Trafford - Manchester United
V Derby County, Premier
By Tim Watson
you looking forward to going to the ground?
I hadn’t been to Old Trafford for nearly 25 years so
was just as excited as my 13 year old son Alex to be
going. I have been a lifelong Rams supporter and now
I am introducing Alex to the joys of going away from
home with “the boys”. Having already been to
Anfield, The Emirates and White Hart Lane on our
travels “The Theatre of Dreams” was hopefully going
to be just as special.
How easy was your journey.
We set off at 10.00am from our base in
Hertfordshire. Travel time was estimated at around three and a half hours
to our hotel on the east side of the city and then
20 mins in a taxi to the ground. It rained all the
way there so we were pushing it to get to the ground
before the 3.00pm kick off but with the help of a
maniac cabby we were deposited outside the ground
comfortably in time for kick off. Seeing Old Trafford
for the first time you cannot help but be impressed.
The stadium is just
outside of the city centre and is well served with
the metro (trams) to Old Trafford station (£2
adult £1 child, one way). Taking a cab meant
we had no parking problems.
What you did before the game.
Didn’t have much time to do anything. There were
plenty of burger and souvenir stalls lining the
roads to the ground and as we approached Old
Trafford it became a sea of humanity. Derby County
might be bottom of the league but there were over
75,000 at the game. The United fans were fine but
our colours were covered up due to the weather. I
did see Derby fans walking through and did not see
any signs of trouble. The stewards outside the
ground search all adults and were charm personified.
A very nice change to some of the stewards we have
come across (Villa Park).
As you walk towards Old Trafford the ground appears
just like any other. We came down directly to the
away end (East Stand) so did not see too much of the
other sides of the ground. Once the searches were
over it was straight into the ground and I do have
to say once in your seat it is very, very
impressive. We were seated in the upper tier and the
view was fantastic. I was trying to compare the
ground to another premier league one but Old
Trafford is truly unique. The Derby boys were there
in force and were already making a real noise which
is possible in the East stand. The United fans were
still eating their prawn sandwiches with 5 mins to
go to kick off so there wasn’t much banter between
the fans pre the match.
The game itself
Once kicked off we didn’t see a steward all match
and we were standing and chanting for the entire 90
mins. Derby had not scored a goal in 8 games, we had
been hit for 6 by Liverpool, 5 by Arsenal and 4 by
Tottenham, so we did not expect the mighty Man
United to go easy on us. 40 mins into the game and
we had soaked up all the pressure and for a brief 10
minute period we actually threatened their half of
the pitch. Then Ronaldo switched sides and broke
into the box. A quick shot parried by our keeper
only for Giggs to score his hundredth goal for
Manchester. This brought some life into the United
fans who had been quiet for all of the match. In
fact this lack of passion from the United fans was a
real disappointment. Derby have a very vocal away
support and enjoy the banter with the home side.
There was nothing of this. In fact there was a group
of about 10 seats unoccupied in the stand to the
right of us and once spotted by the boys the chant
of “Your grounds too big for you” rang out. Another
goal 2 mins before half time and the game was over.
It was surely now a case of how many goals United
wanted. But no. Derby came out in the second half
and went for United. The game although hardly end to
end was entertaining and you couldn’t help but
admire the talent United had on display. A piece of
Tevez magic made it 3-0 and then our world exploded.
Derby broke down the right. A quick ball into the
box, Stevie Howard moving in and wonder upon wonders
the ball crosses the United goal line. A Derby goal
and at Old Trafford to boot. Life does not get
better than this. Even a dodgy
piece of 'professionalism' as
the pundits say or cheating
in my book by Ronaldo to
win a penalty at the end could not dampen the Derby
spirit and we left the ground very happy. Food was
basic, pies, kit-kat etc but at least you could by a
This was a challenge. The crowd was huge and all
going in 1 direction. You are simply swept along. We
decided to go back into town via the Metro and were
directed to Old Trafford station about 10 mins walk.
The queues to get tickets were very long with trams
coming every 5 mins but even so we had to wait about
½ hour to get on a tram. We saw no trouble
with both sets of fans mixing amicably in the queue.
The tram goes directly to Manchester Piccadilly
train station (about 5 stops and 20 mins). A lot of
Derby fans had driven to Altringham, parked there
and taken the Metro to Old Trafford station.
A really, really good day out. Old Trafford lives up
to its name “Theatre of Dreams” but the United
support is very quiet and the atmosphere could be a
lot better if the fans got behind their team for the
full 90 mins. Facilities and stewards if not the
best are good and every true football fan should try
the “Old Trafford” experience.
Are you an away or general football fan who has visited Old
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