Is That The Programme?

There was an air of uncertainty and discontent in 1987 as Red News first graced Warwick Road with its presence. The magnitude of the job Alex Ferguson had in front of him was becoming increasingly apparent and whilst it was early in his incumbency, such was the turbulence of Manchester United’s season, there wasn’t 100% confidence on the disgruntled terraces of Old Trafford that he was the man to repair the debris left to him by Ron Atkinson.

30th anniversary edition of Red News, where this piece was originally published

In the wider world, Margaret Thatcher’s government were continuing their vendetta against football fans. One of these ideas was to make every football supporter carry membership cards for the club they were affiliated too when attending matches. It was around this time that United introduced their own shitty membership scheme, the benefits which included 10p off a pencil rubber in the newly fangled superstore for the commencement of the 87/88 campaign. One of the most controversial measures of this scheme was making the Stretford End terrace members only, where the Stretford Paddock was fine for anybody who wanted to attend. This resulted in a lot of refuseniks (this writer included) moving over to the Paddock and it’s also this writer’s opinion that the Stretford End was never quite the same after this. Continue reading Is That The Programme?

A Ring Of Boos – Manchester 29th of March 2014

Blue scarves, blue shirts and blue hats for a blue day were all I needed as the traditional Spring sight of daffodils was overwhelmed on Wednesday morning. By Wednesday night, the agenda had changed for the media. Some dickhead had decided to canvas contributions for an aircraft based at Barton Aerodrome to fly over Old Trafford with an anti-Moyes banner attached.

Years ago, we all laughed at attention seeking City fans who had arranged an aircraft with the legend “You’re The Pride Of Singapore” attached to it on the day United won the title. We all chuckled at how small time it was. Now a truth more painful than the defeat the other night has become apparent; there are some real pricks amongst United fans. I’m struggling to think what’s worse – that a small amount of United fans are prepared to pay good money on this pathetic stunt or a significant amount are prepared to chip in small amounts to facilitate it.

As some Reds had said yesterday, the publicity generated for a gleeful media over this whole sorry episode meant that it had actually become academic as to whether it happened or not. How many times has a ‘Glazer Out’ plane been hired since 2005? I suppose that a few bad results are fair game for something like this but the extracting of hundreds of millions of pounds on absolutely nothing is fine. David Moyes, a decent man who might be out of his depth, doesn’t deserve this (and don’t give me any of that bollocks about how much he gets paid). It is shameful. Continue reading A Ring Of Boos – Manchester 29th of March 2014

Somewhere Over The Rainbow – Manchester 19th of October 2013

The weather forecast had been universally grim. It was supposed to piss down constantly throughout the weekend but that wasn’t how it ended up being. A stuttering United performance was nicely concluding into a hard fought victory when Southampton got a corner on 88 minutes. After a game of cat and mouse between referee Michael Jones and Saints midfielder James Ward-Prowse, over the pinching of inches and placing the ball out of the D of the corner flag, Ward-Prowse floated a corner in to cause a chaotic scramble in the United six yard box. This resulted in a farcical equaliser for Southampton, which was eventually accredited to Adam Lallana. Moments later, what had been an elementally very agreeable day turned very dark very quickly. It was if the goal itself had given the Lord the royal hump and he thus, Continue reading Somewhere Over The Rainbow – Manchester 19th of October 2013

We Want Kenny Back… Manchester United V Liverpool January 2013

Atmospherically, United against Liverpool is never going to be the Woodstock festival but passing by the Liverpool fans today on the forecourt, about quarter of an hour before kick off, both sets of fans were baiting each other, divided by police lines. It may have been a lot of hot air, the ‘hold me back’ bollocks that occurs when traditonal enemies see each other and want to put a bit of a show on. I didn’t recognise one person in amongst the crowd who were ‘firm’. The last time I saw Old Trafford this moody was in January 2002 when Danny Murphy scored  a late winner for Liverpool in the Stretford End. That was post match but today, it was all pre-game. The corresponding match last season was played in the wake of the furore of the Suarez/Evra affair and a pretty sickening FA Cup defeat at Anfield two weeks prior. The atmosphere that day outside the ground was nowhere near as lively then as it was today going in. By United/Liverpool standards, the atmosphere in the today during the game was quiet subdued. Maybe it was the kick off time or maybe it was the freezing weather but after the pre match bravado outside, once inside people seemed more concerned with keeping warm than creating the raucous atmosphere we normally get at this fixture. A couple of minutes into the game, Liverpool fans made a statement of intent when a smoke bomb went off in the middle of their stand. Apart from the Scousers displaying their legendary self celebrated wit with songs about Bryan Robson having VD and implying Gary Neville’s relationship with his mother had not progressed past the oedipus complex, this was the sole contribution they made to first half atmosphere.

Continue reading We Want Kenny Back… Manchester United V Liverpool January 2013

How The Other Half Live – Manchester 28th of November 2012

In my 30 something years of watching United, for the first time tonight, I watched the match from an executive box at the top of the 2nd tier of the United road/North/Sir Alex Ferguson stand. In the company of good, time served and now affluent reds who are old friends of mine, it was a real eye opening experience of how the other half live. A three course meal and as much beer, wine or cider to drink as was wanted, it was a pleasant but surreal contrast to the usual experience at Old Trafford. The view was birds eye, the simultaneous height and clarity of our position enhanced the observation significantly. Just in case anything was missed, we got instant action replays on the TV screen directly above our heads or the ability to switch over to SKY Sports News or even watch the Wigan v City match in tandem with the United match unfolding below us if we so wished (we didn’t). From here, it was more obvious watching Javier Henandez constantly flirting with being offside as well as Rafael’s thrilling but frightening playing style.

Continue reading How The Other Half Live – Manchester 28th of November 2012