Europe 2013: Our Old Trafford Pilgrimage

Old Trafford is, to put it mildly and politically-incorrectly, my husband’s Mecca.

(Feel free to draw your own religious parallel here.)

(Feel free to draw your own religious parallel here.)

The last time we visited in 2010, we were coming from a U2 concert in Paris so we couldn’t catch a game there. We did however have a great stadium tour. This time, we managed to time the trip to catch a Champions League Premier League home game AND go on a stadium tour the next day. As a bonus, Michelle and Ben were able to make the trip with us, which was probably a lot more fun for James since they’re diehard Man U fans while I’m just a mildly interested observer.

It's pretty adorable how Mich and James look like matchy siblings here :)

It’s pretty adorable how Mich and James look like matchy siblings here :)

The morning immediately after Mich’s birthday dinner (which I referenced here), we got up at a most ungodly hour and picked the two of them up from Islington before hitting the motorway north to Manchester. One thing I really appreciate about UK’s motorways: the rest stops are so well-equipped. Each one we passed had at least a coffee shop and a supermarket, plus ample restrooms. The others in the car got a pretty big kick out of seeing the ever-growing sea of United fans at each stop, too.

Traffic slowed to a crawling snarl as we entered Manchester, but we started out early enough that we still had plenty of time to park the car at our motel (the Premier Inn Old Trafford) then amble across to the stadium. We bought game day VIP tickets which sat us in the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand – our seats were pretty high up, but I didn’t mind since the view of the pitch was pretty panoramic from there. It helped that the mild and sunny weather was basically perfect too.

A surprisingly decent selfie of four people! (MICH - I know you are reading this - plz send me the high-res, don't make me beg...)

A surprisingly decent selfie of four people! (MICH – I know you are reading this – plz send me the high-res, don’t make me beg…)

I didn't try to take too many photos, since the rows were packed so closely that taking a photo would mean blocking someone else's view. There were a couple of grumpy guys behind me making snide comments about people trying to watch the game through their phones.

I didn’t try to take too many photos, since the rows were packed so closely that taking a photo would mean blocking someone else’s view. Also, there were a couple of crusty old men behind me making snide comments about people trying to watch the game through their phones.

I won’t embarrass myself by trying to comment on the game against Crystal Palace, only that I’m very glad United won because otherwise I’d have had the company of three depressed sulky fans for the rest of our trip.

Our tickets also included a post-match lunch at the Red Cafe. It was a decent lunch, nothing too fancy but by that point in the afternoon I was definitely ready to eat. There were also some organised activities like birthday shout-outs, a trivia game, and a meet-and-greet with some long-ago United player that none of us seemed to know of.

Cam-whoring with our "game day VIP" passes while waiting for food.

Cam-whoring with our “game day VIP” passes while waiting for food.

Many of the cafe seats had player names and numbers on them. So of course James had to get a picture with Scholesy.

Many of the cafe seats had player names and numbers on them. So of course James had to get a picture with Scholesy.

The next day started out damp and gloomy, typical English weather really. Our stadium tour began at 10 am – I enjoyed it more than I expected to, given that I’d been on a very similar tour three years prior. I probably would’ve been grumpier had the weather not dried up a little during the bits we spent outdoors. At any rate, I soon figured out I was there to help take decent iPhone photos of James, Mich and Ben. I think that alone was worth my tagging along for ;)

I  believe "chuffed to bits" is how they would caption this in the UK.

I believe “chuffed to bits” is how they would caption this in the UK.

Same pic, but with Mich and Ben. I think it really does help to have one not-so-huge-fan take the photos - hands not shaky with excitement ;)

Same pic, but featuring Mich and Ben. I think it really does help to have a not-so-huge-fan take the photos – hands not shaky with excitement ;)

Someday, after my daughter is born and is old enough to converse with, I plan to really annoy her with this photo. "Hey remember when we all went to Old Trafford? What do you mean you don't remember, you're right here in this photo! Look CLOSER lah..."

Someday, after my daughter is born and is old enough to converse with, I plan to really annoy her with this photo. “Hey remember when we all went to Old Trafford? What do you mean you don’t remember, you’re in this picture! Look CLOSER lah…”

The tour was around an hour and 15 minutes in all, excluding the time we spent in the megastore browsing and buying merch afterwards. I was pretty tired from the stadium tour and the previous day’s travelling, so I camped in the Red Cafe with a bite of lunch and mug of tea while the others continued touring the museum.
It’s a bit depressing to end this post with “and then we drove back to London in the punishing rain amid feral traffic jams” so I shall instead state for the record that it was a tiring trip to the Theatre of Dreams, but was definitely worth it for me to see James and our friends so absolutely happy to be there.

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4 Comments

  1. Alli - October 24, 2013

    “my daughter”! Heee :)

  2. Benjamin Hung (@hungbp) - October 25, 2013

    FYI, we caught a regular Premier League home game, not Champions League.

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