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Sheffield Hallam students on FC United

A group of students from Sheffield Hallam University attended FC United’s match with North Ferriby United at the end of February. Here four of those students recall the day they encountered this club of ours for the first time...

Jesse David White writes...
After visiting FC United back in February as part of a Sheffield Hallam University trip I was impressed with the value for money which you get at the football club. The particular game that I went to was the home match with North Ferriby United and as the game ended 3-3, included a couple of red cards and a couple of penalties to boot so it’s possible that this may have influenced my thinking!

However, I have been to see many Premiership and Football League games at Old Trafford and many other grounds across the country and the huge prices which we pay leads me to often question the value for money which we get at football. If you want to watch a match at Chelsea, one of the top clubs in the English game, the cheapest adult ticket you can get outside the family stand is fifty-one pounds.

Journalists from the Guardian and the BBC have compared the value for money we get at British games to those abroad and the Guardian were able to book return flights and a ticket at the San Siro in Milan for cheaper than a home match at Stamford Bridge.

The BBC found a similar situation when for the price of a Leeds ticket (the year they were relegated to League One) it is possible to fly and watch 2004 Champions League Finalists Monaco. Of course attendances are much higher in Britain for teams lower down the league tables than they are in Europe and simple economics will tell you that if the demand is there the price will keep on growing.

However, the concern is that when you look at the grounds in the lower half of the Championship down to League Two, too few are often full and for the smallest teams you are paying upwards of twenty pounds a ticket. It could therefore be argued that fans with smaller incomes are being priced out of the game and that crowd atmosphere in these clubs is also affected.

By contrast, I lived in Madrid for a short while two years ago and was able to watch Real Madrid for 19 Euros (£16) every week. In fact, if I’d become a member which was only 100 Euros (£86), that same seat would have only cost me 7 Euros (£6).

The present financial situation of teams such as Portsmouth, who have got themselves in financial trouble, has lead to people calling for a limit on the percentage of turnover which the club should be allowed to spend on wages. Granted this would definitely help towards clubs not getting into the same financial difficulties as Portsmouth but would also perhaps encourage clubs to increase ticket prices to give them more spending power on wages.

The great thing about football is it is not all about the quality of the players. We can get as much enjoyment out of watching lower level games because you can still enjoy the atmosphere and most importantly the drama is still there (cheaper beer too!). Whether you are watching a last minute winner at Old Trafford or a last minute winner at Gigg Lane, you can still feel the same joy and that is what makes paying only seven pounds to watch FC United great value for money.

Esther Majoro writes...
It was an entertaining match most especially for me as a first time spectator for this team. Despite the freezing and cold weather that day, the environment was brilliant, friendly and welcoming.

The game had it all as FC United came from behind twice to rescue a draw they very much deserved and the valuable point and their unbeaten record in 2010 with a 3-3 final score.

FC United conceded an own goal just after five minutes due to poor marking and defending and they were 2-0 down by half time not a good match for the home fans but they kept their heads up. Actually I was amazed with the support they still had after that horrific first half start and result.

Whatever happened in the dressing room must have had a profound impact as the lads came back fighting to secure a goal on the clock this really opened the game more in the second half and give the match that thrill which the supporters enjoyed. Five minutes later and United were level from a well taken corner headed into the back of the net by the centre half Chadwick.

Unfortunately, as they looked bad defensively pretty much in the whole game they let the visitors back into the lead just after a few minutes of levelling making it harder for themselves again. Good enough it looked to be the game of come backs as the visitors unnecessarily let the home team back in the game by giving away a penalty and a chance to equalise but Marsh’s low but weak shot to the bottom right hand corner was easily saved by Wilson and it looked as though United had wasted a gift of an opportunity to get themselves level.

Nevertheless, with still more time for more goals united were playing so well after the wasted chance and they looked like they could snub an equaliser as they storming forward vigorously. Eventually he Reds were given another spot-kick when Carlos Roca was brought down by K Larvin in the penalty box he was sent off for his fool and the referee awarded a spot kick which was well taken by Deegan who fired passed the North Ferriby keeper Wilson to make 3-3.

The game ended with 10 men for both sides as united was also reduced to 10 men when Nugent was sent off in 86th minute when he got himself a second yellow. Otherwise good game and a fair result.

Daniele Tuzzeo writes...
With this being my first Unibond League match I was not too sure what to expect when travelling to Gigg Lane for FC United of Manchester’s match against North Ferriby Utd.

I have attended Football League games varying from League One to the Conference but never before any matches outside of the Football League. By the end of the day however, I was pleasantly surprised by an extraodinary match! Six goals, two penalties and two red cards made for fantastic viewing.

