Gorse Hill Sunset’s Fine – Manchester, 16th December 2016

“Busted flush”, “Jose hates Manchester and is miserable”, “City are going to romp the league”, “it’s our year”, which came ad-nauseum from the scousers and this, was all before bells of October tolled for Manchester United. We were finished, an empire crumbling with all the drama of Rome in 476AD and writing this just before Christmas, it has to be admitted that United have had some disappointing results since August. Drawing at home to Stoke City, Burnley and conceding stupid late equalisers against Arsenal and Everton Continue reading Gorse Hill Sunset’s Fine – Manchester, 16th December 2016

…And The Living Is Easy… – Manchester 4th August 2016

Summertime…and the living is easy…fish are jumping and the cotton is high… (George Gershwin 1934)

United in blue and Wigan in white at the DW stadium on 16th July. The DW stadium by the way is named after Dave Whelan; a little known fact is that Whelan broke his leg in the 1960 FA Cup Final

After a Summer of easy living and virtually non-stop football, the new season is nearly upon us once again. So a big fat hurrah for that.

It seems like only yesterday since Manchester United’s glorious victory over Crystal Palace and the whole two minutes it was celebrated for before word leaked out over Louis van Gaal’s forthcoming dismissal. I’d love to know just what kind of knobheads we have in our support who thought it was a good idea to boo van Gaal every time his kite came up on the big screen at Wembley. Those wankers got their wishes almost seconds after the final whistle when the wholly accurate rumour that van Gaal was to be sacked Continue reading …And The Living Is Easy… – Manchester 4th August 2016

Oh What A Day…Barcelona 1999

Following United’s unprecedented win in Italy, all the questions and talk in town after Turin was (a) Are you going to Barcelona”? (b) How are we getting there? (c) Where are we staying? (d) Have we got a ticket? (e) How much are the snides coming to? The respective answers were (a) Yes, (b) flying (c) Salou, (d) no and (e) £50.00. Getting to Barcelona by air out of Manchester was nigh on impossible, unless you were prepared to part with a mortgage-sized down payment for a flight. Through a friend whose sister worked in a travel agents (ha, remember using them?), we got a week’s holiday in Salou for a relatively reasonable price with flights…out of Stansted. With United playing in the FA Cup Final two days earlier, this actually worked out quite nicely. With a distance of 47 miles, Stansted is not really anywhere near Wembley, but it’s a hell of a lot closer than Manchester.

Brendan Markey, somebody with MUFC shaved into his chest and Anthony Murphy on Plaça Reia in the afternoon before the match (photo courtesy of Malcolm Hancock)

As we got off the train at Barcelona Sants station, local prints of the British Newspapers were being sold in the kiosks scattered along the central reservation of Las Ramblas. I was passed a copy of The Sun and to my dismay, saw on page five that they had pointed out the spelling mistake that was on the snide tickets. The genuine tickets had Graderia on them (which means tier) and the snides were spelt with Granderia, which was what we had. It was the kind of mistake that would have made a particular Old Trafford t-shirt printer proud.

Having done a load of my swag in London the previous Saturday, I did the rest in Salou in the run up to the game. A new shipment arrived in Barcelona on the morning of the match. One thing I learnt in Salou was that the Germans were paying 2,000 pesetas (about £8.00) for the shirts where United fans were paying 1,500 pesetas (about £6.00, £5.00 in sterling.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVjAP9iq_YU

Commentary by Clive Tyldesley and Ron Atkinson

For obvious reasons, I sought out the Bayern Munich fans in Barcelona (who had mostly been in Lloret de Mar). The majority of them were hanging around the huge roundabout at Plaça de Catalunya, at the other end of Las Ramblas. Soon after, having sold all my swag to the Bayern fans, we stopped for a few drinks with some other grafters on Plaça Reia, a square just off the Las Ramblas. As per usual, we’d underestimated the strength of the local beer and whilst walking to the station, it dawned on me that I was bladdered.

