Every boozer’s bustling, the pre-match drinks in flow,
The Deansgate, Toll Gate, Sammy Platts then to the shops we go.
New Red Issue out today, and posters for a pound,
Green and Gold, the sellers shout, another match day sound.
The match day stalls drip merchandise, the T-shirts freshly made,
Celebrating latest victories or the rival we’ve just slain.
Any spares? I’ll buy or sell; I love the touts’ accents,
But match day scarves with rivals on to me just don’t make sense.
A special smell still fills the air; fast food and smoke it’s true,
Where once Kellogg’s and Boddingtons used to filter through.
Our numbers swell as kick off nears; the shops will set the pace,
Arrangements never needed, they’re the perfect meeting place.
The beer is cheap, the offies close, the food is all on tap,
The only downside is the rain when the Manc weather is crap.
The exact same spot for many years no matter what the season,
Our love for Man United is our only common reason,
The faces bob, they duck and dive, but they’re all known to me,
As the shops become the centre stage for red camaraderie,
The Bishop’s songs are booming, they’re sung out on the street,
As I’m queuing at the caravan for a Caribbean treat.
I scoff the lot and drink my beer as chants begin to boom,
Then regretfully I make my way to the to-i-lets of doom.
Drinkers push in everywhere to wee against a wall,
Giggsy starts, its 442, the talk is all football.
I find my place and wet my boots, literally I’m afraid,
My leg is soaked all down my thigh where someone else has sprayed.
A few more cans are downed quite fast; we’re drinking at a canter,
A hail of jokes from every side; collateral match day banter.
More cans to go, so through the crowds then pushing in the shop,
A surge of people spill outside but the doorman makes me stop,
A shout goes up, a coach goes past with beckoning rival fans,
All ten men behind the glass but then it’s raining cans,
Mounted horses clear the shops, fans scatter everywhere,
The vacated gap is filled dead fast, it’s match day so we don’t care,
Ian Brown strolls through the crowd, same time every match,
He’s a real Manc, who goes every game, he never left this patch,
Guzzle, guzzle drink some more… check the ticket ain’t a fake,
Scribble times on bits of card for the first scorer sweepstake,
A nodded head there, a greeting here, a chat with loads of mates,
For years and years… this is where the match day congregates,
I love the shops; they bristle with lads from all over town,
They’re singing that Ken Barlow song and jumpin up and down,
It doesn’t matter who you are, it’s the United fraternity,
I hope the shops remain the same for a red eternity,
It’s ten to KO, time to rush and finish off the beers,
Time to get inside the ground before we hear those cheers.
The floodlit haze above the ground’s, an alluring match day sight,
As seventy thousand silent prayers drift off into the night.
An ocean of heads are bobbing, a stormy sea of red,
Today’s game is a big one; and I get the match day dread.
We can’t get beat, we have to win, a ninetieth minute own goal,
I really would take anything, One love, one heart, one soul.
The crowd it swells and slows us down as people start to funnel,
And the chants all start to echo back once we’re in the main stand tunnel.
Through the turnstiles, up the steps my adrenalin starts to fly,
Right now United’s everything, no other reason why.
But those steps will be the death of me, I slow down to a crawl,
I gasp for breathe uneasily and hang onto the wall,
I’ll never make it to the top; the end is not in sight,
But I lose a Stella from my pants and everything’s alright,
I burst into the stadium, even excited by the pitch,
The shirts are out; we scour them to see who Fergie’s picked.
The stands are packed, the roar goes up ‘United’ fills the air,
And match day anticipation prickles quickly through my hair.
The crowd all stand to clap the team and welcome our keeper in,
The singing’s loud, vociferous, a cacophonic din.
The right side and the left side are singing different chants,
Til U-N-I unites us all and makes the Stretty bounce.
I jostle for position but we’ll stand the whole way through,
There’s no better place to cheer the shirts than the back of Tier Two.
Rooney rolls the ball forwards the roar is deafening,
A gulp of apprehension what will ninety minutes bring?
Sir Alex strolls the touchline; his fist raises the noise,
It’s time to sing our hearts out and get behind the boys.
Copyright©2011 by Phil Martin
All rights reserved.