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Barcelona vs United- A view from the stands

Thu Apr 24, 2008 10:52 pm

It barely seemed like days ago that we were at Manchester Airport heading off to Rome but here we were again, this time going to Barcelona.

Thankfully this time, our alarm went off (as we had no father in law to knock on the door and wake us up as he is on holiday!) at 3.45am so we got to the airport in plenty of time for the 5am check in. As soon as we walked through the door, it was evident just how many flights were heading out there for the match. There were at least 8 flights going out in the morning, and that was just out of one terminal and not even taking into account the overnight trips who would have flown out the day before and all of the independent trips. However, not all of the flights were flying directly into Barcelona as the sheer volume of them meant that the airport couldn't cope with them all. So some had to fly into Girona and ours, we found, would be flying into Reus. None of us had ever heard of Reus and had no idea where it even was so it was going to prove to be an interesting experience clearly! The terminal was absolutely heaving with reds and because of that, it meant that spotting familiar faces was more difficult than usual. We did see Keith and his friends however, and he seemed in a very jolly mood (quite possibly due to the fact that the bar was open, despite the fact it was only 5.30am!). Hubby and I decided to be a bit more sensible than that and had our breakfast at Starbucks! There was just enough time for hubby to buy me a perfume at Duty Free (which I have somewhat cleverly turned into a ritual now lol!) before boarding our Monarch flight. Our flight passed uneventfully and quickly and before we knew it, we were touching down at Reus Airport. As I said, we had absolutely no idea what to expect so there was much hilarity on the plane when we saw that the 'terminal' was so tiny, that it only had 3 gates in it!! According to some MU Travel representatives, Reus Airport had actually opened just for our plane, as we were the only flight landing there! Needless to say, getting through security didn't take long and we were soon through the terminal and starting to board the coaches into Barcelona. We were just about to board coach 3 when a lad got off it and asked if we liked singing! With some uncertainty I said yes, and then he said that coach 3 would be the 'official' singing coach and only people who sung were allowed on it! Now I like singing United songs as much as the next person but I could tell from his aggressive manner that he was going to be an almighty pain in the arse so we declined his offer and got on coach 4 instead! The journey from Reus took about an hour and a half, mainly due to the terrible traffic going into the city. Our guide was very good though, as she told us all about St Jordi day, a Catalan festival which was being celebrated that day (the equivalent to St George's Day). Apparently, it is a tradition on that day for men to give a woman a red rose and for the women to give a man a book. I looked hopefully over at hubby when she was explaining it to us but I sensed that I'd already pushed my luck with the Duty Free perfume!

