monday, 6th October, at Cornerhouse.

If you know your history…
September 30, 2014 – 8:51 am | One Comment | by:
If you know your history…

A brief history of how FC United of Manchester’s first board came to be… Well worth a read for those new to the club, or those with short memories.

Kick it all out
September 29, 2014 – 8:59 am | No Comment | by:
Kick it all out

Probably no set of fans in English football flies the anti-discrimination flag better than FC United of Manchester. We’re not perfect, but we must be doing something right…

Don’t call my dog a ‘bitch’…
September 26, 2014 – 11:36 am | No Comment | by:
Don’t call my dog a ‘bitch’…

G was one of a group of us acting as the ‘RAC front desk’, a name that suggested more status than we actually had. We didn’t have desks and the only thing we were at the front of was the queue for abuse.

Football fans versus homophobia
September 23, 2014 – 8:23 am | No Comment | by:
Football fans versus homophobia

FC United fans have recently recreated a banner that is famous across Europe as part of the campaign to counter homophobia at football matches.

Our NHS
September 10, 2014 – 8:28 pm | No Comment | by:
Our NHS

A reminder from Lung contributor Jonathan Allsopp that we’re in danger of losing the NHS unless we don’t fight back:
Ellen Wilkinson is a name that’s probably unfamiliar to many outside of Manchester or the north …

Mule of Oi
August 31, 2014 – 11:04 pm | No Comment | by:
Mule of Oi

It’s come to our attention that religious extremists are conspiring to take control and run our real ale pubs, oil and oatcakes. Men have been seen, wearing great bushy beards, unkempt straggly hair, wearing strange …