But this is exactly the position we found ourselves on Friday 11th
of December. This was the day we had been working towards almost since
our campaign began, but it still took some grasping of what we were
about to try and do. As no one (apart from ourselves) had given us a
chance of even getting this far we were determined to show that behind
the "raggy arsed football supporter" exterior we knew what
we were on about.
The previous Sunday we had met up with our legal eagle to discuss
how we were going to handle our meeting. We had already had some
feedback from IMUSA member Dr Adam Brown which didn't make any of us
feel any easier. Adam had been invited to the MMC in his role as
Academic/football writer and Task Force member and reported that he
was given a bit of a grilling by the panel, which had an almost good
cop, bad cop atmosphere. As we had no idea how the meeting would run
we decided to stick to specifics. We all knew the arguments inside
out, but getting them across clearly in such situations would be the
The arrangement was to meet in Weatherspoons at 1pm before the
meeting at the Piccadilly Hotel. Three of us - Nick "shellsuit"
Clay, Duncan Drasdo and myself decided to meet up earlier for some
last minute swotting in a coffee bar. I don't think much sank in, but
at least the caffeine intake would keep us alert!
Meeting the rest at the allotted hour the mood was very business
like. Even Mr Briscoe was quiet (for Steve anyway!). With everyone
assembled IMUSA "went to work".
On getting out of the lift at the hotel we were surrounded by a
media scrum. It is a shock to find cameras and microphones pointing in
your direction and being expected to come out with something sensible,
so the rest of us left the "media whores" (? S. Briscoe) to
it and waited to be summoned. This was the worst bit. If you can
imagine a combination of your worst exam, your driving test and a
dentist's waiting room you will get some idea of how I was feeling.
Eventually we were led in to the room. Far from the instruments of
torture I was expecting, the tables had bowls of sweets on them,
perhaps that nice Mr Wenger had been in before us!
The panel introduced themselves and explained that the meeting
should last about 90 minutes, then it was our turn. Andy Walsh's
opening speech was excellent and set the tone for the whole meeting,
being serious, but not too much. We explained why IMUSA had come into
being and some of the other issues that we had been involved with
since it's inception.
For obvious reasons the specific issues that we were asked about
can't be published here. All I will say is that at no time were we
stuck for plausible answers. Far from being a torture session we were
able to put ourselves across as confident and knowledgeable about what
the panel were trying to find out. (Although I'm not sure exactly what
Nick meant when he described how the panel had seen us
"interacting" with Leeds fans on their recent 'site visit'
to Old Trafford!!)
The 90 minutes seem to pass in no time and we were deep into injury
time when proceedings were stopped. We could have gone on for much
longer but we had obviously tired the opposition, who ran out of
With a promise to do some research and report back on some specific
issues, we departed to the waiting media circus. With interviews
completed we went for a "debrief" in Edwards bar of all
The consensus of opinion was that we could not have handled
ourselves any better, we had done what was asked of us and a lot more
besides. Edwards, Booth and co may have dismissed us as irrelevant;
the MMC most definitely did not. Whatever happens in March, at least
we have given it our best shot.