We arrived into Barcelona and were dropped off at Port Olimpica, site of the Olympic Village when Barcelona held the Olympics in 1992. It is a beautiful area actually, with nice bars and cafes, as well as a beach. However, we decided to forgo these pleasures to head into the city centre for some sightseeing instead! We got ourselves on the metro (as seems to be our tradition on Euro aways!) and our first stop was Placa de Catalunya. The amount of people out and about was crazy. There were all kinds of bands and entertainment playing there and there was hardly any room to move!! Rather predictably for anyone that knows us, we headed to the very un-Spanish Hard Rock Cafe for lunch to fill up as we knew that it would be our only proper meal of the day. It was absolutely packed (about 60% at least were United fans though!) but luckily enough, we were able to get a table and have our lunch. After that, we took a walk down La Rambla and the famous tree-lined street looked even more attractive as it was lined with Catalan flag-draped stalls selling roses and books. It was absolutely fascinating to watch and I felt really lucky that we were there to experience such a proud Catalan tradition. On our way down La Rambla, we heard United songs eminating from somewhere so took a detour to Placa Reial where we found the beautiful square full of reds, singing loud and proud with the locals looking on, not quite sure what to make of it all!! Further down at the bottom of La Rambla, more reds had congregated and were singing their hearts out, fully justifying the song that the United were 'taking over Barcelona'! We had a brief walk past the Christopher Columbus statue down to the marina, before hopping back onto the metro and over to the Segrada Familia (nobody can ever accuse us of wasting a second of our free time on these Euro aways!). We spent a little while there, being very touristy and taking photos as well as buying a few souveniers from an official FC Barcelona shop nearby. We did allow ourselves a little while to sit out in the sunshine as the weather was absolutely gorgeous- a brilliant blue cloudless sky and really warm- before getting back onto the metro yet again to get back to the coach. We arrived at Port Olimpica and had a stroll along the beach with an ice cream before the unenviable task of trying to locate our coach. The area was being treated as a meeting point for United fans so the place was crazy- some choosing to hang around there and play a game of football on the beach before making their own way to the ground, and the rest of us trying to find our coach to take us to the ground. Problem was that there were over 40 coaches all lined down the street and none of them were in order!!! So, it took us about 15-20 minutes to find our coach (naturally, it was one of the last we came to!) but at least our coach was there- turned out that some of them never even turned up at all so people who had been on those coaches had to grab a seat on any coach that was free, and that was before even thinking about those of them who had left items on the coach! It was total chaos and incredibly bad organisation on the part of the coaches. So over an hour after we were supposed to leave for the ground, we finally departed and battled our way through the traffic to Nou Camp. Despite our coach not being the 'official' singing one, it was still lively enough as song after song was being sung. Anything from 'Viva Ronaldo' and 'Nemanja woah' to 'Ralphie Milne' and 'George Best World' was being sung! Even 'Big Jim Holton's after you', 'We've got that Mickey Phelan' (who remembers that?!), 'Nicky Nicky Butt' and 'Schmeichel, Schmeichel, der der der der der der der der der der' got an airing! If that wasn't enough, someone even paid homage to Karel Poborsky lol! We arrived at the ground and a frisson of excitement coursed through the coach. Here we were at the Nou Camp for a Champions League semi final. It didn't get much bigger than that! The stewards there annoyed me almost straight away as when we were having a bag and body search, they were confiscating sun tan lotion and after sun which I thought was really pathetic. As we were in a part of the ground with absolutely no cover from the fierce Spanish sun, it was particularly stupid. As if that didn't irritate me enough, I was REALLY pissed off once we got through the searches. I took out my mobile phone to take a photo of the ground and a steward appeared out of nowhere to try and stop me doing it! I asked him why, and he wouldn't say anything or give me eye contact. I couldn't see what harm I was doing and tried again to take a photo. This time a second (both male by the way) steward appeared and they both almost manhandled me away from the area to stop me doing it!!! I couldn't believe it and I was getting seriously irate but hubby managed to calm me down. In the end, I walked around the corner and took one anyway! Once through the turnstile (left hand as always!), we then had the mammoth feat of climbing up the stairs. Anyone who has ever sat in the top tier of the Nou Camp will know exactly what I'm talking about. The amount of stairs in insane and it was a good 10-15 hike to even climb up them!!