The Gigg Lane crowd went silent on five minutes when a defensive mix up ended with Ludovic Quistin putting into his own net. The 2,021 supporters had little to cheer about in the first half and the scoreline was made worse two minutes before half-time when North Ferriby doubled their lead through Mark Whitehouse.

FC United came out for the second half with renewed optimism and passion as they went full out for a goal that would get them back into the contest and their pressure paid off on f59 minutes as Ben Deegan pulled a goal back, rising well to head home a delightful cross from Phil Marsh.

It did not take United long to pull level as five minutes later Marsh turned provider again to deliver a perfect corner to allow captain David Chadwick to power a header home. The Gigg Lane crowd was roaring at this stage with United taking control of possession. Against the run of play though North Ferriby hit back on 71 minutes when Chris Bolder headed them back in front.

United then won a penalty after a handball by defender Ben Turner which Marsh stepped up to take after much discussion with Deegan. In the end Marsh’s shot was weak and easily saved by North Ferriby keeper Steve Wilson after some Bruce Grobbelaar-esque goal line mind games. There was still time for more controversy as Carlos Roca won United their second penalty of the day. Kevin Larkin the unfortunate conceder also seeing red for his offence, Ferriby were now down to 10 men.

This time Deegan made sure he took it and made sure he finished it powering a shot past Wilson after yet more mind games from the Ferriby keeper. United were level but would they hang on this time or maybe push for a winner with their man advantage. Nothing came of the advantage in the last ten minutes and the teams were level on both goals and players by the end of the game after a second yellow saw United’s Rob Nugent take an early bath.

The result meant United maintained their unbeaten run which was stretched to seven games after a battling and spirited performance against a strong North Ferriby side.

On the train home I could not get over how eventful the match was. A few months before I had been to a Premier League game that ended in a 1-1 draw, but was nowhere near as exciting. I have to give credit to the Unibond League, there are certainly some teams that can play a good style of football as well as having a group of passionate fans that will cheer them all the way. I was amazed by the amount of fans that turned up at Gigg Lane and the atmosphere was brilliant and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Christopher Moodey...
As apart of my course at Sheffield Hallam University I had to attend a FC United game. I have heard about the club but I was not 100% certain on why they were formed and what their aims as a club were.

Formed on 14th June 2005, FC United were created out of supporters frustration with new owner Malcolm Glazer. The idea had been considered previously when Rupert Murdoch made an attempt to buy the club in 1998 but was unsuccessful. Meetings began amongst the fans and on the advice of Kris Stewart (chairman of AFC Wimbledon), FC United were formed.

On arrival at Gigg Lane, everything was being run like a professional football club. There was a turn stills for the tickets, scarf’s and t-shirts were being sold and even people selling programmes. Before the game started we went upstairs to one of the bars where food and drink were on sale. The room was full of FC United fans with the majority of fans supporting the green and gold scarves which shows their support for the ’Green and Gold until United is Sold’ Campaign. This campaign can be seen at Old Trafford where many of the fans will wear this colour scarf.

After being in the bar for about an hour, what stood out for me was the feeling of being apart of a community. It seemed like everyone knew everyone and everyone would talk to everyone. I felt very welcomed by all the fans and any hesitations I may have had about my visit were soon gone.

Just before the game started a man got up on the microphone and announced the team sheet for today’s game. He announced the team but also the player’s favourate wag. This was very entertaining and everyone in the room was laughing along. This once again highlighted the sense of a community among everyone and as the day went on, the idea of this club and supporting it started to make more and more sense.

It is rare nowadays that you can go to a football match for a reasonable price, sit down and have a drink with the fellow followers of the club and everyone get on with one another. With the big clubs pushing fans away in terms of ticket prices and the feeling of your opinion not being heard or even considered, this club was really starting to make sense to me.

When the game got started, we took our place in the stand where no one was found to be taken a seat. The atmosphere was outstanding. The crowd was singing all game and even when the side went 2-0 down they didn’t stop. I have been to a few conference and lower league football games in the past but nothing has compared to the noise of the FC United fans.

As for the game itself, it really has to be one of the most entertaining games of football I have ever seen. The final score finished 3-3 with two sending offs and two penalties. Despite the dramatic events and score line, the passion and commitment the fans show towards the team will be the main thing I take away from the experience.

The attendance at that game was over 2100 which, when I heard over the tannoy, I was simply shocked at. Not because it sounded like their were more fans there (because it certainly was loud enough) but to get that kind of attendance at this level of football is simply outstanding. Considering this is above the average attendance for the Nationwide Conference, you really have to take your hat off to the fans.

This club really has won me over. What they might lack in terms of football status and wealth in comparison to their big brother at Old Trafford, they make up for in passion and support for their club.

The above work is unedited and the views expressed are those of the students.

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First Posted ~ 13:33 Tue 4 May 2010
News ID ~ 2880
Last Updated ~ 12:36 Mon 21 May 2018