It’ll Be Off

Peace, and Love, and Ben Deegan
April 10, 2011, 10:16 am
Filed under: Match Report | Tags: , , , ,

Yesterday was not a day for football. Or at least it shouldn’t have been. The weather was pre season friendly hot. We should have been sat drinking al fresco in a town square somewhere, not holed up in CYCM with all but the tiniest of windows covered up just in case we accidentally catch sight of the pitch whilst drinking and go on a expletive laden murderous rampage. We are, remember, football fans. Simple, violent, and decked out in cheap and nasty leisurewear.

I had decided that due to this not being a day for football, we would lose a lazy game 1-0, in front of a barely interested and not at all motivated crowd. It’s this sort of feeble ignorance and pessimism that means I no longer earn a living from a job that requires me to know or understand anything. I was wrong. Very wrong. Wronger than claiming benefits without declaring the £58k sat in your bank account, Andy Morrison, you fat, useless, ex-city knacker.

For what I hadn’t counted on or taken in to consideration was the sheer balls bigger then King Kongness of this current team. The intrinsic Unitedness that flows through this fine, fine club from top to bottom. When we should have been going on to lose the game after Sam had been sent off, a penalty had been awarded, and our centre forward was thrown in net, we didn’t. Deegan lolloped gamely to his right, pushed the ball away, and set up a final thirty-five minutes odd of action that would see Northwich Victoria at home join a list of bum-clenchers and heart-worriers that already included Quorn, Rochdale and Brighton.

At Retford our goalkeeper scored. And then yesterday our centre-forward saved a penalty. That’s what we’re about. That’s who we are. Some will tell you it’s Punk Football. Others that we just make it up as we go along. Whatever the explanation, we don’t really understand when we’re supposed to be beaten (and at the start of the season, when we were supposed to win). Ben Deegan made possibly the most incredible take from a cross I have ever seen. Vic managed to hit the woodwork four times in the same attack, with the goal gaping. And in between all that, Michael Norton scored his eighth goal in six games to snatch us the unlikliest of unlikely wins.

At the final whistle Gigg Lane erupted. The players gooned about on the pitch as much as we did in the stands. Ben Deegan, a man I’m growing to love in a way that needn’t make my missus worried, but probably should make her jealous, allowed a huge shit-eating grin to form over his daft, lovable face as he was serenaded from the stands. He and his teammates look like they’ll never lose again. But we don’t need this run to go on forever. Just another seven games or so. And fuck it, why not? Why not get promoted having been second bottom in January? This is FC United. We do things differently here.


Football’s Darkest Day

You’d think that today would be a day of celebration. A vivid carnival of all that is right with being Red and Mancunian. Big United larruped West Ham in the East End yesterday, despite having been two down at half-time. And up in weird, charity-shop filled Retford, FC United came back from a goal down to beat those muscular, flesh-devouring freaks from Worksop, thanks to a last minute Jerome Wright penalty.

And off the pitch things should have been even better. In the clubhouse post-Match, when prompted to sing us a song, Karl Marginson chose the epoch defining anthem of the RRF, our oft-mocked, but never bettered Ben Deegan and Coronation Street mash-up. A song once derided by the entire MRE. Labelled (with some justification, may I add – have you ever noticed the eerie silence in Le Louvre? Great art instills a sence of awe that transcends mere verbal communication, innit) an atmosphere killer. Well, the RRF have long argued that if you have to ask about this song, then it isn’t for you. It’s a song for those who know, and Margy clearly knows.

But enough of the back-patting. Today should have been a day of celebration. A day of looking fellow man in the eye and making him wilt, for both Uniteds showed steel of character, mental fortitude, and in the case of everyone save Darron Gibson, the levels of skill and technique that you associate with a United player. But today can’t be that day. There is heavy precipitation battering our fiesta. And why? Because Wayne Rooney swore.