Once in the ground, the concourse was packed despite the fact that kick off was still a couple of hours away. The facilities in the ground were fairly basic although I have the pleasure of reporting that they did at least have proper toilets there (instead of holes in the ground) and even actual toilet paper although no soap, which I suppose would have been asking a lot!! We queued up for AGES for a bottle of water and a packet of crisps which was going to be our tea but at least we knew what we were eating. Some brave souls were actually trying the hot dogs which were being 'cooked' on a lukewarm grill- I'd have had to be paid danger money to eat one of those! I saw a few people taking them back as they were stone cold and raw in the middle but were met with nothing but shrugs! We headed up to our seats and we found, not to our great surprise, that they were in the dizzying top tier- the highest point in the ground. There was net surrounding our seats too (which I suppose was to stop us throwing things onto the Barca fans but I reckon it was more to stop us falling off the top of the stand!) which was a little offputting. To pass the time, we tried to make our own entertainment by singing lots of songs including one which was a variation of 'Viva Ronaldo' but was 'Viva John O'Shea' instead! It was an affectionate song but I can't repeat the lyrics on here I'm afraid!! Also entertaining was seeing the amount of sunburnt people arriving into the ground. I felt quite sorry for them actually as it did look quite painful but one bloke I had to laugh at. He'd obviously been wearing sunglasses all day as he had a beetroot red face but two white panda eyes! I wondered how long that would take to fade! The pre-match build up in the ground was pretty good- lots of decent, upbeat dance music although I was really surprised that there were hardly any Barcelona fans in the ground until just a few minutes before kick off. The teams came out of the tunnel and at last, there started to be a bit of an atmosphere in the ground as their anthem was played. Apparently, a section of the ground held up a mosiac showing something but we couldn't see what it was as it was happening below us- all we could see were the back of the cards they were holding up! The game kicked off and we found that it was going to be a really difficult task to try and create an atmosphere in the United end. Not because of the Barcelona fans but because of the way we were positioned. Although there were at least 5,000 United fans in attendance (conservative estimate), we were kind of wrapped around the top of the stand because the section that we were in was probably only about 20 or so rows deep. If that wasn't tricky enough, there was no roof either (thank goodness it didn't rain!) so there was no way to trap the sound in the stadium. It was all very frustrating! Of course right at the start of the game, we were given a penalty after a handball in the box and everyone cheered, mainly in disbelief! Again, I couldn't bear to watch it and I turned my back on the goal and buried my face in hubby's shoulder, as I seem to have a habit of doing recently. I squeezed my eyes tight shut with pure tension as I waited to hear the reaction. First of all, I heard a handful of people cheer and I can only assume that it was because they saw the 'keeper going the wrong way and thought the goal was certain. Of course it wasn't and as I heard the groans, I opened my eyes although I really didn't want to. Nevertheless, the game carried on although it seemed to take the wind out of our sails for a brief time. A bloke in front of me who'd definitely had more than one ale through the day, was trying to motivate everyone to sing although it didn't really help that he was calling people miserable bastards and stupid many birth canals who should fornicate off and support Burnley!!?? We were all quite shocked at the atmosphere created by the Barcelona fans actually as it was more or less non-existant. There were a few odd boos for Ronaldo and the referee and a few whistles when Van der Sar had the ball but by and large, it felt strangely soulless which I would have been the last thing I expected to find there. It didn't truly feel like they were getting behind their team and whilst I know that Barca have had a rough season, I would've expected their fans to put that behind them and really support their players. The bloke next to me started to sing, 'Shit ground, no fans' which I had to smile at! Anyway, the half time whistle soon came and I headed down the concourse for a bit of a wander around. Whilst I was down there, I spotted European Away Guy which I was really pleased about as I hadn't seen him all day. He asked after hubby and we had a brief chat about Liverpool vs Chelsea, and then about United. I asked him if he'd been successful for Moscow but he said he couldn't apply as he was no longer a season ticket holder. So it turns out that he may have gone to every European away this season, but won't be at the final! How weird is that?! We then said farewell I headed back up into my seat.

