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Gimme Shelter: Get yourself to that football ground

Submitted by on September 28, 2010 – 7:17 pm2 Comments

Back in the mid-1990s the BBC ran a mini documentary series on happiness and whether or not humans could ever genuinely be contented.

The programme (presented by Robert Winston if I remember correctly) basically ended up, after following the fortunes of many participants and interviewees, suggesting that people never really discover true happiness, as the moment a dream is fulfilled – winning the lottery, or making that long-coveted move abroad – the landscape changes.

Once fulfilment of any kind is attained, its duration is merely fleeting and further contentment has to be sought elsewhere; be that the accumulation of greater wealth than previously envisaged for a ‘happy’ life or the adoption of new ambitions and dreams to cling to. It seems people can only bask in self-satisfaction for so long before needing to move on (though it should probably be noted that Garth Crooks did not take part in the study).

Back in August 2009, FC United faced an uncertain season. Many suggested that, due to finances, another promotion might not be the best thing for the club, should such a scenario even arise. After the incredible progress of the first four years the watchword for many supporters, quite reasonably, was “consolidation”.

There was a strong suspicion that we’d overachieved in our debut season in the Unibond Premier and that after three promotions 2009/10 was finally time to take stock and ensure that the club’s foundations were as solid as we all liked to think they were before turning thoughts to future progress. Margy and his “We’ll be champions” predictions aside, few, if any, openly disagreed with that.

For most, those “consolidation” hopes contained two qualifications that would allow them to overlook the unspectacular league campaign such consolidation would involve: 1) an accompanying decent cup run and 2) an announcement, at long last, as to the eventual location of our own ground. Eight months later and we’ve had the highs of Stalybridge and the lows of Northwich on the way to the Fourth Qualifying Round of the FA Cup, whilst Walshy and the Doc have finally managed to whip the council into action to give us the Ten Acres Lane announcement. What more could a Red want?

Back to that BBC programme from yesteryear: it’s easy for people to say what would make them happy but it’s very different in practice and we’ve heard many a groan and moan at some performances. The largely miserable and football-free five months in between the cup run and ground news didn’t help matters nor supporter morale, especially with attendances slipping and results not the best.

There’s no doubting that overall our support this season has once again been magnificent, with the reaction to the Durham defeat the outstanding example amongst many, but there’s no denying that a good number have been found wanting following recent on-pitch adversity. Be it the weather, the football, the schlep up to Bury, the Emperor’s New Green & Gold Clothes on display at Old Trafford, the meaningless end-of-season games – we all know one or two acquaintances whose allegiance has slipped this season, for whatever reason.

It’s times like these, when going to the match might seem more of a chore than it should do, that being a football supporter is all about. Going to matches in hope not expectation; genuinely having no idea or even inclination as to what the result will be; wondering just how many others will have made the trip – the uncertainty of it all makes football great, and it’s also the reality for the vast majority of supporters, a fact we’d all long since become oblivious to in the trophy-laden years of fighting to every season’s end in front of capacity crowds at Old Trafford.

With Margy having finally given us a taste of the FA Cup’s milk and honey last season and Walshy offering sight of the Promised Lane there’s no way last season can be classed as anything other than a success, especially given the hopes widely expressed back in the August. The next two years before we plot up in Newton Heath may well be equally uninspiring as far as league form is concerned, but after coming this far over the past five years it would be a shame if people drift away now.

No matter who you are, the happiness to be garnered from that first game at Ten Acres will be worth every minute of the next two seasons, however fleeting that happiness might be.

o This article featured in issue 3 of A Fine Lung in March 2010. Copies are still available on FC United home match days and from the Working Class Movement Library in Salford. Email us for more details.


  • teddy says:

    Oi! I still havent read issue 3. I’ll be over on the 15th for the Trophy game, so if there are some spares still then, can one of you please bring one along to the match. Ta!

  • midjmo says:

    Ed – a million apologies. I have your copy in an envelope ready to be posted and I haven’t got round to it through being busy, forgetful and a general bellend. Should I just keep hold of it til you come over?

    ps it has nowt to be with me being tight and not wanting to use airmail…

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