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Oh what fun it is to see United Ohi’mbube

Submitted by on November 8, 2011 – 2:35 pm4 Comments

Long day

At the start of the season a few us, recognising that it was getting a bit much going to most away games, decided that from then on we’d organise days out to five or six places a season, getting fifty of us together on a coach under the ‘A Fine Lung’ banner, which isn’t a banner at all but a piece of A4 paper with magic marker scrawled on it. Any combination of kids, jobs, money or just a need not to make every weekend about football were getting in the way of FC United so we agreed that we’d look at the fixtures and organise two or three before Christmas and two or three after so as to avoid people drifting away.

Fate conspired against Burscough away at Skem, which we had to cancel last minute, so on Saturday the first AFL bus of the season left Chorlton Street for Durham. AFL has done a few buses over the past couple of years and they’ve all been special but Saturday was even more so as we celebrated the arrival of one of the regulars’ first born, Sonny Alexander Forrest. Welcome Sonny, we did you proud.

We’d adopted ‘Bob The Driver’ following our first away day with him to Stockton last year but Bob was at a funeral and he’d called us to say he’d sent ‘Mad Irish Trevor’ to look after us. When I first heard that it made me recall an episode of the god-awful ‘Football’s Hardest Away Days’ in which some kerazee Burberry-fez-wearing Leyton Orient fans go to Scunthorpe. Thankfully though, Trevor was alright. The Orient lot not so (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YK7f5N0XRac).

Surveying the forty odd who actually made it out of bed and in no way wishing to come across all “we’re mad us”, it was clear this was going to be a long day with a lovely but beery bunch of people. There were some on board who will probably see every game in between this and our next coach trip and there were those who wouldn’t see FC United kick a ball until next trip but each and every one has made a stand against the carpet-baggers, Glazer apologists and assortment of twats that tried to steal our football club from us and it is that spirit and resolve which powered ‘Mad Irish Trevor’s’ fifty-two-seater uphill towards Leeds on a foggy, miserable FA Trophy morning.

It was suggested that we stop off to see Jimmy Savile lying in state in his discreet gold-plated coffin at the Queen’s Hotel in Leeds but we took a vote on it and decided to stick to the original plan and collect the Yorkshire Rainbow Alliance from outside at Elland Road. They were in fine spirits but the closer we got to Durham the worse the weather became. It was definitely one of those days which makes you get home and put all your summer jackets in mothballs for a few months. The Alliance, used to living on the colder, backwards side of the Pennines were better attired, sporting Marks and Spencer’s “subtle, no label, not like all this Stone Island wannabe hoolie bollocks, larger sizes for the larger gentleman” range.

In the spirit of niceness and in no way like those bellends in the Orient clip, we had a raffle. Sounds like a mad day out doesn’t it? You should try this though – get forty odd of you together on a coach, give everyone a raffle ticket for a pound (you can buy more than one), draw a lucky ticket number and give the winner all the money. Our lucky winner was Navajo Chris who took his fifty odd quid and had a free day out. Obviously you have to have a reason to hire the coach in the first place. Don’t go hiring one just to have a raffle on. One of the lads on board drew the winning ticket with his foot, a task simple enough if you have the standard number of human toes but not so for our friend who stars in this clip – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZclC3fqEJg. We carried on up the A1 and towards our stop-off at Ferryhill, ten miles or so from Durham.

It’s the norm for people to stop off in one of the small villages in the North East because if you go into Newcastle or Sunderland city centre pre-match with anything covering your upper body you get fingered and filled in by the locals. Forty-odd Everton lads, who were playing at St James’s in the early kick off, were clearly wise to this and were just leaving Ferryhill on a Happy Al’s coach as we were arriving. Our coach shot past theirs quite quickly but slow enough for us to notice that one of our lot being late arriving at Chorlton Street that morning had probably prevented the good people of Ferryhill having to run to the nearest town to use their phone and call the local Bobby.

One of the CYCM Oddies has been put in charge of such stop-offs and has never failed to find us a lovely, welcoming proper pub. His choice of The Surtees Arms -http://www.thesurteesarms.co.uk/ – CAMRA North East’s ‘Pub of the Year 2011’, kept him in everyone’s good books. The Surtees have their own micro-brewery, The Yard of Ale Brewing Company, and is run by a nice bloke whose name we probably got but we left it somewhere near Ripon on the way home. Thanks to, errr mate, for looking after us. Utterly failing to adhere to Mad Irish Trevor’s simple request, we left Ferryhill with about twenty minutes until kick off at Durham, eventually arriving after the game had started.

Mate, Bloke and Wotsit from the Surtees, Ferryhill

Trevor pulled up behind FC United’s goal and parked lengthways so that we could all watch the game over the fencing without leaving the warmth of the bus. We didn’t intend staying there but the Durham stewards looked anxiously in our direction as the bus began to rock and the support for our team grew louder, albeit muffled by Trevor’s double-glazed windows. Durham City FC have had a tough time in recent years, not least of all financially and with a split of the gate money going to our club we were always going to pay in. FC played there a couple of seasons ago, generously letting the hosts score their first goal of the season or getting their first point or both. Such was the warmth of their clubhouse on a bitterly cold day and so bad was our football that most people sacrificed the game for a pint or two.

On this occasion the bar was also busy throughout the game. Durham forced a draw and a replay at Gigg Lane, which does FC United no favours football-wise or financially, with a big chunk of any gate receipts going to our landlords. One to forget on the pitch but not so off it as there was a good sing song in the clubhouse with classic United songs interspersed with all sorts of nonsense like this – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugeztWg-RCI.

On the way home we stopped off at another decent pub, The One Eyed Rat in Ripon, known locally as the Jap’s Eye (their name for it, not ours. We know this because one of the lads’ brother-in-law lives there and drinks in the pub). By the time we left there at about half eight we’d lost a few but still had enough to make a noise. Trevor, noticing the bus was leaning left, dug out a CD of, errr, ‘traditional’ Irish music which got a good airing on the way back home. By the time the Alliance were dropped back off in Leeds most of us were spent. We were back in town for just after ten, tired but having had a lovely day out.

FC United of Manchester host Durham City FC in the replay on Wednesday November 9th at Gigg Lane, kick off 19.45.

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