A crowd of 2,100 turned up at Flancare Park to watch Longford Town unsettle a Manchester United XI but ultimately lose by a solitary goal.
The attendence topped Longford Town’s previous biggest turnout of the season by a cool 1,300. The top of the table clash with Limerick was the source of the previous record attendence for 2012, but only a paltry crowd of roughly 300 steadfast supporters turned up last Friday to see the Town go down 1-0 at home to Waterford United.
The crowd saw a disproportionate amount of kids milling around in Manchester United jerseys, most of whom were probably unfamiliar with the inside of Flancare Park, and many of whom had travelled to game from well beyond the traditional catchment area of Longford Town’s support. Often, though, one would happen upon the odd contrarian youngster who stuck by the Town.
These factors contributed to making the Main Stand sound more like a swimming pool packed wth kids than it normally does. Good United moves were greeted with the sound of a more high-pitched cheer one hears at Wimbledon when Andy Murray wins a point. Good Longford Town moves brought about an altogether manlier, more defiant, roar.
Manchester United’s Norwegian winger Mats Mueler Daehli scored the only goal on eight minutes after stealing down the left, cutting inside Chris Deans and sending a shot over the head of Town keeper Craig Hyland.
This United side had arrived with decent credentials. Most of them were part of the United team that romped to the Reserve Premier League last season. One, Josh King, played with the first team in the Carling Cup. However, the Town played impressive football, particularly in the second half, and enjoyed more of the ball throughout.
United, after a sleepy and lacklustre second half, where they appeared content to allow the Longford Town back four to potter around with the ball on the halfway line, shook themselves and delivered an energetic last ten minutes.
Near the game’s end, Tony Ghee reassured everyone there would be a chance to get autographs afterwards. At the final whistle, the Town players trooped off quickly while the United youngsters signed autographs for the kids who were leaning over the barrier on the Stand side. Tony tried to get the United players to go over the far side to sign a few autographs but a number of United players just slunk down the tunnel, though some stayed around for a good while. It appeared to occur to no one that none of the United players could be considered as famous (even in Manchester) as Keith Gillespie (who unfortunately wasn’t playing on the night).
Overall, the game proved to be a useful, and much needed, money-spinner for the Town as the they now turn their attention to the much more serious affair of their visit to Terryland Park to face SD Galway this Saturday.