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HELLO ALBERT, HELLO SPION KOP!
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HELLO ALBERT • ISSUE 26  

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Editorial
Back To The Future – Part 2
Could The Roman Revolution Come To Chester?
United For Survival
Thoughts Of Chairman Mark
United Colours Of Football


THE UNITED COLOURS OF FOOTBALL

What a brilliant night Fans United Three was. The weather was appalling but the sight of fans from different clubs coming along to support the common cause of the smaller clubs and the health of football in general, warmed the heart. To have fans from the likes of Blackpool and Bury and Tranmere was great but to see a group from FRANKFURT was unbelievable. One highlight was provided by Oxford United fans who brought their ninety-one club scarf, stuffed into a bin liner. As it was unpacked in the car park for the benefit of the Football Focus cameras a Tottenham Hotspur scarf was tied on by a Chester ISA member to bring the complement of clubs represented up to the full ninety two. It was a great spectacle to see the whole scarf which stretched a hundred yards or so paraded around the pitch at half time.

During the game fans could hardly believe their ears each time a corner was floated across – up went the sound of a World War Two air raid siren to give warning of an air raid. Some enterprising Lincoln fans had brought their siren, acquired from RAF Waddington, to lend a touch of the surreal to a superb match atmosphere. I guess Lincoln fans made plenty of use of this when John Beck with his aerial bombardment tactics, was manager.

After the game, we headed for the Town Hall where Brighton fans apologised for their late equaliser, a party was held and speeches made. Though Brighton, Oxford United and Chester fans expressed clearly much passionate commitment there was also room for the lighter touch – Mark Howell ventured that Brighton might be known as the Vultures rather than the Seagulls for the price at which they had bought Rod Thomas from us. The Manchester United fan who spoke, said that though he had enjoyed the game he had been disconcerted to see a couple of his colleagues getting carried away and joining in chants of “Come on City” They were due to be hauled over the coals on Monday he assured us.

Now here is an article written by a member of the Independent Manchester United Supporters Association (IMUSA) and posted on the Fans United Three website.

United For Survival

“Greed is good” opined Michael Douglas in Wall Street. Apart from inspiring a generation of Del boys to wear red braces and skip lunch, it would seem that Gordon Gecko has also served as some sort of role model for ‘90s football club chairmen.

Just like the day-trippers who pollute the atmosphere at Old Trafford. Lesser clubs have been plagued by people who know nothing about the game or the club they are involved with, and care even less. Buying a football club was a licence to print money, or so they believed. Alas once realitystrikes these people disappear faster than a scouser with a hubcap, leaving the supporters to try and sort the mess out.

This is why on Friday 15/1/99 a minibus full of reds made their way to the Deva stadium to lend their support to the 3rd Fans Utd game in support of Chester City’s fight to stay alive.

Briefly, Chester’s problem go back to when they were sold by the developers of their new stadium to Mark Guterman in 1994. To cut a long and sorry story short, today the PFA are paying the players wages, manager Kevin Ratcliffe has been paying water bills and the club has got about as many winding up orders as they have points. Assurances given by the (now absent) chairman don’t seem to be worth the paper they’re written on (sound familiar to anyone?). The Chester City ISA started a campaign aimed at raising local awareness and cash and the Fans Utd 3 – The United Colours of Football event was the latest venture. Ironically, their opponents for this happened to be Brighton, a club who have suffered from their own, near fatal dose of “owneritis” .

Hence me getting wet and cold waiting for the minibus to pick me up on route for Chester. When it appears, it is obvious that a couple of IMUSA committee members have decided that, as the Deva stadium is in Wales (just), the game deserved the full on Euro away treatment and had been on the pi?. sorry – "having lunch" since 2 o’clock. (For a substantial donation to IMUSA funds I’m prepared to name and shame!). With one demanding a pitstop every 100 yards and the other hanging out of the window to prevent us all getting second helpings of whatever had been "eaten", we looked exactly the opposite of reds with a social conscience!

We had been asked to come wearing colours of some sort so we would be recognisable. Duncan had managed to bring his entire Utd hat collection with him (non-official ones – naturally!). These ranged from beanie hats a la Roses to a horrendous red, white and black Rubettes number (ask your mother!). Suitably attired we arrived at the stadium to be jumped on by the half time draw sellers. The ones at OT would starve very quickly if they had to survive on my donations, but remembering the cause we stumped up, but someone did remark that it is probably assumed that we are as loaded as the club we support. On finding Mark Howell, the chair of the Chester City ISA, we were signed into the social club (more expense!) and were soon reminiscing about 1983 and all that with the Seagulls. I learnt that although the club has survived it’s own crisis, the fanzine “And Smith must score”, didn’t. As Reds we rely on the fanzines to give a better perspective than the “everything is wonderful” bolloxs that comes from the Plc. Try and imagine if they weren’t around. Talking of the Plc, the game was to be broadcast live on Sky. Although this move persuaded the courts to let Chester carry on, my cynical nature tells me this is more to help Sky’s case with the MMC and the OFT, than any altruistic motive on their part. It also meant that we agreed not to bring the extremely subtle "Stop Murdoch" banner we had planned to give an airing.

As for the game itself, Chester played the more attractive football and were one up at half time. During the break, the banner of scarves donated from all 92 league clubs was paraded around the ground. The second half was similar to the first and Chester were a little unlucky to concede a late penalty. To be fair the Seagulls probably deserved something just for the massive (and vocal) support they bought.

After the game we made for Chester town hall, where IMUSA Chair Andy Walsh gave a speech as well as the aforementioned Mark Howell, and the MP for Chester, Christine Russell. Attilla the Stockbroker – ’80’s punk poet and Brighton fan, gave a rendition of a poem of what the Seagulls mean to him. The passion on display was in marked contrast to the attitude of the bag carriers at OT, shame we can’t do a swap!

It is ironic that when the top end of the game is awash with cash, the lower league clubs are left out to dry. The FA couldn’t care less, happier to spend thousands trying to get the World Cup back here, and by whatever means possible it would appear, than worry about the roots of the professional game. With the attitude of clubs like Villa (over the Barry transfer from Brighton!) not exactly helping, it’s no wonder that people give Utd fans a slagging.

You may think that as a Utd supporter what happens to Chester, Oxford, Portsmouth et al doesn’t affect you, but consider this; Rupert Murdoch is more than capable of doing to Utd what the likes of Guterman have done to Chester. Same attitude, just more money involved. You have been warned!

Mark Southee


ISSUE 26 Editorial
Back To The Future – Part 2
Could The Roman Revolution Come To Chester?
United For Survival
Thoughts Of Chairman Mark
United Colours Of Football
 

 

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