4th October 1986. As an eleventh birthday present my parent’s got me a ticket to see Manchester United play Nottingham Forest at City Ground.
For 90 minutes I was scintilated and that day I discovered new idols and a new following: Olsen, Albiston, Moran, Whiteside, McGrath, Robson, Strachan, Stapleton and my favourite, pacy full-back Sivebæk.
This was the first day in a lifetime supporting Manchester United, beguiled by the red, black and white of the Red Devils . This was no glory support. United struggled to a 1-1 draw that day having lost 6 of the previous 8 games in the, then League Division One. They hadn’t won the league in almost twenty years. Within a month Manager Ron Atkinson was sacked and on the 6th November 1986 Alex Ferguson was appointed manager following a successful spell at Aberdeen.
In the 25 years since his appointment this club has achieved arguably more than any other of the modern era. 12 Premier League titles, 5 FA Cups, 4 League Cups, a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and two memorable evenings in Barcelona and Moscow.
But it was one Manchester United memory in particular from the last 25 years that I wanted to share which was a bitingly cold 6th December 2003.
I’d not seen United play since that first game in 1986.
And then, late in 2003 I heard news that my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer.
He was a lifelong Manchester United supporter and despite only living a few miles from Old Trafford had never been to see them play.
I really wanted to do something positive for him so wrote to the club to see if I could buy some tickets without being a member.
I received a letter from the office of Alex Ferguson, featuring two free pitch-side tickets to their home game against Aston Villa and well wishes for my grandfather.
It was a great afternoon – United won 4-0 (two from van Nistelrooy and two from Forlan) – and a great experience that I got to share with my grandfather.
What a 25 years. Thank you Sir Alex for making my club the envy of football fans across the world and for that priceless afternoon in 2003.
What a lovely story.
As an avid anti-United man, I’m normally quick to belittle any pro-United banter but credit where it’s due – Fergie has proved his loyalty to the club, accomplished more than most and to send that token gesture for your grandad shows they have a heart after all.