Make sure to visit one of the most famous clubs in the world while visiting Manchester. You will also understand a bit more as to why football means so much to us as a city, and a nation!
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For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a massive fan of Manchester United. When I was young, they were my absolute heroes, and I’m still a massive fan. Originally I’m from South Manchester, and I lived only a 10-minute drive to Old Trafford, Manchester United’s Football Ground. Every time I passed the stadium, my heart would do a little flutter of excitement. The name ‘Old Trafford’ comes from the area of Manchester in which the ground is located and if you’re a Manchester United fan like me, you must, must, must visit here!
I grew up watching the football matches on the telly, and can fondly remember my Mum shouting at the TV and willing our team on until the final whistle! It wasn’t long before I was sat beside her, cheering them on too. My Gran was also a die-hard United fan, ever since her brother took her to her first match in 1932. He had to carry her on his shoulders the whole way as she was only three at the time. So I guess you could say it’s in my blood.
When I was younger, I would normally spend Saturday afternoons with my Mum and Gran while they played bingo. I’d have to sit there in silence for two hours, in the hope of them winning £20.00. Fun right? Not so much! One such Saturday afternoon, Mum and Gran told me that instead of bingo, the three of us were heading into Manchester to go clothes shopping. Are you kidding me? I hated clothes shopping back then, and the thought of walking around heaps of rubbish shops looking at boring stuff for hours on end was my idea of torture? I’d rather have gone to bingo!
So we caught the bus to take us into town, and I sat there in a foul mood with my arms folded the whole way. When we were around halfway there, Mum and Gran rang the bell to signal for the bus to stop, but we were at least 15-20 minutes away from the shops. What was going on now? Scowling, I said to them, ‘Why are we getting off here? This is not town?’ But they just smirked and carried on getting ready to depart the bus, so I got up out of my seat and trudged after them. As soon as I stepped off the bus, I realised where I was. I was at Old Trafford, Manchester United’s Football Ground! I was suddenly surrounded by a sea of people wearing red and white shirts. Was there a match on that day? Then the penny dropped!
‘Mum, are we going to the match?’ I shouted excitedly!
They both cracked up laughing when they saw the look of sheer joy on my face.
‘Yes, we are!’ Mum smiled.
Then the horror dawned on me! I didn’t have my Manchester United shirt with me! I couldn’t go into the ground looking like any old fan. I HAD to wear my shirt! Just as the thought entered my head, my Mum pulled out a plastic bag, and inside was my club shirt! I was so excited. I was actually going to watch Manchester United play in a real live game. This was going to be the best day ever. It was still two hours until kick-off at 3 PM, so we went into the Mega Store, which is quite possibly the best shop in the world for United fans. I’ve always loved wandering through here, looking at all of the football kits and official merchandise on display. The excitement never gets old. Then we went to a café which was fit to bursting with fans and had chips and gravy. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! It’s a staple in the Manchester diet. Finally, it was time to queue up and head into the ground. We walked through the long, dark tunnels with the sea of other fans and headed inside.
Eventually, we came to an opening, and I walked out into the stands and saw a sea of red seats. This was Old Trafford, the very same stadium that I’d seen so many times before on TV, and I was here! Wow! We found our seats which were fantastic. We were on a corner, so we had a great view. We bought ourselves a program and excitedly read it cover to cover while waiting for the game to start. That day, we were playing Norwich City. If you’re not familiar with English football, you might not have heard of this team before, but they were once a very good side.
Then they came out of the tunnel and onto the pitch! I actually get a little emotional even now when I think about it, as I was just bursting with excitement! They were led out by their captain Steve Bruce, closely followed by his right-hand man Bryan Robson, who were both big, tall giants as far as I was concerned! In the team that day was Eric Cantona, Lee Sharpe and Gary Pallister, to name a few, but there was only one player I really wanted to see – Ryan Giggs! He was my hero. Only 19, he was already making everyone stand up and take notice. I absolutely loved him! Yet he was nowhere to be seen! Partway through the second half, I saw him warming up on the touch-line. He must have suffered an injury or something, as he wasn’t playing. I was gutted for all of about five seconds, but it was impossible to stay sad while watching United beat Norwich 3-2. It wasn’t until the 80-something minute that we scored our winning goal. To jump up and cheer with all of the United fans throughout the stadium was one of the best days of my life!
Nowadays, Old Trafford stadium looks much different from when I was a kid. Gone is the old brick façade, and in its place is a modern glass front. The main entrance is on a road called Sir Matt Busby Way. What a fitting name, right? If you don’t know who Sir Matt is, he was one of the club’s greatest managers (coaches) of all time. He created the very successful Busby Babes in the 1950s, who were the dream team of the era. Sadly in February 1958, their plane crashed in Munich, Germany, killing many of the players! Sir Matt was one of the lucky ones who lived through the crash. Over the next ten years, he and a small handful of players who survived, built Manchester United back up to go on and win our first-ever European Cup trophy in 1968. What a comeback story!
Nowadays, there’s a clock permanently displayed with the date and time of the Munch air disaster; as well as their last team photo taken on the pitch the day before many of them sadly perished. Look out for the statue of Sir Matt Busby in pride of place at the front of the entrance, and pay homage to this great man. Very fittingly, there’s also a bronze statue opposite him of the famous trio – George Best, Dennis Law, and Bobby Chorlton, three very renowned players from the 60s and 70s. The piece shows them stood with their arms around one another, as if they were just celebrating scoring a goal. It truly is very moving.
On non-match days, there is a fantastic museum to visit. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting here several times over the years. The first time I went, I got to see the Premier League trophy not long after being crowned champions that season for the first time in 27-years. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was actually looking at the coveted trophy, and it was all ours. Well… until the end of the season, at least. Besides this, the museum is full, and I mean full, of trophies and silverware as far as the eye can see. The museum also tells the story of the club’s origins from 1878 to the present day, so with our long and exciting history, you’ll have lots to read about. You can also take a stadium tour as well. Any fan will love this. It’s been a few years since I did it, and I thought it was amazing. When I went, it was part of a school trip, and they were laying the new pitch before the season started, so I was allowed to take some of the old turf home. I could finally say that our garden actually has the hallowed Old Trafford grass. That is until my Mum committed blasphemy and accidentally dug it up when she was having new borders put in for her stupid plants (sob!!). I have spoken to several people who have recently done the tour, and they’ve all said it’s a cracking day out. You can now enter the dressing room, which is something we weren’t allowed to do in my day. It’s been far too long since I last visited, but I will definitely be heading back here for a visit when I’m next in Manchester!
Sir Matt Busby Way, Old Trafford, Manchester, M16 0RA | www.manutd.com
Thanks so much for reading my post today on visiting Manchester United’s Football Ground. There’s a long history with my family and this club, to the point where I think it might actually run through my blood – LOL! Football in England is part of our culture. It is the first thing you talk about with your work colleagues on Monday morning, and definitely one of the highlights of your weekend!
MUFC has taught me resilience, to never give up no matter how high the odds are stacked against you, to be disciplined and work hard to achieve the results you want. But perhaps the biggest lesson I’ve learned is the importance of teamwork and doing your best at all times. Watching them as a team working together, supporting one another on and off the pitch shows that at the root of all the politics and millions of pounds that passes through the club, their ethos will always be about creating the family atmosphere that Sir Matt Busby started all them years ago, and it still continues today. It might only be a football game for some, by for myself and many other millions of people around the world, it’s life!
Have I inspired you to visit Old Trafford in Manchester? Are you planning a future trip to Manchester? Leave me a comment below as I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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