Knock, knock, knocking on Heavens door!

Winterhur, Switzerland.

What a lovely visit. Here’s my tale!

I came into Switzerland from Havana after spending four months there with the purpose of developing my salsa and rumba. I was going to stay there until august but unfortunately I developed a plantar fasciitis injury and thus I decided that instead of doing more rehabiltation in Havana I would go to Switzerland to see my favourite team play.

And do i regret it? Not the slightest. It was an absolutely amazing weekend.

Friday the 23rd
I stayed in a hostel called Depot 195 and as I arrived already a few fellow FC:ers were turning in. I had hardly walked into the kitchen before I was offered a beer from a fellow red. Genuinely nice people, our crowd. The hostel had a very interesting mix of FC-supporters and cartoon characters ’cause apparently there was some kind of ”dress-yourself-up-as-a-japanese-cartoon”-festival in town. Well, I’ve always liked polarities.


After that first beer I was off to meet a good mate of mine and a fellow blogger, Erik Kunert. He lived at the Ibis with his father and his father’s girlfriend and as we departed from their hotel the player bus arrived. We were both amused and surprised by the fact that they were all staying in the Ibis Budget rather than the ordinary Ibis. No flash here, that’s for sure!


We had a quick bit to eat at an Irish Pub where we also met up with a few more of Erik’s german FC-friends. Also at the pub was Mark, another FC fan, whom I had chatted a bit with on the forum.  Good lad, nice to meet him. FC away – making new friends every day!


Off we were then to Widder’s bar which would be home to most of the FC fans throughout the weekend. It was a small but very nice establishment packed with reds. It was a great night with constant singing and some nice chats in between. Marginson and some of the players (if you were there, you know who) had a few pints and some had more than others. Walsh was also there along with other FC legends but really it never feels hierarchical – it feels like a family. Nobody is any grander than any other, as long as you paid your member fee, you have equal standing in the club, and that’s what I love so much about FC. I had a good chat with Swampy who had also recently been in Cuba (and many times before), talked with Margy about the possibility of a future interview and enjoyed the company of so many great new and old FC friends. I met some of the Yorkshire lads that I hade previosly shared beer jugs with in Babelsberg and we shared some stories and some more beer. As Mickey O’Farrell sat the athmosphere with his guitar-playing we all joined in singing making some of the locals stare and smile with great admiration of our family.


Saturday the 24th – Match day
The day after was even better. We all gathered early at The Widder’s and sang and enjoyed ourselves even more. I got adopted by some of my newfound Yorkshire friends (the ones with the horn who was constantly asked to f*** off). 🙂IMG_3869



Great athmosphere again as beer coasters where flying from everywhere every time the horn blew. I also had the opportunity to put a face to my online friend Jon Clegg whose videos we’ve often blogged about. It was a lovely bunch of lads who were especially fond of knocking at the table every time they saw a beautiful girl.  Anyway his videoclip of the weekend is one of the best ones I’ve seen so far. Check it out here:

The match was brilliant as well, even though the score didn’t go in our favour. Lots of cheering and a new brilliant song about a spaceman who’d come to see United play in Switzerland. Brilliant! Or did I say that already. In the end the whole team went towards us fans and starting a few songs for us and in the end we all sang together. The match also went to history as the first ever time a woman played in the FC United first team!


The party then went on together with the overly nice Winterthur crowd and as the night beckoned the police came and forced the party to stop. The people at Winterthur were great and so very welcoming and I was really feeling a sense of comradery at the end.


For me it turned into a long, long night which I won’t go into details with. But I didn’t go to sleep before 8.30 am after being shown by a young suiss couple to a brilliant viewing point over Winterthur .



Sunday the 25th & Monday the 26th
The next day lots of people went to Widder’s bar once more, I slept the whole day. The last day I went with Jon and his friends to have some last pints at the 24 hour bar. A great group of lads full of banter and humour. We ended up sitting there knocking at the table (for obvious reasons) and asking people where the train station were. It was right in front of us.


