De qualquer forma, um artigo em português explicando tudo sobre o FC United estará no primeiro número da revista ContraCultura, que será lançada no Bloco O do Campus do Gragoatá, Niterói, no dia 19 de dezembro (4a. feira), às 18h.
The Red-Haired Monster and the Holy Trophy
Once upon a time there was a humble Football Club founded by railway workers. All they wanted was to have some fun after a week’s work. They never imagined this club would become a global brand or one of the most important companies in the Entertainment Industry. At three different times strange villainous creatures tried to buy their club. First to come along was Dark Maxwell mounted on his BSkyB Dragon (or vice-versa). The fans blocked him. Second came the Two-Headed Coolmore Horse. The fans fought hard to successfully ward off this new threat. Finally the fans came face-to-face with the Red-haired Monster, whose tactics involved throwing green money in every direction. The fans rallied, singing “Not for Sale” and attacking the Monster in every possible way. But green money had magical powers and the enemy took over the Red Devils Castle.
The loyal fans felt outraged to see the Red-haired Monster walking their once sacred Trafford soil. But green money, though very powerful, couldn’t capture the most important treasure: Mancunian Soul. Few stuck with it, but those few were noble and trustworthy knights. They began building another castle, brick by brick… a difficult task amid the ever blowing winds of commoditisation and consumerism. The new citadel was called FC United of Manchester.
Thank you for humouring this analogy: I find it impossible to think of FC’s history without seeing it in an epic light. In this new, yet already very old, 21st century, when resignation to “the way things are” reigns, FC United of Manchester seems to me a truly beautiful story worthy of telling and retelling for the benefit of future generations.
The first I heard of it was two yeas ago in Lisbon, when I met Adam Brown, one of your founding warriors. But after the conference I returned to Brazil, where I live and work as a professor. So it was only on November 14, 2007, during my recent travels to England, on a cold Manchester night, that I had the opportunity to see FC United play, at long last.
Before I share my impressions of that match against Rossendale FC, you should know where I am coming from. Don’t hold it against me, but before arriving in England I was inclined to be an Arsenal fan! When I visited Emirates Stadium I was shocked: not only by the marble walls and the Airport-Mall architecture, but by the cold commercialism of it all. I decided to give them another chance and after a Homeric Quest I could buy a golden ticket to see Arsenal play against Sparta Prague. Wenger’s kids were brilliant, playing with such pace and quality that the other team seemed to be there to watch it too. But it was a very weird feeling, because my red seat was so cushy and pleasant and the public so silent that I thought I was on my sofa peacefully watching the Match of the Day. A brief look around explained it all. There were so many tourists that when somebody shouted “If you hate Tottenham, stand up”, only a few lifted their rear ends from the comfortable seats. Between the pitch and the stands there seemed to exist an invisible barrier, a net capable of blocking true emotions. It felt almost immoral to stand there, as if only a voyeur, not participating at all… without life, without passion.
Let’s come back to the less glamorous Unibond League First Division North. Let’s get back to real life, real football and real fans. That night at Gigg Lane didn’t start well. In the Main Stand between Adam and Tony, there was I, very happy to see a red shirt with no logo on it. By five minutes in, FC had conceded a very silly goal. 0x1 and my friends were probably thinking: “This Brazilian guy is not bringing good luck”. Well, 2nd half we moved to the Kop. And the goals started to flow like a river, 1, 2, 3… 5! I swear by Pelé that less than two thousand FC fans were louder and livelier that evening than 60.000 consumers at Emirates Airport.
I know it hasn’t been easy for you. The same night, when we were all at the pub celebrating, Tony confessed that every time he drives by Old Trafford he feels betrayed. He still senses that his seat, his place, his team, were taken from him. Like a bitter taste lingering, but not only in his mouth… in his soul. The next day, as any f… tourist would do, I went to visit Old Trafford. Our guide spoke of only one subject during the first ten minutes: money. He even dared to say that the revenue from the 165 corporate boxes allowed “ticket prices for the ordinary spectator to be kept on a realistic level”. Worse than that: believe it or not, the tour lasted more than one hour, and the guide didn’t mention one word about who founded the club, when or why! But he did show, to the delight of the female tourists on the tour – the very place were Beckham used to change his clothes.
After this very instructive tour, I went to the Museum. It is a very fine one, of course. You can hear the original BBC news cast about the Munich Disaster. You can look at many photographs and watch many videos of past glories. Booby Charlton’s and Beckham’s shirts are all over the place. A big room full of trophies. There aren’t many things about Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Cricket and Football Club, except for a replica of the original yellow and green shirt. A replica, not the real thing.
That night when FC hammered Rossendale 5x1, the chant I heard the most times was “We all follow United, we are the Busby Boys”. Yes, you are. Nobody can take that Holy Trophy from you.