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*UPDATE* SMRE bar to remain open vs Darlington on 14th April before closing for renovations

*UPDATE* SMRE bar to remain open vs Darlington on 14th April before closing for renovations

After the postponement of Easter Monday’s match against York City, we have made sure fans will get a chance to say goodbye to the already iconic SMRE bar before it closes for some much-needed renovation work. FC fan and writer Jonathan Allsopp looks back at its story so far;

It remains a sore point for many Reds that the Stretford End’s last hurrah before the terrace was closed in May 1992 was not a stirring battle cry from our substantial songbook or even a hymn in praise of a red shirted hero like Bryan Robson or Norman Whiteside but instead a few choruses complimenting Gary Lineker who was making his final appearance in English league football before jetting off to Japan. The crisp seller had bagged a consolation goal as Spurs were thumped 3-1 in a meaningless final game of the season and as the players from both sides applauded the fans before heading back down the tunnel a chorus or two of “oh Gary, Gary…..” rang out from the Stretford End.

Anyway, in a similar stand-to-close-for-redevelopment-work vein, next Saturday’s match against Darlington on 14th April will mark the last match of the St Mary’s Road End as we know it before the space underneath the terrace is closed so that long overdue redevelopment work can commence. This means that, although the terrace itself will remain open as usual for the final two home matches of the season, the space underneath will be closed for the visits of York City and North Ferriby United. Supporters will however still be able to enjoy a drink on the SMRE terrace from one of the bars around the ground.

The SMRE with its capacity of over 2,500 is one of the largest terraces in non-league football and, in nearly three seasons, has already seen its fair share of drama and goon-tastic late winners. For those, of a certain age, who grew up on the Stretford End and remain convinced that football is best watched standing up, the SMRE terrace has become a much-loved home from home offering not only a cracking atmosphere and a great view of the pitch but, from this season, the opportunity to enjoy a beer or two whilst watching the match with your mates.

In the meantime the space under the terrace with its bottle bar, music, flags, memorabilia, artificial turf, “property of FCUM” stencilled notices, second hand benches and armchairs and its homespun feel has also become a firm favourite with many fans for a pre-match or half-time pint despite feeling colder than the North Pole even in warmer months - it’s probably about as far removed from the “Tunnel Club” corporate dining suites and networking space on offer at another football ground down the road as it’s possible to get. The SMRE has also, this season, provided a very welcome home for FC’s very own club night in the afternoon Course You Can Malcolm.

The story behind the construction of the stand will be familiar to most FC United supporters with the steel employed in its construction formerly being used in the Dane Bank Stand at Northwich Victoria’s homes at the Drill Field and later at the Victoria Stadium. Following the demise of the Vics due to financial problems FC United saved the stand from the scrap heap in December 2013 when officials at the newly formed supporter owned club 1874 Northwich agreed to us using it at Broadhurst Park.

When it closes after the York City match work will commence on turning the area under the terrace into a multi-functional community space using funding from Power to Change. On match days it will continue to be a place where fans can congregate to enjoy a pint or two in a temperature that might be a few degrees above zero. But during the rest of the week it will be used for the benefit of our local community in Moston and across North Manchester as part of the club’s extensive community programme and will also be available to hire by local community groups for a range of activities that are likely to include weight training, fitness classes, boxing, youth clubs, homework clubs, community group meetings, tea parties and sports injury clinics.

FC United are the largest community organisation in the area and opening up the space under the SMRE for community use will make this corner of Manchester a stronger and better place to live and generate additional revenue for the club. The inconvenience of not being able to enjoy a drink under the SMRE for the final couple of home games of the season will be a small price to pay for what is a very important development for our football club and the local area.

So next Saturday will be the last opportunity to enjoy a drink and a sing-song and a spot of “networking” under the SMRE in its present state before it reopens again at the start of next season. Let’s raise a plastic glass or two to both the SMRE’s first three years and its future. Meanwhile if you feel the need to acclaim a certain Match of the Day presenter whilst doing so then it’s probably best to tweet him.

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First Posted ~ 14:14 Tue 27 Mar 2018
News ID ~ 7828
Last Updated ~ 11:51 Wed 18 Apr 2018