The second half kicked off and to be honest, passed in a bit of a blur. It was an odd match actually (apart from the very interesting game of trying to tell which player was on the ball as it was much like watching a load of ants running around on grass!) because it felt like we were in danger without ever truly being in danger! By that, I mean that Barcelona had a lot of the ball and had a lot of long passing phases without really ever doing anything with it. The lads seemed to deal with everything very calmly in a way that never felt like we were under threat. The only time I ever did feel like that was when Thierry Henry came on (and got a predictably fiery reception from us, which I suspect will be 10 times worse next Tuesday!) and I had a horrible sense of foreboding that he might score! He did sting Van der Sar's palms a couple of times but happily didn't do much else! The referee was also getting us all riled as it seemed like he was trying to compensate Barcelona for giving us a penalty by giving most other decisions their way which was infuriating! We were all still trying our best to keep the atmosphere going up 'in the gods', singing all kinds of different United songs but it was really, really hard. As the clock ticked down and we headed towards the inevitable 0-0 draw, I wondered what to make of it. My mind involuntarily flashed back to 1998 when we'd got a 0-0 draw away at Monaco in the Champions League Quarter Final, only to draw 1-1 at Old Trafford and be knocked out on away goals. That has always stuck out in my mind as I remember the players celebrating in Monaco almost like it was a win. So, I awaited the final whistle with interest to see the players' reaction although I was quite certain that they would have learned from that experience. As the whistle blew, I saw no exhuberant celebrations either on the pitch or in the stands. The players came over and applauded us which we appreciated, although Ronaldo didn't do it for long at all before he headed down the tunnel which rather disappointing (not particularly picking on him but it was just very noticable). The Barcelona fans then all shuffled out in a rather nonchalant manner which suggested that they weren't really sure what to make of the scoreline either!! Of course, we were kept back in the stadium for a while (it was about 45 minutes in the end) but to hubby and I, it didn't seem so bad seeing as we were kept back for almost 2 hours in Rome! About 10 minutes or so into our wait, some of the players including Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs came out for a warm down and they got a rapturous reception. I wondered if that meant that they were staying overnight another night in Barcelona as usually if they're flying straight back home, they just leave the ground immediately at the end of the game. A few minutes later, a huge cheer went up as a United fan (god only knows how based on where we were) legged it out onto the pitch! He did a mini lap of honour with arms held aloft until a gaggle of stewards decended upon him. He actually managed to body swerve his way around one of them until he did one swerve too many and slid on the slippery surface and onto the floor, accompanied by yet another big cheer from us and a rendition of 'Taking over Barcelona'! As boredom began to set in, we decided as we often have done on European aways, to split ourselves into 'left side' and 'right side' and have a bit of mock banter. 'Get to work you lazy t***s' was flung in one direction, 'What the f*****g hell was that?' was flung in the other. This continued for quite a while as lots of off the cuff jibes were traded which helped the time pass! After being kept back all that time, we were finally let out and then had the delightful task of making our way back down again! Thankfully, we had a slope to walk down which was a lot easier that negotiating all of those stairs again!! Once out of the ground, we then had to try and find the coaches which were nowhere to be seen. Apparently, the police had made them all park away from the ground so we had to walk almost a mile to get to the coaches and then of course, we had to find our coach in amongst the dozens!! Typical European away organisation!! We found our coach alright thankfully, but we all had to wait on there a while until police let us go. We then had the long drive back to Reus Airport although I managed to get a fair bit of sleep on the coach which made the time pass a bit. We arrived at Reus to camera crews interviewing fans funnily enough and found that there was another flight leaving from the airport aswell, which was one of the overnight trips. Unfortunately, the airport seemed totally incapable of dealing with more than one flight at a time and security basically consisted of two old guys stood by the detectors, making sure everyone had emptied their pockets! Consequently, the queue for security was insanely long and it took forever to get through! Finally we got on the plane and the flight home passed off uneventfully. It was a long day though and we finally got home at 5am- just enough time for a couple of hours of sleep before getting back up for work!

So, an eventful day for sure and one which sets up one hell of a game next Tuesday!!


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Re: Barcelona vs United- A view from the stands

Thu Apr 24, 2008 11:18 pm

Some photos:

Segrada Familia (coming out sideways for some bizarre reason!)

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Beach at Port Olimpico

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The hottest ticket in town!!

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The photo I nearly got manhandled by the stewards over!


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Just under an hour before kick off

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The lads warming up (and this is using my zoom!!)


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Before kick off


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United vs Barcelona- A view from the stands

Wed Apr 30, 2008 10:13 am

After the disappointment of Saturday at Chelsea, we were thrown straight back into the thick of things with the Champions League semi final, second leg against Barcelona.

We arrived at Old Trafford pretty early for a change, after leaving straight from work for the ground. We had decided we were going to head to Harry Ramsden's for tea, as we went there before the Roma game and it didn't seem to do us any harm then! Firstly we paid a visit to Keith for our programs and fanzines and we had a little chat about his trip to Barcelona. Even though it was only about 5.30pm, Bishops Blaize was already in full voice as I could hear 'U-N-I-T-E-D' eminating from it, at a pretty good volume! We then headed over to Harry Ramsden's where we were told there would be an half an hour wait, which wasn't too bad. So we passed some time by burying our heads in the match program and fanzines and listened out for our name to be called for our table. Time seemed to be ticking on and half an hour passed with no sign of our table. I mande my way to the front of the packed lobby and found that we were still quite a way down the waiting list. Looking into the restaurant, it was clear why. There were only 2 or 3 servers for the whole restaurant and they were unbelievably slow. My theory is that the people who had booked a 'Dreambreak' and had vouchers for the restaurant, meant there were more people than they could cope with. So after an hour of waiting and still no sign of a table, we gave up and headed to the United Chippy near Bishops Blaize. There were still dozens of people crowded in the restaurant when we left and I very much doubt that any of those still waiting to be seated would have made kick off, if they had stuck around! We somehow fought our way through the throngs to the chippy and the place was going crazy. A huge group of United fans had congregated there and were making their way through the repertoire of our songs, with scarves swinging above their heads. Loads of people around held their mobile phones aloft, clearly getting videos recorded to put onto YouTube! We managed to get something to eat and rationalised that although last time we went to Harry Ramsden's United beat Roma, last time we went to United Chippy, United beat Arsenal so we took that to be a good omen too! Around the corner at Bishops Blaize, the place was bouncing and the noise coming out of the place was crazy. I hoped that all of the people inside weren't battering their vocal chords too much and were saving something for the game! Outside the pub, a group of Barcelona fans had somehow found themselves there and were looking bewildered but slightly bemused at the 'entertainment' before them! We then made our way back to the ground, and there was a real buzz around the place. I had been stressed all day at work thinking about the match, but I was now starting to get REALLY nervous. The butterflies in my stomach were now becoming nasty stinging hornets and wave after wave of nausea was threatening to engulf me. Why do we put ourselves through this torture?!!

