Stocksbridge Park Steels 1 v 4 FC United of Manchester:
A few days spent in the sunshine in Manchester and Salford, a few afternoons in the pub and a match to boot. The culture of my old “home” was a plenty, some of which I truly miss - ale, the ubiquitous Berghaus, proper chips, everyone sacking off work by Friday afternoon to sit in the pub, cups of tea, fry ups in Koffee Pot, every fucker out in flipflops and shorts at the first sign of sunshine ;-)
Saturday morning started at a bearable hour. We left our adopted home in South Manchester and caught the bus into town, bumping into Dapper Charles on the way. The coach to the game was already waiting for us, and before long we were heading up into the hills of North Derbyshire. After a bit of impressive reverse parking, we arrived at our destination, a working men’s club on the outskirts of Stocksbridge. The late morning was spent drinking Guinness, eating the spread that was put on (including even vegan food!) and watching United beat West Brom on the tele. The AFL bus trips had come up trumps once more!
No one was in that much of a hurry to get to the game, and so we arrived 5minutes late having missed the first goal. We took up a position on the lower steps of the small terrace, waved flags, sang and drank beer. The first half finished 2-1 to us.
At the beginning of the second half, we held up a large paper banner with the words “This is our club” on it. The crowd started chanting “Turn it round” so they could see it, which we duly did. Huge cheers all round, then the banner was hoisted up on top of the crowd, as everyone started singing the words to the song.
The second half was better, with us winning comfortably, 4-1. The highlight though was the entrepreneurship of one fan. S. on her first trip to a match, seemed to be more taken with the beer than the football and so had collected several rounds. Having drunk so much, our small ration of cigarettes brought over from the continent was running low. We looked around for someone to scab one off. As I said “I wonder if anyone has a spare cig”, low and behold, out of nowhere, and right on cue, an older fella appeared with a plastic bag full of cigarettes. “I got ‘em on holiday in Serbia. 2 pounds a packet!”. Only at FC! With a name like “Fast”, they didn’t inspire confidence, but they would have to do! (it’s almost a week later, and I still can’t bring myself to smoke again!).
After the match, we did a small group photo in front of one of our flags and then jumped on the coach home. As per usual the return trip almost outshone the match itself. We stopped off at a pub on the way. The place was so overrun, they let some of our lot serve behind the bar! After a few hours there, we headed back to Manchester, singing all the way.
Back in town everyone went their separate ways. Some to the Molly House, some home, and us, stupidly, to the Tib Street Tavern. I’d never been before so followed the crowd. I was hammered, S. eyes had now gone crossed due to a late run on a cider, and the pub was awful. “NQ” perfectly summed up. Topman Mods, “hip” young people who probably buy those new Minis and own an “urban living space”, “Premium lagers” a plenty and then the ears assaulted by seemingly three Northern Soul tunes playing at once. Never again! We decided to call it a night, and caught the bus home. SUPER REDS!