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Red Army Soldier part 2

January 28, 2010
Written by: GW
During the following summer after my trip to Wembley I literally pestered my Dad on a daily basis to take me to Old Trafford. I wanted to see United play again, I had got the bug.Going to a match then was nearly a “day out” especially if you lived as we did some way out of town, these were of no consideration to an 11yr old boy though, alli was interested in was going, the getting there was my Dad’s concern, and we didn’t have a car in those days, Dads job as a gardener was no that well paid.

My pestering carried on through the summer, August came and went and soon we were into September and Dad started coming home earlier from work, I played my trump card, I can remember I’d been saving my 2/6d (12.5p) weekly pocket money, Look I said to my Dad, i’ve saved my own fare and my money to get in , showing him the 10/- (50p0 I’d saved, Mum looked at me Dad and said “You have to take the lad”, he’s near got enough for both us with that, so I suppose I’d better, a couple of the lads from work go, I’ll ask on Monday how ye go about it, we might need tickets.Monday couldn’t come soon enough for me, as soon as Dad was home i was like a puppy at his heels,It’s alright he said apparently theres a game this week we can go to, United are playing Newcastle United, It’ll cost five bob for me, two an a tanner for the lad and a two shilling each for the bus, it’ll be an expensive day out missus (The sum total was 11/6d (57.5p)), I rushed upstairs to my piggy bank, and emptied it on my bed, slowly I counted the money, I had 12/6d, more than enough for both of us, I rushed downstairs and pushed the coins into my Dads hand, and i’ve got enough for a pie and bovril at half time too Dad, my Dad smiled and rubbed my head.

The following week dragged by, schooll was unbearable, I’d told all my friends at school that I was going, some believed me, some didn’t, but I knew I was going, Dad had promised.I was up with the lark on the Saturday, eager and keen, we weren’t leaving until the noon bus, and it was long ride, Mum had done some sandwiches for us, and Dad made some tea, putting it in an empty cider bottle, he stuffed it into his work bag, and we set off to catch the bus, there were a few waiting at the stop, Dad nodded to each of them turn, saying their name as he did.
As the bus trundled along I listened intently as the others talked about the game, each giving their opinion on who should be playing, names like Best, Law and Charlton were rolling off their tongues, with the odd Stepney and Foulkes thrown in. The bus kept stopping and gradually filled, some were obviously going to the game as they were wearing red and white scarves, some had rattles poking out of their coat pockets, the excitement was growing in me, we ate our sandwiches, the other people gave
us a few stares as Dad offered me the cider bottle, “Cold tea” he said nodding his head towards them.

Gradually the country gave way to more and more houses, the bus pulle dover and stopped, and all those going to the match got off, “c’mon Stan” said one of his mates, “it’s a bit of a step from here” Well we walked and we walked, my feet were starting to drag a bit, trying to keep up as an eleven year old was a bit tiring, the more we walked the bigger the crowd got, Dad took hold of my hand, “It’s getting busy” Stay close to me son, we were soon in a long procession, walking fast was becoming harder, we were now all walking at the same pace, I saw a few lads about my age, and nodded to them, some were sporting rosettes and scarves, the older men were all in caps and scarves, I started to see people selling rosettes, badges and scarves on the side of the pavement, but if i tried to dawdle, Dad would tug my arm and off we would go again.One of Dads mates turned to us “Look for the paddock Stan, you want to be in there with the boy, the entrance is next to ours, meet up with us down here after the game, we’ll wait for you”, the crowd on the pavement started to thin a little, it was then I got my first glimpse of that red edifice, I could see the floodlight towers, and as we turned the corner for the first time ever I saw that sign it proudly proclaimed “MANCHESTER UNITED FOOTBALL CLUB”, I stood in awe at the sheer size of the place, it was like Wembley only better, I stood transfixed, I felt as if I’d come home, a tingle ran down my spine, as this thought ran through my mind, it was then I realised that United had found me, not me them, it was then I became a United for Life. I could hear the fans chanting and singing inside, it must have loud, you could make out every word, the tingles grew as we stood in the queue, with each clack of the turnstile my moment was getting closer, eventually it was our turn, one and a half said my Dad, the turnstile turned; my Dad egged me on, “Go on Lad ” he said with a firm push, i walked through that small tunnel out into the paddock, then it hit me, if I thought the fans were noisy outside, inside was even noisier, a cacophony, a cauldron of noise, there must have been 20000 people behind us, all signing and chanting UNITED !!! Moments later, there came new song, a lad next to me eyed me up, “first time”, “aye” I replied, thought so he said, “you’ll get used to it” then the song went up again, I don’t know if i got the words right but i joined in at the top of my voice “WE ARE THE PRIDE OF ALL EUROPE THE COCK OF THE NORTH” rang out across the ground, My Dad looked at me, blimey lad anyone would think you’d been coming here for years, I looked up at him and smiled and thought to myself it feels like I have, I’ve come home…the Ref blew his whistle and the game was underway.

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