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A History of FC United of Manchester

  • Background
  • 2005/06 Season
  • 2006/07 Season
  • 2007/08 Season
  • 2008/09 Season
  • 2009/10 Season
  • 2010/11 Season
  • 2011/12 Season
  • 2012/13 Season
  • 2013/14 Season
  • 2014/15 Season
  • Background

    The club set up in protest to Malcolm Glazer's takeover of Manchester United' is a statement often used to describe FC United. But while there is no doubt that FC would not have happened without the American invasion, it was the catalyst, the final straw, but not the sole reason.

    The material theft of a Manchester institution, forcibly taken from the people of Manchester, was the tip of a pyramid of destruction, with changing kick off times for the benefit of television, soulless all-seater stadia full of 'new' supporters intent to sit back and watch rather than partake in the occasion, heavy handed stewarding and ridiculously priced tickets propping it all up.

    By May 2005 some supporters had had enough. The failure to prevent Glazer and repeat the successful repulsion of Rupert Murdoch in 1998 resurrected a 'last resort' idea from that previous campaign and the FC United wheels were put in motion. A group of individuals determined to continue the fight formed a steering committee and FC United of Manchester was delivered.

    Critics of the idea argued that if supporters were disgruntled with the Premiership then why didn't they go and support other local cash-strapped clubs instead of setting up their own? But that wouldn't have been theirs would it? It wouldn't have been United and it wouldn't have been right to takeover another club after they had just been taken over themselves. Nor could they drift off in various directions and be lost to each other and maybe football forever. They wanted to maintain the momentum of the protest, to stick together, to sing United songs, to reminisce and bring back the good bits of the good old days. They wanted Our Club, Our Rules and they got just that, a member owned democratic, not-for-profit organisation created by Manchester United fans. A club accessible to all of the Greater Manchester community, dedicated to encouraging participation of youth whether it be playing or supporting and to providing affordable football for all.

    The Inaugural Season

    Season 2005/06

    The steering group did an amazing job in a short space of time including the appointment of the club's first manager Karl Marginson. Only a fortnight old, the club played its first game at Leigh on July 16, 2005 in front of an official crowd of 2,552. It ended with an exuberant pitch invasion and players, new heroes, being carried off shoulder high. Probably the first time such jubilant scenes had been witnessed after a goalless friendly.

    The following week it was off to AFC Wimbledon, the club that gave them so much help and inspiration after they themselves became victims of a businessman who wanted a new toy, albeit in different circumstances. The club secured a ground share with Bury FC at Gigg Lane and successfully applied for membership of the North West Counties Football League. United made their debut in division two at Leek CSOB. From that rain soaked competitive debut in August right through to the end-of-season party in April which saw over 6,023 people turn up to see the Reds lift the title, an unbelievable amount of fun was had at every game. There were unforgettable days, such as Blackpool where Bloomfield Road saw its biggest away following for 20 years when well over 4,000 Reds made the seaside trip. The club even had an end of season Euro away to Germany to face FC Lokomotiv Leipzig.

    But there were also the odd 'downs' sat sombrely alongside the many 'ups'. In November they said farewell to two heroes. Steering group and board member Russell Delaney whose determination despite illness ensured FC United was born, finally lost his long battle against lung disease and United legend George Best also passed away. Both received their own minutes of applause. But sad losses aside, the season was an unqualified success on and off the pitch and the NWCFL first division provided the next challenge.

    2006~07 Season

    Season 2006/07

    The quest began for a second successive promotion and FC recorded 12 straight wins before Salford City stopped them setting a new record. That defeat was one of only two in the league in another thrilling campaign that gave them more great days out including two victorious mini-derbies against Manchester City fans' club Maine Road.

    The League Cup was a refreshing sideshow and the 2-1 victory in the final over Curzon Ashton at their own Tameside Stadium was the second season's cherry to bring the club a league and cup double.

