Compiled by the Talking Bull ‘Ground Guru’…. Simon Wright
Who’s up for the Rebel Reds? Me! Admittedly, I’ve not seen them since their visit to Hereford and negative press has arisen recently suggesting all is not well behind the scenes. An entire new Board was elected last month.
But the new buzz around Edgar Street, that feeling of community and visiting a special place? FCUM have had that for a decade as Hereford supporters who travelled to Gigg Lane in 2012 for a FA Cup match will remember.
I’ve seen the Manchester side five times and on each occasion I’ve felt the same bubbling excitement, a living example of how much fun a football club can be. Start with the patter of the programme seller (“free staples with every copy”) and the gobsmacking club merchandising and sweet selling operation.
Chuck in the supporters’ extraordinary range of flags and vocal backing, including their incomparable rendition of that Ewan McColl folksong paean of praise to Thirties Salford made famous (or infamous, depending upon point of view) by Shane McGowan and The Pogues, ‘Dirty Old Town’. Even if you don’t care for either folk music or the Pogues, grab a listen to the lyrics. Then you might understand.
Even better, I find FCUM supporters, many of whom are exiles, down to earth and approachable. The club is owned and run by its members, who pay £12 a year for a voice in all major decisions.
The Rebel Reds have a laudable “Pay What you can Afford” adult season ticket structure with a minimum of £100. (Average amount paid last season was £148). Kids tickets remain at £21.
The club famously limits these advance sales to 50% of the capacity and couples it with a choose your own place policy without any reserved seats.
Admission prices are slightly lower than ours, despite FCUM being in National League North.
Broadhurst Park is famously half self-funded, and if the ground remains slightly Work in Progress, that is hardly surprising, given the millions needed to get this far.
The main stand is currently part standing, and part seating. There’s a real Meadow End-dimensions terrace behind the goal, albeit it’s second-hand (purchased from 1874 Northwich FC.).
Disabled access at the ground is through a stewarded gate next to the first set of turnstiles that you approach from the car park. Disabled seating and wheelchair spots are in the main stand, and in the east and west stands. Disabled parking can be arranged in advance.
This North-East Manchester suburb is a Holts-dominated area though there are a variety of venues to savour. Closest of all is the capacious FCUM bar at the back of the St Mary’s Road terrace, which boasts its own real ale (inevitably by Joe Holt), Broadhurst Ale – a 4% pale ale.
Just around the corner from here in Tedddington Road lurks popular local charity, the Moston Miners Community Arts and Music Centre This former pithead bath is now a community centre with Colours café, a cinema, rehearsal and recording studios etc.
FC United volunteers assisted with the re-building. You can’t accuse the football club of not giving back to the community here, can you? If you fancy a drink, a late breakfast and a live band, don’t look anywhere else.
A ten-minute saunter down Lightbowne Road is the Gardeners Arms . This big, old Manchester red brick pile is part of the JW Lees chain so a rare exception from Holts. Serving proper beer too, including award winner Moonraker.
Others worthy of mention include the Blue Bell a mile away in Moston Lane (M40 9PY) open from 11.00am. Another Holts boozer in a fine old Manchester building with real ale, in an outdoor area if warm, and an option for car parking.
The Railway Hotel (Holts again) is handy for the Newton Heath Metro and has a free shuttle bus to the ground for folk who don’t want to waste valuable drinking time by walking. (Might not run for friendlies). Finally, the Broadway on Nuthurst Road is yet another ginormous Holts mansion. Surprisingly enough, they serve Holts bitter. The ground is a 15 -minute hike away but free parking, in what is something of a parking desert, could be key.
FCUM remains the gold standard. Check out their award-winning Community Programme constant charity work, and foreign trips (Detroit AND Switzerland in 2016). Their shirts remain advert-free, they fight off television and routinely challenge any club who raises prices for FCUM visits. But… they’ve never been to Wembley.
By road: (M40 OFJ) A very long 148 miles, so allow at least 3 hours. M6 to J19, then A556, M56. Head for the M60 Manchester ring road. Leave M60 at J22, onto A6104 (Hollingwood Avenue).
At the Greengate roundabout take 1st exit onto B6393 (Lightbowne Road). Broadhurst Park is on your left about half a mile up. Read the Car Parking Guide as parking is very limited.
By train: Regular services to Manchester with last train back at 21.36. There is a local rail station (Moston) but the service is hourly with a walk either end.
The Metro is a better bet and a novelty, just 20 minutes travel from Piccadilly station. (Tickets are £3 return.)
By Coach: To travel with Hereford Awaydays, text Reg for coach availability on 07958 176937