Manchopper In….Manchester (Manchester United)

Result: Manchester United 4-0 Norwich City (Capital One Cup 4th Round)

Venue: Old Trafford (Tuesday 29th October 2013)

Att: 58,663

The original plan for this, the 29th day of October 2013, was to make my usual short pilgrimage to Shawe View for the, only slightly less attended, Evo-Stik Premier Division game between Trafford and Chorley (which ended 0-5 by the way!). However, whilst at work, I was offered the chance to visit ‘The Theatre of Dreams‘ for the visit of the Canaries from East Anglia. How could I refuse?!

So, at a little after 6 o’clock,  I began the short journey towards the bright lights and bustling crowds of a Premier League stadium, which for me is a very rare occasion! Grabbing the 255 service, it took just about 20 minutes to get there, with no traffic congestion to contend with, I must have timed it to perfection. After disembarking on Talbot Road (the bus diverts here on match days for a time before and after the game), opposite a regular haunt of mine, the Emirates Old Trafford Cricket Ground, otherwise known as the ‘other Old Trafford’.  From here, the short walk up Warwick Road and past ‘The Trafford’ pub and down Sir Matt Busby Way was undertaken and before long I was greeted by the sight of the day-trippers from Asia taking pictures of police horses. I guess these are not employed in South Korea or Japan?

After purchasing a programme from the hutch, along with being coerced into getting it along with the accompanying magazine for £5. So, with ‘United Review’, now all retro, and ‘Inside United’, featuring the beaming Da Silva twins, safely bagged away, I made my way towards the Munich Tunnel and the South Stand. Incidentally, this was the only stand I hadn’t watched from in the ground, so I was happy to complete this small stat! To get there, this included passing the Norwich section which was cordoned off with stewards, despite  fans happily mingling and displaying their colours proudly, including one fan proudly displaying the name of former Man City full-back, Spaniard Javier Garrido.

After a 20 minute wait, and a quick read-through of the programme, my colleague arrived and I was in. The 4 stands are all seater, of course. All corners are filled in now with quadrants. The Stretford End, and East Stand are made up of two-tiers, whilst the biggest is the ‘Main’ North Stand. The South Stand is oddly much smaller than the rest, due to the restrictions on its redevelopment due to the Manchester-Warrington railway running behind it. Old Trafford has an official capacity of 75,731.

So, for the 13th time only, I was into Old Trafford. Situated just to the left of the dugout, opposite the three-tier North Stand, the recently named Sir Alex Ferguson stand, where I had sat for the last two times, for the Real Madrid legends game in which Zinedine Zidane and Luis Figo among other Galacticos appeared, and for the pre-season visit of Sevilla. Now it is time for a, as I hope you understand, slightly truncated edition of the….

History Lesson:

Manchester United F.C. were formed in 1878 as Newton Heath L.Y.R.F.C. by the carriage and wagon department of the Lancashire and Yorkshire railway depot in the area.  Initially, they played solely against other departments and rival rail companies, on a field on North Road. The capacity of which was 12,000 but facilities were deemed inadequate by the Football League for a club looking to join. 2 grandstands, at 1,000 capacity apiece were purchased, and the highest attendance was around 15,000 vs Sunderland in 1893. A similar attendance was recorded for a friendly against Gorton Villa in 1889. On 20th November 1878, they competed in their first recorded match, a 6-0 thumping at the hands of Bolton Wanderers’ Reserves, wearing their original strip of green and gold,  which became headlining during the Glazer protests a few years back. By 1888, the club had become a founder member of regional league, The Combination. Following the disbanding of this league after a sole season, they joined the newly formed Football Alliance. This ran for three years before merging with the Football League. This resulted in Newton Heath competing in Division 1, for 1892-93, by which time the club had become a separate entity from the railway, dropping the L.Y.R. from its name. The club was evicted from North Road by their tenants, who felt it was wrong for the club to charge for entrance., so the club moved to Bank Street, Clayton. Initially with no stands, there was one constructed along the full  length of the touchline,  and one at each end, the ‘Bradford’ and ‘Clayton’. 10,000 saw the first league game here vs Burnley, a 3-2 win. A further stand was added before the visit of Man City, on the ‘reserved side’, as opposed to the ‘popular side’. In 1895, they were relegated to the second division. In January 1902, the club was served with a winding-up order, with debts of, in today’s money £250,000. Captain Harry Stafford, along with four local businessmen were willing to invest £500 each in return for an interest in running the club. Bank Street was closed temporarily, Stafford paying for the club to play Bristol City away, and rented a pitch for the reserves in Harpurhey for a game against Padiham. On 24th April 1902, the five new owners changed the clubs’ name, and Manchester United F.C. came into being.

