David Herman takes a prominent role in the running of the official Manchester United supporters group in the United States, One United USA and was kind enough to speak to us and answer a few questions regarding the group’s foundation and future plans.
Chris Winterburn (Chris): Firstly David, how did One United USA form as a supporters club and were there any early difficulties, which the group faced shortly after its inception during the 1991/1992 season?
David Herman (David): The Group’s founder Peter Holland left Manchester for the States to play football and the difficulties are no less dissimilar now than they were twenty years ago.
Peter Holland’s colleague was producing diaries for the club and made inquiries via personal and professional relations, outlining what would benefit the Manchester United by having a dedicated presence on the other side of the pond as soccer was growing across America. The official sponsor of the club at the time, Sharp’s chairman added creditability to the conception by distributing a picture of Peter and sponsor presenting one another with signed shirt and ball, eventually appearing in the match day program in March 1992 entitled “The American Connection”.
Chris: With the supporters club now enjoying its 23rd season associated with Manchester United, just how many members does the group currently have within their ranks and what would be the benefits for new members looking to join the group at this time?
David: The United States has the third largest membership subscription base globally and as we continue to raise awareness of the supporters clubs and our individual chapters across the country due to United’s return visits to the States and of course, social media, we’ve grown to over 15,000 registered supporters with a smaller number who subscribe to the official global (UK) membership.
In terms of benefits for new members, we’ve been allowed to enhance the official membership with an American supplement that affords supporters a valued addition to their package with decidedly more USA-like benefits. Typically, we include a season review, but after last season and the interest in the historical success of the Class of 92, we’ve included the documentary alongside our official ‘Supporters on Tour’ scarf, badge, pen and legends card to commemorate the recent summer tour.
As a member, those supporters seeking home match tickets can apply via us and/or use our own season tickets throughout the season.
Like this past Summer, membership privileges include access to training sessions, sponsor and legends events, only for members.
Chris: As I’ve previously mentioned One United USA has been active since the early 90’s, in that time there must have been a fair share of interesting stories and anecdotes involving members. Are there any which particularly stand out for you personally?
David: The relationships that have been cultivated over the years stand out the most, from the manager and players to the laundry ladies and everyone in between, our access to the United family has also been enriched by the hundreds of supporter who join our tours, from every conceivable background and demographic, from nine to 82. Friendships and business relationships are formed and ultimately we have a one united USA Family. One of our tours included those attending taking on the United Staff (both at the old training grounds, The Cliff and at Carrington) in a friendly match. The Club kitted us out and MUTV filmed the match and even though we lost, the respect gained from the Club was that the Yanks can play! We have come a long way since the inception when the first 40 members were all Brits, and now it’s 95% American.