The annual pre-season period can be a bit of a tease. Extremely attractive looking games often leave you disappointed, even more desperate for August to tick round and the real season to start. As such, I thought I’d give it a miss this year. I lasted about four days before I decided to give in. It has been several months though since I last went to a game.
The game that broke me so early was an interesting prospect. And it had a trophy up for grabs. Not your regular pre-season fayre then. It was the annual Brian Lomax Cup Supporters Direct Cup, a one-off game contested by two supporter-owned clubs. This year’s competitors were perhaps two of the biggest names in the fan-ownership game.
Enfield Town, as they’re not shy in telling you, are the original supporter-owned club. You can find out more about their eventful history in the write up of my first visit to see them against Harlow Town a couple of years ago. The Towners were defending Brian Lomax Cup winners and also narrowly lost the first edition of the game in 2002 against AFC Wimbledon.
This year their opponents were FC United of Manchester. FC United, also Brian Lomax regulars having won twice in six appearances, are perhaps one of the best-known exponents of the ‘against modern football’ phoenix club movement and were set up by Man U fans angry at the take over of the club by the Glazers circa 2005. They even have a boast of their own as they are the largest fan-owned club by the amount of members/owners.
FC United may have been somewhat eclipsed in the Manchester non-league scene recently by Salford but they have been pretty successful in their short existence. They made it all the way to the National League North until a few months ago when they were relegated. They have also funded and built their own 4,400 capacity stadium in the Moston area of Manchester. This season they’ll be playing in step 3 in the Northern Premier Division meaning they should be a good match for their North London hosts.
Who are ya, Brian Lomax cup?
The Brian Lomax Supporters Direct Cup is an annual invitational pre-season match between two supporter-owned cubs. The first edition of the match took place in 2002 between AFC Wimbledon and Enfield Town. Lots of different clubs have graced the game over the years including Brentford, Wrexham, Merthyr Town, Exeter City, Newport County, Bath City and even Clapton Community who played last season in their first year after creation.
Brian Lomax was the first managing director of Supporters Direct, an organisation set up by the government to provide support and assistance to members’ trusts for sporting clubs. Their aim is to achieve greater accountability and democratic representation within football clubs and the sport’s governing structure.
Recently Supporters Direct has merged with the Football Supporters Federation to form the Football Supporters’ Association although work has continued under the previous brands.
Towners start fast to retain the cup
There was an impressive turnout of 403 for an early pre-season game. For the record, it was Enfield’s first game and FC United’s second following a 3-0 win over Morecambe. Fans of both sides could be heard from the bow of the ship – the bar at the Queen Elizabeth II stadium – as several FC United visitors channeled their inner DiCaprio and Winslet, hanging over the edge with beers in hand.
On the pitch, Enfield came out of the traps fast and scored an early goal through Josh Davison. Billy Bricknell added a second a few minutes later and Enfield looked like they might score at will. A couple more chances were narrowly missed before FC United found a foothold in the game.
The visitors put in some excellent crosses and set-pieces but were unable to trouble to Enfield keeper too much. Bricknell then added a third goal 10 minutes before the break to seemingly put the game to bed. FC United replied immediately, however, as Linney drove the ball into the bottom corner following a quick break.
The second half went past without any more goals as both sides rang the changes as the local mosquitos began to attack – they seemed particularly bloodthirsty in this part of town. FC United hit the bar late on but in true pre-season style the game rather petered out. Enfield were victorious and lifted the trophy for the second year in a row. Football is back and so is my trusty tube of Anthisan.