Third Time Lucky For FC United?
Fans’ club FC United of Manchester are in the promotion shake-up again this season, but after losing the last two playoff finals, can they go one step further this time around and gain promotion to the Conference North?
Things are really looking good right now for FC United Of Manchester, both on and off the pitch. Third in the Northern Premier League Premier Division table, with games in hand, and approval for a new stadium, it really is a good time to support the fledgling club.
The Red Rebels were formed in 2005 by Manchester United supporters, disillusioned by the Glazer family’s takeover of the Old Trafford giants (I won’t go into details of that particular travesty here), and as a result are 100% owned by the fans, who vote on how the club is run. Everything from shirt design and ticket prices, all the way up to voting for board members, every fan has a vote to use.
Currently, FC United find themselves ten points adrift of leaders North Ferriby United, but they have played four games fewer than the leaders. In second place sit Hednesford United, who must now consider themselves favourites to win the only automatic promotion place, as they are just four points off the top with three games in hand. Ferriby currently have a superior goal difference, which could be hugely important in the final stages of the season.
The biggest weekend of the season so far is coming up this week, as FC United play host to leaders North Ferriby on Sunday, March 3rd, and twenty four hours earlier, Hednesford travel to fifth placed Witton Albion. If the Red Rebels can take maximum points, and Hednesford slip up, it could turn things in their favour in a big way.
Karl Marginson, manager of FC United since the club’s inception, has built a fantastic squad, and going into the match this weekend, has overseen a marvellous run of eight straight league victories. That is still some way off the club record, though, which stands at fourteen, a run achieved in 2006 (thanks to @OptaFcum and @fcunited_ru for the info). Confidence in the team is high, and with Matthew Wolfenden and Mike Norton among the goals, along with recent signing Tom Greaves, there is no reason why the run can’t continue.
This is their fifth season in the Northern Premier League Premier Division, after beating Skelmersdale United in the First Division playoff final in 2008. After settling into life at this level, finishing sixth and thirteenth in their first two seasons, they have reached the playoff final for the last two campaigns, but lost them both 1-0; to Colwyn Bay and Bradford Park Avenue. This season, they will hope to have learned from those disappointments, and if they don’t manage to reach the summit of the division come the final reckoning, they will be in good shape to win the playoffs at the third time of asking.
The Moston Project
Off the pitch, this has been a good news season for the club. They have finally been given permission to build their own stadium in Moston, although local residents are not exactly overjoyed at the prospect of a football stadium being built in their local green area, not to mention the impact on parking and property values. If these obstacles can be overcome, though, then the club might finally have a home to call its own after playing at seven different stadia for their home matches. They currently use Bury’s Gigg Lane ground, but have also played at Altrincham, Hyde, Stalybridge, Radcliffe Borough, Curzon Ashton and Flixton (although that last one was only for one match, a rearranged cup tie).
The success of the recent judicial review is great news for FC United, after their original plans for a ground to be built in Newton Heath fell through. The club has emotional ties with the area, as the club they were formed in protest of originally played there, and it was hoped they would be able to play in their true home. The site at Ten Acres Lane currently houses a leisure centre, but the deal was done for FC to build their new stadium, with fans raising nearly £1.5million, agreed as part of the deal. However, Manchester City Council, who were due to fund some of the build with grants, pulled the plug on the deal in March 2011. This was obviously a huge blow to the club, but the council did state that they were fully behind their efforts to build a stadium in the city, and finally the Moston site was found, and planning permission granted after judicial review. Hopefully, the club can be in their own home within the next two seasons.
And hopefully, the fans will have a Conference North, or even Premier, team to support in that new home.