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