Grounds for divorce
There’s a song at FC United, I don’t know the exact words, as I don’t want to be disappointed, but the gist of it involves a celebration of us building our home in Newton Heath to the tune of Dirty Old Town.
It’s nice that we have a refrain to that tune, even if the words are probably a bit cringeworthy given the past form of some of our songsters, but unless we all pull our fingers out it may become redundant before it becomes a permanent fixture on the set list.
We need to raise a hell of a lot of money to live the dream in Newton Heath. If we’re going to achieve our aim of a football ground a stone’s throw from where Manchester United began its life, then all those singing that ditty need to put their money or time where their mouths are. The deadline for the community share scheme is November 30. We’ve a long way to go to achieve our aim of hitting £1.5m.
As individual supporters, the majority of us don’t have access to enough money to significantly boost the total on our own, but as a collective with our £200s we can smash it. And that’s what FC United is all about. A collective will to improve the world we live in and to make a positive difference. Get those forms filled in and those cheques written.
If you are skint, as many of us are, or shitting it ahead of the latest Tory assault on the working classes, then donate your time to raising cash for the Development Fund. We still need to hit £500,000 from this funding stream (copyright Scott Fletcher/Adam Brown). We can all do our bit. If you have no money and no time, then pass on the leaflets and send on emails to mither other people who may be interested in being a part of it.
I tried this at work, where the majority of people are Everton, Liverpool or United fans who have never been to FC. Two out of 20 of them are now promising to buy into the scheme, because they believe in what it stands for and what we are trying to achieve. That’s a 10 per cent success rate and I’m hardly Alan Sugar when it comes to the hard sell.
Whisper it quietly to those who piss themselves through their tracksuit bottoms at the use of the ‘p’ word, but people believe in our politics and the ideology behind what we are doing. They may loathe Alex Ferguson or Wayne Rooney, but they agree with all that FC United is aiming to deliver and believe that we could actually change football for the better. And they believe that we can help improve the lives of a community forgotten by successive governments and set to be trampled on by the latest incarnation of Thatcher. This collective belief is something we should all be proud of.
If you can’t do any of the above for whatever reason, then get off your arses and start coming to games again. Crowds have dropped off and the ground plans may be a reason for it, with many ‘waiting’ until we’re in Ten Acres. If you don’t come and support your club NOW we risk the nightmare of never getting there. We all know people who have lapsed, so do your bit to scare them into coming again. Do we want to sink in the cement before we even lay a brick?
I’ll face flak for writing this, but there have been mistakes made in the ground process. There’s a distinct lack of imagination in the actual designs we have seen, which is a big shame and something we will all regret in the future. And I’m not just talking about chimney-gate.
Those who have given their lives over to delivering the dream cannot be criticised lightly as we are eternally grateful, but the lack of vision and willingness to create something iconic, forward-thinking and ‘different’ as befits the city of our birth, has undoubtedly hampered the process. People are funny things and they need to see something that inspires them beyond words and legacies if they are going to get involved. They need to see a beacon that matches the hope. Fans would have put money into building a fence around a field, such is their loyalty, but those ‘outside of the FC family’ (again copyright of Dr Brown), need more.
We missed that opportunity and appear to have settled on a glass and cladding Urban Splash-inspired effort when we could have had something as inspired as a Hulme Community Garden (a structure made from fire-retardant straw, which also contains a wood burner for the princely sum of £20,000). Or, at the very least, something made from reclaimed brick in fitting with the nearby works. More people would undoubtedly have jumped aboard the Sloop John B had they seen an icon to be part of, as well as a legacy. It also would have earned us more press. Sad though that may be.
The offer document contained just one artist’s impression and a squad picture of FC United. If you’re hoping to attract people from other sections of life, you need to fire their imagination with numerous drawings of what they are signing up to, not show a non-league football team sat on a bench. And before people aim daggers at me – most of the creative people who have worked on other FC publications were not involved or consulted on the brochure.
Media coverage, following the initial surge, has been poor. We have been let down badly by the Guardian particularly. Our project is right up their street, but for some reason they have put a big road block in the way and have hardly offered a whimper of coverage. It’s all about Liverpool’s struggles, or the Glazer repayments, when it should be about an alternative way of running football. The one we are promoting. The Guardian was founded by liberals who liked to highlight causes without physically doing anything about them. They have a heritage of opposing direct action. They are the green and gold campaign rather than the FC United.
Maybe the club, and by that I mean all of us, could have done more to spread the word too. Why hasn’t there been a story in the Evening News every week? Admittedly the paper is shite beyond belief, but the three men and a dog that work for them are desperate to fill it so why is our PR team not mithering them every given hour? Twitter has its uses, but in the real word we need concrete coverage, not virtual hot air.
But alas, hindsight is no use to anyone and we cannot sit around sulking and blaming each other. Nothing can be allowed to get in the way of what we are trying to deliver. We can make a difference to people’s lives in a positive way. We can show that football supporters can rescue the game they love. We still have time to do this. We can overcome all the difficulties in our path and finish constructing the route to Ten Acres Lane, collectively.
We have the future in our grasp. Planning permission is a virtual given, due to the backing of the council. What a shame it would be if we got that far and through apathy and lethargy we didn’t deliver the dream we keep singing about. Let’s not miss the tram, as there may well not be another one.
Visit: fc-utd.co.uk and get your balls rolling.