Teams line up before the match

As we got to the nearby Liceu rail station, there was chaos outside, similar to the frightening scenes outside Estádio das Antas in Oporto a couple of years prior. One saving grace was that the Guàrdia Urbana patrolling the station entry didn’t lose their heads, something you can normally guarantee when Latin police come up against pissed up fans of English football clubs. The nine stop journey to Maria Cristina rail station was a wall of Red noise. Soon after leaving the station, we hit the first of what turned out to be seven ticket checkpoints. Every time we passed these checkpoints, we thought we’d cleared the final hurdle of getting into the ground, even though we’d been there before and knew there were also turnstiles. As we approached the turnstiles, my Dad and Sister went before me and they were almost immediately carted out. I approached the turnstile with the same expectation but, to my amazement, I was cleared to carry on. I couldn’t believe it. Now I had a problem. Alone and pissed in the ground with no idea where I should be, I just walked up the nearest stairwell and stood where I could once up there. I looked at the scoreboard and I could see that United were already losing 1-0. Just as I was settling in, I heard my name shouted, I looked left and to my disbelief, I saw my cousin. I could’ve gone anywhere in the ground but it happened to be there.

Paul Farrell and Wayne Holt of Moss Side meet George Best just before kick off in the Camp Nou (photo courtesy of Paul Farrell)

Continue reading Oh What A Day…Barcelona 1999

Oh The Simple Pleasures – Manchester, 17th May 2016

The recent fiasco at Old Trafford summed up United’s season in one very handy microcosm. A farce of comical proportions occurred when a mobile phone with wires hanging off it was found taped to a pipe in one of the executive suites. I can understand the worry when first seeing something like that and I don’t blame whoever it was for alerting the authorities. However, anybody who has ever tried using a mobile phone in Old Trafford will tell you, it would’ve been impossible to detonate due to the abysmal signal in the ground. If it was a real bomb and somebody would’ve tried setting it off, it would’ve gone straight to voicemail.

Every blue household, “LOOK, LOOK, EMPTY SEATS AT OLD TRAFFORD”…*logs onto Facebook*

The evacuation procedure itself was quintessentially British. Not a hint of panic on Warwick Road as people calmly walked away from the ground. The biggest worry from Reds was managing to get to the pub before the bars got rammed.

Bournemouth fans however were a different breed altogether – somehow blaming fanzine and swag sellers for the game being postponed. I suppose it’s the kind of reaction you could expect from a load of Tory-voting Southern mard arses. One great thing to have come out of Sunday’s postponement is that this lot will have had two 500 mile round journeys in the last 72 hours. Fantastic. Continue reading Oh The Simple Pleasures – Manchester, 17th May 2016

Ragoût de mouton and an overwhelming smell of bullshit – Chelsea, April the 1st 2013

An early kick off meant a subdued atmosphere from United fans compared to the last time were at this cauldron of snides last October. That night, the pathetic home support only woke up after Daniel Sturridge put them in the lead seven minutes into extra time, apart from that, United fans took the piss out of their wooden counterparts. Yesterday at Stamford Bridge, it was more of the same. Stood in the lower tier of Shed end of Chelsea’s modern but soulless stadium, we couldn’t hear a whisper out of Chelsea fans until Demba Ba’s admittedly brilliant goal, three minutes into the second half, put them into the lead. United had controlled the game for most of the first half without looking like scoring. Only once in that period was Petr Cech tested, when a bizzare swirling shot from Javier Hernández four minutes before half time produced a great save from the Czech goalkeeper. For all United’s possesion, it was Chelsea who had the first shot on target when Demba Ba tried catching David De Gea out on his near post after half an hour. It put me in mind of the rope-a-dope tactics Muhammad Ali deployed in his 1974 fight against George Foreman in Kinshasa.

Continue reading Ragoût de mouton and an overwhelming smell of bullshit – Chelsea, April the 1st 2013