This is a guest post by PhD Snapshot competition winner Daniel Torchia. Daniel is a PhD student in the Manchester Business School.
A PhD can be really tough: it requires resilience, patience and a belief in yourself. I can’t say it’s always easy, because it is not. There are moments though when you feel like you are privileged, that you are taking part in something special.
I am now in my final year of my PhD at the Manchester Business School, and right from the start I knew that I wanted research FC United because I am a massive football fan and I could feel that these guys were doing something different (FC United of Manchester, the so called “rebel club” that was set up after the Glazers’ takeover at Manchester United in 2005). I have an interest in alternative forms of organisation, from a critical management point of view (CMS), so what better place than FC United? As an aspiring ethnographer I wanted to get involved with the club. It took me some time for me to be accepted in the club and for the management to design a role for me. Luckily I got there in the end. The General Manager of the club, Mr. Andy Walsh, sent me an invitation to go and meet him, and the words he told me will stay with me forever:
“Daniel, there is a lot going on at the club at the moment, sorry we could not have this chat before, but your persistence, your passion and your ‘ambushes’ at the door waiting for me, convinced me that your heart is in the right place… You’re in mate!”
And this brings me to Sunday, 2nd June 2013 at the Manchester Day Parade. It turned out to be one of the best days of my entire PhD experience. I was three months into my fieldwork and I knew it was a good day to do some participant observation and to experience something special. It is a totally natural picture; I was not aware that Mick Dean (FC United’s official photographer) was photographing me, so the expression, the happiness and pride on my face in that moment is totally spontaneous.
It was great to carry the red flag around Manchester, to be part of that beautiful moment, and this is why I thought it was the best image to describe what a PhD is, or can be: something to live, that among many moments of discomfort, can bless you with joyful experiences like the one I just described.
Finally I would like to thank everyone who voted for me: my friends, my family, my mother’s colleagues and all the FC fans who did not lose the chance to help one of their own.