When I knew that I would fly to UK for my course, I couldn’t resist temptation to fly to Manchester (instead of London) first. I kept aside London for the inbound flight for reading newspaper its long queue of immigration process owing to Heathrow shortage of staff. Furthermore, the course location, Warwickshire, Coventry is located between Manchester and London.
The decision was perfect as the arrival process in Manchester International Airport (MAN) nothing but very smoothly. Qatar Airways landed at Terminal 1. From here, manchester Piccadilly station is 15minutes away. The train departs from The stationn, located between Terminal 1 and 2, linked to the terminals by a Skylink moving walkway.
One of the reasons to pick Manchester is to visit two big football clubs home: Manchester City (City) and Machester United’s (MU) stadiums. The rivalry of these two clubs was apparent and at high this year when City has won Premier League title since forty-four years, only with goal difference to its neighbor. Is Manchester Red or Blue?
Manchester is Blue
Manchester City’s stadium is the City of Manchester Stadium, also known as Eastlands and the Etihad Stadium since July 2011 because of sponsorship commitments. The stadium is situated in East Manchester; 20-30minutes walk from Piccadilly Station.
At the time of my visit the stadium including its store closed for a concert. So a stadium tour was not possible at all. However, I managed to get one or two shots amidst light cold rain.
Later during city center walk I visited City store at Arndale Mall/Shopping Center.
Manchester is Red
First note, I am not an MU fan 🙂
Second, visit to The Red Devil’s stadium was one of the best stadium tour I ever had. Let me tell you why.
Old Trafford Stadium is the home of Manchester United. The stadium can be easily reached by both the Altrincham and Eccles lines of the Manchester Metrolink network, with the nearest stops being Exchange Quay at nearby Salford Quays, and Old Trafford, which it shares with the Old Trafford Cricket Ground. Both stops are a five-minute walk from the football ground. During matchday, the stadium can also be reached by MU Football ground station adjacent to the south stand of the stadium.
I booked a slot at 10am through internet couple days before my departure. Arriving at the stadium, I was welcomed by the united trinity statue depicting three great MU players: George Best, Denis Law, Bobby Charlton. It is located at the east stand of the stadium. The stadium appearance is modern, unlike Anfield, but similar to Emirates Stadium.
The stadium tour started at Museum & Tour Centre when I registered and confirmed my booking. I was given one hanging badge/lanyard and ticket that I could take home. As I still have 30 minutes before tour is started, I spend the wait by visiting its museum. Otherwise visitor can also visit the museum after the tour. Ticket for museum visit is valid for one day.
The museum houses arrays of collections representing history of MU since it was established more than a century ago. Display of MU jerseys, memorabilia, trophies, MU fans documentaries, and timelines were also interesting. Sir Alex Ferguson (current manager and the longest serving manager) deserves one special room for himself.
The stadium tour starts at stadium tour meeting point. Along with me are another ten people. Guided by a stadium tour leader, we start the tour with visiting external of the stadium, pointing out several landmarks such as Munich Tunnel. The tunnel is to commemorate Munich air disaster in 1958 when 8 MU players died. A plague and still clock showing the exact time when the airplane crashed are installed.
We enter the tunnel and start exploring internal of the stadium. Dave, our guide, takes us to player lounge, executive lounge, and dressing room both for home team and visiting team. At the dressing room Dave gives us an account on how manager use the dressing room. We were also given a photo opportunity. Exiting the room to the tunnel to the pitch, Dave split the group into two lines turn on the music and crowd noise and we walked out to the pitch as if we were the special players.
Now we are in the pitch. The rule is we shall never touch the pitch. Dave shows us all different stands, special seatings, TV and commentators booths as well as the disable areas and its entry to the stadium. I can only imagine how it will be watching a match and feel the atmosphere inside this also-known-as-the theatre-of-dreams stadium.
One of the special moment is when we are given the opportunity to sit on the dug-out (the sitting where the subs sit during the match), or to Sir Alex’s sitting. Oh, this is how it feels being subs or manager.
The tour is anti-climax with exiting through megastore. Expected but slightly impelling.
I can only recommend that either you are a fan to MU or not, a stadium tour to Old Trafford is well worth it.