How Millers misery taught Margy to manage

KARL Marginson is the first to admit he isn't a household name throughout Rotherham following his footballing days with the Millers.

"I went to Rotherham United as a left winger and ended up as a centre-half - I was that bad," jokes the 38-year-old, now manager of Sheffield FC's FA Cup opponents, FC United of Manchester.

"Phil Henson (manager 1991-4) brought me there and then later I played for Archie Gemmill and John McGovern (joint managers 1994-96)," recalled Marginson.

"The high point was my debut against Portsmouth. But my time there ended up a bit of a nightmare. I didn't play well and it didn't work out."

It wasn't a complete waste of time and effort, though.

As well as a 250-a-week pay packet, Marginson picked up a few tips on how to manage a club during his four years at Millmoor.

Now he is employing some of those techniques in charge of FC United, a UniBond Premier League outfit that regularly draws more fans through the turnstile than some Football League clubs.

FC's supporters are loud, brash and even political - their club was founded as a symbol of rebellion at Old Trafford being bought by American tycoon Malcolm Glazer in 2005.

FC home gates at Gigg Lane, Bury, in the seventh tier of English football, can reach 3,000. Up to 1,000 will invade Dronfield for the Sheffield clash a week today.

"Taking that number next week doesn't surprise me; we've taken 1,500 to games against Wimbledon and Buxton," says Marginson, a Manchester United fan who shares the fans' dislike of "franchise football", big-match ticket prices and corporate influence.

"The size of our support is a great boost to our players. And it is also good for other clubs like Sheffield to have so much money coming through the door."

FC are one division higher than Sheffield Club. Yet that doesn't make the North-west side favourites in 'Margy's' eyes.

"Certainly not with my record in the FA Cup! Sheffield are always knocking on the door for promotion and any side under Chris Dolby will be attack-minded and have flair. It'll be a good game," he said.

Is the former milkman's dream to face his one-time heroes, Manchester United, in the FA Cup third round?

"I saw United reserves the other night and they were awesome – I really don't want to be beaten 10-0! Seriously, though, it would be a dream game.," he said. "But we have to concentrate on Sheffield now. They have beaten us before (1-0, 2006 at Don Valley,) in a friendly. It is important to us to win this game, not least financially as we need money to develop our own ground."

So do FC aspire to join the Football League – where they may one day be vulnerable to the same satellite TV and commercial interests their supporters despise?

"That's up to the fans," he said. "One member, one vote; they decide. That's the beauty of fans owning a club.

"Nobody is more important than anybody else."

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