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There comes a time when silence is betrayal: Part Two

Submitted by on March 26, 2016 – 11:47 amOne Comment

FC_FvH

We are publishing a letter written by long-serving red Stu from the Bay, which was sent to FC United’s rulers. SFTB is not a writer, by his own admission, and it took him weeks to put together (it is therefore out of date and doesn’t include the latest club shenanighans). We feel slight sympathy for those who received it having to trawl through 6,000 words, therefore we are chopping it up in to manageable chunks so none of you dear readers need suffer too much…

It was written in a genuine attempt to list all the things SFTB (and many others) believe the club have got wrong over the years, leading up to the discourse of the past nine months or so. It was done in the hope that the general manager and his board would give their collective heads a shake and think about their behaviour and the negative impact many of their actions have had on the club we all love. It also served as a cathartic exercise for a fan who has put thousands into the club over the years and now feels he no longer can.

It is heartfelt and upsetting in parts, so those with a nervous disposition or close friendship with any of FC United’s leading hierarchy should look away now…

See part one here.

Rainbow laces
 In the Autumn of 2014 FC held an Anti-Homophobia event to raise awareness of homophobic abuse at football, why not? It’s what we do and have done really well at FC.  But for some reason this event didn’t go down too well with some of our support. 

Snide very casual homophobic abuse on The Soul is One message board started to appear, even aimed at a future board member, who at the time dealt with it brilliantly.  Also, around the same time an FC supporter was assaulted on a train while attending an FC match, the reason for the attack, taking to task some casual homophobia on a train from well-known FC co owners. 

I have also heard and witnessed this casual homophobia while walking behind this same group at a match at Curzon. 
 
Coincidentally, around the same time, a bit of anti ‘old United’ songs were being sung and becoming more prevalent, but thankfully that seemed to die down after a concerted effort singing of old United songs.

Going to FC was becoming a chore, as when I’d swap ends at Stalybridge I couldn’t and wouldn’t look at the Tom Pendry Stand, as these bigots seemed to congregate there. This same lot of FC bigots also sang “Your just a coach full of Faggots” at a group of co-owners a few months later. 
 

Ground Tour
My love of FC was severely being tested at every home game I went to.

It got that bad at the end of September I booked myself and my son on a ground tour with the general manager.  I didn’t fancy going to home games anymore so I was trying to get some positivity/love back for FC by looking around our new ground. As these tours were held on match days I was going to have a 160 mile round trip and not go to the game at Stalybridge as I didn’t fancy it, with our bigoted fans finding their voices. In the end I went to the game arm twisted by a fellow co-owner and volunteer that I was going to drop off at the ground before going home.

CYCMwithy

CYCM Resolution AGM November 2014
The volunteers that had run Malcs for the past seven years, reluctantly felt that there was a slow drift from our core founding principles (see Beergate) and lack of real progress with getting a Malcs in our new ground, and decided to put in a resolution to firm up the board’s commitment to a match day Malcs.


This resolution came on the back of the recent Rainbow Laces abuse and this was a case of us having to put a resolution in about a much-loved part of an FC match day, never mind being something totally different from what any other club do (i.e. Doing Things Differently). It felt like an all-time low had been reached. How right was that feeling? What came next was soul destroying. Not helped by the Board’s “fudged” ‘remit to board’ to make sure the CYCM vote was split. It really felt like someone on the board didn’t want a Malcs at our new ground.


That month leading up to the AGM was among the worst four weeks supporting FC where a fair portion of co-owners were made to feel like the enemy from within.

One of my match day “experiences” at Stalybridge started with seeing Anti-Malcs stickers plastered over lampposts and bus stops leading to the ground. I say anti-Malcs, they actually had “The East Stand is Ours” with the CYCM logo on them, or something similar, the intention being was to make it look like Malcs supporters had had these stickers printed and stuck them up, they didn’t. There are a few Graphic Designers amongst our ranks at Malcs and to say that they were embarrassed by the design on theses stickers would have been an understatement to say the least. 


I then walked into the ground to be met by a bloke asking me to sign a petition against the programme (how very strange since the same person made a big thing about “there being a hidden agenda” amongst our support at this July’s Emergency Meeting).

It got even worse as I overheard a co-owner at the members stall telling a board member that “a big bombshell was about to be dropped and you know me as I speak my mind”. I butted in at this point to explain that he’s “talking shite as usual”. The resolution hadn’t been made public at this point, but he clearly thought this was a bombshell. The divide had started.

