‘Our Club, Our Rules’ is a short film about fan-owned club FC United. The film was created as part of the Moston Small Cinema project.
Soon after I began exploring Moston, it became clear that beyond the residents groups, Sure Start centres and knitting circles, there was also another community network with a strong presence in North Manchester. FC United’s plans to build their stadium opposite the Miners on St Mary’s road had brought about a range of opinions form the community as to how it would affect the area. FC’s network of fans was very active across Manchester, as was their community work with young people and disadvantaged, and yet the proposed stadium move was a controversial issue for Moston, with people as vehemently opposed to the move as other were hopeful of the opportunities that it might bring.
Being a football fan myself, but equally a cynic of how clubs have related to their local communities, I was intrigued to learn more about the ethos of FC united in relation to community. I attended two matches at the end of the 11/12 season, speaking to people about what the club stood for, and why they believed in it so much. I came away feeling that not only was the stadium a potentially very positive development for Moston, but simply the presence of FC in North Manchester was nurturing a kind of community activism that was really powerful and would have a positive impact locally. In addition, the alternative model of a football club run for the fans and the community seemed to chime with the model of cinema that I have been trying to explore with the Small Cinema project for the last four years. As much as I tried to remain ‘neutral’ as a film-maker, I was just blown away by the enthusiasm of the fans, and the vision of the club. Everyone I spoke to seemed energised by the idea of FC as a vehicle for change in sport, culture and community.
Roughcuts of the film were screened to M40 residents and FC branch members in order to share my process and also discuss my aims with the Small Cinema in Moston. As crazy as it may seem to build a cinema, I always felt that the FC network were far more crazy for building a new club, and so I think there may have been a common understanding. Indeed, many FC supporters volunteered their time to help build the cinema, and the FC network in general helped spread the word about what we were trying to achieve. The cinema couldn’t have been built had that creative, activist, community minded network not already existed.
The final film was screened on 4th November, before Looking For Eric, which featured FC united in the storyline. Actor Steve Evets said a few words about working on the film with Ken Loach, drawing parallels between the themes of Looking For Eric, (camaraderie, collective action, community, sport) and what had been achieved in Moston with the Small Cinema. It was a huge compliment, and much appreciated, but the groundwork for those things already existed in the community. FC seem to be tapping into the potential of North Manchester to be at its most radical.
Filmed by Sam Meech and John O’Shea. Edited by Sam Meech. Produced by Re-Dock as part of A Small Cinema in Moston.
(a dvd / blu ray of the film can be obtained by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org)