Legends In Their Own Closing Time

In 1988, the Licensing Act which amongst other things, allowed pubs to stay open from 11am while 11pm, was introduced by Home Secretary, Douglas Hurd. The legislation was widely derided by the tabloid media, who screamed all kinds of Armageddon-esque rhetoric about the streets being full of drunkards seven days a week. As Peter Hitchens in the Mail on Sunday said in response to the legislation, “where men will not place chains upon their own behaviour, others have to do it for them”. Like the vast majority of other tabloid created hysteria, this didn’t materialise. If anything, the opposite was true. In the year of the legislation, Manchester United had an average attendance of 39,152 and in the 2014-15 season, a mean average of 75,334. Despite the fact that United’s average attendance has nearly doubled in the twenty seven years since the act was introduced, paradoxically the amount of pubs around the vicinity of Old Trafford has plummeted. In 1988 the A56/Chester Road, which is the busiest arterial road serving Old Trafford, had nineteen pubs/social clubs. Now it has four. In 1988 Hulme, a neighbouring district to Old Trafford, had twenty eight pubs within its boundary. Now with The Junction on Rolls Crescent and The Three Legs of Man on Stretford Road, it only has two.

The Pomona Palace, the last pub standing on Chester Road in Hulme. Demolished in January 2014

When Peel Holdings successfully applied for the demolition of the Pomona Palace in December 2013, the final pub on what was loosely known as Chester Road in Hulme vanished. To this writer, who grew up in the area, the thought of there not being a single pub on Chester Road was inconceivable as a child in the 1980s. In 1988, there were eight pubs in the half mile between the end of the Deansgate flyover and the border of Manchester and Trafford; now there are none. This isn’t necessarily down to the changing of people’s drinking habits, Continue reading Legends In Their Own Closing Time

Looking At A Bear – Manchester 9th May 2015

With City and Arsenal now assured of top four, Manchester United and Liverpool are now locked in a battle over who is the worst of the best. A sort of consolation prize that modern football and it’s obsession of finishing top four now sees as more important (financially at least) than winning the FA Cup. A contest that should’ve been all over now, is still in play, due to United’s infuriating habit of doing the hard bit, then ballsing up the relatively easy bit. At St James’s Park two years ago, there were pictures of the Arsenal side celebrating coming fourth with more vigour than how Liverpool celebrated their last title win in 1990 (if they knew what was to come, I’m sure they wouldn’t have been so blasé). With United beating Crystal Palace today and assuming that Liverpool somehow beat Chelsea tomorrow, United still need three points to be guaranteed top four. Should United get back into the Champions League next season, it will be good to see the reds back where I believe they belong. That said, having watched the Barcelona V Bayern Munich match the other night, United are a year or two off having a serious stab at winning the thing. Should the qualification happen (and it really should now), I don’t want to see any of triumphant photographs, à la Arsenal. It’s the minimum requirement.

At Selhurst Park last season, the literally untouchable Michael Oliver, Continue reading Looking At A Bear – Manchester 9th May 2015

Krul To Be Kind – Manchester 5th March 2015

Police horses cowered in fear, the streets were dark both far and near, Geordies cried long into the night, it was krul to be kind and great to be young.

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A £44.00 view at St James Park. God just out of the picture (photo courtesy of Lee Thomas)

Another frustrating performance from United yielded probably the wildest celebrations of United fans for the best part Continue reading Krul To Be Kind – Manchester 5th March 2015

…To Which A Scoundrel Clings – Liverpool, September 1st 2013

Losing at Anfield under normal circumstances is forgivable, never nice but forgivable. No matter how shit Liverpool are, they always make a visit to Anfield a hard game for United. They raise their game, play out of their skins and all other cliches that can and will, be recited ad nauseum over the next couple of weeks whilst Liverpool celebrate winning their first title in twenty four years. Today, United had seven corners to Liverpools two. United who for the last few years have taken corners like an articulated lorry, never looked like threatening a stout home defence whilst Liverpool, scored from their first corner on three minutes after Tom Cleverley ducked out of the way of a goalbound Daniel Sturridge header. This was a bad goal to concede but there was plenty of time to regroup and put some sustained pressure on the Liverpool goal. For the next ninety two minutes (obviously including injury time), United ‘enjoyed’ 57% possession compared to Liverpool’s 43%. To paraphrase Samuel Johnson though, statistics like ‘patriotism, is the last refuge to which a scoundrel clings’, but these statistics make things even worse. Despite Liverpool not playing brilliantly, despite United’s superior possession and corners, Liverpool deserved this win. Since the final whistle I’ve heard David Moyes say ‘I thought we played well, as well as anytime this season’. I’m only hoping Moyes is presenting a positive front for the media and not truly believing that himself. I can’t believe he would have said the same to the United players in the Anfield changing room post match. I remember Sir Alex saying after United lost at Maine Road in 2002 that ‘we should have let the fans in the changing room after that performance’. I could easily say the same about this disgrace of a showing. The United players who turned out for this game should be locked in a darkened room and shown a video of United/Liverpool matches from the 80’s and 90’s.

Continue reading …To Which A Scoundrel Clings – Liverpool, September 1st 2013

One night on Chester Road – Eric Cantona signs for United

There are some moments in life that you’ll remember exactly what you were doing and where you were. Virtually everybody of my parents’ generation remember precisely what they were doing and where they were doing it when they heard that John Fitzgerald Kennedy had been assassinated in his convertible Limousine in Dallas, November 1963. I vividly remember what I was doing when John Lennon was murdered, Princess Diana’s car crashed and the happiest memory of them all, when Eric Cantona signed for United, twenty years ago tomorrow.

Eric Cantona shields the ball from Brian Deane of Sheffield United at Elland Road in October 1992. Leeds would eventually sign Brian Deane to replace Cantona for nearly three times the price United paid for Cantona Continue reading One night on Chester Road – Eric Cantona signs for United