It has been a tough week for Manchester United on the field, but in Adelaide, things are starting to pick up.
Last month OZMUFC.com featured the Adelaide Manchester United Supporters Club ahead of the Manchester derby and club spokesperson Michael Lansdell is pleased to report that the club’s derby-themed event at the Strathmore Hotel was a big success, despite the 2-1 loss suffered by United at Old Trafford.
Lansdell said he and his fellow core members expected around 50 United fans to show up in support of the Reds.
“The game started just before the Adelaide Crows (AFL) final finished so given Adelaide Oval is only a 10 minute walk away from the Strathmore, we knew it would be busy,” Lansdell said.
“So they gave us access to this private room called the ‘Bird Cage’, which fits about 60 people.”
It soon became apparent that room for 60 people would simply not be enough.
“It got so packed. United fans just kept arriving, one after another, so we had to move into the general area for the second half and we were completely outnumber the Adelaide Crows fans,” Lansdell said.
“Soon enough all those AFL fans were curious to see what all the fuss was and came over and fair play to them because they joined to. There’s no group for the Crows or the AFL in general to sing like proper football fans do, but you could see they loved it.”
A head count during the second half of the derby showed that over 120 people were watching the game, much to the delight of the club and the Strathmore hotel.
“We signed up 30 new members and the dinner we hosted before the game also attracted between 30 and 40 fans,” Lansdell said.
The money raised from the event has already been put to good use, too, with the club ordering a new, custom flag which was ready ahead of last weekend’s match against Watford.
“We are starting to see a real hardcore loyal base of supporters,” Lansdell said.
“They are turning up on a regular basis every week. It’s good foundations for us to start building on.”
But while everything is starting to fall into place now, Lansdell said it would not have been possible without the hard work of some special members in the early days.
Among those are Aleks Milicevic – who was involved in the club from day dot – as well as Shayne Foster.
“Aleks was in from the start and he tried to get this up and running with some other guys who sort of left him to do everything,” Lansdell said.
“Alexander O’Flynn was another who was involved at the start with Aleks but he moved to Brisbane and that sort of left Aleks to do everything by himself.
“Over the past few years, he would be at the pub with myself and Shayne which was good but it was frustrating because it was just the three of us and maybe one or two others now and then.
“Aleks is born and bred in South Australia but his passion for United is amazing. He knows every song off by heart.
“After a few years of watching games with us, he added myself and Shayne as admins of the Facebook page to try and help us get more numbers at the pub.
“Aleks has been living in Manchester since March this year to follow his dream of watching United week in, week out, but he is coming back to stay for good this Christmas and I think he will be amazed by how big the group is getting.”
In his absence, Foster and Lansdell have tried to drive greater participation in the club.
“Shayne is equally as passionate and I’m working very closely with him to try and get this up and running.
“He organised the deal with the Strathmore with myself and he has been organising and handling all the membership cards as well.
“I handle more of the promotions and work on events like the Manchester derby dinner we did.”
Lansdell said it was pleasing to see it all come together.
“Whatever we’re doing seems to be working,” he said.
“The more people that come to the pub, the more heads we have out there spreading the word.”