Forget his match-winning hattrick, this vile – and dare I say it, WORKING CLASS – youth had the temerity to use profanity in a moment of high emotional stress. When will this cur learn that his unsanitised ways are not wanted in football? Those men in suits who walk the corridors of power, the sweat drenched hacks smashing at their keyboards, the perpetually offended chattering classes of middle-England will not rest until SWEARING has been kicked out of football for good.

We cannot, as United fans, take Rooney back in to our hearts. Forget his transfer request shenanigans of Autumn time. This here is much worse. The acrobatic overhead kick of the derby win was enough to banish the former misdemeanour in the eyes of most. But how can Rooney save this weekend? How can he ensure that Mothering Sunday isn’t forever associated with his spud-like napper growling “What? Fucking What?”. Across the country today, mother sits with child, an awkward silence hanging over the dining table, both fearful of talking lest they shout “WHAT FUCKING WHAT?”. And this is Rooney’s greatest crime. In one single, goal-celebrating moment, he is responsible for the total collapse of the family unit. This goes beyond football and in to the realms of civility and society. Rooney is in many very real ways WORSE THAN THATCHER.

So today, instead of buzzing over Big United putting one sticky hand on number 19, and Little United marching inexorably towards the Playoffs, playing the sort of heart-busting, mind-expanding brand of football we have become proud to live vicariously through, we have to just accept that football, and life, will never be quite the same.

RIP Football. What fucking what.

Whitby 0-1 FC United (2-2 HT)
March 25, 2011, 8:04 pm
Filed under: Match Report | Tags: , , , ,

It was a sad but possibly fitting end to the day. 3am in Salford and I was hugging the porcelain unsure whether to vomit or shit in to it. It would be easy to blame the Whitby scampi for the sudden and unwelcome onslaught of the screaming ab dabs, but I’ve never claimed to be anything other than that. As my stomach tightened, and my ring twitched, I began to wonder just how the fuck I could cope with the two hour train journey back to London the following day. That I did so without soiling myself and carriage E of the 0935 London Euston service was testament to my mental (and possibly anal) fortitude.

But you haven’t come here to read about my terrible sickness and diarrhoea, a curse that continues to burn within me 48 hours on from the game. Or maybe you have, this is the internet after all. But it would seem a shame to ignore what was a great day out, and an even better result in favour of stories of scat and nausea.

Jesus. Look at the size of this mother-fucker

Whitby is a fine looking town with many excellent pubs. It’s the sort of seaside town that smashes the shit out of the image of the decaying, miserable resort that Morrissey et al go on about. And while it stops short of being vibrant, or exciting, it manages to be exactly the sort of place you would want to visit on a day trip to watch your football team. Or hell, maybe even to take your loved one on a long weekend away to. The harbour is picture-perfect, and drinking outside in the pleasingly mild evening, lights twinkling in the distance, you couldn’t help but think that there were worse ways to spend your time, and much worse places to spend it in. In every possible sense Whitby is the anti-Frickley.

Not at all childish photo of the day

Not everything was perfect, however. We had caught the bus from Scarborough to Whitby, and stopped half way at a place called the Flask Inn, a pub and caravan park, to empty our bladders, then work on refilling them again. There was a large Leeds United badge on an interior door of the pub. There was a Leeds United clock above the bar. The landlady, who managed to be the least accommodating  person to have ever worked in the service industry, continually called us scum having found out we were FC United. All of which wouldn’t matter, except the ale was fucking horrible. The Black Sheep tasted and smelled like vinegar, and even the Carlsberg tasted exactly how you would expect it to had you been storing decomposing sheep carcasses in the keg. Imagine being the poor fucking soul who booked a two week stay in that shithole. Looking back I should have done the humane thing and set fire to the large collection of gas cannisters stored out back. Studying the face of the regulars at the bar it is now clear to me they were willing and wishing me to do it. To them, dying in a terrible inferno was preferable to spending any more time whatsoever in that backwards, miserable hostelry. As they ran out of the blaze, clothes melted on to skin, hair burning, unfeeling of pain due to nerve endings being burned away, they would have screamed “THANK YOU! THANK YOU FOR ENDING THIS TORTURE!” And the fact I missed this opportunity makes me less of a man, I think.

