Who needs Wembley anyway?

The MRE is on fire!!

Ahh well it is all over. The glorious cup run of FC United is over. As usually happens, given a 2nd chance, the league club won the reply in a flattering 4-0 win at Gigg Lane. To be honest, and you probably saw the game, BHA were the better team overall and deserved their win, but FC took the game to them at time, certainly in the 2nd half, and if the penalty curse hadn’t struck, who knows what might have been? Still, there was a great crowd in La Stade, a superb atmosphere, from where I was stood in the MRE, and a squad of players to be proud of.

When you think back to the cup run, you wouldn’t have guessed we have got as far as we did. The run started with a scruffy 3-0 win at home to Radcliffe, and followed by a good win against Gainsborough at Gigg. A great day out at Norton and Stockton Ancients followed, in fact, if you had asked me during that game, when we were 2-1  down and playing poorly that we would reach Rd 2, I would have laughed at you and told you not to be silly.

Barrow was also a good day, the 1st one where the media started to take notice and of course we all know about Rochdale and Brighton. It has certainly made the season for the club. The league form has been, at best, inconsistent, the cup run has given the players the confidence to play the way they can. But now the league form is vital. During the run, we have slipped into the relegation places, albeit with games in hand, and so the climb needs to start against the Evo Stick Champions 2011 (sic) Halifax tomorrow. A good run and you know what? The play-offs may well be in the offing.

The Leigh Branch last week, welcomed the Shadow Education minister Andy Burnham to our meeting and a good night was had. Andy of course was a founder of Supporters Direct and a previous chair, as well as being an advisor to the Football Task Force (containing our very own Adam Brown) and most importantly, the secretary for Media, Culture and Sport when in government. Andy was very candid in his views about fan owned football and it clear that he fully supports what we are doing at FC.  It also transpired that a couple of branch members seem to be closet Evertonians also.

All in all, things are looking up for the club, we know Ten Acres is firmly in the pipeline, the cup run has generated great coverage and much needed revenue for the club and we have just had our record attendance.

Just hope some of them c0me back.

Making friends wherever we go…

FC players going to the fans post game at Brighton just as someone waves a scarf in front of my camera

It has been another good week to be a FC’er. On Thursday we received the news we had been waiting for. Manchester City Council approved our application to build Ten Acres Lane. The light that has been hovering at  the end of the tunnel has hit us all. The ground is now a reality. We await news of how the community shares have gone, as the deadline is on 30th Nov, but with luck, that has done well, the DF ticks over well (but still needs that important push to get to £500K) and we could well start the build next year with a view to kicking off the 2012-13 season in TAL. It is what loads of people at FC have been working towards, none more so that Andy Walsh and Adam Brown and our utmost respect must go with them. But there have been loads of people pulling out their tripe for the DF raising funds, and none of those should be forgotten. Loads have got us near to our destiny, as I believe that is what it is, and hats must be tipped to those people. And to the people of Newton Heath a big thank you. A thank you for having the foresight and vision to see the benefits of this ground to them. They will have a superb sports and social facility at their disposal in the next couple of years.  I hope they use it fully, I am sure they will.

And then onto Saturday. Brighton away in the FA Cup. It was a cracking day out. It started badly with the coaches turning up nearly an hour late, but once we were on our way all was well and we were there in time for a pint in the pub at the ground.

There had been much made during the week or so beforehand as we had only 850ish tickets for the game. This was because we were handed a “Cat C” status, which means the highest possible chance of trouble. This of course was ludicrous and happily was proven to be total and utter shit. Everyone had a top day, the team did their bit and gained a replay at Gigg and on leaving the stewards and police were wishing us well, a safe journey home and even waving us off. Talk about a total change in attitude. Even the Brighton fans who were hostile to us, seemed to totally change their tune and were impressed by our non stop singing, bouncing and attitude.

Making friends not millionaires you see.

This week, FC Leigh supporters branch have a meeting with a specially invited guest in the form of Andy Burnham MP. Andy was of course a previous chair of Supporters Direct as well as a large backer of fan owned clubs. We will be chatting to him about this as well as the plans for TAL. I know from speaking to him, he is very interested in FC United and our future plans, it will be good to show him what we plan to do in the next couple of years.

Full steam ahead…..erm…..Brighton….

I am still not sure what to say. Nearly 48 hrs after the events of Spotland, it’s still sinking in. Yes, shocks and upsets happen every year, but not to me they don’t. I have been used, in the past, to going to games hoping that I wouldn’t be on the end of the upset, but on Friday that was different.

