Friday, September 22, 2006

Red Roses For That Vase?

While only native-born Mancunians and confirmed front-running bandwagoneers have any excuse for backing Manchester United, you'd have to be an inhuman monster not to give some love to FC United of Manchester. The Red Rebels, launched last year by disgruntled Man Utd supporters turned off (and priced out) by the Premiership's loadsamoney culture, are one of the coolest stories in world football.

After dominating their tenth-division league in their first year, FC United are rolling over the next tier up, with 11 wins on the trot. As reported in the Guardian's on-going coverage of the club, the Rebels are taking their first stab at a national competition. The FA Vase is a knock-out tournament reserved for smaller clubs on England's football pyramid; its history is an extravaganza of awesome gentleman-amateur eccentricity, dotted with gorgeously goofball-sounding clubs like Tiptree United, Forest Green Rovers and Berkhamsted Town.

Meanwhile, how fantastic is it that the *two* teams atop the North West Counties League are supporter-owned? FC United's "blue" counterpart, Maine Road FC—founded decades ago by Manchester City fans—stands second on the table. Viva grassroots if only we had summathat over here.

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