Monday 28 September ~

Not many tears will be shed across the country following the news that Hyde United of the Blue Square North have been wound up. This isn’t because of a wave of ill will towards the team from a non-rural corner of otherwise rural Cheshire; simply not many people will know. Unlike Accrington Stanley, there is no famous television advertisement , no recent history of romantic resurrection to League status followed by a further battle for survival. Not even a betting scandal to call their own.

Even the background to the winding up order is unspectacular. Initiated by HM Revenue and Customs, it involves debts of £122,000 plus legal costs. The local newspaper, the Manchester Evening News noted that the club's debts arose “largely from [their] inability to meet financial obligations towards contracted players following the withdrawal of support from their former holding company”. It's a story common throughout non-League football these days – the club's current board kept administration at bay while trying to clean up the mess left by people who have now departed. If United can demonstrate over the next few days that it has sufficient funds to trade in the short term – they need about £35,000 very quickly – they might get the winding-up order rescinded.

The loss of Hyde would turn a common pub quiz question into a dry statistic.  On October 15, 1887, a football team from the town, Hyde FC, were on the wrong end of the biggest drubbing in English competitive football: 26-0 to Preston North End in the FA Cup. Jimmy Ross scored seven for PNE, who scored roughly every 3.5 minutes. Hyde FC were wound up in 1915. Their successor club, United, formed in 1930, were founder members of the Northern Premier League in 1968; they were semi-finalists in the FA Trophy three times between 1989 and 1996.

A more quixotic consequence of the club going under is that it would bring to an end one of the few cases of twins playing together in the same team. The McNivens, Scott and David, had played together 11 times for the Tigers, with David the current top scorer for the club with five goals. The twins’ careers characterise the odyssey of so many players in the lower leagues, with David spreading his 90 odd goals and around 300 appearances between 16 clubs. Scott has a more modest ten clubs behind him following a League debut with Oldham as a 16-year-old.

Although they might not be the most successful team around, the loss of Hyde United matters greatly to the 400 or so people who regularly turn up at Ewen Fields. There’s a poignant request posted on the club website for people to help with a town-centre collection: try to wear a team shirt (£25 at the club shop) and bring your own bucket. The locally born Ricky Hatton has been quoted as saying he'd like to help out although nothing has yet been arranged.  Hyde going out of business will not create many ripples but it signals the loss of another little piece of the game and another small link in the chain of football history. Brian Simpson

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