It was built up to be our biggest game and of course it was, but I was giddy and worried in equal measures before the game. Of course giddy, I couldn’t wait to get there. A night game in a decent ground, a sold out away end and an atmosphere expected to blow the roof off. I wasn’t disappointed in any of those, in fact it all surpassed my expectations. But there was worry as I say. We don’t get 3,000 at the games, so who had bought our tickets? Would the local idiots turn out? Would the rumours of City, Bury,Utd and even Bolton hoolies turning up come true? Well on the whole, it all went well. There were a couple of minors incidents and rumours of stuff that I am not sure of the facts, but suppose that was to be expected. But, yes all went to plan. The game was great, FC matched ‘Dale for most of the game, won it in the 94th minute with controversy, there was an unnecessary if totally understood pitch invasion after the 1st goal and of course on the final whistle the kind of pitch invasion that gets shown on Match of the Day for 30 years.

At the end of the game, whilst everyone was going mad, I have to admit I struggled to get my head round it. Was it real? Did it really happen? Well yes it did and we were in the hat (I do wish they would use a hat) for round 2.

And that had brought us Brighton or Woking. At the risk of sounding disrespectful not the best draw. It will be a good trip out and that is good, but there has already been thoughts of issues on tickets already and we don’t even know who we are playing yet. And of course, BHA are currently playing at the Withdean Stadium, which isn’t a place that I have to admit, I am in no rush to get to. But then it’s their ground and fair enough, at least they have one. Shame Falmer won’t be finished till next season.

Anyway, that is 3 weeks away. We have a couple of vital league games in between at Northwich and Colwyn Bay as well as a trophy game at home to Hinkley. It’s a busy time and I hope that we can keep some of the irregulars who were in attendance on Friday.

Like a record baby…….

A sunny Gigg Lane day for the game v Barrow.

Well, well, well. We did it. FC United made it into the 1st round proper of the FA last weekend, beating Barrow on the most emotional day at Gigg Lane. At the end I was almost in tears (almost I say!!) as the pride of what was going on around me hit home.

Then just a couple of days later the realism arrived as the 1st round tie at Rochdale was chosen for the tele and was moved to a Friday night. And so it began. The debate, the arguments, claim and counter claim. And to be honest, I see both sides very clearly and have sympathy on both sides.

At the end of our first season, the members at the GM took a vote. That vote was to enter the competition (in fact any FA competition such the FA Cup, Trophy and Vase) knowing that there maybe games moved for TV purposes. That is a fact of entering, but deep down, I don’t think many of us thought that it would rear its head for quite sometime. The 1st round proper was a long long way off back in 2006. Well it has arrived and with a bang.

ESPN contacted the clubs and said we want to televise the game and here is some cash for doing so (£67,500ish.) Our board, with only a short time to decide and with the mandate of the previous vote decided to accept the offer of television and so we now play on Friday 5th November at 7.45pm.

There has been accusations of selling out our principles at this, and I can see where that is coming from. We have a banner at FC. We have many of course, but one in particular that says “3pm Saturday. It’s only natural.” The team name for our Eggheads FC team (and please don’t ask how we did, you have to wait till it airs) was “3 o’clock Saturday” so yes it is important to play at this time. Its what most of us (notice the word “most”) want and believe in, and rightly so. But then the realism hits. We work on a tight budget, a budget that due to financial pressures from renting a ground etc we struggle to meet. So yes, the money made from the televising of the game is important. It is important to the future survival of the club, we cannot continue to lose money year on year. If that continues, there is only one way the club will go. And by collecting this money, the club can concentrate its efforts on fund raising for Ten Acres Lane, on focussing minds on the DF and on the Community Share Issue and let the club run itself for a while. Cause make no mistake on it, like the tight budget, without a ground of our own we don’t have a future for the club. And that cannot be allowed to happen, too many people have invested far too much time, money and effort for the club to wither and die. Just have a look on a match day and the number of volunteers running around getting the match on, I am sure they don’t want to be walking round Asda on a Sat.

But of course there is something that doesn’t sit right. It is a decision made based on money. Of course it is. I would have loved the message that turning down the TV revenue would have sent out. And you know what, when we are in Ten Acres, we can do just that. People have said that we have taken it once, we have to take it every time. Utter nonsense, its our club, its our rules as we say, so if the revenue isn’t that important, as it won’t be in the future we can say thank you but no thank you. At the moment, I feel it would be remiss of the board to have done that. But in the future when we can generate all our cash and spend it on our own club? Hell yes. And make a big song and dance about it. But like I said, parts of it doesn’t sit right. Course it doesn’t, but maybe we have been our own worst enemies on that score. We have told people over and over that it has to be 3 o’clock or we will boycott. I have said it myself, but then when you sit down and think rationally about it, maybe at this stage of our club, we aren’t in a position to say that. In the future as I have said then yes, but now? Maybe we have sprinted before we can even crawl?

The one thing the board can be blamed for is being too honest. They could have said that it was a fait accompli and we had no choice. But we trust them not to hoodwink us, or mislead us. We trust them to be open and honest, and I don’t think we would want it any other way we trust them and they trust us and long may that continue.

