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Minnows amongst Sharks: Life in 3rd place

This article focuses on two areas where football is a massive part of people’s lives; Manchester and Sheffield.  When you think about these areas from a footballing perspective there are two big derbies that spring to mind.  In Manchester, City vs. United has grabbed itself pride of place as the must see fixture in the English, especially after the dizzying rise of the blues.  In Sheffield, the Owls and the Blades, where the balance of power is forever shifting from between red and blue in a city where football reigns supreme above other sports.

Despite the obviously exciting nature of these sporting battles, they will not be the focus of this blog; instead I intend to shed some light on two clubs that sit in the shadows of these giants.

Manchester City and Manchester United sit a mere 15-minute car journey from one another.  Both clubs have colossal stadiums and a plethora of trophies between the two of them.  Recent events at Man City have seem the club rise from a mid table club to a European powerhouse that last year beat their rivals to the League title.

For now I would like to take you back to the end of the 04/05 season, you might say it was a fairly dull season in Manchester, one team 3rd another 8th and no trophies between them sounds fairly unimpressive.  However, the takeover of Manchester United by the Glazers prompted the start of a new story in Manchester.

Mid way between the two Manchester big boys lie the offices of FC United of Manchester.  A club that was formed as a mark of protest against the Glazer takeover.  FC United managed three promotions in their first three seasons leaving them in the 7th tier of English football.  The club have made the playoffs twice in the northern premier division and with gate receipts far higher than their rivals; it’s hard to see them not making the leap to the Blue Square North in the near future.

FC United’s story is an eventful and inspiring one and who knows, perhaps in the future there could be a three-way battle for Manchester.  Perhaps this is a little ambitious but nevertheless, FC United’s fans appear to me to be a superb example of real fans, and with dedication like this, who knows where they might end up.

Over in The Steel City, a different minnow is lurking with quite the opposite history to the new Manchester Club.  Whereas FC United are 7 years old, Sheffield FC have an incredible 155 years of history behind them.  Formed in 1857, Sheffield FC is the oldest football club in the world and holds records for the first corner and the first game with a crossbar amongst others.

With United formed in 1889 and Wednesday in 1867, FC appear unfortunate to have been replaced not once but twice by larger clubs.  FC now play in the Northern League Premier division, one step below the Blue Square North division.  So if you move to the Sheffield area and you fancy starting an allegiance with a Sheffield team, maybe don’t think of the obvious and try something new.

Follow @tomdimaio

Harry Wellins is an Aussie Man Utd fan who blogs on the goings on at Old Trafford as well as his many other interests including swimming, playing online pokies and cooking.