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Journalist and founder of United We Stand, Andy Mitten – My first United game

My dad wouldn’t take me to see United. He played semi-professionally himself and every Saturday (United used to play every Saturday) I went with him to a match from the age of three. To Salford City and Stalybridge Celtic, Hyde United and Northwich Victoria, but never to Old Trafford. “I’ll take you when you’re older son,” he’d say.

Someone else beat him to it. One day at school, Jason Turner told us that he was allowed to take his five best mates to Old Trafford for a league game as a birthday present. I was invited. And so, on 7th May 1984, aged 10, I went to Old Trafford for the first time – a defeat to Ipswich Town.

A group of primary school mates walked past the real Old Trafford floodlights and behind the real Stretford End. We went in the Stretford Paddock, a part wooden terrace which held 8,000 wedged between the Stretford End proper and the main stand.

I’ve been fortune to travel widely with football and see many of the world’s great wonders, yet that first sight of the vivid green pitch remains the greatest thing I’ve seen in my life. It was mesmerising to see the Old Trafford pitch for real. Maybe all football fans feel the same when they first visit their club’s home, but the aura and grandeur was immense. The pitch seemed brighter and smaller than on television, but, unlike the stands which surrounded it, perfect. Old Trafford was an incongruous mixture of old and new in 1984 – the roof I was standing under dated back to the 1920s. Out of that dark stretched the pitch, manicured and lush, a green oasis in the middle of the decay of Trafford Park, where dad worked.

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6 responses to “Journalist and founder of United We Stand, Andy Mitten – My first United game”

  1. My first game was United Chelsea 73/74 season my old man was skipper of a trawler(Boston Typhoon)and him and my Uncle Tex who was mate on the (Jacinta) got tickets through the firm (Bostons) and took myself my brother and my two cousins Kevin and Tex,we had tickets in the cantalever stand above the United road,and now I can always say I saw George Best play,I was only 10 and the thing I remember most was when my dad and uncle Tex who where drinking whiskey out of a hip flask decided we should leave early,when we got round to the scoreboard end we heard a cheer,when we got to the carpark(dont know the name of it but opposite the then scoreboard end)we heard another cheer United had equalized I missed both goals,but I still have the programme !!!!

  2. The Swede says:

    So Andy I beat you to it by over a year then as I travelled from Sweden with my dad to see United play Liverpool in February 1983. Despite the game being live on tv back home we decided to travel as in February all kids get a sports leave for a week here and a local paper arranged a trip to the game.
    We stayed at the Britannia Hotel and standing in the hotel lobby playing the one armed bandit machine was none other than comedian Tommy Cooper. As you may well know he died onstage just a month before you saw United play at Old Trafford in 1984.
    United took the lead from a great strike by Arnold Muhren before Kenny Dalglish equalised. After the game we visited the very small club shop and managed to end up in the riots outside where we had to jump between the policemens protective shields to get away. A scouser nicked my United cap and it was just like out of a casuals film.
    I have met you once Andy, outside OT when you were selling UWS and I said hello and told you I was from Sweden and loved that you wrote for the scandinavian fan magazine. You smiled and gave me the thumbs up. I think the game was the one in November of 1995 when United destroyed Southampton 4-1 scoring 3 goals in the first 8 minutes with the one from Scholes almost destroying the net.
    Here’s an 8 minute clip of my first game at OT in 1983:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2g_ENNtdg1Y

    Take care Andy!

  3. Eric Halsall says:

    Happy days, eh, Andy? Getting beat by Ipswich AND having Atkinson as manager – a perma-tanned, bling-laden, scouse/brummie who loved to hear himself talk bollocks.

    Still, there was good stuff that season – Sparky for one, and Robbo in that fantastic turnaround against Barca at O.T. in the Cup Winners Cup.

    My first match was somewhere around 1947-48 when I was a bit younger than you were. I was 7 or 8 and my Auntie Annie took me to see United while we were still bombed out of O.T. and playing home games at Maine Road. I haven’t a clue who we were playing that day but I should think your Uncle Charlie was on the left wing (my idol over the next few seasons before he went to Bogota) along with the rest of Busby’s first great team.

    The only other thing I remember is that it all seemed to be in monochrome (a bit like Lowry’s “Going to the Match” at Burnden Park); apart from the pitch, like you say, and the team’s shirts. A depressingly long time ago but oh, the memories! Who’d want to be anything other than a Red?

  4. Diablo says:

    My first game at OT was against Wolves,my Gran had knitted me a Red and White scarf, it drowned me as it was about 6ft long.My Uncle took me as my Dad wasnt into football,I clambered up the steps of the old North Stand and was amazed how bright the UTD shirts were, and the grass so green.I was about 8 or 9 and we bloody lost, we left before the end and a huge roar went up as we got one back! I was smitten and in Love with UTD,that was more than 40 years ago and Im still so proud to support my team till the day

  5. Michael Cope says:

    Heh Diablo, I was at that one. It was raining so bad, and Sammy Mcilroy scored at the end of the game to make it 1-3 for Wolves, as I remember.
    My first game was at the tender age of 4. I was in the seats at the United Road and it was against Everton around 1966. It was good weather I can remember but don’t remember if it was end of or beginning of the season. Shortly after I saw us against Arsenal and Ipswich and then a gap of several years until my Uncle David started taking me regular, every home and a few away, for the next 5 years or so. Saw the decline and relegation and then the years we were on the up again. The years under the Doc were special, and when he was sacked it took the wind out of us. He would have got us that next title long before we eventually broke the spell under Fergie.
    Great to read your memories her, living in Denmark now but still get to see the Reds at least once a year.

  6. Jimmy rush says:

    My first game was a 4-1 defeat to totter ham at old Trafford in 1972 oct 28 day I will never for get