As for the comparisons I have read with the Curzon boycott? Ludicrous. That is like comparing an apple with a wind turbine. The league told clubs that games wouldn’t be moved, then did so. At least with the FA and all their faults, you know FA cup games may well get moved before we enter.

And as for what our detractors say. Who cares, fuck them. They will slag us for “selling out” which is bollocks and if we had turned it down, they would have slagged us for  depriving Rochdale their revenue. So who cares?

I do think that this could be revisited in the future. At first I didn’t, we voted and that is that. But I am sure a resolution could be drafted to try and tighten this up for the future. Though I don’t know what the solution is.

And of course, as with all things like this, it is up to the individual. If you really feel you are against it, you can give the game a miss and make your feeling know at a club meeting. That is your choice and you are more than entitled to it. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Remember, even 5 years down the line, we are still on a learning curve, we will all make mistakes, the important thing is how we learn from them. And wouldn’t you rather be having the debate, than not?

 

A grand day out

GOOOAAAALLLL!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well what a day out. Yesterday I spent the day in the North East at Norton and Stockton Ancients FC in the FA Cup. It was the 3rd qualifying round and what a day.

A trouble free journey got us there in good time to get a pre match beer and pie and peas. We sat ourselves down next to Norton’s manager and his assistant picking their team…..sat in the bar. They enquired about our journey. Next was to get a pie and peas down our gullet. The woman behind the counter asked about our journey…..you get the message, they were a friendly club.

The ground was a good old typical non league ground and again the welcome was warm. The game was the usual FC Rollercoaster, started well, faded off, took control and in the end won well, if a touch flattering scoreline wise. Mike Norton scored a good hat trick and there were a couple of other good performances from Jerome Wright and Glynn Hurst.

Anyway here is a video taken at the game, enjoy….

http://www.youtube.com/user/neilboo1#p/a/u/0/hb9EXO5KIeU

Sorry…..

I have neglected this a little over the past couple of months. I didn’t intend to, its just life happens like that I suppose. Anyway, I do intend on keeping this up to date, so here goes.

The cricket season finished, I only managed to umpire in 4 games and though I pretty much enjoyed it, it was a little frustrating not to get out on the field more. Not sure what I will do next season.

I attended the Labour Party conference last week. I enjoyed it. Was only for the final morning but it was good. I got to listen to a talk on local councils and government, sommat about the selling off of the Post Office and Harriet Harmen’s closing speech. I was also invited to an event where Ed Miliband spoke and ended up shaking his hand. I didn’t tell him he was my 4th preference (out of 5)

Also bumped into Andy Burnham outside and had a little chat. I did a little work in his campaign office when he was going for the leadership. I really enjoyed it, it was only a couple of hours here and there, but I met some quality people and it was a pleasure. Through that, I was lucky to be invited to Andy’s little soiree at the end of his campaign, which was a lovely night.

I am trying to start up a little business (in the loosest sense at the moment) buying and selling 80s retro clothes, toys, bags etc. Its not easy at the moment, but I have a website coming soon, so I will see how it goes.

And as I say, I will update this more often…..I promise.

The Labour Leadership race and other gubbins

Andy Burnham speaking at the Co-Op hustings.

Well, last week I attended the Manchester Co-Op leadership hustings. I have to say, I enjoyed it loads but it confuddled me even more than I already was.

My 1st preference is sorted and I wasn’t disappointed in Andy’s performance. In short he pissed it, and in my view by a long way. He was assured, passionate, funny and most importantly he answered all questions directly and with humility. Now my 2nd and 3rd votes were up for grabs. I had wavered from D Milli to Ed Milli and ruled out Balls and Abbot. Abbot still is ruled out. David spoke well I thought, and I have now got over his air of thinking he had it in the bag already and one of those votes will be his. Ed Balls when I have seen him on the box came across as quite frankly piss poor. But last Sat he spoke with assurance and calmness and he may well have moved into my top 3. Moving out Ed Milli, who in my view was pretty hapless.

I ended up sat next to everyone’s fave MP, Hazel Blears and to be fair, she wasn’t the hapless goon she appears to be on the tele.

What else had been happening. The umpiring has been slow. Only got 2 games in for some reason, not sure why, but maybe a change in league next year may bring a change in fortune.

The radio show is going well. The whole FCUM Radio is being revamped and relaunched on 16th Aug, with eyes on being a fully fledged community station. The site is http://www.fcumradio.co.uk, please have a butchers and maybe a listen to my show, or indeed any of them. They are good and loads of hard work goes into them.

Oh, how could I forget? A couple of weeks ago, I filmed an episode of Eggheads for BBC2. It was an FC team and it was a cracking day. I can’t say how we did sadly, you will have to wait till May 2011 (ish) as that is when I think it will be shown.