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Old Trafford - The Tour
by Pete Hargreaves

A rough rundown of Old Trafford - running clockwise around the ground:

Firstly........ I have always considered the term 'stand' to be something of a contradiction as it refers to the seated area(s) of a ground. Right hope (for those who do not know) that clears that expression up. Secondly all 'left' or 'right' labels are as if looking towards the pitch!
.1. South Stand:


This is the original stand, destroyed in the Second World War and rebuilt during the immediate post war years. This stand was where, on the 17th of April 1954 and with both my dad and my mam (yes, she has been to the occasional match) I made my debut at Old Trafford as my beloved Reds beat Portsmouth 2-0.

The players used to emerge from a tunnel located in the middle of this stand. The stand was always known as the 'Main stand' (even though, at the time, there was only one 'stand' at Old Trafford). By the way the old tunnel still exists and the OT tour takes you do n it. This stand now houses the 'suits' and offers about as much passion as a month-old meat and potato pie!

.West Stand:


This is the much loved, much talked-about and much lamented Stretford End. When I made my debut at Old Trafford this part of the ground was uncovered and it was not until five years later that a cover was erected. In the Stretford End there was a large exit tunnel directly in the centre and it was this tunnel which brought about the expression "I am a 'right/left' sider".

Quite simply what this meant was that you either stood to the right or the left of the tunnel, halfway up the End. From this part of the ground emanated the 'atmosphere' for which Old Trafford became famous. Whilst I have always been to matches with my dad I stood on the 'right side' (with my peers) from 1962 until 1967. After that time (I guess either I had grown up or had become fed up with having my head smacked/teeth broken/eye split/et /etc/etc) I went back to standing with my dad and we stood, firstly, to the lower, left of the End and then in the upper area (before they put the seats in there) to the top left.

For a short time in the very early 60's dad and I stood to the extreme right of the End where the fence (which ran between the Stretford End paddock and the End itself) turned at right angles and meant that if one stood on the bottom rail one was lifted about a foot into the air (ie became as tall as the 'men').

I wonder how many of you out there remember that infamous night in (from memory!) 1964 when the Evertonians came into the Stretford End at three-quarter time and very nearly created a 'Hillsborough' type situation? I was in my normal position on the right-side when this massive (and I mean MASSIVE) push took me right down to the right corner of the End and I was very nearly crushed to death. The pressure was so bad that when I got home I had a perfect image of my string vest in blood blisters on me chest. Now then............I was just wondering if that night might have been when we played them in the Inter-City Fairs Cup (the UEFA Cup today) in January of 1965? I can't remember now. I do remember, however, that I took my girlfriend-of-the-time to the second leg at Goodison Park and we both very nearly got killed! Sitting on the football-special (train) waiting to come home a house brick came through the window and missed us both by inches!! We've always loved those scallies from Liverpool - haven't we? (B*****ds!).

.The North Stand:


Known by all as the 'Popular Side', this is where I spent the first five or so years watching Manchester United (say from 1956 until 1961). At the top of this area (just to the right of the roof) there were crush-barriers with a middle rail. This meant that I could sit on the top rail and have my feet on the middle one and, with dad stood behind me, arms around me holding me in place, I could both see the game and be in relative safety.

This was the first area of the ground to be redeveloped to become the Old Trafford of today. In 1965 work began to create a fantastic cantilever stand for the 1966 World Cup. Whoever the architect was should receive a medal from Old Trafford as it was their genius which paved the way for Old Trafford to become the stadium it is today. Had that stand not been built in the way it was then it could not have been extended (around the ground) and we would have ended up with a hotch-potch of stands like all the other (unless brand new, of course) grounds you find in the country.

This stand became known as the 'Cantilever stand' or, simply, 'G stand'. My dad got his season ticket in 'G' stand in 1969 and I got mine the year after. With the exception of the season when they redeveloped the stand (to what we now have today) we have sat together in exactly the same position for the past twenty- ine years (if me maths is correct!). For those of you who might be interested if you look at a picture of the 'North stand' we sit on row five directly below the left-hand leg of the 'N' in 'Manchester'. Next to us sit Jackie and Dave (fairly new additions to the List) and about ten seats to our left, the Big Daft Sod (Mick Meade) and directly in front of him, Tony Smith.

About ten rows behind (and to the right) is Dr Mark. At half-time we all come together to discuss the situation and it becomes distinctly crowded for fifteen minutes! So crowded in fact, that sometimes I struggle to eat me pie (which has spent the first half under me seat, cooling down to a temperature which will not take the coating off the inside of me mouth as I attempt to eat it!!!!). So now you know!

.The East Stand:


This was known by all as the Scoreboard End because, not surprisingly, there was a scoreboard (or score-box to be more accurate) situated at the back and in the middle of this area. You can see a picture of this score-box on my website if you are interested (http://www.cheswem.u-net.com/united1.htm).

As a boy (because we had little brass and couldn't afford away matches) dad and I would make the pilgrimage from Maine Road (yes - that's where we lived!!!) to Old Trafford to see the reserves every other week and the scoreboard played a big part in the event. We could not afford a portable wireless (that's assuming that they existed in those days) so the ONLY way of knowing how the first team were doing was via the scoreboard. Letter 'A' was designated (always) to the score of the first team and would be updated every fifteen minutes. What that meant was that the young lads could be attacking and the crowd (big crowds then) would be roaring when all of a sudden letter 'A' would open and the crowd would go silent - it was really eerie! As the board closed there would either be further silence (still a draw), a really loud groan (the opposition have scored) or absolute pandemonium (Manchester United have scored). I have often wondered what the reserves of that time thought about that situation!

The Scoreboard End was completely uncovered until the cantilever was extended around that part of the ground in (I think) 1970 or 1971. At that time the Scoreboard End became known (though not to me or my dad - it will ALWAYS be the Scoreboard End to us) as 'J' and 'K' stand (though I do not know which parts of that area were 'J' and which 'K').

When the Stretford End was demolished most of the boys/girls of the time moved (en-masse) to 'K' stand and thus it has remained. The real atmosphere at Old Trafford (such as it is today - not what it was, sadly) emanates from 'K' stand - or to give it it's correct title 'East Lower'. To get on my soap-box for a second, there is NO doubt in my mind that (with the redevelopment of) the two ends some attempt SHOULD be made t allow like-minded souls to sit together (ie all the singers/chanters in one place); it will NOT happen of course.

.


So there you have it - a very brief history of what is what around Old Trafford. I am reluctant to call it the 'Theatre of Dreams' as that sounds so 'trite' and 'Keith-sodding-Fane', but it IS (and always has been) my 'Theatre of Dreams'. Manchester United IS my religion and Old Trafford, my church. If you find that offensive or beyond your understanding - tough! People like my dad and me, who grew up with nowt, have always seen football as their religion and I make no apologies for stating that here. Manchester United IS my life, always has been - always will be. Without Manchester United my life has no meaning and would not be worth living. Simple as that.

Keep the Faith,

Peter Hargreaves (United Kingdom)
http://www.cheswem.u-net.com/


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