I Swear I Was There – Memories of the Free Trade Hall

“I don’t believe you, you’re a liar – play fuckin’ loud”, drawled Bob Dylan at the Free Trade Hall on May 17th 1966. What followed was an exhilarating and venomously delivered version of “Like A Rolling Stone”.

Dylan was angry and like his rival and contemporary, John Lennon, when wound up, he was brilliant. What rattled Dylan was a catcall of “Judas” from 16 year old Keith Butler in the audience because he was playing with an electrified band (The Hawks, who themselves would go onto have a distinguished career) and not acoustically.

Fans of folk music, who Dylan was strongly aligned to in his early career, were, and are, notoriously puritanical about their beloved genre. What Dylan did, in Butler’s eyes, was tantamount to a betrayal akin Continue reading I Swear I Was There – Memories of the Free Trade Hall

Three card Braga – Manchester United V Sporting Clube de Braga , Old Trafford 23rd of October 2012

Former landlord of The Park in Altrincham and 1960s United midfield legend Paddy Crerand said tonight in his programme column that it would be good for United to have qualification from this group wrapped up as soon as possible. Whilst that may be obvious he pointed out that Uniteds last game in the group stage is a home match against Cluj, three days before they play City at the tripe colony. That same week, City have a potentially gruelling match at the Westfalenstadion in Dortmund, not a game they’d really want in the run up to a derby. As per usual this season, United made their best efforts to sabotage them wise plans by yet again going to sleep early in the game to gift the opposition the lead. Continue reading Three card Braga – Manchester United V Sporting Clube de Braga , Old Trafford 23rd of October 2012

Long, Cold And Dark November Nights – Manchester, 19th Of November 2011

Two long, long weeks of of no club football but a couple of international friendlies for England, a storm over poppies, Sepp Blatters blarney and an embargo on transfers ’til January mean newspaper journalist get ever more desparate to fill their pages. The day after United beat Sunderland, a frenzy was brewing up over FIFAs refusal to allow England players to wear poppies on their shirts for the forthcoming friendly against Spain. Amongst the usual knee jerk reaction of political correctness gone mad and such forth (waddya mean you’d forgotten about it ??). Exactly six years to the day before England played Spain, England played against Argentina without wearing poppies, there was no clamour for the team to wear poppies, can anybody tell me what’s changed in the last six years ? By sheer coincidence, prior to the poppy furore, England skipper John Terry, had been accused of racially abusing Queens Park Rangers centre half Anton Ferdinand. This allegation had taken up a lot of column inches in the national press and the FA, with admirable common sense had decided to adopt an innocent ’til proven guilty stance. I wonder why they didn’t take that stance with Johnathan Woodgate and Lee Bowyer in 2001 or with Rio Ferdinand in 2003 ? The problem the FA have with the John Terry allegation is that, like badly pasted wallpaper, the bubble gets pressed down, only to resurface, just as bad, pretty close by. Still the poppy fury sold a few papers, got an awful lot of people wound up about something they’d forget about a week later and ended up with the farcical gesture of players having poppies painted on their boots to circumnavigate a ban that had never existed in the first place.

Continue reading Long, Cold And Dark November Nights – Manchester, 19th Of November 2011

Being One Of The 636, Moss Lane – Altrincham 3rd of November, 2011

Walking into Moss Lane stadium tonight to watch Uniteds’ reserves play Evertons’ reserves, there was two lads outside the turnstiles with a mock premier league trophy each, laced with red, white and black ribbons, attempting to sell mobile phone photographs of people holding these trophies at £2.00 each. I’ve no problem at all with people out on the street “making a butty“, I’ve done it enough times myself but I hope this fell flat on its’ arse for two reasons. First, the trophies that they were holding were shit and secondly these parasites weren’t even reds. I heard just as I was walking through the turnstile one of them saying that “these must still be sulking because of the 6-1”, due to the lack of demand for the crap they were trying to sell.

Tonights’ match is being held at the home ground of Altrincham FC, a club formely owned by the business partners, Noel White, who went on to be the chairman of Liverpool FC and the one and only Peter Swales, who memorably presided over a turbulent period in Manchester Citys history. They purchased the club from the proceeds gained by their sheet music selling shop in Altrincham in the 1950s and 1960s. The terraces were open to anybody in the ground who wanted to (a) have a smoke or (b) avoid the tannoy system blaring out at blistering volume, a CD of the Greatest hits of recently disbanded group REM in the Carole Nash stand.

In front of a crowd of 636 which included 1948 Uniteds’ FA Cup winning goalkeeper, Jack Crompton, United took the lead on six minutes with a superb finish by Will Keane after an excellent weaving run by the impressive Jesse Lingard.  In an entertaining and sometimes feisty match,United had most of the games possesion and chances, the physically imposing Everton side forced a couple of good saves from Uniteds’ keeper Ben Amos throughout the match. The referee had a strange game, he was very sure to the square foot where a free kick should be taken but he let some very strong challenges go unpunished, in my opinion correctly but they were the kind of tackles which are nowadays, more often than not, penalised at the senior level of football. In the 82nd minute, the ever improving Jesse Lingard wrapped up the points to finish neatly after good work by Sean McGinty. Any other result other than a United win tonight would’ve been a travesty, sure, Everton weren’t outclassed but this game should’ve been finished well before Lingard made the points safe. With tonights goals being scored at virtually the same time as the goals last night by the first team gave a certain symmetry to the weeks football, it appears the reserve team has picked up the first teams habit of not finishing off oponents when opportune.