Looking forward to next year! And a big thumps up to FC Winterthur!

FC United of Manchester and The Romance of Football

FC United of Manchester and The romance of Football ( a personal story)


I have never been much of a football rebel . Actually, I have never been much of a die hard football fan either. My father first took me to football when i was about 10. It was The hague (Scheveningen  to be precise) in the 60s, the club was called Holland Sport and they were the second team in The Hague, behind ADO-  their great rivals. I remember the team being average, and sometimes well below that. But the big teams never liked coming to Holland Sport, probably because the team always raised their game against the best opponents. Especially Feyenoord always had a tough time away at Holland Sport. The atmosphere was always raucious, with hilarious banter and well meant deprecations of our own players, sometimes deservedly since the defenders used to make mistakes that 3 year old toddlers do not make. Their keeper was about 5.8 and with every low ball we knew there was panic and occasion to despair.

When I was 11 my loyalty was split, since I had started playing for ADO u 12. I divided my time between going to Holland Sport with my father and to ADO with my uncle. My father would never set a foot inside the ADO stadium, I never found out why. It must have been the tribal virus particular of so many football fans. However , Holland Sport quietly passed away in the seventies and their ground was turned into tennis courts and some non league pitches. There is nothing quite as emotionally painful for a supporter as the slow breakdown of a former football ground. All memories appear and disappear with each stone that is being removed.

So that left  only ADO as the club to watch, standing at the Zuiderpark end with some mates, keeping as far away as possible from the hooligan other end. The Zuiderpark saw some strange sights in those days, police with horses on the north stand, numerous pitch invasions, pyro stopping a number of games, it all happened and nobody was surprised. Games against Feyenoord and especially Ajax always produced loads of overwork for the local constables.  But watching it from a distance there was also a lot fun and the Hague humour, the fans always inventing new banter, the most original in the country by far.

Nowadays, football in Holland has changed, as in many countries. ADO has moved to an all seater stadium at the edge of the city, where the local hooligans have no chance to meet their rivals, since they are cordoned of from them.  They play there on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and occasionally other days of the week all depending on the whims of the Dutch FA and Murdoch’s FOX TV.  The stadium is safe, clean  but entirely without atmosphere. The new North Side  fans still refuse to sit down ( which is a  good thing), are still inventive in their banter and banners, but when a game is not exciting for the full 90 minutes – which it seldom is in The Hague –  it is like watching a movie in an open air theatre. You can hear the coaches and players shout and the thuds as they kick the ball. And to put the icing on the cake artifial 3G grass has reached Den Haag.  As the fourth team in the eredivisie ADO play on 3G and after their surprise win vs. FC Twente nobody is moaning about it. Most fans are chauvinists and if your team wins on 3G, it is 3G that is the best. However, for me it was the final stage in getting away from modern football. In my house I do not want posters, but real paintings and I want my football to be on real grass.

When I was at Gigg Lane in August I retrieved a big part of my lost football soul.  The people, the setting – especially the stench of the urinoirs – brought back memories of my first days at Holland Sport. The singing and the banter took me back to real football for the fun of watching. Since then I have intensified my love of the game, but in a very different sense.  I scour the internet for interesting football stories and clips, far away from the spotlights of top flight football. Of course I keep one eye open for the Messis and Ronaldos of this world, but the true feeling comes when reading about the worst team in England, cult clubs like SKt Pauli and Hapoel Karamon or the exploits of the Soccermen in football’s  underdeveloped spots in the world. Already it has given me so much fun and facebook friends from all places in the world that it has turned into a sometimes over- zealous passion. Then my wife and daughter remind me that they are still there and that there is more than  a hobby. However, they understand me and will be there the next time in the new ground. Where Iwill hopefully meet with many people that I only know from facebook. And where we will hopefully discuss the amazing club that binds people from Siberia, Denmark, Germany, Holland,  Spain and a lot of other countries, not as football tourists, but as genuine long distance supporters.  YES, I’VE TURNED REBEL AFTER ALL. Bring on United, for the Romance of Football.

