I was put off organised footie after so many fights and scrapes as a policeman, especially for the short time on the Tactical Aid Group, when all we did was dash from match to match where the fighting was thickest. After a while it kind of loses its fun when associated with beer, blood and spit.
After last night’s match, however, I think when we move back to Manchester I’ll be tempted back to the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ again. A great bonding moment with Joel as we jumped around the lounge when United won, as often, it’s a shame it went to penalties and you just expect a bad result when that happens (well it will be for one side!).
My first ever visit was when I was a police cadet at 16. I’d been in all of about three weeks when someone went sick and I got the chance to work the match. My uniform was miles too big for me and though I considered myself a man of the world by then, I probably didn’t even look 14! The job before and after the match was crowd control, which consisted for me and my mate Dean of standing with arms outstretched saying, “Wait at the kerb please,” or “Cross now please.”
At kick off the streets emptied we asked a passing Sergeant what we should do now. “I don’t know – go in the executive box if you want.”
He reckoned without us being daft enough to take him at his word. We went through every security checkpoint, and when asked, “Where are you going?” we just replied, “The executive box.” Doors opened, and we found ourselves watching the match with Martin Edwards, then chairman. After a fantastic time, we walked back to our posts at the end of the match. The Sergeant asked “Where the hell were you?” and when we told him, he went white as a sheet, then red as a United shirt.
I suppose there’s a sermon illustration there for me, about just believing the word, or walking in authority. Or maybe it was just a great first trip to Old Trafford I’ll never forget!
The old joke is that nobody who actually comes from Manchester supports United, though my Granddad Jack was a fanatic of the first order and always wore something red. My older brother rebelled against that and became a City fan, to the disgust of the rest of us. Last night I rang him at half time and he was telling me that in his opinion 70% of city fans would rather Chelsea won the European cup than United (‘ because they have a bit of blue…’). Bizarre in my opinion, there’s more that unites us than divides us.
Anyway despite my rubbing his nose in the result this morning, he has taken the loss in good spirits it seems, as he sent me the attached…