We went through our left hand turnstile as always and into the ground and the first thing we did was head straight for the plasma screens and the team news. It wasn't good. We had all hoped that Vidic and Rooney would make it but alas, their names were neither on the team sheet or the bench. This was a blow and a sea of worried faces filled the concourse as we contemplated how we would cope without two of our most influential players. We headed up to our seats much earlier than usual, as we wanted to soak up the atmopshere inside the ground. We saw on our seats the plastic squares that we would be holding up for the mosaic and over in Stretty, we could see '68' and '99' spelt out. I had to laugh at the writing on the back of the squares where it told us to take them home as a 'souvenir'- I was sure that United just couldn't be bothered to clear away all of the rubbish if they were left behind! The first thing we heard in the ground though were the Barcelona fans who were making an almighty racket in tier 2 (thankfully positioned not quite over our heads) but I was sure they wouldn't be as loud once the game kicked off. Quiet Bloke then appeared and said his usual 'hi' accompanied by a little nod which I knew would be the most we would hear out of him all night! Alan Keegan then came on and although I have had a go at the bloke many times for stuff he plays and things he says, I couldn't fault him at all this time. The difference it made by having no dedications but just good music, was immense. The majority of the songs were United ones (some of the older ones too) which everyone joined in with vociferously as well as commentary being played of 'that night in Barcelona' in '99. Wilf McGuinness was then brought onto the pitch as he was before the semi final against Milan last year and did an absolutely stupendous job at giving a rousing speech to the fans which really got everyone fired up. In front of us, the guys who live near us that we hadn't seen for a long time had appeared and we were delighted to see them. We had a good chat and they told us that work and financial constraints had meant they had to sell a lot of their games on to family members but wouldn't miss this game for anything! In fact, it was just like old times as Bolton Paul turned up in his old seat so it felt like the good old days! The teams then came out of the tunnel to an absolute wall of noise and both us and Stretty holding up our squares to make the mosaic. I peeked through a gap and saw how beautiful the Stretty looked although the European Cup looked a bit odd, but I put that down to the fact that the squares for that section were on the exec seats and half of them were probably still finishing off a bottle of wine then! It was now impossible to hear the Barcelona fans despite them being so close to us, because the cheers for United combined with the whistles and boos for Barcelona were deafening. Tall Bloke, Little Guy and Ginger Bloke then arrived and I lightly mocked them for missing the mosaic. They blamed the trams as always, and also told us a story of their 'local' before a match being taken over by Barcelona fans as it was next to the team hotel!? Very bizarre! I filled Tall Bloke in on the team news and saw a look of concern flicker across his face. We all trusted those players out on the pitch though. As our mosaic had said, we had to 'believe'.