MRE v Main Stand – abuse and banter

I have been asked on various occasions about a part of the fc matchday experience which is confusing to say the least for new visitors to Gigg Lane, which is our temporary home. FC United usually use two of Gigg Lane’s stands (one is called the Main Stand and the other is called MRE) and visitors can often hear the two stands abusing each other in a friendly fashion:

Main Stand v MRE

(During the last video the MRE was closed so the regular MRE-goers was also standing in the Main Stand)

There are probably two main reasons for this chanting between stands  -which can take any form from the simple and harmless “WE ARE THE MAIN STAND -WE’RE LOUDER THAN YOU” to the somewhat surprising and more threatening  chant which is a complete throwback to the 1970’s -“YOU’RE GONNA GET YOUR FUCKIN HEADS KICKED IN!”

The first and probably main reason is that a lot of the fans are of a similar age to myself and used to stand in the Stretford End in the 70’s and 80’s when the ground would fill up an hour or more before kick off and so to stop boredom the leftside, rightside or tunnel-(if you look at old photo’s of the Stretty you will see there was a large tunnel in the middle and above that was very small section of standing that used to be packed like sardines!) anyway we would all launch into “WE are the Tunnel” to get a response.

This also grew to include challenging other sections of the ground to sing such as the Scoreboard and Stretford Paddocks which were pretty large corners of the ground.

The Scoreboard in particular used to have a fair few nutters in there as they were next to the away fans and would give them at the very least plenty of abuse. Towards the middle and late 1980’s the United Road and k stand got a bit more lively as some guys grew out of the Stretford End mentality and wanted a bit more shall we say interaction with opposing fans.

So to bring things back to the present day we do sing at each other -but this is simply English humour, banter -if you look on people’s faces whilst we abuse our fellow fc’ers you will see at least a trace of a smile on our lips -we are ,making some noise and having a laugh -end of.

The second reason we do this -err- if you will pardon the expression -self abuse- is very few teams we play at our level bring any meaningful support i.e. ones we can hear sing -passion and naked territorrialism is one of the bedrocks on which football clubs have been built upon for 130 years – so until we get to a level where we can have banter and abuse with opposing fans -we shall probably carry on having fun and games shouting at ourselves.

One thing you will notice is there is much less of this at away games as we are once again truly -UNITED!

I look forward to bringing you some very exciting news regarding our new home in Moston later this week!!


Rochdale – FC United remembered (a story about emotions)

Numerous studies have shown that the most vivid memories we have tend to be of emotional events. For instance, I can hardly remember what I had for dinner a few days back or where I left my keys just moments ago, but I will always remember where I was when I heard that the Twin Towers had been attacked or when I heard that my uncle had become seriously ill in another country far, far away. It’s not only that we remember that the event occured – the events themselves are likely to be recalled more often and with more clarity and detail than neutral events. We remember not only where we were, but also lots of other small details. A strong emotional response thus heightens memory retention. Now why am I talking about emotions and memory on a blog about FC United?

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The Romance of Football: FC United of Manchester – Stamford AFC 24/8/2013

Intended as a short trip to London to celebrate our daughter’s 15th birthday, our family outing took a somewhat sinister turn when both my wife´s and daughter’s visa were refused on the fact that there was no marriage certificate included in the pile of documents we had to send as part of the application procedure. As if there are no digital systems to find out within second that we have been happily married for two years and a month now. Since even a partial refund for the money we had invested in the trip was out of the question we decided that I would still make the trip, but then alone. So instead of shopping sprees and showing the sights to my family I found myself visiting the British Museum for the first time and roaming around the impressive area around Liverpool Station, just for a taste of the unique London atmosphere, rather addictive to an English teacher from Holland. One prearranged part of the programme was not to be adjusted though, my maiden visit to FCUM, the club I have gradually come to respect and support , after having seen a documentary on Dutch TV. As a football romantic with a love for the pureness of the game the story of FC stands out as a dreamlike adventure amidst Sheikh overtakings, Corporate Football, Customers not Fans policies and artificial turf, even at top level.