We had met at Piccadilly station at quarter to ten. Drinking commenced not long after. Despite initial pleas to pace our intake, things snowballed horribly out of control. By the time kick off approached, and we had ensconced ourselves in the Middle Earth Tavern, listening to fucking Metallica, the jagermeister and beers were flowing like shit out of my arse – wild and free. At half time at the game, one of our party text his Dad to inform him the score was 2-2. Quite where he had conjured up four goals from in a half that saw nothing more than midfield skirmishes is a mystery, but we haven’t seen such creativity since Josh Howard and Rory Patterson wore the shirt.

Eventually the deadlock was broken, with Michael Norton prodding home at the near post following a corner. Or maybe a cross. It’s difficult to remember. In the dying seconds, Whitby had a glorious chance to equalise, their number seven heading wastefully over after Sam Ashton had parried the ball back out in to the middle of the area. But fuck it. He missed, we won, and now we find ourselves in fifth place, finally breaking in to the play-off zone after our incredible run.

One day like this a year'd see me right

The journey home managed to be one of the most uncomfortable few hours of my life. With the first murmurings of discontent from my gut coupled with the minibus being officially the coldest place on the planet according to BBC weatherman John Kettley. But fuck it. After a day like the one we’d just had, a little bit of misery was always needed to counterbalance things.

The Hills Have Eyes
March 19, 2011, 10:58 pm
Filed under: Match Report | Tags: , , ,

When the pig’s head first landed on the pitch there was a panic that a Buxton local had somehow been decapitated in a terrible off pitch incident. The clammy, leathery skin. The vile, upturned nose. The cold, dead eyes. It could easily have been the face of a Derbyshire hill-dweller.

When it became apparent that all those in the Buxton end remained with head in contact with neck and shoulders, it became sadly clear that one Buxtonian family would be without tea tonight. Somewhere deep in the Peak District, a litter of children almost immovable due to inbreeding, writhed in their nests constructed from straw and faeces, in the knowledge that they wouldn’t be feasting on snout and eyeball soup, and would instead have to suckle from one of their mother’s six hairy nipples. Truly sad.

This obvious and distressing spectacle shook the Buxton team, who remain very closely linked to their community indeed. They soon threw away their hard-fought two goal lead, as Michael ‘Not From Gorton’ Norton pounced twice to ensure FC United got a share of the points and continued their long unbeaten run.

Should Buxton, as a result of today’s game, miss out on play-offs, they can take solace from the fact they were beaten to the punch by a team superior in terms of both technical ability, and evolutionary progress.

FC United 2-1 Worksop Town

Worksop is the home of Wilkinsons. This, more than anything, should endear Worksop Town to us. Where would we be without Wilkos when we need to buy stuff and you’re not sure where to go? Cutlery trays for your kitchen drawer. Mr Men books. Cheap Haribo. Hamster and other small rodent accessories. Cheap bathroom sets. Lengths of chain. I still find it utterly incomprehensible that Oxford Street in London manages to have room for a Debenhams, John Lewis, Selfridges, and other department stores, but not a Wilkos.

Worksop: Beautiful

It seems fitting that Worksop were as uncomplicated and as direct as a Wilkos store. They were a typical East Midlands side. Big. Uncompromising. Dirty as fuck. There’s literally nothing to do in the East Midlands except break down brick walls with your fist, and beat up other humans. This explains their intimidating gigantism. In Worksop, or Retford, or Hucknall, they’d look at Carlos Roca and treat him with the amused curiosity that David Chadwick would treat a hamachi, salmon roe and basil flower, or similar amuse-bouche. They just wouldn’t be able to appreciate his delicacy and subtle skills. No. Worksop is all about slabs of meat, and torn flesh. Which is why it was excellent to see Chaddy in our defense on Saturday. These are the games he relishes. With him at the back, Norton taking kicks for the good of the team up front, and the frighteningly able Matthew Tierney in midfield, we were much better prepared to face a team like Worksop than we would have been at the start of the season.