In 1906, the club finished as runners-up, returning to Division 1. By now, Bank Street could hold a staggering 50,000 fans, all covered. Division 1 was won in 1908, the club’s first ever title. It was decided however, that Bank Street was too restrictive for the president, J.H. Davies’ vision, and a land was bought in Old Trafford for £60,000. The first Charity Shield was attained the following season as was the first FA Cup title. In 1911, the club won the Division 1 title again. However, manager Ernest Mangnall left at the end of the season,  to join Manchester City.  In 1922, relegation again occurred to the Division 2, where it stayed for 3 seasons. Again relegated in 1931, United became a yo-yo club. The club almost went bankrupt at this time, nut a benefactor stepped in to rescue it.

1945 saw the return of football after WWII and the appointment of Matthew Busby who demanded full control over team matters, which was unheard of at the time.  47,48 and 49 saw runners-up spots attained, but 1948 did see the FA Cup lifted for a second time. In 1952 the club lifted its first title for 41 years. The 1955 and 56 back-to-back  title winning sides had an average age of just 22. These were the infamous Busby Babes. In 1957, the club became the first English side to compete in the European Cup, despite the League’s objections (they denied Chelsea the opportunity the previous season). In reaching the semi-final, the Babes recorded a 10-0 victory over Belgian side Anderlecht, which remains the club record win. However, the following season disaster struck. On 6th February 1958, on the Babes’ return from playing Red Star Belgrade (Crvena Zvezda) in Yugoslavia (Serbia), the aircraft carrying the side along with officials and press, crashed on take-off after a re-fuelling stop in Munich. 23 lost their lives, including eight members of the team: Geoff Bent, Roger Byrne, Eddie Colman, Mark Jones, David Pegg, Tommy Taylor, Billy Whelan and the player who many considered to be the most talented player in the country at the time Duncan Edwards, who succumbed to his injuries days after. Busby himself was critically injured, but made a full recovery. Reserve boss Jimmy Murphy took over in the interim, and the clubs’ makeshift side reached the FA Cup final, to Bolton Wanderers. UEFA invited the club to compete in the following season’s European Cup, in recognition of the tragedy. However, the football league overruled the FA and blocked the club from taking part.

The 60’s saw the introduction of George Best, amongst others, and an FA Cup win in 1963. In the league they finished second the following year, and won a further two titles, in 65 and 67. In 1968, the club became the first English club to win the European Cup, defeating Benfica 4-1 in the final, with a side containing Best, Bobby Charlton and Denis Law, all European Footballers of the Year. Busby resigned in 1969, with Wilf McGuiness taking the reigns. A poor season and a bit saw Busby persuaded to resume his role temporarily, until in June 1971, Frank O’Farrell was appointed. He, however, lasted just a year-and-a-half, before being replaced by Tommy Docherty. They were relegated in 1974, but returned the next year. They had two consecutive FA Cup final appearances, in 76 and 77, the latter was successful, a 2-1 defeat of Liverpool. Docherty  was sacked soon after, for having an affair with the physio’s wife. Dave Sexton was given the role. (as manager not having an affair!)

Despite signing Joe Jordan, Gordon McQueen and Ray Wilkins, the team performed poorly, only achieving a runners-up in 79, and losing to Arsenal in that season’s FA Cup Final. Sexton was sacked in 81, with Ron Atkinson taking the hotseat. He immediately broke the British Transfer Record to sign Bryan Robson from West Brom. Atkinson was successful initially, two FA Cup’s were won in three years (83 and 85), but results tailed off, and he too was dismissed in 1986. His replacement was a certain Scot, by the name of Alex Ferguson, appointed on the same say of ‘Big Ron’s’ dismissal nonetheless!

