“ Old Trafford (given the nickname The Theatre of Dreams by Sir Bobby Charlton) is a football stadium in the Greater Manchester borough of Trafford, and is the home of Manchester United F.C.. The ground has been United's permanent home since 1910, bar an eight year absence from 1941 to 1949 following the bombing of the stadium in the Second World War, during which the club ground-shared with Manchester City at Maine Road. The stadium is located close to Old Trafford cricket ground. Until the new Wembley Stadium is completed, Old Trafford will have the largest ground capacity of any English football stadium, with a capacity of just over 76,000, and will be joined by Wembley as the only UEFA 5-star stadia in England. „
Old Trafford, the Theatre of Dreams. First opened in 1910 and found on Sir Matt Busby Way (formerly Warwick Road), this is a near 76,000 capacity all-seater stadium used by Premier League giants, Manchester United. Having been to Old Trafford numerous times since the early 1980s, I've seen the stadium go through various changes ranging from the eradication of standing areas to the stadium having capacity increases on all sides of the ground and corners.
I can't begin to say how good the atmosphere used to be in the Stretford End before it became compulsory to have all-seater stadiums, but that's not what I'm here to review anyway. What I can talk about, though, is how the stadium and surround is now.
If you're just visiting Old Trafford for the grounds and museum tour, you will first visit the museum itself which was opened by the legendary Brazilian ace, Pelé in 1998. The museum houses various trophies, cups and shields won by Manchester United, as well as memorabilia donated by players past and present. You will have the pleasure to see shirts, boots, medals and caps to name a few from legends such as David Beckham, George Best and Ryan Giggs. Also look out for the Hall of Legends, the Gary Neville tribute room, a life-size figure of Peter Schmeichel and, of course, the Munich memorial room.
On the tour, you'll find your tour guide is always willing to answer any questions you have, although they do have other bookings so they don't like to keep waiting around too long. Expect to sit in the North and South stands, visit the dugouts, changing rooms, interview room, and walk down the tunnel into the arena along the way and the taking of photographs is permitted to give your visit a memorable experience.
Match day, Old Trafford can be as loud as any venue I've ever been in. I've not been in every stand or section of the stadium but most are very easily accessible. The drinks and snacks are good but as with any Premier League stadium, often pricey. Be sure to take home a souvenir match programme to make your trip complete.
Outside the ground, you can see the famous Munich clock and a tribute to the Busby Babes, and above the Megastore is a statue of the late, great, Sir Matt Busby. Directly opposite the statue and across the road is the trinity statue of Best, Law and Charlton.
As a Manchester united fan living in Scotland I rarely get the chance to visit Old Trafford (otherwise known as the theatre of dreams) these days and recently when the chance arose to go and watch them play Celtic in the champion's league, I jumped at it.
Having lived in Manchester for a good few years I had paid many a visit to the stadium but had not been there in nearly 6 years and it took my breath away as much on this visit as it did on the first time I went there.
This giant stadium known as the theatre of dreams after Sir Bobby Charlton nicknamed it that is a sight to behold indeed and the atmosphere generated inside it on a champion's league night is second to none in my opinion.
If you cannot manage to get tickets to go and see man utd play then there are plenty other opportunities to visit the stadium and if you are a fan you will enjoy their tours and taking a trip through the museum.
During the tours you even get a chance to run out the tunnel onto the amazing pitch and the sight of the giant stadium wrapped around you will live with you forever, I had this opportunity around ten years ago and remember it like it were yesterday.
My night at old Trafford was made all the better by watching Celtic humbled by the mighty Manchester united but had they won lost or drawn it would have been a night to remember!
If you are a Manchester united fan then you must try to one day catch a game at this amazing stadium even if it means going to a carling cup game and watching a much smaller team be demolished it will live with you for life and even if you are just a football fan in general you will take something from a visit here!
~~In the Beginning~~
Earliest memories are tricky things. I have vague recollections of my grandfather driving a green GPO van past the house when I was tiny, and of bathtime and the joy of toy boats and rubber ducks.
