“It’ll all be over by Christmas.”
The words of former Manchester United midfielder Alan Gowling are often repeated by FC United of Manchester supporters as a signal of their defiance – often in the face of huge opposition. The quote even adorns a t-shirt that can be bought at the FC United “megastall”.
Well, Christmas passed. And tomorrow night, ten nomadic years on from their inception, supporter-owned FC United are about to officially open their own new stadium with a high-profile friendly match against SL Benfica.
The Portuguese giants are, of course, a club which hold great significance historically to Manchester United supporters. Initially created from the very same red thread, FC United are weaving their own rich tapestry in which Benfica are to figure prominently.
FC United’s history is well documented. As a co-owner (that always feels good to write), I have written about them on here a few times – mainly telling things from my own perspective – both positive and negative. Outside my own bubble, David Conn from The Guardian has reported extensively on the club’s progress and he has recently written what is probably the best summary of events so far.
Last season saw FC United of Manchester finally win automatic promotion from the Evo-Stick Northern Premier League after four failed play-off attempts. A place in the National League North feels well-earned.
Yet a quick glance through the comments section in Conn’s article shows that for all the plaudits and well-wishes that are lavished on FC United for what they have achieved – and for the method in which they have achieved it – there are still many opponents to the idea of the club even existing.
But exist, they do. And from 29th May 2015, they are officially putting down roots at Broadhurst Park, Moston.
In a week where the world of football was rocked by the arrests of a number of FIFA officials in Zurich on alleged corruption charges – a stark reminder of some of the game’s ills – surely FC United of Manchester’s arrival at Broadhurst Park ought to be cause for celebration. For around 4000 supporters on Friday night, it will be.
(Broadhurst Park photos used by kind permission of FC United Volunteer Richard Searle and FC United of Manchester Press Office).