Date: 20th May 2011 at 5:30pm
Written by:

SeasideEssexXile tells us about Old Trafford, where Blackpool visit on Sunday.

Old Trafford – Manchester United

11 months ago when the fixtures came out we said that we`d better not have to go in to the last game needing something from it. In what`s been a fantastic season the stark reality is that whilst a defeat may prove enough in reality we will need some sort of result to give us a fighting chance. Sky must love it, Survival Sunday they`ve called it. The titles in the bag, Cinderella club playing at the Champions not quite win or bust, it could be a lose but still win. One things for certain 22nd May will go down in our memory vaults again as a day of destiny. Let`s hope we`re reliving the end of the game this time last year – “I`ve got a feeling, that tonight going to be a good night”?..

How To Get There
M55, M6. M61 then the M60 heading towards the airport. Come off after the Barton Bridge for the Trafford Centre (ask the Mrs) at this Lostock Circle roundabout take the 1st exit onto the A5081 (signposted Trafford Park). At the Parkway Circle roundabout take the 3rd exit onto the A5081 (signposted Manchester A56) At the roundabout take the 2nd exit onto the A5081 (signposted Manchester). At traffic signals turn right onto Sir Matt Busby Way (signposted Old Trafford Cricket Ground) – your there!
I`ve parked at the Trafford centre previously and walked it, about a half hr hike. If you do pass the Trafford centre there`ll be loads of people in high vis vests claiming their £10 secure car park is the nearest and best.

For the Virgin Lovers Amongst Us
Metrolink or train from Manchester Piccadilly mainline station, as Old Trafford has both its own railway station next to the ground and a Metrolink station which is located next to Lancashire County Cricket Club on Warwick Road, which leads up to Sir Matt Busby Way. Normally the railway station is less busy than the Metrolink.

For Those Flying Samm Airways
Ringway is the nearest airport other than Barton where the small planes can take off flying messages of our adoration for the 3rd Division losers?.

