The FA Cup is underway again and we’ve had our first of many upsets. Rochdale 2-3 FC United of Manchester. On a chilly Friday evening at Spotlands, the magic of the cup was in full flow. Goals, drama, and Adrian Chiles reporting from a caravan made for compelling viewing. I enjoyed the match as a neutral, but never have I been so biased towards a team I have no affiliation towards.
FC United of Manchester formed in 2005, after Malcolm Glazer and company forced Manchester United shareholders to sell up. The Glazers have privately owned the club ever since, so a number of Man United fans turned their backs on Old Trafford and formed the ‘Red Rebels’ as a result of these events. This is why I see Friday evening’s scenes as a victory for football, but more specifically a victory for fans.
I have nothing against Rochdale. They played their part in a cup tie worthy of television coverage and maybe deserved more from the game. But it’s so interesting to see how far raw fan power can get you. Admirably rare in fact. To put things into perspective, consider how unfairly clubs now treat fans. Ticket prices are ever increasing, often pricing your everyday fan to revert to the armchair for their football fix. This considered, the fans turning their back on such a global brand as Manchester United is to be noted on many levels, especially in the Old Trafford board room.
It made me proud to be a fan of the sport. Seeing fellow football fans protesting against what is wrong, and doing it in a successful way. Many of whom have followed FC United from day one, or converted from ‘The Red Devils’ to ‘The Red Rebels’ during their existence. Resisting the temptation of watching Rooney, Vidic and Scholes every week in favour of the rough and tumble of The Evo-Stick Premier Division. I have to say I was rejuvenated by an aspect of the FC United following on Friday. These are fans that have celebrated numerous League Championships, FA Cup wins, and European glory. Yet the passion they greeted Friday’s final whistle with, was phenomenal. It ignited emotions that are normally seen after Man United dumped Barcelona out of the Champions League. A mass pitch invasion and chanting of The Red Devils songs ensued. Raw passion from real fans. A massive component of the game we all love.
Is this the first step to fans regaining an element of power in their Club? Maybe, because we shouldn’t be ignored as fans. Without us there would be less passion, less interest, less atmosphere and empty grounds across the country. As an integral part of a Club, we have every right to be heard. And hopefully FC United will continue to make noise.
The Club have certainly returned to the roots of football. Sensible ticket prices, standing on the terraces, rubbing shoulders with real fans who are there for the football, and only the football. Miles away from prawn sandwiches, and where the closest thing to a corporate box is a goalkeeper standing in a penalty area in his pre match suit.
Admittedly it’s still early days for FC United in the 2010 FA Cup and they may struggle to overcome Brighton or Woking in the 2nd Round. But they’ve certainly got the media attention and glory that their initiative deserves. How far they can go? Only time will tell but I for one will keep a keen eye on the developments of one of the country’s most unique clubs.
Written By Rob Edwards