It's not until later on that things become clearer, and one of the earliest clear memories I have is from an event I can even put the date on. May 23rd 1968 - for it was then that Manchester United beat Benfica 4-1 at Wembley, to fulfil Sir Matt Busby's dream of becoming champions of Europe.
To this day I can still remember my father watching the match on our British Relay rented black and white television, sitting on his knee for part of it. I was only four years old at the time, but from that day forward if anyone asked me what football team I supported, the answer was "Manchester United" - which was unusual for a kid back then - especially a kid who lived just outside Glasgow.
My dad however was happy with this choice -he was a Clyde FC supporter and wasn't particularly keen on the sectarian connotations supporting Rangers or Celtic brought - and the fact that he too had a sneaking admiration for the "Red Devils" probably helped.
Over the years my awareness of the team grew - at age 8 I had a poster of George Best on my bedroom wall, enthusiastically and carefully removed from "Jackie" magazine, at ten I learned the meaning of the word "relegation", and at the age of 13 savoured United winning silverware again when they lifted the FA Cup.
1978 found my father working in Manchester and I will never forget he brought home a souvenir edition of the Manchester Evening News for me, commemorating the 20th anniversary of the 1958 Munich Air disaster. This was a new part of my education regarding Manchester United - I had never heard of this terrible event before and reading about it strengthened the feelings I had for the club, and took my admiration of the team, and of Sir Matt Busby and Sir Bobby Charlton in particular to new levels. There was also the incredible feeling of sadness for the players lost that day - in particular the prodigious talent that was Duncan Edwards.
I had always dreamed of going to see Manchester United play at Old Trafford, and I remember my father saying he would take me, but the logistics were never quite right, and it is to my eternal regret that we never did this. In fact I only ever went to the football with my dad once - to see QPR play Newcastle at Loftus Road, with my QPR supporting husband in tow.
~~"But You've Never Been to Manchester"~~
By the start of the nineties, Manchester United were coming out of the doldrums. The eighties had produced a handful of cups but United hadn't been able to reclaim the Championship since 1967, despite the best efforts of Alex Ferguson, who had become manager of the club in 1986 after achieving great success at Aberdeen. Ferguson had almost been sacked at the end of 1989 - only a third round FA cup win against Nottingham Forest saved him - and he continued to play the long game by developing and nurturing talent, culminating in United finally lifting the inaugural Premier League trophy in 1993.
By then I was an adult living in London, and as United's success grew I frequently was asked why I supported a team from a city I had never even visited, and endured ribbing - both gentle and vicious - about this.
I never had any cause to visit the city however, and as the nineties moved on I found myself a mother, and visits to the football and even visits to the pub to watch the football became a thing of the past, and time moved on, as did the family, to Edinburgh.
It was only after the death of my husband, when someone asked me about football that it dawned on me - why not go to Manchester? And why not go to Old Trafford too?
Watching a match was out of the question - tickets are ridiculously hard to come by for starters - but also I was visiting in July - however I discovered Old Trafford is an attraction worth visiting whether there is a match on or not, and I will now, after this lengthy preamble, tell you why.
When I booked my trip to Manchester, I was travelling with my daughter and my sister. Neither like football but I made it clear from the start that if I was going to Manchester, I was going to Old Trafford. Much to my amazement, my sister expressed an interest in going too, so that gave my daughter no choice - she was going too. She complained a little but a promise of a visit to the Trafford Centre after we had been to Old Trafford cheered her up.
We took the Metrolink tram from Piccadilly Gardens, taking the Altrincham line and alighting at the Old Trafford stop. From here it is a ten minute walk to the stadium, passing Old Trafford cricket ground as you go.
It is possible of course to drive and pay to park nearby - Old Trafford is situated just off the A56 on Sir Matt Busby Way. There is also a train station at the stadium but this is only open on match days. Buses are available too, but I suspect the Metrolink is a marginally more pleasant way to do things on match days - if only to avoid the traffic jams!
~~The Stadium Tour~~
Stadium tours operate most days except on match days or the day before a European match. You do have to book, but this is easy to do either online or by phone. We chose to book by phone, the number being 0161 868 8000. You are then given a time when your tour will begin and advised to arrive at least 15 minutes before this time.
It cost £12 for an adult and £8 for a child, with this fee also including entrance to the club's museum.