The Ground
Before 1902, Manchester United were known as Newton Heath, during which time they first played their football matches at North Road and then Bank Street in Clayton. However, both grounds had pitches that were a mix of gravel through to marsh, while Bank Street suffered from clouds of fumes from nearby factories. Following the club’s rescue from near-bankruptcy and renaming, the new chairman John Henry Davies decided in 1909 that the Bank Street ground was not fit for a team that had recently won the First Division and FA Cup, so he donated funds for the construction of a new ground.
Designed by Scottish architect Archibald Leitch, the ground was originally designed with a capacity of 100,000 spectators and featured seating in the south stand under cover, while the remaining three stands were left as terraces and uncovered. Including the purchase of the land, the construction of the stadium was originally to have cost £60,000. However, as costs began to rise, to reach the intended capacity would have cost an extra £30,000 over the original estimate and, at the suggestion of club secretary J. J. Bentley, the capacity was reduced to approximately 80,000.
In May 1908, Archibald Leitch wrote to the Cheshire Lines Committee who had a rail depot adjacent to the proposed site for the football ground – in an attempt to persuade them to subsidise construction of the grandstand alongside the railway line. The subsidy would have come to the sum of £10,000, to be paid back at the rate of £2,000 per annum for five years or half of the gate receipts for the grandstand each year until the loan was repaid. However, despite guarantees for the loan coming from the club itself and two local breweries, both chaired by club chairman John Henry Davies, the Cheshire Lines Committee turned the proposal down. The CLC had planned to build a new station adjacent to the new stadium, with the promise of an anticipated £2,750 per annum in fares offsetting the £9,800 cost of building the station. The station – Trafford Park – was eventually built, but further down the line than originally planned. The CLC later constructed a modest station with one timber-built platform immediately adjacent to the stadium and this opened on 21 August 1935. It was initially named United Football Ground, but was renamed Old Trafford Football Ground in early 1936. It was served on match days only by a shuttle service of steam trains from Manchester Central railway station. It was finally renamed Manchester United FC Halt on an unknown date.
Construction was carried out by Messrs Brameld and Smith of Manchester and development was completed in late 1909. The stadium hosted its inaugural game on 19 February 1910, with United playing host to Liverpool. However, the home side were unable to provide their fans with a win to mark the occasion, as Liverpool won 4-3. Before the construction of Wembley Stadium in 1923, the FA Cup Final was hosted by a number of different grounds around England including Old Trafford. The first of these was the 1911 FA Cup Final replay between Bradford City and Newcastle United, after the original tie at Crystal Palace finished as a no-score draw after extra time. Bradford won 1-0, the goal scored by Jimmy Speirs, in a match watched by 58,000 people. On 27 December 1920, Old Trafford played host to its largest pre-Second World War attendance for a United league match, as 70,504 spectators watched them lose 3-1 to Aston Villa. The ground hosted its first international football match later that decade, when England lost 1-0 to Scotland in front of 49,429 spectators on 17 April 1926.
In 1936, as part of a £35,000 refurbishment, an 80-yard-long roof was added to the United Road stand (now the North Stand) for the first time, while roofs were added to the south corners in 1938. Upon the outbreak of the Second World War, Old Trafford was requisitioned by the military to be used as a depot. Football continued to be played at the stadium, but a German bombing raid on Trafford Park on 22 December 1940 damaged the stadium to the extent that a Christmas day fixture against Stockport County had to be switched to Stockport’s ground. After the war, the War Damage Commission granted Manchester United £4,800 to remove the debris and £17,478 to rebuild the stands. During the reconstruction of the stadium, Manchester United played their ‘home’ games at Maine Road, the home of their cross-town rivals, Manchester City, at a cost of £5,000 a year plus a percentage of the gate receipts. The club was now £15,000 in debt, not helped by the rental of Maine Road, and the Labour MP for Stoke, Ellis Smith, petitioned the Government to increase the club’s compensation package, but it was in vain. Though Old Trafford was reopened, albeit without cover, in 1949, it meant that a league game had not been played at the stadium for nearly 10 years.
A roof was restored to the Main Stand by 1951 and, soon after, the three remaining stands were covered, the operation culminating with the addition of a roof to the Stretford End (now the West Stand) in 1959. The club also invested £40,000 in the installation of proper floodlighting, so that they would be able to use the stadium for the European games that were played in the late evening of weekdays, instead of having to play at Maine Road. In order to avoid obtrusive shadows being cast on the pitch, two sections of the Main Stand roof were cut away. The first match to be played under floodlights at Old Trafford was a First Division match between Manchester United and Bolton Wanderers on 25 March 1957.
The old roof pillars were replaced in 1965 with modern-style cantilevering on top of the roof, allowing every spectator a completely unobstructed view, while it was also expanded to hold 20,000 spectators (10,000 seated and 10,000 standing in front) at a cost of £350,000. The architects of the new stand, Mather and Nutter, rearranged the organisation of the stand to have terracing at the front, a larger seated area towards the back, and the first private boxes at a British football ground. The east stand – the only remaining uncovered stand – was developed in the same style in 1973. With the first two stands converted to cantilevers, the club’s owners devised a long-term plan to do the same to the other two stands and convert the stadium into a bowl-like arena. OT hosted its third FA Cup Final, hosting 62,078 spectators for the replay of the 1970 final between Chelsea and Leeds United. The ground also hosted the second leg of the 1968 Intercontinental Cup, which saw Estudiantes de La Plata beat Manchester United in front of United’s home fans. The 1970s saw the dramatic rise of football hooliganism in Britain, and a knife-throwing incident in 1971 forcing the club to erect the country’s first perimeter fence, restricting fans from the Old Trafford pitch.