    Despite winning two trophies the highlight of the season for some was actually a defeat. The FA Vase fixture against Quorn at Gigg Lane saw the Reds beaten 3-2 in a compelling game. Nine-man United had victory snatched away in the dying minutes then were cruelly denied a replay with virtually the last kick of extra-time. But despite the disappointment of defeat, it really hit home that what the supporters had here was worth more than any amount of trophies. The spirit of the players as they battled for the club was there to behold but in the stands the FC crowd rocked Gigg Lane as they boomed out the season's soundtrack Sloop John B, willing the red shirted heroes in an amazing battle.

    2007~08 Season

    Season 2007/08

    With the league and cup double secured, FC then made a raid on the UniBond Division One North title as well as entering the FA Cup for the first time. After a disappointing start to the season, the Reds fought back against the backdrop of a succession of injuries, suspensions and a criminally ridiculous fixture pile up which saw United playing every other day to find themselves in the promotion play-off places.

    After clinching the UniBond President's Cup with a 2-0 victory over Radcliffe Borough, United missed out on the league title by just one point to Bradford Park Avenue. The Reds were a side full of confidence though and they beat Bamber Bridge 3-2 in the play-off semi-final to set up a showdown against Skelmersdale United. After falling behind early on, the Reds battled back to a 4-1 win sealing a place in the UniBond Premier and a hat-trick of promotions.

    2008~09 Season

    Season 2008/09

    FC United received an early setback at the start of the 2008/09 season when Rory Patterson and fellow striker Stuart Rudd, left the club to join rivals Bradford Park Avenue but manager Karl Marginson found a suitable replacement in Kyle Wilson, who would go on to become the club top scorer for the 2008-09 season.

    They started the Northern Premier League Premier Division with an 3-3 draw at home against Matlock Town, before settling into a mid-table position with a loss and a win in the next two games. 25 August 2008 saw the biggest crowd of the season up to that point, 2825, when FC United hosted ex-Football League team Boston United at Gigg Lane. The match ended 1-0 to Boston.

    FC United started their second FA Cup campaign in the First Round Qualifying away at Nantwich Town. The match ended goal-less, which meant that the tie would be decided at Gigg Lane, where FC United almost pulled off a fightback. Three goals down with 20 mins to go FC scored twice, but Nantwich held on to deny FC victory. FC United's misfortune in FA Competitions seemed to give way when they scored in the last minute of the FA Trophy First Round Qualifying match against Radcliffe Borough, but their run came to an end with a 3-1 defeat at home by Boston United in the 3rd Round Qualifying.

    An indifferent run of results in the league left FC stranded in 11th place for several weeks. Gigg Lane witnessed one of the games of the season when FC United drew a ten goal thriller with Cammell Laird. 5-2 down with 20 minutes to go, FC produced one of the best fightbacks in its short history, to take a point. One of the lowest points of the season came when FC lost 4-2 at home to rock bottom Leigh Genesis, FC undone by a hat-trick by former Manchester United starlet Phil Marsh, who would go on to sign for FC United in the closing months of the season.

    FC United's league form had improved after Christmas, but still they looked good for a mid table finish at best, with 48 points from 32 games, with only 10 games remaining. United were also without the services of 24-goal Kyle Wilson, whose season had been cut short by a knee injury. But FC went on a remarkable run of 7 wins and 2 draws to start the final week of the season as favourites to clinch the final play-off spot. FC United were locked on 71 points from 41 games, with Bradford P.A. and Kendal Town, but with a better goal difference and the season was set for a thrilling finish with FC United taking on Bradford at Gigg Lane on the final day. The winner would secure the final play-off spot unless Kendal went on a rout against mid-table Buxton.

    Spurred on by the season's biggest crowd of 3718, FC United looked to be heading for the play-offs with a 1-0 lead, but Bradford equalized with 7 minutes remaining. Kendal were drawing 2-2 and FC would still have gone through had the scores remained that way, but Kendal scored in the 88th minute to break FC United hearts. It was one of the most exciting ends which the Northern Premier League had seen in recent seasons. FC United enjoyed a terrific first season in the Northern Premier League premier division and have set themselves the target of winning the league next season.

