FC United’s board reporter Jonathan Allsopp has decided to follow the fundraising success of last year’s book ‘The Red Thread’ with a new collection of writings which tell the story of how FC United has coped with the pandemic.
It’s now on sale in the club shop and is also available to purchase by mail order. Here Jonathan tells us a bit about his new book entitled ‘It’ll all be over by Christmas – collected writings roughly relating to FC United of Manchester’s pandemic year’.
They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but when it comes to ‘It’ll all be over by Christmas’ I’d like you to forget that old maxim. Because the front cover, designed by FC fan Russ Hart and inspired not only by the public health messaging of the pandemic but also the colours of Newton Heath FC adopted by the anti-Glazer protests that saw a resurgence earlier this year, is blooming ace and quite possibly the best thing about the book. If nothing else, it’ll look good paired with one of those yellow and green shirts when you’re next in the club shop.
The format of this new book is similar to The Red Thread – a collection of writings that have mostly already been published on my blog (https://nowtmuchtosay.wordpress.com/) – but this time it’s about how the club coped, over the 14 months from March 2020 to May 2021, with the worst of the coronavirus pandemic and the strangest, mostly football-less, time of our football supporting (and football club owning) lives.
Far bigger clubs than FC struggled to cope with the impact of the pandemic on their finances: over in M16 the Glazer stooge Ed Woodward described the 2020-21 financial year as “among the most challenging in the history of Manchester United” as the club reported an operating loss of £37 million; Everton blamed Covid for a staggering loss of £140 million; and Wayne Rooney’s Derby County claimed that the airborne virus was the main reason for the Rams going into administration.
When we went into the first lockdown in March 2020 there was a fear that much of the good work on strengthening FC United’s finances over the last few years might be frittered away but somehow we’ve emerged from the worst of the pandemic in a strong financial position and importantly, for the first time, with money to invest in our future. Meanwhile the club has also been a lifeline for many people in its local community battered by more than a decade of austerity and struggling to cope with the greatest health and economic crisis of our lifetimes. I think the story of how we’ve responded collectively, as supporter-owners, to an existential threat to the club that we’ve spent the last decade and a half building from scratch is one worth telling.
The book’s title, of course, originates from the ex-United player Alan Gowling’s observation in the summer of 2005 that the newly formed FC United wouldn’t survive until Christmas – the club viewed merely as an attention-seeking, anti-Glazer protest that people would get bored of when the nights drew in. And when the scarecrow-in-chief Boris Johnson forecasted last summer that Covid restrictions would be over by Christmas it evoked memories for me of Gowling’s similarly brash prediction.
As with any book, although it’s got one person’s name on the front, it’s really been a collective effort and I’d like to thank the following: Tony Howard for, once again, typesetting the whole thing – the lay-out of the pages truly is a thing of beauty - and designing the back cover; Russ Hart for designing the glorious front cover; and Lynette Cawthra for reviewing an early draft. Without Tony, Russ and Lynette generously offering their expertise for free this book would simply not have been a viable proposition. And thanks also to Mick Dean for giving me permission to use his wonderful photograph of the St Mary’s Road End, which was taken the evening before FC United’s televised FA Cup tie against Doncaster Rovers last November, on the back cover.
And last, but certainly not least, thanks to everyone who bought a copy of The Red Thread. To sell more than six hundred and thirty copies of that book and raise over £7,500 for the club was way beyond my wildest expectations when I first started putting it together and led me to think that perhaps a follow-up that captures the ups and downs of FC United’s pandemic year might not be a bad idea. This book is all your fault really.
Despite the success of The Red Thread I’ve printed an initial batch of only two hundred copies of the new book. Chiefly because I’m a miserable glass half-empty kinda bloke. But also as several of you that bought The Red Thread informed me that the book’s 12 millimetre spine was perfect for propping up your electronic devices during those all-important lockdown Zoom calls, I can’t help thinking this time round with restrictions lifted and people able to meet face to face again the demand for a laptop propper-upper will surely be nowhere near as great.
So if you’re partial to some FC-related reading material now the nights are drawing in (or could do with a new laptop propper-upper) then copies of this new book, priced at £10, are now on sale in the club shop (CLICK HERE). Or alternatively you can email me at and I can send you one.