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Is that a bally on your head? FA Cup repeat to fade…

Submitted by on December 9, 2010 – 10:01 amOne Comment

The Big Brother-esque talk of ‘journeys’ and ‘discoveries’ is redundant as little old FC United crashed out of the FA Cup at the hands of the mighty Seagulls of Brighton.

The 4-0 scoreline flattered the visitors, as United missed a penalty and more than competed for much of the game as around 7,000 reds (after the game the attendance was still being counted as people were still paying in 10 minutes into the match) roared the part-timers on at Gigg Lane.

It was a case of FA Cup replay revenge for Brighton and Hove Albion, 27 years after they were hammered by the same score by Manchester United at Wembley Stadium. But FC can take much heart from the Cup run, which has boosted the club’s coffers during a crucial fundraising period and the exploits of Margy’s men has brought the Newton Heath dream closer. That’s not to say you shouldn’t still be filling in your community share scheme forms and sending off your cheques, of course.

It was a surreal sight seeing all four sides of Gigg Lane all but full. More surreal still was the experience of selling the Lung before the game and having people asking ‘which stand is this mate?’ I could have been back at Old Trafford selling United We Stand…

The pay on the gate stand was the first to empty and the minor pitch invasion largely eminated from that section of day-trippers. They were roundly booed, but they will learn. It would be nice if some would come back and our average crowd could be bolstered by a new generation of United fans sympathetic to our aims, but the more pessimistic among us fear a repeat of Great Harwood a few years back when 6,000 fans turned up to see FC lift their first league title, then vanished.

However, our membership has soared through the 3,000 mark during the Cup run and the importance of that should not be underestimated. When the club was started, everyone hoped to one day have more members than average crowd, like Barcelona, and now we have achieved that.

The atmosphere was hard to judge from being at the game, but friends who watched or listened said it came across well and ESPN were suitably impressed. ESPN have been sound throughout and very courteous and respectful to FC staff and volunteers. Dion Dublin and commentator Jon Champion mixed with supporters in the bars afterwards and were very complimentary about the club and what it stands for. They would say nice things of course, but it’s good they bothered to mix and didn’t just slope off. Champion was happy to receive a copy of the Lung featuring his interview (a few remain and will be on sale at the next home game).

Albion manager Gus Poyet also briefly popped his head in and appeared slightly bewildered to see football supporters rather than suits frequenting the Gigg Lane lounges. The only real sour note from our visitors was sexist comments made more than once by a small, bald member of their coaching staff towards FC’s secretary. We are seeking clarification on his name so I will say no more at this point. Bellend (oops, I couldn’t help myself)…

Positives can be taken from defeat – all talk of what would happen if we were asked to move the next round clash against Portsmouth at the behest of television no longer matters and at least Karl won’t have to face questions about all United fans’ worst nightmare of a draw against MUFC at Old Trafford. Ignore the clueless (hello Chadderton-based yonnerfest Evening News and fucked-off-to-London Guardian) who misinterpreted FC fans’ regular pre-match ‘Bring on United’ chant as a wish to play at Old Trafford and not a throw-back to the 1960s when the Stretford End would will their heroes onto the pitch from three hours before kick off.

During the game flares lit the stands and added to the spectacle. A protest took place pre-match against the misplaced categorisation of the first meeting of the two clubs as ‘high risk’. Those making their points donned balaclavas and wished the Surrey police force a Merry Christmas.

And Christmas was the theme of the song that ended the evening, once the match was effectively over following Brighton’s fourth. John Lennon died 30 years ago to the day and, although not a particular fan, it was apt his Christmas anthem was resurrected from the dusty FC song book to tell the world that we are still here. Many said it couldn’t happen etc, etc, repeat to fade…

From the official website:

A Big Thank You

The general consensus across the media and amongst those attending last night was one of admiration for what we have achieved as a football club. Losing football games is never pleasant but we can have immense pride in what we done not just this season but in the hard work and graft of the last five.

There is a long list of thank yous beginning with the members of this football club who not only believe that there is a ‘Better Way for Football’ but are willing to do something about it. We owe a debt of gratitude to Bury Football Club for their accommodation of our spikey and unfamiliar approach to things, without their help and tireless efforts last night’s game would never have happened. As fans who rail against the excesses of TV broadcasting we tip our cap in respect to ESPN and their excellent coverage, professionalism and serious treatment of the issues we believe in; no lazy ‘you must dream of Man U in the third round’ but well researched and respectful reporting showing how football and TV can co-exist to the benefit of both parties.

Our club is run by a tiny group of staff who are fortunate to be supported by a vast army of dedicated volunteers who put their own work and lives aside to make sure the club exists for everyone, thank you, you should all feel proud this morning at your efforts.

Karl Marginson ‘gets it’. His quiet respectful approach has won us many friends. He deals with the demands of fans and the media with a patience and professionalism that is widely appreciated. The coaching staff and the players have shown a determination and a passion on the pitch only surpassed by an atmosphere of non-stop singing and encouragement that leaves a deep impression on all those who witness it. Weather permitting we get back to the league campaign on Saturday but every member and supporter should take a moment to reflect on what we have established – we were given no hope of survival past our first Christmas; we were told it could not be done and have been variously dismissed as ‘idealists’, ‘attention seekers’ or ‘splitters’.

As Karen would say ‘we have only just begun’. Imagine what we might achieve if we had a home of our own?

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