Ferguson, and his assistant Archie Knox arrived from Aberdeen. After two mid-table finishes, he was reportedly on the verge of being sacked, but victory over Crystal Palace in the 1990 FA Cup Final replay saved him. The following season, the club won the Cup Winners’ Cup beating Barcelona 2-1 in Rotterdam, with Mark Hughes grabbing the goals, and the UEFA Super Cup, beating Red Star Belgrade 1-0 in the Final at Old Trafford, but lost the League Cup final, but righted this the following year, beating Nottingham Forest 1-0 at Wembley. in 1993, the club attained its first title for 26 years, and lifted it again the following year alongside the FA Cup, the first “double” in the club’s history. Not much followed until the famous 1998-99 season, when United became the first club to win the Premiership, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League “Treble”, as Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer struck late on to defeat Bayern Munich 2-1 in the Nou Camp, Barcelona. The club went on to win the Intercontinental Cup beating Palmeiras 1-0 in Tokyo.

The league was again won in 1999-00 and 00-01,  before winning again in 02-03. The FA Cup was lifted in 03-04 with a 3-0 win over surprise finalists Millwall at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. 05-06 saw a runners-up spot in the league, and a League Cup win over  another shock finalist, Wigan Athletic. Further league titles followed in 06-07 and 07-08, the latter saw a third European Cup/Champions League win, beating Chelsea on penalties at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, which included John Terry’s infamous shootout slip, and Edwin van der Sar’s winning save from Nicolas Anelka. During the game Ryan Giggs overtook Bobby Charlton to become the club’s record appearance holder, on 759 games. The following season saw the newly renamed Club World Cup won as well as the League Cup and a further title. The close season saw the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid for a then world-record fee of £80 million. 2010 saw the League Cup defended via a 2-1 win over Aston Villa, its first ever successful defence of a cup, and finished runners-up in the league. 10-11 saw a record 19th league title, before losing it the following season as neighbours City won it with a late, late Sergio Aguero strike. However they regained it last season, with a 3-0 win over Aston Villa securing it.

On May 8 2013, Sir Alex Ferguson, as he is now known, decided to retire, and David Moyes took over with Phil Neville rejoining the club as his assistant. The club has also recently been floated on the New York Stock Exchange as a plc.

After that mammoth effort, onto the game. United fielded a weakened side,  with Adnan Januzaj and Wilfried Zaha given starts along with Anders Lindegaard. Norwich rested Anthony Pilkington and Ricky van Wolfswinkel amongst others too. But the changes affected Norwich much more, as United dominated from start to finish, with Javier Hernandez netting from the spot after Januzaj had been pulled down by Leroy Fer. Norwich decided they did fancy playing, and had a couple of strikes, but both never threatened the Scandinavian custodian.

Half-time came and went with the Italian Rugby League side being represented by their Salfordian coach and two Australian players!

Hernandez netted early on after the break, despite Mark Bunn’s good initial save, and then Phil Jones scored an acrobatic scissor kick, before Fabio came on and scored within a few minutes, as he poked past Bunn for a rare strike to complete the rout. Former Bolton man Johan Elmander, sadly, looks a shadow of his former self, but we did get to see ex-Scunthorpe and Celtic hero Gary Hooper and Atherton Collieries sort-of hero, Anthony Pilkington get on the field. I had to get non-league in there somewhere! Unfortunately, in the middle of all this, we saw Robert Snodgrass knocked out. After a worrying amount of treatment, he was carefully lifted onto a stretcher and carried off the pitch and off to hospital, receiving applause from all four sides of the ground. Happily, he was discharged later that night. However, it’s back to non-league for me…..for now!


Game: 7- No contest unfortunately, one sided

Ground: 10- How can you not?

Fans:8- There was singing throughout, contrary to urban legend!

Programme:10- A magazine really, and for a pound more than a standard non-league one!

Food: As if!! ching-ching…..

Value For Money:10- Got in for free, and paid just £5 at the ground

Referee:8- Kevin Friend did pretty well to be fair.


MANCHESTER UNITED: Anders Lindegaard, Rafael, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic(c), Alex Buttner, Wilfried Zaha, Tom Cleverley, Phil Jones(1), Adnan Januzaj, Javier Hernandez(2)SUBS: Ben Amos (GK), Ryan Giggs, Anderson(p), Fabio(p)(1), Smalling, Valencia, Rooney(p)

NORWICH CITY: Mark Bunn, Steven Whittaker, Ryan Bennett, Sebastien Bassong, Javier Garrido, Robert Snodgrass, Leroy Fer, Bradley Johnson, Nathan Redmond, Wes Hoolahan, Johan Elmander SUBS: Carlo Nash, Russell Martin, Jonny Howson, Josh Murphy(p), Anthony Pilkington(p), Luciano Becchio, Gary Hooper(p)


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