By Helen Clarke
Manchester to many people means football and football, to many Mancunians, of course, means Manchester United. Humanity Hallows recently had the pleasure of taking a guided tour around Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium, a dream day out for any United fan!
First stop, Manchester United’s museum which marks the club’s progression from 1878, when it was first formed under the name Newton Heath, to the present day. Here, each of the team’s most important moments is celebrated: each victory, each trophy and each member of the team all on display for the fans to view
The museum features Manchester United’s Barclay’s Premier League cup, along with the FA cup and the UEFA Champions League cup. These trophies are just a few in an array of cabinets full of the club’s achievements. One of the cabinets displays everything from the FIFA Club World Cup to the Football League Cup, each trophy sporting information which explains which trophy or cup it is and when it was won. For example, some people may not know that Manchester United has won the Premier League twenty times!
The museum also gives fans the chance to see awards for individual football players, such as Ryan Gigg’s PFA Young Player of the Year Award from 1992 which he also won the following year. Giggs also holds the record for the most appearances on the pitch and the fastest goal in a match, scoring a goal in fifteen seconds against Southampton in the Premier League in 1995.
Also on display is a tribute to those who lost their lives in the Munich air disaster of 1958. Eight members of the Manchester United team, dubbed ‘The Busby Babes’ after their manager Matt Busby, died in the plane crash. Busby was a celebrated hero of Manchester United and was believed to be one of the greatest managers of all time. Also on display are personalised items of clothing from fans, such as jackets and hats with drawings of players and shirt numbers on, fans often decorating themselves in the home colours of red and white when attending games.
After some time in the museum, the tour begins at the North Stand, where the chairs spell out in big white letters ‘MANCHESTER UNITED’ and the heat lamps that keep the grass moist in colder months can be seen across the pitch. Here, fans can learn some interesting facts about the stadium. For example, the tunnel where the players enter the pitch is the only part of the original stadium left after the war and the stadium’s capacity is 75,635, its record attendance in 1939, when 76,962 spectators came to watch the FA Cup semi-final.
Next stop, the South Stand, soon to be called the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand after one of the team’s most notable players. Bobby Charlton made his début in October 1956 and went on to make 758 appearances for the club, scoring a record 249 goals. Fans also have a chance to see the press room for post-match newspaper and radio interviews and the pitch tunnel where manager Louis van Gaal provides post-match analysis. The tour guide also explains about the work that Manchester United football club does to include disabled fans, for example special seating, earphones and support for carers.
Next come the changing rooms. Hanging in the home changing room are the football shirts of the current team and, in the away changing room, the shirts of those who have played at Old Trafford both for Manchester United and against them, such as David Beckham for AC Milan. Visitors also have the chance to see the V.I.P. lounge and the facilities on offer to the players.
The tour ends with a walk through the tunnel onto the pitch, visitors making the most of their last chance to soak up the atmosphere of the ground of which they are all so fond. Around the stadium echo all of the games and events that have taken place here: the marching of men side by side after a long week of work, the fathers introducing their sons to the game, the husbands taking their wives to the place where they have spent so many happy hours, the goals scored by home and away, the chants used to psyche out the opposition and the explosion of cheers and screams as Manchester United won the Premier League.
The Old Trafford stadium is a place where dreams begin: dreams of the players, the fans, the people of Manchester. Of all the people who love Manchester United.
For more information about the museum and stadium tour at Old Trafford, visit the Manchester United website