    2009~10 Season

    Season 2009/10


    A pre-season trip to South Korea to play Bucheon FC 1995 in front of 23,000 supporters helped FC United bounce back from the disappointment of missing out on promotion for the first time in the club's history and soon they were able to have a second crack at the UniBond Premier Division.

    Marginson had to rebuild his squad once again with Kyle Wilson being snapped up by League Two side Macclesfield and influential midfielder Nicky Platt had decided to try his hand playing football in Australia.

    The Reds got off to a poor start, losing crucial games to the majority of the division's best sides before the summer was out. A welcome distraction came in the form of the club's best FA Cup run to date, narrowly missing out on making the first round proper but beating Conference North neighbours Stalybridge Celtic 1-0 in a replay after a thrilling 3-3 encounter at Gigg Lane. Northwich Victoria eventually put an end to United's campaign before becoming the season's giant killers by taking the scalp of Charlton Athletic.

    Back in the league, FC United's indifferent form was continuing and although the club had a brief flirtation with the play-off places they soon slumped back down into mid-table. The lowest point of the campaign came in March when the Reds were humbled by a team of hardworking youngsters from Durham who beat them 2-1 to record their first victory of the season. United eventually finished in a disappointing 13th place as Guiseley took the title and Boston United gained promotion via the play-offs and the Reds' longest serving player, Rob Nugent announced his retirement.

    The 2009/10 campaign was never going to end with an anticlimax though. As well as finally announcing plans to build their own ground in Newton Heath, FC United were invited to play St Pauli on the official date of the Hamburg side's 100th anniversary. An entertaining match ended with a 3-3 draw as Germany's most fervently anti-fascist club welcomed the newest addition to the 'punk football' family. A trip so good it left many of the travelling Red army feeling on top of the world.

    The Reds were also invited over to Belfast to play Ireland's oldest football club, Cliftonville. FC United continued the trend of making friends not millionaires and the fellow supporter owned club hosted the visitors from across the water in a commendable fashion.

    As well as the two great trips keeping the buzz alive at FC United, there were reasons to be cheerful on the pitch too. The Reds were boosted by several new additions to the squad for the start of the 2010/11 season as Marginson's side mounts its third attempt at the Northern Premier League with renewed vigour.

    2010-11 Season

    Season 2010/11

    Records were broken and new heights were reached as FC United of Manchester's sixth season enthralled from start to finish with twists and turns both on and off the pitch.

    The 5th November 2010 will go down in the club's history as being one of our finest hours. The Reds were competing in the first round proper of the FA Cup for the first ever time in front of a crowd creating an electric atmosphere, the type of which many onlookers thought didn't exist anymore in English stadia.

    United raced into a 2-0 lead with goals from Nicky Platt and Jake Cottrell against League One side Rochdale, a team 97 places above them in the football pyramid. However, Dale pulled two back and the 7,048 fans in Spotland and thousands more watching live on TV, wondered whether the Reds could hold on for the last 12 minutes to earn a well deserved replay.

    Mike Norton had other ideas. With 93 minutes on the clock, FC United's new striker stole the ball from keeper Josh Lillis' grasp and, whilst evading the Rochdale number one's desperate lunges, rolled the ball into the back of the net.

    Words can't describe the scenes that followed but here's one that comes close - pandemonium. FC United of Manchester had done it and as the final whistle went thousands of supporters poured onto the pitch to celebrate with their red shirted heroes. A truly magnificent night.

    In round two, United gained a 1-1 draw at the soon to be League One champions Brighton and Hove Albion but it was almost felt like a victory as goalkeeper Sam Ashton saved an injury time penalty to keep the cup dream alive.

    The Reds eventually bowed out in the replay in front of 6,731 supporters, our highest ever crowd at Gigg Lane, but the fairytale run in the game's oldest cup competition had reminded the world that supporter-owned football was not only alive and well but also going from strength to strength in England. More than 1,000 extra members joining the club over the ensuing weeks was testament to that.

