"The Eight Days Oc'tober in 1997"
   Half-time Ipswich 97   
since Nov 97

PART 1 ... Sunday 26/10/97

SING! "The Eight Days Oc'tober in 1997 . . . . Five, Brian Mc'Clair's!"

I had travelled with the family Diana 21, Michael 19 and Michelle 11. We sailed into Harwich Tues 14th Oct around noon. It was 20 mins drive to Ipswich where we would be meeting up with Pete, Hal, Mike Dobbin and Andrew Birchall at the White Hart Hotel. We had tickets for the Fizzy Pop Cup via Richard Martin and Mike, this would be Michelle and Diana's first RED "live" match.
  Hal, Barry & Pete 

Pete and Hal arrived early and were sitting in the bar well before opening time, I wandered in to see if anyone had arrived and sure thing time to chat, thanks for coming early Pete!

  Andrew Birchall 

The bar opened at 1700 hrs where the first drinkers were the 4 Dane's, Pete, Hal and Andrew, soon to be joined by Mike and friends! The internet crowd had more or less taken over the bar and a fun-time was had by all. One subject of conversation was Mike's fine amusing picture and article in the November issue of "United by Football". Mike admitted to the truth and one has to admire his fantastic feat of over 377 consecutive RED games including ALL friendlies!
(Read more of this on page 46 of Nov issue).

  Mike Dobbin & Barry 

Pete meanwhile had asked Michelle who her idols were? Michelle explained the lads on her t-shirt were pop group Take That. Pete then told her that he lived close to Gary Barlow resulting in Michelle wanting full details of his house and expected a guided tour by Pete :)  Back to the football, we walked to Portman Road « an hour before the 19.45 k-off.
A long queue to obtain match programs would have been avoided if the program seller either had the 20p change or had charged a round 2 pounds!

 Ipswich half time

Taking our seats in The Cobbold Stand we were surrounded by police who were to spend the entire match standing or sitting? That was the question! A packed house for their "match of the season" at Ipswich. A great RED atmosphere was dampened only by Fergie's lack of interest, fielding a team of reserves to see the capabilties of our back up team! The game itself was an anti climax although a good solid performance by the RED ARMY in Cobbold Stand kept spirits high. Choccy was of course Captain for the day. One over enthusiastic RED escorted away for bad language otherwise no red or yellow cards applied to UNITED. The half-time rush to the local amenities proved chaotic but there was just time to find Linda and deliver her first Christmas Pressy for 1997!
LINDA it was a great to meet you "in person" for the very first time and hopefully we will meet down the pub next time I am at OT so we can have a longer chat.

Cobbold stand were obviosly joined in the Christmas atmosphere singing
The 12 days of Brian McClair" in honour of our Linda of course :)

After a defeat and 2 hour drive to Coventry in the drizzle we arrived tired at our digs 1am Wed morning. The day had been well worth it, meeting everyone and it had been a dream come true UNITED had played in the very same town where we had landed in UK only 7 hours after, thanks Alex for moving the match!

PART 2 Days 2/3/4 RED Cheers!

Wed Thurs Fri were family day's ending wih a RED meet at the local Bridgewater Hotel. Richard Martin made it and although Paul Windridge made a gallant attempt to no avail and had to return home still thirsty! Richard and I were able to knock back a Caffrey's or two in honour of Paul, there were no Boddies or Tuborg available! Richard told me that due to his exam

Day 5: Premier Match Day at Pride Park  Sat 18th Oct
Pick up point was Coventry station 11am Barry, Michael and Alan Dobson. Navigated by mobile phone we found Richard making a RED foursome for the drive to Pride Park.
Unfortunatley Paul, the 5th member of the planned party had not made it as tickets had tured out impossible to find.

*1000* thankyou's are in order to Richard and Tony
for helping out with 2 tickets for myself and my son Michael :))

We drove up the motorway reading the usual daft headline news in the Sun newspaper,
today it was..."Dalglish wants Cole".
Alan was much more interested in the Daily Sport lying in the back seat of the car!
I had bought it for the 3 sides of sport at the back :))
Alan found many footballs in the paper "spot the ball" and here is the proof:  

  Nick Clay 

One hour, one or two songs and one lay-by later we found ourselves in the allocated pub were Nick and Kerry were already sampling the wares. We had passed Pride Park on the way in, it had looked impressive whilst sitting in the middle of nowhere!
   Alan Kerry Richard Barry 
Beer, programs and food were available in the bar and Alan discovered that Scampi arrived rather faster than the Chilli Con-Carni, buy the Scandinavian Scampi next time Alan :) Pre-match chat and the arrival of the now famous Mike Dobbin and friends from London provided 2 hours entertainment. Nick told me that the "Leeds experience" had been all that we imagined. Kerry confirmed that there was only 20 mins walk to the ground and the bar girl importantly confirmed that they were open after the match!

This was the 2nd coming of summer, 24 deg celcius and a fine day to be had by all. Michael wore his home shirt and I wore my RED scarf as the Derby crowd were reasonably docile? On to the match, Alan seemed peculiar maybe it was the sun?

Walking to the stadium it appeared in the distance surrounded by a desolated nothingness. The brand new complete modern stadium itself stood out magnificently. As we passed the refined sleek MUFC Coach the air was full of expectance.

