I was reading about the loss and win of Manchester United in the EPL, and I decided it is about time I wrote about my experience of taking a guided tour of the Manchester United Stadium on May 13, 2009. I wish to record the date so that when I read this 10 years later I would know when was I there!
I was visiting my school friends in London and Manchester and I met them after 20 years. My friend in Manchester saw to it that we went to the stadium. She herself was not coming and my friend from London had seen it before. But she decided to see it with me again.
Outside the Manchester United Stadium
We were being lazy throughout the day and only around 3.45 pm we realized that if we do not moved we would miss the last guided tour of the stadium. The last guided tour of the Manchester United Stadium departs at 4.30 pm and we barely made it by reaching at 4.15 there. The person at the ticket counter was quite friendly and I think he gave us some discount or the other on the tickets. Then he hurried us along to the place from where the tour begins.
The name of our guide was Stewart Brown (I have a feeling that he spelled Stewart differently but I do not remember the correct spelling) and he had been at it for the last 14 years. When I asked him if he was a Manchester United fan, he said he would tell me by the end of the tour.
I also have to say that my interest in Football is because of Brat 2. He watches it like religion and many a times I just watch along. He is a Arsenal fan and he told me I should have gone to the Emirates Stadium. I said I had very little time in London and he was pacified. But both Brat 1 and Brat 2 watched my Man Utd pictures with great enthusiasm.
The group taking the tour on May 13, 2009 (4.30 pm) was about 30-35 strong. And while we were walking, Stewart took a deliberate circular path and about 20 people followed him exactly like a sheep in the herd! We at the rear end took the more straight one and Stewart turned back and winked.
It was quite fascinating to be inside the stadium and see the notices put for the fans and the spectators. There was a tray for sticking chewing gum but my pictures of the same have not come out well.
Manchester United Stadium
When we reached inside the stadium Stewart asked our group to take a seat. He then asked how many of us were Manchester United fans and only a few hands went up. The rest of us were just curious. He also asked for our countries and the globe was quite fairly represented in our tour group.
The thing that impressed me most was the arrangements for the people with disabilities at the Manchester United Stadium. Their is a ability suit for them at the stadium. I mean for us, it took a Stephen Hawking to get a ramp at the Taj Mahal.
There was no way I could get a panoramic picture of the stadium, in that sense the tour felt hurried or maybe I was just too caught up in the then and there. If I ever visit it again, I would go high up in the stands and try to click a different picture.
The tour includes a visit to the player’s dressing room, something I didn’t expect and found quite exciting. The shirt on the walls tell the tentative position players like to take when they are inside the room. Stewart didn’t mention in which part the shoe flying incident between Sir Alex Ferguson and David Beckham took place and I didn’t ask. Ronaldo’s shirt must be gone from the room by now I guess. All of us got pictures taken and I have one sitting under Tevez’s shirt.
I was quite amused with the notice to the players about not being allowed to wear their jewellery. I think I have seen Ronaldo using tape over his earrings even though this notice says it is not allowed. Bart 2 was also quite amused with this picture and said but the players still wear some jewellery.
I was not aware of the Munich tragedy that stuck Manchester United in 1958. A plane carrying their players and supporters along with others crashed after its third attempt to take off from Munich. There is a plaque and a clock to commemorate the event.
Soon it was our turn to come out of the player’s tunnel and once again it was quite exciting. There was a teen aged lad who was grinning from ear to ear when we were in this area. And they can get ambulances right next to to this tunnel in case of any emergency.
While we were standing before the tunnel Stewart played the referee and treated us as the players diving us into the home and the away teams. He went around shaking hands with the grimmest possible expression and it never changed however much we giggled. And I did giggle a lot, a thing I am not much prone to!
We were finally led out to this area at the end of the tour. We went to the player’s stand and got our pictures clicked. While we were coming out of the tunnel there are notices asking to keep away from the grass and not to pluck it. I can imagine that people may like to take it with them as a souvenir!
The tour leads us out to the gift shop of Manchester United and it is the strategic last stop. Thankfully I didn’t had to buy anything because Brat 1 and Brat 2 are not Man Utd fans. My friend bought a few things for her kids. Brat 2 had given me strict instructions to buy something about West Ham United, a fascination he developed after watching the movie Hooligans. I could only get him a scarf though he was quite happy with it.
Notices a Plenty, Join the Waiting List for Season Ticket at the Manchester United Stadium
I found it quite funny (shows how little I know about the world of football) that the notice invited the fans to join the waiting list for season tickets! When I started reading it in the shopping area I thought it was about buying season tickets!
Manchester United Stadium, Manchester, UK
And when I was showing my UK 2009 pictures to Brat 1 and Brat 2 they refused to see anything more beyond the Manchester United ones! And till date they have not asked to see anything else.
I wonder what it would be like to be in the stadium when a match is being played! And I of course forgot to ask Stewart at the end of the tour if he was a Manchester United fan or not.