    Playing and beating more highly rated opposition had given the players greater belief in themselves too. After a disappointing autumn and early winter in the league, the Reds were second from bottom in the Evo-Stik Premier Division by the first week in January and there was talk of a relegation fight by some.

    Thankfully not by Karl Marginson or his assistant Roy Soule though. The FC United management team knew their squad was good enough to be at the other end of the table. And so it proved. An incredible run of 14 wins in 19 games saw the Reds climb all the way up to second place by 23rd April.

    During that incredible run, United were dealt a hammer blow out of the blue with the council announcing that our prospective new home at Ten Acres Lane in Newton Heath was no longer a viable option due to funding cuts. The club once again demonstrated the never say die attitude that has been on display so many times before and a new location for our ground was found in Moston.

    Back to the pitch and in the end defeat on the final day of the season meant the Reds slipped to fourth place, which was still their highest ever finish. The final standings resulted in a Thursday night trip to the Horsfall Stadium to take on Bradford Park Avenue in the play-off semi-final.

    United started as underdogs, having never managed to beat Bradford on their own patch despite five previous attempts. An early goal from Matthew Wolfenden put United in control and with the vast majority of a lively 2,785 crowd willing the Reds on, an own goal early in the second half settled the tie.

    With Avenue overcome, United then travelled to second placed Colwyn Bay on the first May Bank Holiday Monday with the winners gaining promotion to the Conference North. With top-scorers Norton and Wright both suspended, it was always going to be a tall order. Despite having the vast majority of possession, United couldn't find a way through and one second half breakaway goal was enough to give the Seagulls victory. It was a sad end to an epic season.

    However, with plans coming together to have our own ground and community facility - providing affordable football and much, much more - for the start of the 2013-14 season, the future is definitely very bright at FC United.

    2011-12 Season

    Season 2011/12

    FC United started the season in determined fashion, bursting out the blocks against Stafford Rangers with a goal from Matthew Wolfenden in the first minute. Dean Stott doubled the lead on the stroke of half time to ensure a winning start to the Red’s campaign, brushing off the disappointment of last season’s play-off final defeat.

    Wolfenden, who would go on to be voted the Player’s Player of the season, added to his tally in the next fixture against North Ferriby United. In a nine goal thriller, FC United recorded their biggest win of the campaign that ended 6-3 at Bower Fold, with a flurry of goals late on in one of the most exciting games of the season.

    With less than ten minutes to go and drawing three a piece, it seemed like the points would be shared after battling displays from both teams. FC United pressed hard and finally Ferriby crumbled and conceded an own goal to push the Reds in front once again. Carlos Roca piled on further misery and slotted home from the penalty spot, whilst Steve Torpey rounded things off in the closing minutes.

    After a couple of disappointing defeats at the hands of Chasetown and Chester, FC United were back to winning ways with a 4-0 victory at Buxton, setting things up nicely for the visit of promotion rivals Bradford Park Avenue. FC United thumped the visitors 5-2 in front of a lively crowd of almost 2,000. The score line would be repeated in January at the Horsfall Stadium to complete a memorable double over the West Yorkshire side.

    The heroics of last season’s FA Cup run could not be emulated after defeat to Lancaster City in the second qualifying round but the Reds did reach new levels in the FA Trophy. After dumping Frickley Athletic, Durham and Altrincham out of the competition, the Reds travelled to face Conference North side Guiseley in the first round. In a determined display, the Reds hit the woodwork twice but just couldn’t break through. Two goals late on ended the FA Trophy cup run leaving the Reds to focus on the league instead.

    A bright start was made to the New Year, in a convincing and confident 5-2 thumping of rivals Bradford Park Avenue on their own patch. Goals from supporter’s player of the season Adam Jones and top scorer Mike Norton ensured the Reds moved to within a point of their sixth placed hosts.