As I returned to the terrace I was informed that a fellow volunteer and co-owner was upset after receiving abuse while selling the programme, just for being named on the leaked Malcs resolution. I found the general manager at half time to voice my frustration. But what was the point?

Completely unfounded allegations from some people of money being withheld by volunteers who ran Malcs were then aired, further alienating hard working co-owners and volunteers.

We were becoming the outsiders “that Malcs lot”, evident if you listened to our co-owners when you were on trains and coaches while travelling to games. 


What fellow co-owners didn’t know at the time, was that the three people chosen to stand in front of the AGM meeting were chosen so not to offend or wind up the members.

Yes that’s correct, the lovely bit of Manchester which is/was CYCM, had to go into an FC United of Manchester AGM and not offend the members, and while all this toxic abuse was handed out to volunteers the board seemed oblivious despite the general manager being made aware, only putting a statement out that no money was owed by CYCM when asked to. 


Oh what a difference a year makes, that time the year before (2013) in the run up to the AGM and the first spade in the ground, I was still coming off 12 hour night shifts with 3 hours sleep to drive the 76 miles via Westwells Bakery in Openshaw (to pick up Tata Ash) then on to Gigg Lane. 

Once at Gigg Lane I would help set up CYCM, I say help set up but sometimes it had already been done by the other volunteers who had got up at daft o’clock to help set up match day. If this had already been done my car was used to transport (I was the only one with a car) the beer from the Mega Cabin lock up to different parts of Gigg Lane.  How sad that some of those same people who saw “that Malcs lot” resolution as an agenda, 12 months earlier I and others were breaking our backs, never mind my car suspension, to carry their beer that they supped into the ground. 

When all this was done I would set up the little stall, which somehow I got volunteered into running, that little stall over the time we had it at Malcs raised over £1000 towards something lovely and very Mancunian in the new ground, but we had to accept paying for the goal posts.

If we were lucky we might see 20 minutes of the game then back into Malcs for half time and then clean up after the last Malcs regular had downed their half time pint. It was then a mad rush to move as much as we could in my car as I had to leave ‪at 4.25pm‬ to drive the 76 miles back to work ‪at 6pm‬.
 
So why tell you all this, as dozens and dozens of volunteers do this every week. Well it really pisses me off that when you try and stand up to what you think the club stands for, a board member then tells you to ‘put up or shut up’ or that ‘it’s only a small amount of people’(troublemakers).

I did all of the above for love and to give back something to our fans. In the seven years I helped out in Malcs I think I must have drank in there only about a dozen times. I must have heard the same daft story from a lovely old bloke about United too many times to remember but not once did I tell him to shut up. Why? Because we don’t besmirch our own like some on the board. 
 

Simon King and Andy Davies standing for the board 
Quite why co-owners and Malcs volunteers Si & Andy wanted to put their names forward to become board members says more about their love for FC than anything else, as the abuse they were subjected to was terrible [including some from current board members, including one who had previously made accusations of bullying against others]. Apparently they both had an agenda and, with the help of the Malcs volunteers, wanted to take over the running of the club, or the world, depending on who you spoke to!
 
Si had the misfortune to have a social media picture from 2010 dragged up of himself standing next to a sign to make out he was homophobic. The way Si dealt with that mud slinging was brilliant and a credit to the clubs founding principles.

I found it quite ironic that when Andy Davies stood down from the board (on principle, something past, current and future board members could learn from), post after post were singing his praises
on the Official Members Board.

I do wonder how many of those who didn’t vote for Andy on the strength of the anti-Malcs rhetoric leading up to the AGM praised him when he resigned!
 

Britain First supporter Brian Allred standing for the board
The less said about this sorry time in our history, the better. 
 

Picture by Russ Hart

Picture by Russ Hart

Programme-gate and the treatment of the then-programme editor
Oh dear, where do I start? Without trying to go over old ground, as I have already made my feelings well known to the previous board and general manager after the Emergency Meeting, through an email and by withdrawing my financial support.

They say hindsight is a lovely thing after the event, but what really annoys me is the amount of times the board, Andy Walsh or Andy Walker could have put a stop to this getting out of hand, it had own goal written all over it from the start!  As soon as it became known on the members forum (and elsewhere) that the programme price was about to go up there were pleas to think again from all parts of the club.  I struggle to understand why, at this point, this whole mess wasn’t sorted out.

I can understand Andy Walker not knowing what it was like to be used as a Cash Cow, being a Boro fan, but Andy Walsh, as well as being our GM, is a United fan and must have experienced this at Old Trafford and many away grounds following United (Birmingham away for example). Alarm bells should have been going off.

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