We were a little late for the start of our tour as I got a little confused as to where I should be going, but the staff were incredibly helpful and found our group within five minutes.
The tour guides are all United fans, and on the day we went all the guides we saw were semi-retired men. Our guide was very, very good - his enthusiasm for the club shone through and he told us how he had been coming to see United play at Old Trafford since he was a tiny boy. His experience was a great help too - he had memories of teams from the late 1940s to the present day and really knew his stuff about players, managers, matches and trophies.
We were able to sit on the stand and savour the view of the pitch. We were given some of the best seats at Old Trafford to sit on, with our tour guide solemnly informing us that a seat there on match day would cost over ten times what we had paid for our stadium tour. We then got to visit the changing rooms, the tunnel, the dugout and got to stand right beside the pitch.
Our tour guide had informed us that it was a tactile tour and we could get up close and personal to everything, but there was one golden rule we must follow and that was not to touch the turf on the pitch. You would think anyone with a brain could grasp this and understand why it might not be a good idea to have several hundred people every day putting their hands on the grass, but sadly there was one member of our party who clearly wasn't listening and made an attempt to make off with part of the hallowed turf. That our sharp eyed tour guide spotted him was impressive, but even more impressive was how he turned this young man's face a deep shade of beetroot with just the tone of his voice as he chastised him.
All the while we were doing the tour, our guide answered questions and explained the history of the club and the stadium to us in a manner that kept even my daughter captivated.
Just a few months before our visit, the 50th anniversary of the Munich Disaster had been marked. There have been two memorials at Old Trafford for many years - the famous Munich clock, which marks the date, and a memorial plaque. In February 2008, The Munich Tunnel was opened underneath the South Stand and this is a quite superb memorial and one that will remain with me forever.
It features an eternal flame and is a tribute to all the Busby Babes and the hopes and dreams they represented to the club. Like the best of memorials, it's power lies in its simplicity and walking down the Munich Tunnel made me so grateful that everyone who was affected that day, whether attached to the club or not, has a permanent memorial.
The tour ended, a little cynically I thought, at the club shop, but if you want to visit the museum too, it's relatively nearby.
The museum isn't particularly huge, but it does cover the history of the club very well. Clearly Munich is a huge event and as a result has it's own dedicated area, but there are a huge array of items on display within the museum including shirts, photographs, artefacts and displays featuring every period of the club's history - whether that be times of great success or more fallow periods - such as the infamous 1974 relegation.
What I particularly enjoyed about the museum was the way so many players I remembered from my youth were featured - now some of these players, such as Steve Coppell or Bryan Robson have remained in the public eye, others, such as Martin Buchan or Gordon Hill have returned to a life of relative obscurity.
Sir Matt Busby is a huge presence in the museum too, with the great man's career well documented. It's worth remembering Sir Matt nearly died after Munich - he received the last rites in hospital afterwards - and the club's appreciation for this great man is evident here.
So at the end of the 2008 season United won a famous "double" of the Premier League and the Champions' League. For a not unreasonable £14.99, you could have your picture taken with these trophies, and realising this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, I paid the money and dragged my daughter to join the queue.
We were reminded at all times that the trophies were the original ones - the club do have replicas they keep in their trophy room - and we were allowed to touch the trophies, but not to lift them, which seemed reasonable enough to me.
It was quite an experience standing right beside two of the most famous trophies in football, and I felt myself go back 40 years as I stood beside the "European Cup" as I still call it - a remnant from childhood that simply will not leave me I suppose.
The photographer was very good and took several shots, giving us the option of choosing the best one, which he printed off there and then for us.
At the front of Old Trafford, looking down onto the street which bears his name, is a quite wonderful statue of Sir Matt Busby. You would be hard pushed to find anyone else who represented the club in the way Sir Matt did, and certainly for anyone of my generation, he was a man who was universally revered, and I believe to this day he probably still is.
Sir Matt was born in Bellshill, where I too was born, and whilst the town has a sports centre which bears his name, he will forever be associated with Manchester and the club have ensured this softly spoken but determined and talented manager will never be forgotten.
