Sixy Talk – Manchester United

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For some reason, I’ve been struggling with the intro to this week’s Sixy Talk, it’s probably the intensive training I’ve been under for what’s looking like a New Year’s Eve/Day double headed drinking session (a.k.a. Christmas) but it’s possibly because I want to say something serious (and at the same time brief) about why we’ve asked who we’ve asked this week’s questions.  I keep failing so let’s just get on with it.

Going off my Twitter experiences (and because Jimmy has told me), this week’s ‘interviewee’ Martin Morris (@martinmorris99) is a good bloke (he must be, he’s here without a blog or owt else to flog), he’s also a United fan (it’s not like the two are mutually exclusive).  In fact he’s doubly a United fan, supporting both Tuesday’s opponents and FC United of Manchester.  We thought a chat with him would give an interesting view on the big club/little club divide, and we think we were right.  Enjoy.

Wigan Athletic, what do you really think of us?

I’d’ve been happier if you’d not won 1-0 in the same fixture last year and given the momentum to City but I like Wigan and Wigan Athletic.  I love that you piss a lot of “EPL” fans off who think you have no right to be in their league.  I like that people berate you for your attendances without any knowledge of the club’s history and growth or the geographical handicap that you have being sandwiched between Liverpool and Manchester.  I think as long as you piss people off like that you’re alright.

 Also, I knew a few young ‘active’ blues who went to Wigan thinking they could bully the locals when you played them in the Division 3 play-off in 1999.  They came back slightly disappointed, one of them sporting one of the best black eyes I’ve ever seen.  So, all in all, you’re ok.  I like Martinez.  He comes across well and his style of football belies what your haters want to see from a Wigan side – long balls and violence a la Stoke. 

Fair play to him for resisting the Liverpool job too.  You could say that shows his integrity but I’d prefer to see it as a common sense decision designed so he’s in the running for the United job when it comes up.  I would have been genuinely disappointed for him and Wigan Athletic if he’d gone there. 

 

You go watching FC United – what are your thoughts on the other United these days, can you ever really abandon your first love in football for another team?

I get asked this a lot and understandably so because most football fans have not been in the situation we have and the notion of following another club is hard to get your head around.  It really is quite simple though – a sizeable number of people, myself included, quit going to Old Trafford when the Glazers took over because they didn’t want to fund that regime and see money syphoned off to America as it has been. 

Those who formed and follow FC United did not want to just stop going to football, nor did they want to go watching someone else’s club so they formed their own and that’s how they spend their Saturday’s.  It was started by United fans and continues to be a club for United fans.  I didn’t stop supporting United, I just stopped supporting the owners of Manchester United by withdrawing my season ticket money. 

As for my feelings towards MUFC, they haven’t changed and as I see it I haven’t abandoned my first love for another team.  I hope United put at least 5 past you, you shit-crowd, rugby-town gets. 

 

Amongst Latics fans, there are those that pine for the lower league days and those that seem scared to lose what little credibility we get from being in the top flight.   Are there similar divides at FC, Say between those who prefer the close knit, low profile life and those who want to push for the league and beyond?

We’re in a funny position at the moment because people aren’t thinking beyond this season (except the Manager and his staff who probably have more than an eye on the next couple of seasons) and getting into our own ground.  We’re hoping to start work on a new 5,000+ seater ground in the next few months but we’re in the process of going through a judicial review following some opposition from some local residents in Moston, where the ground will be. 

Once that is all resolved (hopefully in FCUM’s favour), we can crack on build the thing.  When we’re in the ground then I think FC United fans face some interesting decisions about how much money is put into the team to further our football aims versus keeping the club in a good financial position.  That’s when divisions might show.  We’re set up differently to most clubs and serving the community through coaching and outreach work is part of constitution. 

There’s far more pride in and desire to continue that side of things than promotions, which are great but not the be all and end all.  The members and owners don’t currently have the same rampant desire to climb the leagues as a lot of other fans do. 

We were put in this situation by a shite set of circumstances and most of us are happy to have a club we can call our own.  We’re in no hurry to jeopardise that.  I don’t sense that many are concerned too much about getting into the league and inhabiting that world, especially after so many clubs have been mis-managed or had over by people who are only interested in football to make a few quid. 

Saying that though, would I prefer trips to Bradford City rather than Bradford Park Avenue? Dead right I would. 

