Tomorrow will see the welcome return of the Supporters Direct Cup to Kingsmeadow, and the even welcomer return of our good friends FC United of Manchester. Always willing to travel south in large numbers, the United support normally create a great atmosphere elevating what should be a run of the mill friendly to something worth winning, and I’m sure Terry has told the players he is expecting a win.
While we consider FCUM as kindred spirits due to their trust ownership, and the media normally straps us together as ‘protest’ clubs, it’s worth remembering that our two extraordinary clubs were formed for entirely different reasons. There’s no value in going into the details of the great betrayal we suffered, although if you want to read all about it on the BBC’s 606 you will find plenty of people who disagree with our very existence as ‘we abandoned our club’… Our aim as a club is to get into the League as soon as possible, to take back what was once stolen from us, and long term to destroy those South Midland club stealers – and to do all this without letting ambition get in the way of long term stability.
FCUM don’t have that urgency to get into the League, and are therefore content for now to focus on their own core reasons for existence. Malcolm Glazer and his collection of strange looking offspring were the straw that broke the camels back (and you have to say its a good job Glazer was loader ‘cos there was no way he was going to get laid in this lifetime without it). United fans want affordable football, to be able to sit/stand with their mates, not to be ripped off week in and week out with ever increasing ticket prices. Plus they have resisted the temptation to slash a slogan across their shirt, and hopefully when they do it will be a gesture towards a charity, as Barcelona have proudly worn the Unicef badge for the last couple of years (although cynics suggest this is to soften up their supporters before a commercial sponsor is introduced).
For them to walk away at a time when big United were at the height of their powers has drawn praise from all quarters. How often have you heard an Arsenal, Chelsea fan, whoever, start a comment about FCUM with the words ‘I hate Man United but…’. In truth there is a great deal of jealousy for what FCUM have achieved to date from your average Premier League fan, who perhaps hold some hope that football will once again fall from fashion as it has before, and fall back into the hands of those who cherished it through the tough times, local support paying a fair admission price to watch their team.
For that reason I would have expected a greater number of clubs would have reached that tipping point where a critical mass of support decide enough is enough and decide to form another team to hold on to the traditions of the club they love. Of course there is an AFC Liverpool, but they haven’t really caught on and appear to be a cross between publicity stunt and an extension of Liverpool FC’s community arm.
Despite this FCUM have been remarkably successful in their first four seasons. Three successive promotions prior to last season, where despite being in a division full of moneyed clubs and servicing a huge groundshare rental bill, United managed to only miss out on the playoffs on the last day of the season. The Reds are learning as we had previously, that many supporters do not necessarily mean an automatic promotion. There are just as many sugar daddies in the Unibond as there are in the Ryman these days, and the economic meltdown doesn’t seem to have halted this.
FCUM face us off the back of a trip to Bucheon… hang on? Aren’t they supposed to be twinned with us? I know we turned Bucheon down as we had a prearranged trip to… errm… the Isle of Man, but it just seems like when we miss out on something, FCUM pick up the pieces. Remember when Lok Leipzig wanted to play us in a friendly during the season? We turned them down and there was a promise the game would be scheduled for some point in the future, and when it was it turned out AFCW were being elbowed out of the way by FCUM… that should have been us! And what about their trip to Sweden at the end of last season?
Let’s not forget United fans are used to travelling across Europe, it’s been part of their upbringing. On the other hand, we dreamed about playing in Europe, so cruelly denied by a European ban for English clubs that had absolutely nothing to with us in 1988, were given false hope with the Intertoto Cup campaign, even seeing perhaps our best ever team cursed with tiredness despite looking set to qualify via one of three routes. Maybe it was never meant to be. Perhaps the furthest corners of the UK are the most we can ever hope for.
So, on to Wimbledon. The big news being Bossman has gone and a new target man is being lined up for a start tomorrow. So far the mystery man is a big secret except for the information that he is an ‘experienced target man’. This type of player, perhaps with the exception of goalkeepers (more on that later), faces extreme scrutiny from Dons fans who have been spoilt by some of the best in the game over the last twenty years or so (and Danny Webb).
As for our goalkeeper, it seems as though Sebb Brown is getting another run out. At last we have a keeper who deserves the nickname ‘The Cat’, he’s certainly had enough lives so far. After his shaky performance against Wycombe (if you ignore the Hollywood saves toward the end of the half of course), Brown was given a second chance against Brighton, where his only real action was to pick the ball out of the net after seeing it drilled through him as if he wasn’t there. Is Sebb a relative of Terry’s? I think we need to be told!
The truth is my opinion is we already have a better goalkeeper than Brown in Jack Turner. Although Turner is just 17 the phrase ‘if your old enough your good enough’ spring to mind. Jack was given a game on the IOM, yet presumably will be representing the reserves for the remainder of pre-season and beyond, rather than picking up much needed experience against League One opposition. I was also hoping Jack may get a chance to go out on loan at some point to gain first team experience, in the Ryman League, or even the BSS.
The rest of the squad seem to be ticking over nicely. It’s a chance for Chris Hussey to stand up and show what he can do following Derek Duncans Man of the Match performance on Tuesday. Perhaps we will finally see us score at home? Maybe even win another trophy, to bring our tally up to two…
Catch all the action tomorrow, if you can’t make it remember to tune in to WDON and log on to the Matchday Stadium. And if you are at the ground or not you can check my tweets on the game either here in the Twitter feed in the sidebar, or by following me here (http://twitter.com/Anonymous_Don). Remember though, due to the crappy technology I can’t be guaranteed to respond to any of your replies (maybe at half time…). Don’t worry, my phone contract is up later this year and I’m going to make sure I screw the best possible deal out of them this time…
Finally you will remember the legend Paul Raymond offered me his IOM photos earlier in the week, I didn’t take him up on it, but I am now with his picture of the third kit (released tonight, available tomorrow). Enjoy!