  Team Coach at Derby 

It was just before k.off and the players were coming out as we found our seats behind the goal in the Mansfield Bitter stand. Finding my seat as the RED ARMY shouted like mad, there was Tony Smith who welcomed me and I stood admiring the magnificent pitch and tremendous atmosphere even before a ball was kicked!  Tony 

The first half was nothing to write home about RED-wise. We did play ok at times but Derby and one chop were on top, they scored twice 2-0, Giggs had scored a brilliant goal, Ole was offside. I looked at Tony and he confirmed that the way we were playing it could be a hatfull :( I was still optimistic. REDS kept on singing "YOU ONLY CAME TO SEE UNITED" Ryan Giggs came down the wing a professional foul by Poom must be a sending off offence? No but a penalty was given! A young lady in front of me turned and looked away. I told her to watch and that it was Teddy. She did NOT turn around, the following silence confirmed her doubts. We had all been doubtfull deep down and we knew that Alex would have to find a new penalty taker. (Irwin Scholes or Becks would all be fine).
   Linda at half-time 0-2 Keep the Faith! 
Half time came around Tony and I climbed the steps to find Michael, Pete, Hal, Richard and Linda sitting at the top of the stand. Pete And Hal fairly silent but at this point Hal gave me a message for my Dad, at Sunday's lunch, his words were "Half time from Pride Park 0-2, final score will be 2-2 and a win should have been on the cards with a missed penalty!" The words turned out to be from a wise man? I spoke quickly to Linda again who asked me if I had brought a Scandinavian bug over to make the team lose? Sorry Linda I will try not to do it again :)

Down the steps, back to our seats, the lads were coming out no changes but what a change in their style of play! I sang "one way traffic" Teddy scored with a clear header and Tony turned to me and asked "WHY DIDN'T UNITED PLAY LIKE THAT FROM THE START?" Pressure continued but Derby came back into the game again and we had to wait right until the last 10 mins before we were to celebrate Andy's super-sub contribution and the 2-2 scoreline. Derby fans started whistling in the last 5 mins, Ole blasted over when normally he would always hit target.

Derby also came close and when the final whistle came the RED ARMY could be pleased with a well earned point. All other teams in the Premier would have lost after 2-0 at half time today. UNITED had staged a remarkable comeback.

"The Eight Days Oc'tober in 1997" .... FINAL PART 3   Hal,Pete,Nick,Alan,Michael 

Day 5 continued: Premier Match Day at Pride Park: Leaving the ground after the 2-2 draw we all gathered outside and a final pic of three men on a fence. Alan was NOT feeling well and the REDS fightback had unfortunatly not helped his condition. Facing a brave 20 min walk to the car we said our goodbyes to Tony, Pete, Hal and Linda.

One Derby supporter complained about the penalty and offside situations in so I had to put him straight as Richard and Alan walked ahead. Alan decided due to the position of the sun today that he would remain in the car whilst Michael, Richard and I went to the pub. After a long queue in the pub we were eventually served and we sat talking of the great results round the country and other RED happenings. Richard had to get back to studying so back to the car and wake poor Alan snoozy Dobbo.

Back to Coventry uneventful drive and farewells to Richard, thanks again for the ticket! Reaching the station Alan was still under the weather but a final goodbye and a presentation of a List statue for another of the great LIST writers :) Keep up the good work Alan and no more Chilli?

Day 6   Son Michael in Coventry 
Back to family matters and a regard from Hal to my father in London on Sunday. Dad was impressed with the prediction and we had a couple in Hal's honour :)

Day 7 Monday was the last day in Coventry and not having met Paul Windridge from "United By Football" I had called on the Sunday arranging a pub meet 9pm where even the girl's and landlady turned up! I walked in at 2100 hrs and there was

  Barry and Paul Windridge UBF

Paul sitting with his navigator who had made sure of his arrival this time! Great, a big hello, drinks, photos, pressy's (another hat) and a fine THREE HOURS were spent. At one point the bell rang and it was my turn for a round. When I arrived at the table to confirm this had been the TEN MINUTE BELL to last order's :)
Why don't they start this tradition in Manchester?
Suggestion: this bell gives an extra round, maybe a good idea for the THROSTLES Pete?

Paul looked at his watch midnight already? I had received an excellent set of Paul's hand-drawn postcards of UNITED players past and present. THANKS again Paul.

ADVERT: anyone wanting a set of these postcards just go to the UBF website at: http://www.unitedbyfootball.co.uk They are free with a subscription for UBF Mag and it is really excellent reading believe me.

Final Day 8 Paul had asked me down the pub why i was going back to Denmark the day before Feyenoord! It was a case of the previous week being a holiday in Denmark and the kids had to go back to school asap as they had already been off 3 days extra. We sailed from Harwich-Esbjerg 18 hours, arriving back in Aalborg to see the REDS beat Feyenoord 2-1 on the big screen :)

That's it folks, great to see everyone and "I'll be back" soon, bank balance pending :)

Cheers Barry
Afterthought: Who-knows, maybe I will even meet Mick Meade in the flesh next time, in the flesh IS the right word?


 Barry Leeming,Denmark  Barrylee@post3.tele.dk "RED sky at night UNITED delight"
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