Armed Forces Supporters' Club prepares for Armistice Day

Friday 10 November 2023 10:00

Saturday 11 November marks exactly 105 years since the signing of the armistice that brought an end to the First World War – a conflict which claimed the lives of 15 Manchester United players, including the hero of the 1909 FA Cup final, Sandy Turnbull.

Before tomorrow's match against Luton Town, we’ll remember all the Reds lost in conflict and, of course, the many other military and civilian servicemen and women who gave up their lives.  
On Remembrance Sunday, further tributes will be held as United Women take on West Ham at Leigh Sports Village.
Central to our commemoration of this poignant day in the calendar will be a new and unique Manchester United Supporters’ Club, launched in October, which is dedicated to all of our fans that have proudly served their countries.

Club formed for United fans in armed forces


Our newest supporters' club helps military personnel unite in their passion for the Reds.

The idea is the brainchild of Wythenshawe’s John Ward, who has served in 30-plus countries and seen first-hand just how a love of United can stimulate connections and transcend barriers.
“I remember being in Uganda and teaching one group of soldiers,” he remembers. “My mate, who’s a Chelsea fan, was teaching too, and the banter all came from that, because they know football. It gave them something that linked to us. And especially if you tell people you’re from Manchester, the first thing they’ll say is ‘Manchester United’.
“A few of my friends set up a Man City one and obviously they’ve been winding me up saying: ‘Are you coming to join us?’ It was one of those things that pushed me to ask and say: ‘What is there for the Armed Forces community within United?’ 
The club has got its own history going back to the Boer War, through the First and Second World Wars, where we lost players, but there was nothing really on the military side for us. United is one big family, and the military is the same.”
Two of the group’s members will be involved in the remembrance activities this weekend – Colin Brown (Cheshires/Mercian Regiment, serving in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan) at Saturday’s match, and Tom Houston (Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, serving in Northern Ireland and Iraq) is representing the supporters’ club at Leigh Sports Village on Sunday. 
But Ward explains that the concept is a global one that is not just restricted to UK military personnel.
“I work with international partners, and a couple of them are Man United supporters,” he says. “We’ve got a guy from the States, too. It isn’t ever going to be political. We’re looking at promoting it around the world and social media is the biggest platform for that. 
“We’re hoping that once people start taking an interest it will start spreading out a bit more. I’ve worked with tonnes and tonnes of international partners and certainly one of those things that connects people is sport.”
Tom Houston, who serves with the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, will represent the Armed Forces at Leigh Sports Village this weekend.
Around 80-100 Reds have shown an interest thus far, and there is healthy debate flowing on a private Facebook page set up to encourage the growth of a fan community. John hopes that a committee will be put in place soon, and fellow fans elected to run the supporters’ club in the long term. But that’s all for the future. This weekend, the focus is purely on those that have served and sacrificed so much for the United Kingdom.
“The biggest thing for us is honouring those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and gave their lives,” comments Ward, “and those who served and came back. A lot of them came back with scars and wounds, whether it be mental or physical.
“It means a lot to me. This is a nice way for them to be recognised. Remembrance Sunday is all about giving thanks.”

If you are interested in joining our Armed Forces Supporters’ Club, please email the following address: