A couple of years ago if you were to ask what team played in Manchester the majority of people would say Manchester United. However, these days with billion dollar owner Sheikh Mansour he’s taken over and started pouring millions and millions of pounds into the team. Manchester is split between two teams, which adds to the rivalry. I will talk a bit more about the rivalry aspect that European leagues have in future blogs.
For now it was opening day at the Etihad stadium and they were playing a top club; Newcastle United. At each stadium we go we see different ways of doing things and this was no exception. We arrived early as always and when we got there we went to the west entrance of the stadium where about 300 fans waiting for their favourite players to arrive. As game time approached that number increased. Something that they did which was really fascinating was they had a club presenter sort of person. Kind of like the equivalent to Rachael from Toronto FC where she goes all around the stadium pre and post game to interact with fans. The girl at Manchester City though seemed to have a bit more experience and a bit more passion and got really into her job. I’m assuming it’s a bit easier when people are willing to talk to you and not just for free things and 300 people to pick from. She picked three people from the crowd and they competed for a chance to walk the “blue” carpet where the players would be walking down. First they had to wear a baseball cap and attached to the hat were two tea bags they had to get the tea bags simultaneously on the top of the hat. Very funny to watch and made time tick by a lot faster. The next game she had them do was wear another hat and this time a speedometer was attached to it. Two people competed and standing in the same position they just had to move their head from side to side and the first person within a minute to go farther won. Quite entertaining and what a great prize it is too, so you can imagine how hard the contestants tried. Then they had music and she went around and started asking people questions and she would be on camera the whole time and 5 minutes after she would do a bit of questions and such they’d post the video all around the ground so that it would bring people to the area and add to the atmosphere. The mascots also gave away free t-shirts that cost 20 pounds in the shop so decent stuff. The reason I’m getting into such detail about this whole pre-game show that Manchester City put on is the fact that even 10 years ago about 90% of the population I believe they said was young men at games. The clubs around England have tried hard to incorporate different genders and ages into matches. By doing this it cuts down the violence during matches as well as makes it a family outing for the day. This is really nice to see and it’s really exciting to see young kids in full kits with there mom and dad taking them to see their local club.
Just another mention that when we got their the Etihad is a relatively new stadium and on the outside it has pictures of important moments of all the current players also had a little bit of history from players of old. Such as Sergio Aguaro’s last minute winner to win the league a couple season’s ago. We’ve seen this idea of putting players of new and old onto the stadium incorporated only in one other stadium; The Emirates. Which means it’s a modernized idea with new stadiums. However, the Etihad had a bunch of current players on the stadium. The Emirates only had ex-players who would be considered Arsenal legends. It’s neither a good or bad thing just an observation that I made. The only thing I would be worried about in this case would be if these players ended up leaving the club in a negative way. For example, Thierry Henry will always be known as a Arsenal legend and nothing he could do now would ruin that for him. It’s a special reward to be put onto a stadium that will be home to a football club for usually 100 years and counting for some stadiums and clubs. Now you could say that Yaya Toure deserves to be on the Etihad as he has played very well for the club for the last couple years however, if he decides to go play for an arch rival or disrespect the club in someway then you have to take his picture off the stadium and that could happen with several players. In this case I would consider the Arsenal way a bit better in that regard because of how you have to be true to a club and do something incredible to be able to be put onto the stadium walls that they called home for so much of their careers. At the same time though it does allow current players to see what they mean to the club when they walk in and around the stadium and see themselves on the walls among the greats from back in the day. It’s a great way for fans to connect with the current players and ex-players as well.
When we finally got into the stadium we really had no idea what to expect. When a team such as Manchester City or PSG and becomes famous really fast a lot of people start to become fans who are just interested in supporting the winner. For me this ruins some of the atmosphere and we were really worried that this would happen at this stadium but when we got to our seats we were greeted by a couple of English men and they had been fans for awhile it looked like as they knew a whole bunch of old songs from pre billionaire status, as well they added to the passion you felt from the whole stadium.
When we got to our seats we were informed that we weren’t going to be able to use my fancy camera for the first time on this trip. It was so unfortunate because we were at center field in the first row and literally 5 feet from Sergio Aguero and world famous stars. That really was a huge low point in the day for me but the fans would get us back to top form again. The Newcastle supporters were out in force and sang for the full 90 minutes and were really loud so that got a lot of the Manchester City fans going especially the ones right beside the Newcastle supporters. The Newcastle fans would start to cheer for their team really loudly and it was as if the Manchester City fans were laughing at them and the supporters right next to the Newcastle fans would start to sing and the rest of the stadium would follow and end up draining out the Newcastle fans. The final score was 4-0 Manchester City but you have to give respect to the Newcastle fans as they sang for the full 90 minutes for their team till the very end.
Now two words you should never hear in a sentence is Manchester and Liverpool and I am just about to do that. We had to go home from Manchester to Liverpool and when we finally got through the 45 minute wait to get onto the 2 car tram (train) we had missed the final train back to Liverpool. However, we hadn’t missed the last bus and it was already late 11:09 it was to leave the station so leaving us no other option we took the bus. After we left we were the only ones on the bus since nobody is going to be going to Liverpool after a match in Manchester. The bus driver was a really friendly talkative guy and now knows our whole life story now. He told us it was going to take 2 hours to get back to Liverpool because of our whole detour through all the stops in Manchester. We hadn’t been able to get in touch with Eric’s family back in Liverpool yet so we were getting really worried they’d be out waiting for us and couldn’t find us out late and everything. We explained it to the man and he told us that when he got to a certain station and nobody would get on then he would just drive us straight home. We were in luck, absolutely nobody from Manchester wanted to go to Liverpool that night! We ended up making it by 12:15 home and the man let us use his phone to call. I just wanted to tell you about this just incase it’s not very clear in the episode that will go up in a couple weeks.
This was a bit of a shorter blog because of the fact that this was a last minute game that we weren’t planning to go on but because of our luck we got great seats to a quality game. We also only really got to the game about 2 and a half hours before kick off enough time to get our panarama shots from the outside and shoot a bit of footage outside the ground for our episode and watch as the pregame outside the west entrance unfolded. Like our planned episodes we usually tour the city and get to know the city and the fans within it, but in the morning we were across the city at Old Trafford getting a tour their. As we didn’t have that much time in Manchester we had to combine the two. That and because we just like to live on the edge. I must admit though as a Manchester United supporter it did feel awful going from such an amazing ground as Old Trafford to going to our bitter rivials. Eric did have to do a lot of convincing to try and force me to see what we were really experiencing and that I couldn’t be biased in this particular game. It kind of worked and I did enjoy myself but rivalries never leave you and that was quite evident in my mind.