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Barlow’s bad leather (or ‘watch out the song dibble are about’…)

Submitted by on June 19, 2013 – 3:36 pmNo Comment

BarlowLeather

If there’s one reassuring constant in Coronation Street, it’s that Peter Barlow will always wear a proper snidey leather jacket.

No matter how gripping storylines about Audrey judging the Wetherfield in Bloom competition or Roy and Mary’s titanic chess encounters are, the leather jacket is always there, becoming such an integral part of the show that it could, nay should, be considered a Barlow in its own right.

One of the latest incarnations of his jacket is snidey-ness personified, with its pathetic attempt at convincing the world it’s a motorcycle jacket falling flat on its cowhide-esque face without so much as a two-wheeled motor in sight. And then there’s its faux worn look, trying to convey the image of a hard, rugged struggle of an existence, when in reality we all know it’s come straight from Eccles Market and doesn’t know a life other than cobbles and Tyrone’s gentle, simple face.

Sartorial elegance isn’t the jacket’s raison d’être though, not that it knows it. In fact, it is blissfully unaware of the purpose it truly serves, a purpose which goes much deeper and is more meaningful than mere fashion, and so crucially important it can never know the truth. Because, I don’t know, it might spontaneously combust or something if it were to learn the real reason for its existence.

No, fashion is not what Peter Barlow’s jacket is about (but I trust you already know this). It’s a warning; a message unique to whoever looks upon it; a strong, clear communication to take heed of its inherent naff-ness and to stop, contemplate your own life and to assess whether you’ve started your own gradual decline into numpty-dom. And for FC United of Manchester, it’s time we grabbed our chops and forced our collective faces to look upon the leather, the zips and the collar and admit the horrific truth to ourselves: we’re in danger of becoming the next Jacket Barlow.

Cast your mind back past Moston, Rochdale and Brighton, St. Pauli, the Naughty Forty collectively remembering they’d left the oven on, Invision, all of that and more, to the fresh-faced, giddy as a kipper delights of the first season.

A time when red, Mancunian dreams took flight and soared high above the vultures feasting on our beloved club, and a time when the FC songbook was overflowing with humour and originality. It was a glorious time, especially from a terrace song point of view. We were like fat rich kids with quail egg yolk dripping down our little double chins, we were so spoiled. ‘Under the Boardwalk’, ‘I Don’t Care About Rio’, ‘I am an FC Fan’, songs bristling equally with indignation and searing wit in the true United tradition, all borne out of the situation we found ourselves in. Every game seemed to bring with it further ditties, unique to the opposition and the varying sizes of the goalkeepers we faced.

But of course, such is the nature of life that this rich vein of form couldn’t be sustained. Originality started to give the odd Saturday a miss, and while we all patted ourselves on the back at what a unique and vociferous set of fans we were, complacency quietly walked in and put its feet up. Oh how we laughed when the MRE and the Main Stand substituted a lack of away fans with a little banterific rivalry.

Then it happened again the next season. Then the one after that. Then it started happening at away games. And it wasn’t particularly funny anymore. But still, we continued to accept plaudits from those who encountered us, while year after year passed and each time a little bit of darkness encroached on our creative hearts.

Then, before we knew it, happy-clappy songs had snuck under the radar and we were singing a song so woeful it would make Twelfth Man the Holte End (sic) proud. ‘Come on Cheer the Boys’. We’d gone from Woody Guthrie to Noddy Holder and no-one so much as batted an eyelid. And finally, to top it all off, a rather severe case of Ultra fever set in. Now I know they can be a bone of contention, but in the right setting (night time mainly) on big occasions, flares look smart. Fucking smart. Big flags on big poles sparsely spread out in a crowd of two thousand, however, don’t.

And singing ‘We love you, we love you, we love you’ is a step far, far, far too far. Too far to the point that we appear to be modelling ourselves on Crystal Palace (and if you don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, then look up the Holmesdale Fanatics Ultras on that there YouTube).

Wit, originality, history; these all appear to have all been eschewed in favour of bouncy happy songs, so much so that I don’t think I’d be that surprised to see the MRE Poznan-ing while chanting ‘easy’ to the backdrop of the Sheffield Wednesday band. Am I sounding hysterically negative? Probably, but the rot has to stop, and it has to stop now.

So how does it stop? We could buy 500ml of Ronseal Wet Rot Wood Hardener, but you have to buy that from Screwfix, who in turn are owned by Kingfisher plc, who in turn own B & Q who in turn are anti-union, so by that tenuous link I don’t want to do that. And I suppose that doesn’t help us anyway, so that’s not an option. No, the answer lies within us all.

We’re rightly proud of our club and what it stands for, and at the centre of it all is the immoveable fact that we own our club. Our club, our rules, but also, it seems we’ve forgotten, our chants. It’s now time for us all to stop a while, remember the high standards we’ve set ourselves and begin the task of remembering that, above all else, it all boils down to the one, undeniable fact: that we’re United.

You may think I’m talking utter nonsense, being Mr. Top Red song policeman, and should be worrying more about us getting to Moston than what we should and shouldn’t be singing. But that would be missing the point. We’re at an important crossroads now; we’re hopefully a year away from moving into our new home and we’re going to be gaining a lot of new faces.

These people are to be welcomed with open arms, and it’s down to each and every one of us to show them the way forward and what we stand for. And if you don’t agree with me, and you’d rather sing ‘FC United Away’ or whatever it is, then go and grab Peter Barlow out of the Rovers and go clothes shopping with him. You deserve each other.

- This article appeared in the sold out issue nine of A Fine Lung. There are a few other issues that didn’t sell out though, you can buy them here

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