Junior and Company Sections visit Old Trafford

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The boys would be going on a tour around the stadium and visiting the Manchester United museum. This was a great opportunity to gain an insight into the workings of one of the world’s biggest football clubs and brands. As we gathered in the Church car park at 8:30 a.m., it was clear that we were all looking forward to it.

From a personal point of view, I was pleased to see a couple of the lads had turned up in their Huddersfield Town shirts; some of the Junior Section have impeccable taste! Fiona was less excited than myself and the lads who had now all arrived, armed with cameras, and were ready to set off. We set the Sat Nav for Old Trafford and were on our way.

After eventually finding the correct car park, we parked up outside the Sir Alex Ferguson stand and the lads posed for the obligatory pictures/ selfies etc. Once inside, we were issued with our lanyards and directed upstairs to the museum where we had time for a quick look round before we needed to assemble for the tour.

In the entrance, behind a velvet rope, stood the Premier League and the Champions League trophies along with the FA cup. The lads stretched over the rope to get a decent photo. “Would you like a picture with the trophies?” enquired a friendly member of staff. “Yes, please” said one of the boys. “It’s £10 for an A4 print”. In typical Yorkshire fashion, the lad replied with “How much??!!” and swiftly walked away. The museum’s trophy room was impressive, one of the cups, presented to United for winning an Asian pre-season tournament, was the size of one of the Juniors. We also found another replica Premier League trophy for the lads to have their photo with….

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There was lots to look at in the museum including profiles, and memorabilia, from several bona fide football legends such as Bobby Charlton, Ryan Giggs and Denis Law (who started his career at Huddersfield Town). There was also an exhibition on the Munich air disaster which included a tribute to those who had lost their lives in the crash.

One of the other exhibits was a miniature bronze Sir Alex Ferguson statue. It was lit in a way that made it shine- from a certain angle it looked slightly wet. I told the lads that the statue was made from Sir Alex Fergusons earwax. The Juniors in our group looked at me quizzically then leaned towards the glass cabinet for a closer inspection. “urrrgh” said the lad. “I know” I responded “imagine having the job of extracting the wax…”

After a brief look around, it was time to assemble for the tour. We passed through the gift shop on the way to the meeting point and were advised by the shop assistant to “make sure you come back in here after the tour. The official shop is much more expensive.” Suggestion noted.

We were in a group with around 20 other people for our tour. As we reached the assembly point, the first tour of the day was just leaving. The sheer scale of the operation is impressive, as was the amount of people around the stadium on a non-match day. We were introduced to our tour guides, Mike and Dave “not Chas and Dave” was the first joke of the tour which promptly sailed straight over the lads heads and into row Z.

We were lead in to the ‘posh’ seats of the Sir Alex Ferguson stand where we were told a bit about the history of the stadium. There were several lights focussed on certain areas of the immaculate pitch to help the grass grow during the winter months. Our tour guide wanted to know if anyone on the tour supported a different club to Manchester United, I’m pleased to say our lads proudly declared their Huddersfield Town allegiance alongside a couple of Grimsby fans. We then walked around the stadium to the corner of the newly christened Sir Bobby Charlton stand which, we were told, provided a great photo opportunity (see the top of the page)

From there, we made our way through to the post-match press conference room which is used primarily for the written press on a match day. Adjacent to this is the VIP lounge which is used for directors and special guests of the club, this led through to the directors box who all have their names attached onto several seats so they can invite guests.

Then came the moment we had all been looking forward to. We were taken into the home team dressing room. The lads all had the chance to have a picture taken with their favourite players’ shirt although one boy seemed more interested in the fridge where they store their pre-match drinks. “Well, it is a nice fridge” was his explanation as he took several pictures of it.   We also had a quick glance around the (smaller) away dressing room where shirts from other famous footballers who had played at Old Trafford were on display.

 

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After all the group had posed for pictures, we made our way towards the tunnel area. The guide split the group in to two teams and lined us up ready to emerge on to the pitch. The crowd noise and entrance music was piped in and the boys were encouraged to wave to the ‘crowd’ as they entered the arena. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed on the pitch even though one of our lads asked the guide if “we could have a kick-a-bout”. Instead, we walked round the perimeter to the dugouts. Naturally, most of us (including me) wanted to try out the seats and pretend to be Louis van Gaal although I did get some strange looks when I put on my best Dutch accent and attempted to make some imaginary tactical changes. As you’d expect, you get a decent vantage point from the home team dugout, pictured below are some of our group taking in the view of the pitch….

 

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Predictably, the tour ended in the Manchester United club shop where we all collected our tour certificates. The boys were true to their word and decided to visit the museum gift shop to buy a memento of the day. We decided to have another quick look around the museum again en route but by this time the boys’ spending money was burning a hole in their pockets so we headed for the shop.

The staff in the shop were pleased to see us and they kindly provided the boys with a free “Man Utd Assistant Manager” badge and a carrier bag for their certificates. I wasn’t offered a badge, despite hanging around and overtly admiring the ones the boys were wearing. Most of the lads got a pressed Old Trafford coin and some bought other items too. This included one lad who proudly showed me his newly purchased Manchester United spoon. It was quite an ornate piece of cutlery and came with its own display box, I wasn’t sure why he had bought it and when I asked him he shrugged his shoulders and said “It was only £6”. Meanwhile, a couple of the older lads had spotted some match worn shirts in the corner of the room. Here they are wearing Peter Schmeichel’s shirt from the 1999 Champions League final and Gary Neville’s from the 2009 League Cup final…

 

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Once the lads had spent up, we set off back to Elland via a stop at MacDonald’s for lunch.

The boys thoroughly enjoyed their day out, it really is an impressive set up at Old Trafford and I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in football.

 

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5th Halifax (Elland) Boys' Brigade

 

www.5th-halifax.org.uk

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