Last updated : 15 January 2006 By Ed

Manchester is rarely less united than on derby day but, as the dust settles on the 145th spat between city rivals, a corner of Lancashire will be more intensely United than ever. Some 1,800 travelling fans will converge tomorrow upon Accrington Stanley's Interlink Express stadium, Nelson FC's temporary home for the afternoon, to bellow their support for a side clad in red and, just as familiarly, sweeping all before them this season.

The chatter among the heaving away support will touch upon the exploits of Ronaldo, Rooney and Van Nistelrooy the previous day but the names bellowed will be those of Orr, Torpey and Carden. Welcome to the new United.

Barely seven months since conception FC United of Manchester is a phenomenon sweeping through non-league football. The club formed by disenchanted supporters infuriated by Malcolm Glazer's £790m takeover at Old Trafford sit 14 points clear at the top of the Moore & Co Construction Solicitors' North West Counties League Division Two, with a goal difference to match their points tally of 49. If strides have been made on the pitch, progress off it is staggering. Those perturbed by the sudden emergence of a club dubbed, often unkindly, "The Rebels" or "Little United" might have hoped initial momentum would have dissipated by now. The reality is very different.

Some 4,328 people attended FC United's recent victory over Winsford at their adopted home of Bury's Gigg Lane, a league record that swelled their average attendance to near 3,000. Six League Two sides - Bury included - cannot match such support. A club that attracted 900 hopefuls to trials for the first-team squad last June now boasts supporters' branches from Swindon to Switzerland, north Lancashire to New Zealand.

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