How do I even start to do justice to what I witnessed last night? I can’t possibly, however good at writing I pretend to be, but I can try. I will say it was one of the best nights of my life, ever, not just in the football arena. Unless you support Liverpool you cannot disagree that at least 45 minutes of that game was football perfection, not that the second 45 was a let down by any stretch of the imagination. Predictions going into the game were mostly sure of one thing, we’d probably score, but also there was a fair chance we would make it hard for ourselves and that we would end up going out of the competition. The build up in Mancunia and in the real world was unlike anything I have ever experienced. Those going to the game anticipated that it would be a great night and those not going to the game were all along with us, united like no other time I can remember. All predictions were blown well and truly out of the water!
Apart from the radio stories of trouble between fans and riot police, the approach to the stadium was much the same as every single time I have been lucky enough to go. Except that along with those stories came a stomach churning of the unexpected, police dogs? Riots? None of that but it was pretty hairy crossing the car park to the entrance because of the amount of fans who stopped in our path to watch the trouble unfold, either that or chant and try and start some. But all that is the preamble to a fantastic night, a red herring, a maguffin, something you think is going to be a major element but it turns out not to be because Manchester United beat Roma and silenced their fans in a proper way, on the pitch.
I make no apologies for going completely apeshit even before the match started. Everyone felt it though, and it was like the guy on the wheels of steel spinning the tunes at Old Trafford wanted to foster that ‘the fans are the twelfth man’ spirit. All of a sudden the Stone Roses blares out and the microphone dude does his ‘Old Trafford – this is the one” which sends shivers down my spine, but then the Rocky theme was back! Come on, Come on, COME ON YOU REDS! Punching the air in celebration before even one pass was made. Up for it? Clearly, and because I haven’t been on the match day rota since before Christmas this was the first chance I had to see the new addition to the United Disabled area – televisions in front of us!
Michael Carrick scores and I’m celebrating like a mad man, little did I or anyone else there no that for the next ten minutes every time we went forward, we would score! Cue great scenes of me wheeling backwards and forwards up the stand and pulling wheelies, trust me, if I could have jumped over the netting to the lads in front I would have done. Forget the fears of pre-kick off, when I realised that the Roma fans were directly above us and if United angered them we were a direct hit for any missiles or anything thrown. In the end, I was turning round and beckoning them to do their worst. They had nothing, 3-0 down in no time, they could have no response other than to sit their and be proud to be part of history. Admittedly, the losing side of history but history all the same.
Those boys were lions tonight and I don’t think Roma had even planned for Alan Smith because he wonderfully ruffled their feathers all night. Carrick, Heinze, Wes Brown and Cristiano Ronaldo played as well as I have ever seen in a Manchester United shirt and Wayne Rooney was on top form. Last night was one of those great occasions where you look in disbelief at the person next to you as if to ask ‘is this really happening?’. It was, every joyous second of it was real. Manchester United made an Italian defence (ITALIAN) and the second placed team in Serie A, look like the Rose and Crown Pub 11. Totti tried the spectacular to keep the score line respectable and Edwin simply swatted his effort away like a fly.
Every United fan there last night played their part and almost sucked the ball into Roma’s net with every chance, the fans can rightly be proud of their efforts last night and it was truly a privilege to behold. There was no trophy available last night, it was not a cup final and according to many scousers this morning, if there was a peak for the season, we reached it last night and we won’t win a thing now. Then again, they also said that Roma are a poor team, it is STILL not the greatest European night in British football history, it still doesn’t beat Istanbul? Well I apologise to anyone who was at the Nou Camp in 1999 but that WAS greater for me because I can say that I was there.
I feel like writing a letter to Phil Downs, the top dog of Manchester United Disabled Supporters Association for allowing me to be present at such an occasion. I know that the rota is not worked out like that but I felt so honoured to be there and it is MUDSA that do that. No-one knew that the Roma match would be that good, but I’m glad I was there. Phil probably never will get his letter but he will see this article and hopefully a mention or two within it will do the job. I’m also beginning to think that Phil or Des Turner has connections, the ‘Rollin Reds’ April edition handed out to me last night in between mental goal celebrations, had Gabby Heinze on the front showing the kind of celebration that all Manchester United players and fans were re-creating last night. It’s almost as if they knew!
Think for one second about those conversations you have had, “what if” conversations about the way you want a match to go. 1-0 down with three minutes left in the European Cup Final, wouldn’t it be great if we scored two and won…
“Wouldn’t It be great if…” That is precisely what happened at Old Trafford last night. IF happened.
“If you live long enough, you eventually see everything.”