Northern Soul: Ten years of FC United of Manchester

United – adjective – joined together politically, for a common purpose, or by common feelings.

It’s apt to say that the people involved in FC United of Manchester adhere to the very definition of ‘united’.

At first, they were united against the Glazer family’s takeover of Manchester United in 2005. Their reaction was one of anger. They were the fans who supported the club vociferously for so many years, only to be cast aside and marginalised in an era of Capitalist football.

Then, they became united under the banner of FC. The purpose of FC United showcased their dissatisfaction through the creation of a fan-owned club, and it gave football fans in the locality an alternative to the profit-chasing football which the Glazer takeover exemplified.

FC United of Manchester is the umbrella which represents the affection which thousands of people have for football. United in affection, united in passion, united in the red shirts which adorn the players.

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This is a unity which is etched on the leave of all involved in the club. The fact that Karl Marginson is the only manager that FC have ever had serves as evidence this unity is one which transcends the many roles involved in running a football club. This is a unity which affects all stakeholders.

FC United of Manchester represents the true roots of Manchester United’s Newton Heath heritage. FCUM, like Newton Heath Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Football Club, is rooted in Manchester’s working-classes.

It’s been a laborious ten years for the fans of the club. However, the supporters who have invested in a fiscal capacity, a time capacity, and a working capacity, are now reaping the rewards.

2015 has so far been a culmination of all the goals which the club’s founders have outlined. FC’s tenth anniversary has coincided with the completion of a new stadium and their eventual promotion to the National League North.

May 29 will see the official opening of the club’s new stadium in Moston. Broadhurst Park, a £5.5 million investment, will see FC take on Benfica in a friendly marking the anniversary of the 1968 European Cup Final. The stadium is a mark of just how far the club has come since its inception.

Throughout its lifetime, it has lived a nomadic existence, playing in six stadia in the Greater Manchester area. Now, Broadhurst Park is a physical manifestation of sacrifices made. It’s a building which acts as a testament to the will and work of the people.

The promotion to the National League North may be considered long overdue, after their seven year stint in the Northern Premier League Premier Division. Despite this near stagnation in English football’s seventh tier, FC have only finished outside the top six once.

2014/2015 not only saw FC’s eventual promotion to the rebranded Conference North, it also saw a FA Trophy cup run which was halted in the Quarter Final stage by Torquay United, a club 106 years FC’s elder.

FCUM, in Sir Alex Ferguson’s eyes, was seen as an almost traitorous move against Manchester United, a move that a “big” supporter wouldn’t make. However, FC have come to represent something much wider than simply being a Manchester United breakaway.

FC United of Manchester are a club which acts as English football’s antithesis to the Premier League. Jerseys are plain, with minimal trim and no sponsor. The striking red is almost a throwback to football in a time before Thatcher. The flags of FCUM supporters involve an array of left-wing symbolism. The flags of the International Brigades of the Spanish Civil War and the Communist hammer and sickle are consistently hung from the rafters overlooking FCUM players.

The club is epitome of the fledgling football counter-culture which is rife within the lower leagues of English football. FCUM, like AFC Wimbledon and Dulwich Hamlet, are providing disillusioned football supporters a reason to thrust themselves into the midst of a football club.

FC United of Manchester provide a valuable outlet for a football fan perceived as ‘traditional’. It’s in the terraces, the left-wing political leanings, and the pertinence of their support to the club. FCUM is a soulful football club, one which is thriving, a club which clearly adheres to Che Guevara’s “hasta la victoria siempre” mantra.

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