A big day in the north

11 06 2015

FC United 0 SL Benfica 1
Broadhurst Park’s official opening
29/5/15

This day wasn’t just a fantastic occasion for British semi-pro football, it was a notable event for lots of people in lots of places.

More articulate people than me told us about Broadhurst Park’s fantastic story in the week leading up to the match so I don’t need to bother with all that. You can read David Conn or Amy Lawrence on the BBC or this brilliant blogpost by one of the club’s founder members. I was swept along by the emotion of the day so you’ll have to rely on a more emotionally sober review of the day to gain a feel of what happened.

What I can say is that I had what I might call “an FC United moment” during this match.

In the days before the match a thread on FC’s message board told us that a special edition of Under the Boardwalk had been produced. I loved that fanzine, I thought that it would be nice to have a copy. I pictured a bloke clutching a fistful of fanned out copies, a box at his feet and a knowing smile upon his welcoming face.

Sadly I couldn’t see anyone matching my preconceptions outside the ground. I asked a programme seller but they knew nothing.  I asked the board member by the main entrance but he’d only read the same message board thread as me, I asked a half time draw ticket seller but they didn’t know anything, the bouncers at the clubhouse door didn’t know what a fanzine was and the people in the under the terrace bar hadn’t seen a copy. I accepted that the fanzine was an in the know kind of thing and went to the back of the terrace

At half time I saw a bloke carrying what looked like a mythical fanzine so I sidled up to him.  He’d bought in the pub but he didn’t know if they were selling it in the ground. Even though he was going to send his copy to his brother in Australia he thrust it into my hands.

I tried to protest, I tried to give it back to him, I tried to plead his brother’s case, I tried to give him my programme, I even tried to pay him for it but he wouldn’t accept money. He just said that his relatives and mates would probably have bought his brother about 12 copies. Even though I was deeply embarrassed I was genuinely touched by the thoughtfulness of someone that I’d never met. On the other hand, you’d have to be a proper heartless bastard not be touched by a gesture like that.

This wasn’t quite the way I’d envisaged obtaining a copy of the fanzine. I knew couldn’t deprive someone of a fanzine like this, I couldn’t leave this kind of gaping social wound. I knew the fanzine existed now so I went on the hunt for other copies, there had to be other copies. At the bottom of the steps I saw more people with the fanzine. I asked where they’d got their copies and, more importantly, whether there were any left.

The bloke’s reply was like sunshine “Yeah the lad was over there not long ago, I think he’s got another box of them, I’ll go and find him, how many did you want?” I paid for a copy and went to search for the other fanzine’s erstwhile owner, luckily he was still in the same spot. He thanked me profusely. I felt even happier than he did, karma had balanced itself. I could sleep now.

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