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By Tom Boseley
Is this the AFC?Remember all the furore about FC United of Manchester? All that anti-Glazers stuff, vowing never to set foot inside Old Trafford again, and forming a new team? Well, in fairness to them, they only went and pulled it off. Renting Gigg Lane for their home ground and, at one stage, getting gates of around 4,000 paying patrons. Think that their crowds have, paradoxically, gone down, as the team has made it's way up the 'Pyramid' (or 'Steps' and it's now known in the amateur scene), but they are still drawing over 2,000 punter to their home games. Anyway, about a year ago (probably a bit more), local folkie Alun Parry had the idea to form a Liverpool team to enter the non-league, and AFC Liverpool was born. Unlike their Manchester counterparts, AFC would have no gripe with their own Club, but wanted somewhere that people either priced-out of Anfield, or unable to get tickets for matches, could go and sing witty songs and make wacky banners. Trials took place at the less-than-plush surroundings of Buckley Hill, and, once all the jokers and wasters, in their £200 quid new Predators, had been laughed at and chased, they were left with a squad of around 20 tanned beauts and more than half-decent players. Having raised brewsters by a £10 subscription from, I believe, 1,000 or so subscribers, AFC by-passed the Liverpool County FA Premier League (on health & safety grounds - can you imagine, say, 1,000 fans arriving at Jericho Lane?), and were accepted into the Vodkat (North West Counties) League, with the proviso that they ground-shared with Prescot Cables. And, before anyone from AFC writes in about my 'history' of their forming, I haven't researched any of this shite; it's all from memory, or guesswork.Their opening match attracted around 500. Not bad going, but probably less than they envisaged and, since then, they have ran away with their league (with a solitary blip against Wigan Robin Park). All good stuff eh? Not quite . . . . .The Liverpool Senior Cup is a strange old competition, as it embraces Everton, Liverpool and Tranmere, along with your Marines, St Helens Town, Bootle, Skem, etc. Also, though, it gives an entry to the top Saturday teams, from the LCFA Prem, hence this first round pairing of AFC v Waterloo Dock; the latter being LCFA champions for certainly the last three seasons. To borrow a phrase from Sir Alf Ramsey's book of tactics n' that, 1967, the Dock are a 'fucking great side'. Straight outta the mean streets of L4, all young skin'eads, with a fantastic first touch. Nevertheless, AFC should, surely, send their impoverished neighbours packing, giving the (mythical) gap between the leagues in which they play. I rolled up just before kick-off - ample free parking in Prescot town centre, readers - and found a rather disappointing turn-out (200, maybe) and a particularly limp 'you'll never walk alone' from about 20 or so in the designated, ahem, 'kop end'. I sat in the stand, and luxuriated in the memory of playing in a final there, in 1986, and being forever in Prescot Cables' debt for their allowing us young bucks to train on the pitch, two nights before. Happy days . . . . . Anyway, back to tonight, and everything goes to plan for the first five minutes. AFC take the lead through Ronnie Moran's grandson, and I fear a rout. Indeed, my fears are founded, but not in the way we expected. Soon after, the Dock take control, with former Accrington Stanley striker, Leighton McGivern, running the AFC back-four ragged. The Dock's number 8 is also a joy to watch (one of the Poland brothers, I think. Certainly, he looks like the left-back, 'Polo'), and is taking the piss. Before half-time, the Dock lead 2-1, and, instead of an expected AFC fight-back after the interval, the hosts are given a footballing lesson by their less glamorous counterparts.The AFC hard-core continue to make a noise; loyal supporters if you're a red, or embarrassing whoppers if you follow Everton. That one about walking down the road, and a variation (funny, in fairness) on the 1960's 'we're the best behaved supporters in the land', particularly to the fore. In the end, it finished 6, it could have been 10, and AFC even suffered the ignominy of being forced to 'warm down' whilst the punters were leaving the ground. Difficult, then, to yet make a full judgement on AFC, and it would be too easy, and too soon, to dismiss them as 'shite' (despite tonight's showing being abject, um, 'shite'). They are, as I said, beating all hands in their own league, and I shall follow their progress with interest. They were no match for the Dock, though, and the lads who still pay their £2 subs, at training, pure got one over their (apparently well-paid) semi-pro kin-folk.* In a comedy twist, the pages of the Non-League Paper (a great read, and you can get it all over the show on a Sunday morning, groundhoppers), currently contain a load of letters slagging off it's allegedly disproportionate coverage of AFC. "I am outraged that you give so much space to AFC Liverpool, to the detriment of my own club, Penzance Corinthinans" etc . . . . . Wonderful stuff, in fairness.