1973 saw the completion of the roof around the circumference of the stadium, along with the addition of 5,500 seats to the Scoreboard End and the replacement of the old manual scoreboard with an electronic one in the north-east corner. Then, in 1975, a £3 million expansion was begun, starting with the addition of the Executive Suite to the Main Stand. The suite’s restaurant overlooked the pitch, but the view was still obstructed by the roof pillars. Therefore, in kind with the roofs of the United Road Stand and the Scoreboard End, the Main Stand roof was replaced with a cantilever design. The Executive Suite and cantilever roof were then extended to the full length of the stand, allowing for the relocation of the club offices from the south-east corner to the Main Stand. The south-east quadrant was then removed and replaced in 1985 with a seated section bringing the total seating capacity of the stadium to 25,686 (56,385 overall). The completion of the cantilever roof around three sides of the stadium allowed for the replacement of the old floodlight pylons, and the attachment of a row of floodlights around the inner rim of the roof in 1987.
With every subsequent improvement made to the ground since the Second World War, the capacity steadily declined. By the 1980s, the capacity had dropped from the original 80,000 to approximately 60,000. The capacity dropped still further in 1990, when the Taylor Report recommended, and the government demanded that all First and Second Division stadia be converted to all-seaters. This meant that £3-5 million plans to replace the Stretford End with a brand new stand with an all-standing terrace at the front and a cantilever roof to link with the rest of the ground had to be drastically altered. This forced redevelopment, including the removal of the terraces at the front of the other three stands, not only increased the cost to around £10 million, but also reduced the capacity of Old Trafford to an all-time low of around 44,000. In addition, the club was told in 1992 that they would only receive £1.4 million of a possible £2 million from the Football Trust to be put towards work related to the Taylor Report. The redeveloped East Stand was opened at the beginning of the 2000-01 season.
In 1995, the 30-year-old North Stand was demolished and work quickly began on a new stand, to be ready in time for Old Trafford to host three group games, a quarter-final and a semi-final at Euro 96. The club purchased the Trafford Park trading estate, a 20-acre (81,000 m2) site on the other site of United Road, for £9.2 million in March 1995. Construction began in June 1995 and was completed by May 1996, with the first two of the three phases of the stand opening during the season. Designed by Atherden Fuller, with Hilstone Laurie as project and construction managers and Campbell Reith Hill as structural engineers, the new three-tiered stand cost a total of £18.65 million to build and had a capacity of about 25,500, raising the capacity of the entire ground to more than 55,000. The cantilever roof would also be the largest in Europe, measuring 58.5 m (192 ft) from the back wall to the front edge. Further success over the next few years guaranteed yet more development. First, a second tier was added to the East Stand. Opened in January 2000, the stadium’s capacity was temporarily increased to about 61,000 until the opening of the West Stand’s second tier, which added yet another 7,000 seats, bringing the capacity to 68,217. It was now not only the biggest club stadium in England but the biggest in all of the United Kingdom. Old Trafford hosted its first major European final three years later, playing host to the 2003 UEFA Champions League Final between Milan and Juventus.
From 2001 to 2007, following the demolition of the old Wembley Stadium, the England national football team was forced to play its games elsewhere. During that time, the team toured the country, playing their matches at various grounds from Villa Park in Birmingham to St James’ Park in Newcastle. From 2003 to 2007, Old Trafford hosted 12 of England’s 23 home matches, more than any other stadium. The latest international to be held at Old Trafford was England’s 1-0 loss to Spain on 7 February 2007. The match was played in front of a crowd of 58,207.0]
Old Trafford’s most recent expansion, which took place between July 2005 and May 2006, saw an increase of around 8,000 seats with the addition of second tiers to both the north-west and north-east quadrants of the ground. Part of the new seating was used for the first time on 26 March 2006, when an attendance of 69,070 became a new Premier League record. The record continued to be pushed upwards before reaching its current peak on 31 March 2007, when 76,098 spectators saw United beat Blackburn Rovers 4-1, meaning that just 114 seats (0.15% of the total capacity of 76,212) were left unoccupied. In 2009, a reorganisation of the seating in the stadium resulted in a reduction of the capacity by 255 to 75,957, meaning that the club’s home attendance record would stand at least until the next expansion.
Old Trafford celebrated its 100th anniversary on 19 February 2010. Old Trafford is scheduled to be used as a venue for several matches in the football competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Just under 3000 of us will be sat in the corner, there`s hundreds of us dotted around the rest of the ground, packages, red café hospitality everyone just wants to be there.
Where To drink
There numerous pubs nearest the ground The Trafford, Sam Platts, The Gorse Hill, Tollgate Inn and The Bishops Blaize are in the main home fans only (didn`t stop us at Spuds). The city centre or along one of the stops on the Metrolink will be easier. There`s a Premier Inn near the ground – not quite up to our Travelodge standards but hey, they serve ale.

Ale will be on sale inside the ground.

Plod & Stewards
Wonder if they`ll make the away fans sit? Should be nothing of note.

Fear Factor Rating – Party time, everyone loves us, their titles in the bag = 1/10.

We are Blackpool. We don`t do easy. We like to tug on the proverbial heartstrings of the fans. For those of us that were there in the dark ages we`ve dreamed about days like Sunday, if we`d have been offered a sniff of what we need this weekend last August we`d have snapped your hand off. In essence we should have never of been in this position, but what`s gone has gone and IF we can do the impossible, Manager of the Year, Team of the Year and all the glory will inevitably follow. For me, the chance to get the infrastructure in place off the pitch is the benefit of the squillions of Premiership money.
The ground, the under soil heating, the training facilities, getting an academy that produces actual players, a growing fan base, they`ll all contribute to our secure future.
I genuinely believe that the club will spend considerable money, IF we stay up, on players this Summer. I don`t want the fans of today to go through what the more mature of us have had to endure over our yesterdays.
As a crooner once warbled, and so I face the final curtain, I`ll do it my way.

Come 6pm on Sunday, let`s hope we`ve done it Holloways` way.

Onwards + Upwards