Luckily for us, the physical strength of the East Midlander is offset by a mental weakness and gross stupidity. Despite scoring from their first real chance from the match, Luke Beckett smashing the ball in to the roof of the net as he would smash his fist in to a brick wall during his leisure time, Worksop soon panicked in the face of a Matt Tierney led onslaught, and James Cotterill, who is desperately trying to sound like Jake Cottrell, swivelled on the edge of the six yard box, and stuck the ball high in to his own goal. There was about a minute between their equaliser and the own goal, and this new-found mental resilience, that compliment our silky footballness, is one of the reasons we find ourselves peering in through the back window of Hugh Heffner’s lesser known house, the Play-off Mansion rather than flirting with the mundane world of meaningless, midtable mediocrity.

There was still time for Worksop to threaten, but a great save from Sam Ashton, followed by an awful fuck up/great tackle combination from Sam Ashton, saw to it that we ended the ninety minutes as winners.

Things could have been much better for us had Halifax, who’ve been fucking irritating all season, not decided to lose to Buxton. I reckon they did it on purpose, the obsessed, bitter cunts.


FC United 4-2 Chasetown
February 16, 2011, 11:18 pm
Filed under: Match Report, News

Despite my best intentions to travel up tonight, I was scuppered by an over zealous Barclays personal banker, who deemed some recent transactions on my card as suspicious. That they decided jewellery, a dinner out, and groceries were so far out of the ordinary as to cause them to put a block on my card did everything to endear them to my girlfriend, and nothing to help me make the trek north to see us play Chasetown.

But fuck it. If it means we’ll win every game from now until the ens of the season, I’ll continue to stay away. Despite going down to ten men late in the first half, United rallied back from a goal deficit to see us leap up to eight in the table, a position so lofty we could be atop city’s old floodlights. Quite where we go from here depends on our result against Burscough on Saturday – another win and I’ll be all pissy knickered with excitement.

Michael Norton scored twice tonight, taking his tally to twenty for the season, a total one of our lot was so confident he wouldn’t make, he put money on it. I’ll take great pleasure in watching him pay out next time I see him, even if I’m not one of the lucky beneficiaries. Norton’s finishing and all round game has looked a lot sharper in recent weeks, and thanks to the increasingly brilliance of Matty Wolfenden’s play, he’s looking a lot less isolated up front. And even the loss of Chris Ovington, who has moved on to Buxton for more regular football, is offset by the news that Steve Torpey has returned to full training.

Elsewhere, Gennaro Gattuso shocked the footballing world by deeming it advisable to both throttle and headbutt officially the 34th hardest man in the history of football, Joe Jordan. Jordan barely blinked as Gattuso flopped his hirsute dial on him, yet had the roles been reversed the outcome would have surely seen Gattuso collapsing and drowning in a pool of his own blood and snot.

Claudio Pasqualin, Gattuso’s agent, came out today and said his client’s behaviour post match had been due to Jordan calling him a “fucking Italian bastard”. Now, here at It’ll Be Off we take a zero tolerance to both racism and xenophobia of all kinds, but as pointed out elsewhere, sometimes truth is its own defence. And for all you nostalgists out there, here’s two and a half minutes of Joe Jordan banging them in:

And finally, Crawley have continued to cash in on their cup fortune by drafting It’ll Be Off’s favourite newspaper in as a one-off shirt sponsor for the game. Not content with raking it in from prize and television money, as well as a 50-50 split of the Old Trafford gate, usual sponsors Alamo International have been shunted to the back of the shirt, to make way for The Sun’s logo. According to the Crawley Town website:

“Alamo International, as sponsors of Crawley Town FC have generously agreed that Alamo’s name will be moved from the front to the back of the special shirts being released for this special match. The Crawley Town team will wear these shirts for the Manchester United match, which will help enable Crawley Town FC to take advantage of this unique opportunity with the Sun newspaper.”

