The real-life tales of a football writer
August is no month for holidays when you write about football for a living.
I’ve done several interviews with players for a variety of publications, finished my next book and completed the first United We Stand of the season.
With the help of others, the new UWS website is also ready to launch after the Rivals/Sky debacle.
Two people who made their name as football fan activists were separately in Barcelona last weekend.
Kev Miles, who now runs the Football Supporters Federation called, but we couldn’t meet. I did see Andy Walsh for a beer though. He’s the full time chairman at FC United of Manchester, a role which is part chairman, part community social worker because he’s a good listener.
Walsh’s job is 24/7 and he’s lucky to have a supportive family behind him.
Walsh and Miles serve the interests of football fans far better than, say, an American family who own Manchester United and now oversee a club whose season tickets are as expensive as those at Stamford Bridge.
People have mixed Walsh and I up for years. A typically angry radio phone-in fool once rang 606 and slaughtered me. Except the caller meant Walsh.
Walsh, the Che Guevara of Stretford, confirmed that people still take him to task… for articles that I’ve written.
I wonder if the golfer Colin Montgomery gets questioned about his role in Alamein or the D-Day landings?
Walsh has been working hard to make sure that FC United have their own ground within the City of Manchester, and while it’s been a hard slog, they’re getting there and hope to move in a couple of years.
FC are currently paying Bury around £80,000 a year to use Gigg Lane, and while the rebel club are not everyone’s cup of tea, they’ve proved detractors wrong who thought that they wouldn’t last and average home crowds of 2,000.
Their away following is significant and they regularly take 6-700 – about the same as Preston North End.
FC will start this season in the Unibond Premier League, the same as last year after three successive promotions before that.
I’m going to watch my first competitive game of the season in the Unibond League this Saturday – Lancaster City vs Prescot Cables.
My brother Jonathan, aka the 'non-league gypsy' after playing for just about every club in Greater Manchester, has now moved to Merseyside based Prescot Cables.
A big centre-forward and semi-pro veteran at 32, he’s started all seven pre-season games in a team of shaven headed young Scousers.
He’s enjoyed it and the fans like him. It’s been interesting watching their reaction to him because, by his own admission, his languid approach divides fans in a Dimitar Berbatov style.
But some have really taken to him and are raising money to sponsor him. He’s got himself fitter than he’s been for years and has lost a stone and half in the last month.
He called last night to say that he’s shaving his hair off. I assumed that it was to fit in with the Scouse scallies he’ll play alongside.
“Nah, it’s the start of the season. I always shave my hair.”
Still, he knows it will be a struggle. Prescot, from a town of 11,000 eight miles east of Liverpool, were relegated last season and money is tight.
Their squad has been assembled from scratch over the summer, but they appear to have a good team spirit, are getting stronger and have enjoyed some encouraging pre-season results.
On Sunday I’ll watch Manchester United vs Birmingham at Old Trafford, then the Spanish Super Cup first leg between Barca and Athletic Bilbao.
I’m the Spanish football correspondent for The National, which is based in Abu Dhabi. It’s a great paper and their appetite for football is voracious - they want four pieces a week from me this season.
After that, I’ll take another game, hopefully to see my mate Arnau Riera at his new club. A man called Sven Goran Eriksson has been trying to sign him.
On Wednesday, it’s Burnley vs United and Wigan vs United next Saturday before I fly straight back to Barcelona to make the kick-off for the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup.
With games in Spain kicking off at 10pm, at least I’ll have time to make kick-off...
FourFourTwo.com: More to read...
Confessions of a Correspondent homeBlogs home Latest England newsNews homeInterviews homeForums homeFourFourTwo.com home
LATEST FOOTBALL NEWS
Spain seal major tournament treble
UEFA dishes out dosh to clubs for Euro 2012
Russia win appeal against Euro 2012 sanction
Nasri banned over behaviour at Euro 2012
Van der Wiel critical of compatriot Robben
75% of all TV is Bale
On the road to ruin
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010