Group of United Women fans with the Barmy Army banner ahead of Charlton game

United Women fans create songbook

If you've attended any United Women game this season, home or away, you won’t have failed to notice the self-proclaimed ‘MUWFC Barmy Army’, a dedicated group of Reds who have been in full voice throughout every fixture.

The vocal fans, who have also created a number of eye-catching banners, made some new friends ahead of last month’s home meeting with West Ham when they handed out an unofficial songbook, in an effort to encourage as many fellow matchgoing Reds as possible to cheer on Casey Stoney’s side.

One of the group, Marc Henry, who runs the @muwfcbarmyarmy Twitter account, told us how the songbook came about: “Quite a few of us are also season ticket holders at Old Trafford, and we started sharing some of our favourite United chants on our WhatsApp group, which we then began adapting for the women’s team,” explains Manchester-born Marc, 44, who attends games with his wife Deborah.

“We also came up with some original chants for the women’s team, and since we’ve started singing them we’ve been keen to get as many other fans as possible involved. It was the brainchild of one of the group, Natalie Burrell, to create a proper songbook, print it out and give it to other fans at the game.”

United fans cheer on the Reds at The Oakwood
United Women fans cheer on the Reds at The Oakwood.

That’s exactly what Marc, Natalie and other members of the Barmy Army did ahead of the League Cup tie with the Hammers, and it was well received among fellow Reds within the 1,029-strong crowd.

“Some people at the front joined in with us [singing] once the game started and I saw they were reading from the songbook,” says Marc. “Later on they were starting chants themselves from the songbook – it was great to see others get involved like that, not just us mad-heads at the back!”

As well as adapting some traditional United chants to work with the players’ names – not to mention the manager’s (‘Casey’s at the wheel, tell me how good goes it feel…’) – the Barmy Army have been keen to cut out the curse words as they cheer on Stoney’s Reds. “Families are such a big part of the crowd, and we want them to be comfortable joining in,” says Marc. “I sometimes take my niece, and for her to be able to sing all the song – rather than stopping halfway because of the swear words – can only help get more people joining in. And no kid wants to get told off for swearing!”

The songbook currently consists of five pages, but as Marc tells us, “it’s constantly evolving”, with updated versions to be distributed as the season goes on. “We hired a minibus for the away game against Charlton, and two rows of us were coming up with new chants all the way down to London. We’ve also been keeping an eye on Twitter – so if anyone has a new chant they’d like added, just let us know. The songbook is for every United fan.”

Marc admits the aforementioned Stoney chant is his favourite – “it got everyone going at Charlton… well, for 11 minutes until it got abandoned, anyhow” – while wife Deborah would put the club’s classic ‘Calypso’ chant at the top of her list. Much like with those in the stands, however, inclusivity is the key, with the chants covering the entire squad.

“We all love this team and the United badge, and we’re supporting every single one of these players,” adds Marc. “For most of us, we started following the women’s game because we love United. To be honest, I didn’t expect to get into it quite as much as I have done, but it feels as if this team is making a bit of history in every game. We’re proud to be a small part of that.”

Lauren James and Kirsty Smith hold the Barmy Army banner aloft
Lauren James and Kirsty Smith hold the Barmy Army banner aloft. Picture: Marc Henry.

FIVE SONGS TO GET YOU STARTED

  • ‘Ooh ah, Martha Harris, ooh ah, a little bit more; Ooh ah, Martha Harris, you’re the one we’re singing for.’
  • ‘Woooahhh, we got Leah Galton; woooahhh, super Leah Galton; woooahhh, she never gives the ball awayyy.’
  • ‘Gonna score, she’s gonna score, Jess Sigsworth’s gonna score; how she scores them I don’t know, with her head or with her toe; all I know is Siggy’s gonna score.’
  • ‘She’s our Scots girl at the back, turns defence into attack; down the left or down the right, Kirsty Smith is dynamite.’
  • 'Kirsty Kirsty Kirstyyyyy, Kirsty Hanson of MUFC; with a jink and a trick, she is skilful and quick; and she’s Hanson of MUFC.’

You can follow @muwfcbarmyarmy on Twitter. 

Kirsty Smith warms up in front of the United Women fans at The Oakwood
Cameras at the ready as supporters watch the Reds prepare for kick-off.
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