I caught up with Steve Bowers this week to discuss his days supporting FC United of Manchester. Below he tells us the story of how he got involved which is followed by a few questions I felt needed answering.
Like thousands of fed up Reds, I decided back in 2005 that I had to do something when the Glazers came in.
I went to all the protest meetings as well as sitting in Chester Road and stopping the corporates from getting into the ground one night.
At the Central Hall meeting I signed something to say I would participate in direct action or I thought but it was actually something to do with forming a new team, which I was not interested in.
Then FC United was formed and I was intrigued by it all. That lead to me attending the Leigh friendly which really opened my eyes, so myself and two fellow reds went to the Flixton friendly and then to the first league away game at Leek.
What a day. We watched United v Everton in the pub before going to the match. Apart from winning 4-2 it was the occasion that I felt history being made. We witnessed great atmosphere from likeminded reds, and it was literally your team (I had a £10 membership at the time).
At the time, I had a season ticket at United. Nowadays I rent it out seeing as I decided back in 2005 that I would watch a few more FC games before becoming hooked.
This lead to some fantastic away trips; Stafford, Cheadle, Blackpool to name a few, but it was the home atmosphere that got me, just the same as an away, and actually felt annoyed, still do, that these reds can create this great atmosphere when they should be at Old Trafford like me doing the same. I know this sounds crazy, but I understand what FC is all about and hope they continue to prosper, yet I still need the United away fix (recently been to Newcastle, Villa, City and Madrid).
To sum it up, we need standing back and singing areas, Manchester United to be a fan owned club similar to the German model and FC to be their feeder club. It won’t happen in my time but you can dream.
Dale O’Donnell: What was going through your head when you decided to turn your back on Manchester United despite the fact you used to come to Old Trafford every week?
Steve Bowers: As I have said before I have not turned my back on Manchester United, I’m still a staunch supporter, but just go to as many aways as possible and a couple at FC (take my grandson now). Its just home games. I have a great seat in Stretford End, but it was basically to save for a few good games, so to me atmosphere means a lot. As we all know before our success, there was no problem with atmosphere, albeit there was standing. You went with your mates and there was no over zealous stewarding. It was a difficult decision to stop going, not a monetary one either, but could not be bothered, especially on my own, as there used to be half a dozen of us who used to go together and that’s what you can do at aways.
Dale: You explain above how you still own a season ticket at Old Trafford but rent it out instead of attending games yourself. If you oppose the Glazers enough to follow a different club, isn’t that contradictory?
Steve: As for still owning a season ticket, I suppose I am hoping that one day we will be a fan owned club and standing with your mates may come back, and I may get the urge to go again.
Dale: We were a money making enterprise before the Glazer family came in. In 1999 ticket prices were going up and the club was bringing out new shirts every season. Do you believe the fact FC United was formed following Manchester United’s worst season since 1989 played a part in its demand?
Steve: Not sure if United’s worst season helped the formation of FC United. It probably did but I think it was the way modern football was going as well.
Dale: Football sold its soul to Sky Sports a long time ago, yet FC United fans give the impression it happened around the same time as the Glazer takeover. Ticket prices are expensive, we all can agree there, and it is understandable that people can’t fork out £535+ a year for a season ticket. When you say you had to do something when the Yanks came in, what exactly did you do?
Steve: As for the formation of FC, I didn’t think it would work, but used to read Red Issue a lot and various writers put a good case forward. I think people like Andy Walsh and the like had the balls to get it off the ground and fair play to them. There was a hell of a lot more pissed off reds than me who did not like what was going on at our club.
When I was still going Old Trafford, I suppose I was one of those that ‘fought from within’ at first. No beer, pies etc, but it does seem very tame thinking about it now. Going to a few FC games brought football back for me. Like the good old 70s and 80s.
Dale: Where do you see FC United in the next 10 years?
Steve: I think once the ground is built they may achieve league status in 10 years or sooner, but I think they will remain a ‘small club’, but one that is community orientated like it is now.
Dale: Since you have made the move you’ve had to watch Rhodri instead of Ryan Giggs. Not only is he inferior on the pitch but… no actually, we won’t go into that sort of debate. Tell us a little about Ryan’s brother.
Steve: Rhodri is always on the bench when I go, but I guess he’s got a bit a pace about him and can beat players, but should play more for me.