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My fc moment of decision…..


This article is a follow on from the “how did we get here ” article in the AMF section….

3.20 pm May 12th 2005- I was at that time working from 3.00am and so I had got back from work and had an hour’s sleep then it was time to wake up with a bath. I took the radio with me as there had been a rumour all day about the Glazers takeover and I did’nt want to miss a word.

Simon Mayo on BBC Radio 2 broke into a record with the announcement that the takeover had gone through-the two Irish Millionaires who had had a very public dispute over the stud rights of a racehorse with Alex Ferguson had been persuaded to sell -the club was being bought by means of a leveraged buy out -ie they had borrowed the money to buy the club. That debt was very soon put back onto the club so the fans would pay the interest.

I was in shock………I leapt out of the bath -got dressed and told my long suffering but most understanding wife I was going to Old Trafford “ got it -they’ve bought United” was all I needed to say -Cheryl know that United was an indelible part of my soul and although to many this buyout meant nothing -to me it meant everything.

I drove to Warwick Road in about 40 minutes -the place was in uproar -I joined about 1,000 other angry older reds and we marched into the middle of Chester Road and sat down! The police did not expect any of this and there were very few officers initially so they could do nothing -we sat there for 20 minutes or half an hour.

Eventually we were removed -I spent about another hour singing anti glazer songs and abusing corporate types attending some function or other -but I knew in my heart all this was to make little or no difference. I left just before a police officer had completely lost his patience with me -I kept reading out his officer number out loud -as if I was remembering it for future use-he did’nt appreciate it!

Thank goodness for the internet -these were alive with anger- what could be done and how-meetings were arranged-about two weeks later a madcap idea emerged about starting from scratch -building our own team. I thought it was nuts initially -but within another week a  collection was made to launch a new club -and I paid in what I could afford.

A few weeks later the second friendly was arranged that I could make it to, which was to be played at Staleybridge Celtics ground, I went along and from the moment I got into the ground and saw close to 2,000 like minded individuals determined not to let the Unted we had grown up with disappear down a corporate pughole -I know this was for me …………and every game in the 8 years that have followed has been a victory for the little guy, the ignored -the dispossessed…………………and long may we continue.


Why I love FC United – by Erik Kunert

My first contact with Man Utd was playing an Amiga game called “Manchester United Europe”, when I was a 6-year old boy back in 1995. Since then, I was dreaming of a live match at Old Trafford. Ten years later, my dad and I were traveling over for our very first time by train to Manchester. After a 23 hours journey we saw the Red Devils drawing goalless in their disappointing Champions League campaign. Nevertheless definitely the most magic 90 mins of my life. Then, I noticed that my beloved club was about 1.500km away from my hometown. As great as my first visit was for me, I was wondering about the rare chants from the all-seating stands, about not being able to drink at European cup matches and about high ticket prices. Continue reading

Why I love FC United – by Linus Lind

From a psychological perspective the relationship between a football club and it’s supporters could be compared with the relationship between a parent and it’s children. In an ideal world the relationship would be characterized by mutual love, respect and support and the parent or the football club would provide a safe haven and comfort the children when the rest of the world treats them rough. The children would have their own place in the family and be able to share part of the decision process so that their needs also were satisfied and taken into account when decisions are being made. Continue reading

FC’s tour of Germany 2013

FC United end of Season Tour 2013-v Babelsberg and Dynamo Dresden (cxl)

In January the news came through after numerous rumours that we were once again going to arguably our favourite European destination- Germany.

Three years after a memorable –well if you are able to-weekend in Hamburg and after another exciting but ultimately disappointing climax in Tier 7 the weekend that 500 or so FC fans had been eagerly anticipating had finally arrived.

Football is a great door opener –if you are prepared to give it a little nudge-a couple of years earlier Erik Kunert and one of his mates had found their way into the Main Stand Inn where I carry out the not so difficult task of opening numerous bottles of Starpraumen and Humdinger for thirsty FC’ers.

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