 It’s odd, you know. Usually there’d be a groundswell of goodwill for a non-league team going to play Manchester United at Old Trafford, but with every day that passes, more and more people are turning on to the fact that Crawley Town are a reprehensible bunch of shitheads. And we’ve not even heard owt from their gobshite manager, and convicted fraudster, Steve Evans yet. So that’s something to look forward to.

FC United 4-0 Whitby Town
February 14, 2011, 1:22 am
Filed under: Match Report | Tags: , ,

Despite both the social club and the Main Stand inn showing the derby, CYCM decided against it. Twomowers made the point that the club was founded under the principle of not being bossed around by sky, and by sticking United v City on the telly instead of or during a band playing, would have been going against everything we supposedly stand for.

It was a brave move, and one that could have ensured a very empty Malcolms. In the end it wasn’t so bad, certainly not full, but a lot busier than when the band were performing their sound check. At that time there were about a dozen people in the room, six of whom were crowded around an iPhone, squinting at the screen, wacthing the derby with the sort of view usually reserved for the denizens of North Stand tier 3. Had things remained this way, it would have been a sad reflection on our support, and a grave injustice for the band, The Lottery Winners, who were fantastic.

Quite how fantastic they were was open to debate. Many said they were the best we’d seen in Malcolms all season. Others believe Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man still hold that prize. But why quibble? The Lottery Winners have an album out on the 25th, I’ll be trying to get hold of a copy, even though only 500 are being released. That we get to see such bands in an environment such as Malcolms is a rare treat, and a treat we should never take for granted. CYCM is one of the best things about our club, and to ignore it to watch a match on sky elsewhere smacks of going to La Louvre and ignoring the paintings to browse the gift shop. It’s valid enough, but missing the point somewhat.

As The Lottery Winners performed their new single, Lovers Lane, Wayne Rooney scored his sensational overhead kick to ensure that city were kept in their place for another season at least. For all their proud boasts of what they were going to do, they failed to win at Old Trafford once again, in will more likely fail to win any silverware once again. The natural order remains.

Only 1662 people bothered to make it to Gigg Lane for Whitby’s visit. This number is disappoingly low, but even more disappointingly unsurprising. Despite FC United’s recent upturn in form, and a series of ever more impressive performances, even in defeat, many would rather stay away to watch two teams who rather ignore their local community and in some cases try actively seem to try and alienate them, rather than come to support a team that is rooted firmly in the Manchester community. That’s up to them. I can’t criticise, I was one fo the half dozen squinting at the iPhone.

After quarter of an hour of the first half, FC United took the lead. A United corner was only cleared by Whitby as far as the edge of the box, and Jimmy Holden volleyed it in to the net off the angle of post and crossbar. It was a great goal by any standard, and the irony of Holden, who has city’s motto ‘Superbia in Proelia’ tattooed on to his neck, scoring such a sensational volley so soon after Rooney’s secured Big United’s derby victory wasn’t lost on anyone. Actually it probably was. I’ve only just realised it now myself, and wish I hadn’t even started making this convoluted point. But I’ll be fucked if I’m retyping that bit.

Just before half time, Wolfenden had made it 2-0, with a goal I missed as I’d already headed back to Malcolms. Norton added his 18th of the season in the second half for the third, and in the last minute an unfortunate Whitby defender sliced in to his own net when trying to clear a Wolfenden shot.

So 4-0, and a sixth win from nine games. That is playoff form. And should we win against Chasetown in Stalybridge on Wednesday, we could go as high as seventh. Seventh! That’s nosebleed territory. Are the playoffs still a distant dream, or has our upturn in form given us a real chance to stake a claim? I’d like to think the latter, but with us looking stronger in every game, and with every team taking points off each other, I guess anything remains possible.