Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Manchester United - Old Trafford

Manchester United 5-0 Wigan Athletic

26th December 2011

Determined to keep Son out of the promiscuous arms of Glasgow’s Ugly Sisters, I had taken him along to East End Park to see Dunfermline Athletic play, not long after he started Primary School.  I recall him sitting bemused and shivering through a perfunctory League Cup win; only once becoming animated, when the full moon rose above the rim of the Main Stand.  “The Moon, Dad, The Moon” he enthused, rather in the manner of Tattoo in Fantasy Island.

As it transpired I need not have bothered, for he fairly swiftly decided Scottish Football was generally shite, and began looking south for his football kicks – to the English Premiership to be precise, with Manchester United his particular chosen strumpet.

This Boxing Day outing was our second visit to Old Trafford – the first having been into the rather more animated Stretford Road end.  Given that on this occasion we had obtained tickets to one of those areas of the ground to which irregular attendees have access, the seats around us were filled, perhaps inevitably, with folks like us: Football Tourists.  

And although we all applauded at the correct moments, and greeted each goal like a welcome visitor, there was no true passion in there.  In fact, for long periods there seemed no real atmosphere in the ground at all, other than that generated by the bunch of entertainingly batty bananas in the adjacent Away Section.  

In my more paranoid moments, I could not help but feel the chant from the Wigan fans, of “We support Our Local Team”, appeared aimed directly at Son and I.  I wanted to lean across and tell them all, “We do go and watch Dunfermline sometimes.  Honest”.

I was extremely relieved, however, that their next offering was not directed at me: this arose when a particularly well-nourished United supporter in the East Stand who had stood up to gesticulate at the Wigan support, was treated to a chorus of the old favourite “You Fat Bastard, You Fat Bastard.  You ate all the pies.”  

He was then invited to “Get your tits out for the Boys”, which he perhaps unwisely chose to do, being rewarded with “Have you ever seen your dick?” in return.  Salt was then rubbed into the wound caused by this particular barb, when the crowd observed “You’re going to cry in a minute”.

The rather more subtle "Thursday Night, Channel 5", brought a smile to my face, once sulky son explained the significance.

But quite the weirdest thing this lot got up to was to chant “Lets pretend we’ve scored a Goal”, followed by a long drawn-out Oooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah, after which the whole mad crew let out a huge cheer (as least as loud as the United fans created to aclaim the real thing), before they all went bonkers jumping up and down.  

Maybe this is common practice down south when your team is getting humped, but it was the first time I had come across such behaviour, and it was a quite disorientating experience – hearing a throaty roar from behind you when bugger all is going on, on the pitch.  I counted half-a-dozen of these ghost goals, so supposed in a parallel universe somewhere Wigan won this match 6-5.

The first (real) goal of the afternoon came along after only 8 minutes:  a consequence of Ji-Sung PARK being allowed far too much time and space in the visitors’ box.  Wigan, however, were far from daunted and on three occasions soon after put in teasing crosses from their right, all of which went a-begging – Connor Sammon just failing to connect with one particularly inviting one.  

Regretfully, one thing the former Kilmarnock striker did not miss was Michael Carrick’s face with an outstretched palm, which led to his early use of the Head & Shoulders in the showers.  Extremely harsh, I thought, as the incident certainly could not have been witnessed clearly by tubby little Phil Dowd who was, at time of contact, waddling along 40 yards away.

Dimitar BERBATOV’s goal three minutes from the break, effectively ended proceedings as a contest, and thereafter it was a damage limitation job for Wigan.  The damage being restricted to two sublime strikes from BERBATOV again (58) and Antonio VALENCIA (75), before the former completed a hat-trick, 12 minutes from time.

The pre-match formalities.

The bananas bananas.

A howl for a penalty as a red goes tumbling - this appeal was turned down,
yet looked a better claim than the spot-kick that was later awarded.

View of the recently christened Sir Alex Ferguson Stand.

Panorama of Old Trafford, Manchester.


Man U v QPR 8/4/12

Panorama of Old Trafford from NW Stand.


  1. Great post! Maybe a visit to the DW might be more up your street next time you cross the border!

  2. Thank you for your kind words - we next plan to travel South during the school holidays in April, and hope to take in Wigan's return match with United - from the Home end this time.

    I don't know how difficult it is to obtain tickets to the DW for such high profile matches as a Neutral. Your neighbours at Blackburn and Bolton won't sell to folks like us without a purchasing record. Maybe a friendly Wigan fan will do us a favour come April?

    Kind regards


  3. Loved reading this. You will be made very welcome at the DW stadium. Regards Linda (Wigan Athletic Season Ticket Holder)

  4. Brilliant read. I was a Banana and its nice to read something that isn't slating off our support.