The 2nd September 1980, we had lost to Coventry in the League cup 2nd round 1st leg courtesy of a Mark Hateley goal (remember him?). I was obsessed with United as a kid in Timperley and one day I caught the required 2 buses in the school hols just to basically sit on the steps of K Stand and dream. At this point I would like to state I did have mates but this day for some reason I was bored and just did one.
I wandered around the ground and jibbed in the staff door under the main stand as you could with no fear of SPS/CES gripping you. I had a walk down the old players’ tunnel, sat on the manager’s bench and even climbed into the T V gantry. The smell of the grass (no not that kind) just gave me a buzz like nothing else.
On the way out I noticed a sign on the old ticket office window. Coventry City vs Manchester United tickets on general sale. I bought one if for nothing else it was at least a souvenir.
When I got home my mum told me in no uncertain terms that 10 years old was far too young to go to an away game on my own. I cried and cried until my Dad came home from work and my Dad who was the stricter parent of the two somehow relented and said I could go to Highfield Road. Next day I made the same journey to Old Trafford and booked on the official supporters’ club coach.
The day of the game finally arrived and I was so excited I was sat on the K Stand steps at 11am, even though the coaches weren’t leaving till 4.30pm. I waited and waited and then just as the coaches arrived so did my Dad. I was a bit confused but he wasn’t about to send my world crashing down. He spoke to Dave Smith the head of the supporters’ club. He explained how I booked it behind his back but he wanted to allow me to go because of my passion for United. Dave and the other people looked a bit stunned that my Dad was allowing his 10 year old son onto a coach for an away game on his own, and an evening fixture.
They sat me next to a big fat guy directly behind the driver. He was into his butties before we reached Chester Road. He offered me some but although I was starving I just couldn’t eat. As we were approaching Birmingham an almighty smash came from the front and the whole of the windscreen shattered. I was okay because there was a panel around the driver’s seat protecting us. All sort of conspiracy theories were being banded about from the gossip mongerers but it turned out to be a freak explosion of the windscreen and nothing more. We headed to the coach station in Birmingham and changed coaches.
I had lost my minder as he was turning his big frame around to put his coat on. Although I was 10, I was older at heart and pretty clued up. I sneaked off, got a hot dog and headed to the ground. Sadly the coach incident and a Jimmy Greenhoff disallowed goal turned out to be the only things of substance all night, well apart from the hot dog. I always thought we drew 0-0 but on checking the records it says we lost the game 1-0, like the first. This must show what a classic it was eh?
The journey back was boring and only kept interesting by the older lads from Timperley at the back singing and joking. Rampton, Griff, Bean and Nick Perkins, some of whom still go to this day. We arrived in Altrincham at some daft time and there was my Dad waiting for me. My Dad didn’t drive so we walked the 40 minutes home, with me telling him all about the first of many adventures following the Reds alone.
This article was first published by Pete Boyle in Red News, the first Man United fanzine