Across from Sir Matt Busby Way is a more recent addition, "The United Trinity" which features three of United's greatest players - George Best, Denis Law and Sir Bobby Charlton. This is a real statue for the fans and the three players are unmistakeably sculpted.
~~My Final Thoughts~~
So I have come to accept it's unlikely I will ever get the opportunity to savour Old Trafford on a match day - and that's okay. Now I have visited the stadium Sir Matt christened "the theatre of dreams" I feel fine - I have paid homage and that is all that matters.
I would say however, that Old Trafford should be a must see for any visitor to Manchester - whether you love football or not.
My non-football loving sister loved it - so much so she has recommended it to anyone visiting the city ever since she went. Her reasoning, which I have to say I agree with, is the club has such a huge story in Munich, and how they went from having the world at their feet to being the bare bones of a team. Yet somehow, from the depths of this despair they rebuilt and became champions of Europe just ten years later.
The club have embraced that huge story and created beautiful memorials to those who didn't come home from the match with Red Star Belgrade but haven't allowed themselves to be defined by it - instead they have created a tour which will delight anyone with even a passing interest in football, and a museum which is both entertaining and informative.
Whether you love or loathe Manchester United, I would highly recommend you visit Old Trafford if you are in Manchester - there is something very special about this place and as I left I felt a certain peace within myself - because at last - I had been.
**also on Ciao**
I visited Old Trafford last week when I have been to Manchester. I firstly visited the Museum, which is located in the stadium. It is just beside the Manchester supporters' famous café. When you first get in the museum (it is not big at all), you see the model of the stadium. In the next room, you'll see all the cups Manchester won. Especially last premiership cup was very elegant. Also there is a room in the museum, which you can see the 80-90 year old shoes, which were used by famous players decades ago. Also you can watch the old matches. The thing I liked most in the museum was a device, which you can be commentator and tell the match. Firstly the real commentator shows you how to tell the match and gives you the player numbers and names. Afterwards you are telling match, and device is recording your voice with microphone. It is so funny to hear your own voice when watching match. In the other floor, there are signed pictures, uniforms and balls from famous players such as George Best, Cantona. In the same floor, there are computers, which you can see all the results from the matches Manchester has played by now. You can see some goals and get info about all the players. Also there is game, which asks you question about Manchester U. And finally there stadium tour is starting. The stuff, which introducing the stadium was very nice and funny guy. We visited everywhere in the stadium. Firstly we went and saw the field, the stuff explained everything about the stadium. Stadium was perfect. I have seen San Siro before and although Old Trafford has no that ambiance, it is a very nice stadium. As a matter of fact, in order to talk about Old Trafford, I should watch a match in there. Stadium was extremely clean and there was everything you may need. Food facilities were very good. Field was good but not perfect. Facilities for disabled people were perfect. There were special rooms you can watch your match by drinking your wine. They were ext
remely expensive. I also went to changing room. Now I know which player is sitting where in the changing room. I saw where players meet and have their meal. There was also special room for children of the players. Beside that place, there is another place where payers meet before match. There is a board there and you can find the names of the successful players. They had divided the names by nationality. I went to the entrance or exit, where players go through and enter the field. It was a nice feeling. Because the stuff switched on the cassette and when we were entering the field through there, cassette was saying all the names of the players and we were hearing the voice of the supporters. The stadium does not look very big from outside. Front of the stadium is very nice. It is covered by glass and looks like shopping centre more than a stadium. There is a very big shop, which sells all Manchester products. Stadium also has a very big parking place. That's all I can remember. I liked this stadium a lot. At least you go and watch a match there.
Old Trafford, The theatre of Dreams, the home of Manchester United, whatever you want to call it is one of the most popular attractions in Manchester. If you come on a match day you can make a day-trip of it. The Red Cafe is a popular haunt for Players and fans alike. The museum is also a very interesting place to visit, with such memorabilia as the European cup, players boots, shirts etc. The guided tour is also interesting. The matches themselves are undoubtedly the best in the Premiership and the team are favourites to retain their premiership crown. The stadium is easy to get to and once you are inside it feels very daunting Basically, any Man Utd fan should go to Old Trafford, even the idiots from Essex and Cornwall who don't support their local club.