    In the remaining league games of the season, FC United raised their promotion push with ten wins, four draws and just five defeats. Despite this rich vein of form, the dream of another promotion via the play-offs lay in the balance right up to the final league game of the season at home to Northwich Victoria.

    The visitors were found guilty of failure to comply with the League Rules relating to financial matters and the outcome of the initial hearing was for Northwich to be removed from the league. If the decision stood then FC United would take up the Vic’s play-off place.

    But with an appeal lodged by the club, the only way FC United could ensure making the play-offs safely would be to do it themselves. The Reds had to win their clash with second-place Northwich Victoria and hope Worksop could cause an upset against Hednesford.

    A crowd of 2,542 turned out to watch the nerve-racking climax to season, but they needn’t worry as the Reds delivered in style, with a solid 4-1 victory to ensure they did all they could in the last push for the play-offs.

    FC United finished the season sixth, but as the decision by the FA was ruled to relegate Northwich Victoria from the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, the Reds took their golden ticket to face Chorley in the play-off semi-final.

    A quality strike from Mike Norton just past the hour mark and a goal from substitute Astley Mulholland was enough to seal a second successive play-off final appearance, this time against rivals Bradford Park Avenue.

    After knocking the West Yorkshire side out of last season’s play-off semi final and completing a humiliating double 5-2 drubbing this campaign, Bradford Park Avenue were out for revenge.

    In a closely fought contest between the two sides, the deadlock could not be broken by the 90 minute mark, and so play continued into extra time. As penalties loomed, Tom Greaves poached the late winner that dealt the cruellest of blows. With less than two minutes to go there simply wasn’t enough time for FC United to respond. It was another sad ending to the season but looking back, it was one with plenty of positives, both on and off the pitch to demonstrate a club that continues to flourish.

    During the season several community initiatives such as the Big Coat Day, People United and Youth United Days were held which lead to the Reds being awarded as the Football Foundation Community Club of the Year. It also marked the establishment of the women’s football team and the target £1.6 million fund was raised to build the new stadium and community sports facility.

    Season review by Richard Jones.

    2012-13 Season

    Season 2012/13

    A six-goal thriller made for an explosive opener to the campaign, as FC United came from behind to win 4-2 away at Grantham Town. It was also the beginning of a six game unbeaten run, and the best start to a season the Reds have had in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League. The Reds also fared pretty well in the domestic competitions, with several talking points:

    The FA Trophy and Manchester Premier Cup - Over 800 fans turned out to watch an emphatic comeback against Mossley AFC at Gigg Lane in the FA Trophy. The visitors found themselves three up on the hour mark, but Chris Amadi’s double brace and a last gasp goal from Jerome Wright earned a replay three days later, which the Reds went on to win 3-1.

    In the Manchester Premier Cup, there was almost a repeat performance of the last time the two sides met. Again, the Reds were three goals down; only this time before the break. Despite a late rally and another double from Chris Amadi, AFC Mossley held on to inflict their revenge.

    Mike Norton opened the scoring after just ten minutes at the Daniels Stadium in the FA Trophy, but two late goals from Stamford’s Gary King and Danny Brooks ended the cup run.

    The FA Cup - This season, the Reds recorded their biggest victory in the competition, with a five goal dismantling of Cammell Laird in the second qualifying round. The Reds then made the short trip to face Salford City. Nicky Platt bagged a hat-trick, but a late flurry from the hosts caused a nervy climax to the game. Salford pulled two back when Dean Stott put the ball in his own net and Nathan McDonald converted from the spot, but the Reds held on.

    Kendal Town were next on the hit-list, as FC United came from behind to dump the Cumbrians out the competition, with a convincing 3-1 victory. The stage was now set to try and take the scalp of Conference side Hereford United in the next round. A 2,012-strong crowd turned out at Gigg Lane in the hope of a cup upset, but two goals from Hereford’s Ryan Bowman saw FC United bow out to focus on the league and a third attempt at promotion. Attentions return to the league

    After exits in most of the domestic competitions, Matthew Wolfenden’s double in the 2-1 win over Ashton United in the league got the ball rolling again at the end of October. Just three more defeats were conceded for the rest of the year, as the promotion push continued.

