Manchester United finally ended their streak of 8 games without a win after clinching all three points against Swansea City. While it was a great game and Wayne Rooney ended his scoring drought, I missed the official screening with around 50 of my fellow supporters and being there would have only made the experience much sweeter.
Humble Beginnings, the slow growth and a few milestones
It was in the December of 2013 that I attended my first screening with the Manchester United Supporters Club, Hyderabad or the Manchester United Fan Club, Hyderabad as it was then called before it got the official recognition from Manchester United.
It was a game against Tottenham Hotspurs and a struggling David Moyes’ team managed to grab a point courtesy a brace by Wayne Rooney – not a game that you would really remember forever. But for me, it was a game that changed the experience of watching a game.
There were 50 odd supporters cheering for the team. Right from “Oh, Manchester is wonderful” when the boys walked on to the pitch to “We’ll never die” when Sandro curled in a 25 yard scorcher for Spurs. The volume never lowered no matter how bad or good the team was doing. And, this was when I decided, this is a group I want to watch all my matches with.
The rest of the season was an up and down affair. For the first time in over 20 years, the club failed to qualify for the prestigious UEFA Champions League, but the fan club in Hyderabad was only growing bigger. The joint screening against Chelsea showed the strength of our fan club as we walked out as the louder fan club despite a 3-1 defeat. The Facebook page started getting popular, and fans were better connected after creating a Whatsapp group! We also formed a football team and began participating in various tournaments across the city.
En route to becoming the biggest fan club in the city
The 2014-15 season, with the appointment of Louis Van Gaal, brought in some buzz and excitement amongst our fans. While we notched a streak of six consecutive victories, our attendance at the screenings kept increasing each week. On October 26, 2014, our headcount at the screenings touched 100 for the first time. Robin Van Persie’s late, late equalizer blew the roof open as the Red Devils of Hyderabad erupted in ecstasy. A group of 60-70 odd Chelsea supporters were muted and we had established ourselves as the biggest fan club in the city. Our first late night screening, an away fixture at the Emirates, was attended by around 45 supporters, and this gave us belief that there was no looking back from here on.
On February 6, 2015, on the anniversary of the Munich air tragedy, the fan club organized a charity drive. We collected old clothes and blankets from our members and also bought food and water packets and distributed amongst the underprivileged. This was followed by a screening of the movie, ‘United,’ a documentary about the tragic air disaster in 1958, which also helped a lot of the newer fans learn about the club’s history and growth.
The final half of the season saw a host of crucial fixtures lined up one after the other. For the games against Manchester City and Liverpool, we shattered our previous records as nearly 300 Red Devils turned up for consecutive weekends. The convincing victories made the experience that much sweeter. By the end of the season, we managed to organize over 35 screenings (including evening games and late kick-offs) and became a recognized brand across the footballing circles as the biggest fan club in the city.
Push for Official Recognition
The start of the 2015-16 season saw us reach the coveted mark of 50 official members, and helped us push to attain official recognition. We sent a charter which included the history of the fan club, reasons why we want to become an official fan club and how we would help the society. Two years of effort and hard work was finally rewarded when we finally granted official status by the club of our dreams, and a few weeks later, we received a letter from Louis Van Gaal, himself confirming the official status and congratulating us on the same.
It has been a wonderful and exciting journey with MUSCH, and with an ever increasing fan base, I can only say that this is just the beginning of bigger things to come!