 

 Watching both teams must give you a unique view on the modern footballer.   Do you reckon any of the FC team have the ability and application to make it in professional football.   More importantly, do you reckon any of the current crop of Manchester United players have the wherewithal to play part-time? Not in a “they’ve never done it on a cold Tuesday at Gigg Lane” way, but playing non-league football must have its own unique challenges.

The thing that a lot of people ask when the subject of watching FC United comes up is the standard of football, with them usually asking how on earth we’ve coped going from watching some of the world’s best to watching plumbers and electricians hoof it about.  Most would be surprised at the quality.  It’s actually much better than you’d think. 

You have to remember that most of the lads who play in our League (Northern Premier) and the Conference have been released from professional clubs as young lads or older blokes who have played football for a living in the Football League.  We’ve played Hereford this year and should’ve won.  We went to Rochdale in the FA Cup and knocked them out before going down to Brighton and getting a draw. 

You don’t fluke results like that, you get them through having decent players who can play the game.  Some of our players have been unlucky not to make it as professionals.  I’ve heard a few stories about players getting injuries at the wrong time or difficulties with agents and p

ersonality clashes with League Managers.  Some of these lads have been a tiny slice of luck away from making it. 

It sounds like a sob story but you can see from some of the performances they put in that they’re quality players.  That said, they’re collectively capable of turning out some absolute shite now and again which really does have you pining for “The Greatest League In The World”. 

As for Manchester United’s players, I don’t think that any of them would need to drop down so low and if they did it certainly wouldn’t be for the money.  When today’s players finish in their early thirties they’ll be working on their (shite) boutique fashion ranges or managing their own (shite) record labels. 

I read recently that David Brightwell, the ex-Man City player, is a fireman.  That baffled me because you get fed all this stuff about footballers earning so much money.  I just assumed Brightwell would be living out his days on a beach somewhere.  He’s one of a dying breed though.

 Nowadays if you’re in the squad at United or City then you’re probably set for life.  You won’t be up a ladder any time soon and you certainly won’t be playing at Gigg Lane.  Whether you play for FC United or Manchester United though, these footballers do have something in common – massive headphones and unfathomable amounts of hair care products.  They’re like a cult of shit t-shirts and daft hair. 

 

 FC United are in Sheffield on Tuesday, which game will you have the closer eye on, and how do you see both games going?

You know this winter break that we always hear about? Well, we have it in the Northern League thanks to tiny operating budgets and poor drainage.  If the game at Stocksbridge does go ahead I won’t be there.  I’m taking my lad to another tiny backwater – Wigan. 

I manage to take him to a couple of aways a season and this Tuesday will be one of them.  I can report back if you want and tell you how shit Wigan’s crowds are, that it’s a rugby town etc etc…  I will of course have an eye on how FC are getting on but if previous seasons are anything to go by we’ll resume again in about March and then play four games a week until the end of April.

 

I’ve heard a lot about the FC United match day experience from the Mudhutter lot, tell us a bit about it, not forgetting whose pies you serve.

I imagine they refer to FC United’s Course You Can Malcolm venue.  CYCM was set up a few years ago in what was until then a quiet and soulless corner of Gigg Lane.  It is run entirely by volunteers, as everything is at FC United, and provides live music and comedy mainly, with the odd bit of poetry, theatre and all sorts thrown in.  It’s been a big success. 

Vaughnie from Mudhutter hijacked one CYCM to do a book reading / signing / selling the other year – just shows you what happens when you Premier League types get involved, everything becomes about money.  The volunteers shop around for decent beer and drinks rather than the usual brewery-enforced rubbish and people also donate food, the proceeds of which go back to the club.  It’s run by people committed to helping others have a different day out at the match. 

The Mudhutter lot keep threatening to come down again so you’re more than welcome too.  As for the pies, being from Wigan and pie connoisseurs, I’m not sure what they made of the Openshaw tater’ash with a crust but it’s a big hit at FC United.  In general the matchday experience and the atmosphere at games is a good one and people who see our games for the first time always comment on it.  You’ll see as soon as you arrive at a game that there’s always loads going on and there’s an army of volunteers working hard for the club to make sure everything happens. 

The thing you’ll also see, which you don’t really see at as much as you should elsewhere, are loads of kids.  That has been an aim of FCUM from the start – to make football accessible for kids.  It’s not Rooney and Van Persie but it’s live football too many kids don’t get the chance or can’t afford to see matches without clubs like FC.

Trust me, tater’ash, with crust or not, is a lot better than what most of our other Sixy Talks have brought to the table this year.  Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, enjoy 2013 (after Tuesday that is) and good luck in the new ground next season.

 

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