    The Reds made a brilliant start to 2013, with a ten match unbeaten run, eventually ended in March by Chorley. FC United stormed to a decisive end to the campaign, clocking up six wins and just one draw to finish third and full of confidence, ready for the play-off semi-final against Witton Albion.

    The Play-Offs - Matthew Wolfenden settled any nerves for the Gigg Lane faithful, with a speculative long-distance strike after just nine minutes. By half time, the lead was doubled thanks to a cool finish from Astley Mulholland.

    Albion came out in a determined fashion after the break and pressed hard to get back in the game. A tangle in the box saw the visitors awarded a penalty that Josh Hancock duly dispatched to give the visitors a short-lived lifeline. Just fifteen minutes later, Dean Stott sealed the deal from the spot to book a play-off final place against Hednesford Town.

    The final - The Pitmen stunned FC United, as Neil Harvey slotted home moments after kick-off and Jamey Osborne doubled the lead half an hour later. If FC United were to do it, it would have to be done the hard way and the large travelling masses were in full voice to urge the Reds on. Mike Norton headed home from a corner just before the hour mark and the tables seemed to turn.

    The goal gave a renewed belief as the Reds pressed on with several more chances, but Hednesford held on to clinch promotion. When Matthew Wolfenden’s effort clattered the woodwork it summed up the season - once again, agonisingly close. Despite defeat at the final hurdle, FC United fans celebrated the club at the final whistle.

    Looking back - The season may have been third time unlucky in the play-offs, but it has been one with lots of achievement that the fans, players and wider community should remember to drive the club forward in the next campaign. The club won the Fair Play and the Co-Operative Media awards, whilst Kyle Jacobs and Adam Jones featured in the Premier Division team of the year. Karl Marginson was also voted manager of the month for February.

    The squad has been strengthened, with the signatures of North Ferriby United’s versatile midfielder Oliver Banks, and German centre-back Kevin Masirika. Midfielder Sergio Rodriguez is another prospect for the club from Real Aviles, who are in the same league as Athletico Madrid Reserves and Real Oviedo, where Chelsea’s Juan Mata and Swansea’s Michu began their playing careers.

    Community initiatives like the Big Coat Day continued, and collected six tonnes of clothing for the homeless and needy across Manchester. Personal development courses through football and coaching, Youth United Day and free football sessions during February half term have also continued to help local young people.

    Season review by Richard Jones.

    2013-14 Season

    Season 2013/14

    The sixth successive season in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier saw FC United achieve their highest ever league position, with a second place finish and just a single point off automatic promotion. Formidable frontmen Tom Greaves, Mike Norton, Greg Daniels and Matthew Wolfenden helped fire the Reds to a club record 108 league goals, whilst manager Karl Marginson’s shrewd signings ensured the defence was one of the lowest conceding teams in the Northern Premier.

    The arrival of Liam Brownhill from Bangor City bolstered the backline, with the defender making 54 appearances to earn the vote as the Player’s and Manager’s Player of the season. Further steel was added with the signatures of midfielders Chris Worsley, Callum Byrne and Joe Fox, but despite a stronger squad, the Reds fell agonisingly short once again.

    The promotion push saw FC complete an incredible 14-match unbeaten run, spanning nearly four months and twelve consecutive wins, including an important away triumph over promotion-chasing Chorley. However, it was Buxton who finally put on the brakes, as goals from Sam Brooks and Matt Thornhill sunk the Reds run at Gigg Lane in April. With just four games left and everything to play for, it was straight back to winning ways against Grantham Town thanks to a goal from Tom Greaves and a Matthew Wolfenden double strike. Wolfenden also netted the equaliser in the next outing against Stamford, inspiring FC to a dramatic victory, as the Reds came from behind twice to snatch all three vital points.

    Despite four straight wins, FC once again had to fight it out in the play-offs, this time entertaining Ashton United at home. Jerome Wright fired the Reds ahead from the penalty spot, but Dale Johnson snatched an equaliser at the death to force extra time. After a battling stalemate, as penalties began to loom, Jack Higgins scrambled the winner from a corner in the final moments leaving FC United no chance to reply.

    Whilst the last full season at Gigg Lane ended in disappointment, the move to Broadhurst Park marks the beginning of a bright new era. It is the continuation and growth of initiatives like Big Coat Day and Kit Aid, which saw FC awarded Community Club of the year Award. It is testament to the hard work and belief of fans, who smashed the initial fundraising target of £26,000 by 198% for the Kit It Out campaign to equip for the stadium’s new function room and community space. Broadhurst Park will also be home to the women’s team who finished second in their league, as well as the rising stars of the club’s development youth squad, who scored over 100 goals, won the Junior League and the Lancashire League Cup.

    Season Review by Richard Jones

    2014-15 Season

    Season 2014/15

    FC United finally clinched promotion in a memorable season that included incredible runs in the FA Trophy and league, as well as the opening of the new home of fan-owned football - Broadhurst Park.

    A strong start to the new campaign saw the Reds unbeaten in the opening eight matches, before Marginson's men really turned the heat up on their promotion push on Boxing Day, with a fine victory against Curzon Ashton. A four-nil thumping made the shortest away trip of the season a reason for festive cheer as goals from Tom Greaves, Matthew Wolfenden and Dean Stott sparked the beginning of a 21-match unbeaten run which included 11 straight wins.

    In what would become the club's second-longest ever unbeaten run, the Reds racked up 53 points from a possible 63, whilst scoring a staggering 46 goals. In short, after play-off pain in the last few seasons, the only option was automatic promotion and it was delivered in style.

    Tom Greaves and Matthew Wolfenden helped fire FC United to the top of the table with a combined total of 38 goals, whilst Craig Lindfield lit up the midfield with 12 goals in his debut season, following his summer transfer from National League side Chester.

    The Reds also enjoyed their strongest ever defensive record in the Northern Premier, conceding just 37 goals. The additions of Luke Ashworth and Chris Lynch from Hyde United and Southport respectively helped bolster the backline, whilst David Carnell's move from Curzon Ashton saw the goalkeeper keep 25 clean sheets in 57 games to earn the vote as Player's Player of the Season.

    It was Carnell who kept four clean sheets during the club's sensational run to the Quarter Finals of the FA Trophy, where they faced Torquay United. Over 1,300 FC United fans made the 546 mile round trip to the English Riviera as the Reds rallied hard against the National League side in a closely-contested match.

    Tom Greaves and Dave Birch had chances early on for the Reds before Torquay's Ryan Bowman rounded Carnell to take the lead in the second half. Despite several superb FC United chances, there would be no heroic comebacks unlike earlier in the competition. Matthew Walwyn, who scored a dramatic last-minute winner against Barwell in the Third Round Qualifying replay went closest when his headed effort crashed agonisingly against the upright.

    Despite the result, it didn't dampen the mood among the travelling FC United fans, who were in full voice throughout the game and at the final whistle. It was the latest in a long line of memorable matches in the club's short history, ranking up there with the trips to Rochdale as well as Brighton & Hove Albion in the FA Cup.

    However, it was the victory against Stourbridge in April that FC United fans will mostly remember this season for. The winner, scored by full-back Greg Daniels finally sealed the club's fourth ever promotion to become Evo-Stik Northern Premier Champions after four play-off heartbreaks.

    The celebrations continued to flow after the final matches of the season with the news that Broadhurst Park was finally completed. FC United opened the stadium in style, entertaining Portuguese giants Benfica in a friendly to top off the perfect end to a record-breaking season and set the Reds up for life in the National North League.

    Season Review by Richard Jones.

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