The game kicked off and the noise in the ground didn't let up, not even for a second. So many songs were sung like and scarves were held aloft and swung over heads, even when it wasn't 'Viva Ronaldo' that was being sung. The noise, colour and movement coming from the stands nearly choked me up. I was so proud. Barcelona started the game well and I said to Tall Bloke that it was going to be a long night. He agreed. It was going to feel even longer with no clock to look at, as the scoreboards were having a hissy fit so there was no score, time, or clock to count down the end of the half! United were looking a little nervy and when Scholes clipped Messi in the first minute, we all held our breath as we thought he had conceded an early penalty as Barcelona had done against us last week. The referee pointed for a free kick outside the box and we all breathed a sigh of relief. Thankfully the lads cleared it, and the game carried on. I tried to ask Tall Bloke how his trip was to Barcelona as I hadn't seen him since the then, but the crowd was so noisy that it was pretty impossible! I just about managed to hear which airport he'd flown into, that he got quite drunk and that he saw me somewhere in the stadium (although I didn't see him) and that was it. Back on the pitch and Barcelona still seemed to be starting the game with a lot of vigour and determination and my stomach was twisting in nervous knots. Yet we still never heard a peep from the Barcelona fans. Shouting Guy was in full flow behind me, shouting 'foul throw' at every opportunity and lambasting the referee! Suddenly, United launched an attack and we all roared them on. Although the ball was initially lost, it somehow broke to Scholesy who unleashed an absolutely stunning shot which flew into the back of the net! The crowd just went wild. Tall Bloke twirled me round and round whilst giving me a huge kiss (normal service resumed!) but not to be left out, Hubby got a huge hug and a kiss too!! Instinctively I looked to the scoreboard to see when it was scored, but the damn thing still wasn't working!! Suddenly it sprung into life with the wrong time, and with the score still being 0-0! Eventually it came back on with the correct information which was just as well, as I spent a lot of time looking at it, seeing how long we had left! Barcelona to their credit, didn't let their heads go down after we scored and they kept plugging away. Messi, who had a very lively game, brought a good save out of Van der Sar with a well hit shot after he had run half the length of the pitch. They had a couple of other shots in that half, mainly from Deco, and it was impossible to take our eyes off the game for even a second. However the lads were matching them though, as we had a couple of excellent chances with a shot from Park just whizzing past the post and a header from Nani which did the same. Tall Bloke said to me that the key would be getting into half time 1-0 up and I agreed, but we both immediately thought back to the Chelsea game where we had said the same thing about going into half time 0-0, and that hardly worked out as planned! So, we all kept everything crossed for the remaining minutes of the half and thankfully, we managed to hold onto the lead. The half time whistle was greeted with a huge cheer of joy and relief, and we all headed down to the concourse for the highlights. Although we had a perfect view of the goal where we were, it looked even more incredible seeing the replay in slow motion.

Back in our seats, there was almost no time to settle before the teams were coming back out onto the pitch to 'This Is The One'. I sensed that if the first half felt long, then the second half was going to feel like an eternity! The game kicked off and the reds packed into the ground were as boisterous as before, still singing songs as if their lives depended on it, and roaring the lads on in encouragement. I was no different, and I don't know how I haven't done permenant damage to the hearing of some of the people around me!! The referee began to come into the game a bit more as he had let things flow relatively well in the first half. However, it didn't take long for his first yellow card of the game to be produced and I said to Tall Bloke how I was sure this would open the floodgates and he would start booking players like it was going out of fashion. Sure enough, that was the case and I looked nervously on any time Hargreaves, Nani or Evra went in for a tackle with those lads being on a yellow card. In fact, Nani went in for a tackle early in the second half and when the referee blew for a free kick, it looked very much like he was going to be booked. You could see the horror in his body language as he could mentally see his name in the United sqaud for the Final being torn up in front of his eyes. Thankfully, he got away with it and we were all relieved but obviously none more so than Nani himself! The half progressed with neither side really creating anything clear cut, but the support never faltered for a second. With half an hour left, Iniesta was taken off and replaced by Thierry Henry who predictably got a red hot reception from the stands along with a rendition of 'Bertie Mee said to Matt Busby'! As the last 15 minutes approached, the nerves were really beginning to jangle. Could we really hold onto this precious lead, one that it seemed like an age ago that Paul Scholes had given us? Fergie then decided to make some substitiutions with Nani coming off to be replaced by Giggs, for another appearance to add to his ever-closer record and Fletcher coming on for Scholesy, who predictably got a rousing standing ovation from the red masses. Time was ticking down, but not quick enough. My eyes seemed glued to the clock, willing every second to pass quickly. In the last five minutes, I was screaming so much that I nearly blacked out twice and had to grab Hubby to stop myself falling down! I don't know how any of us managed to get through those minutes. The lads were heroic in their defending, clearing shots, crosses and passed like their lives depended on it. However, the clearances always seemed to fall to a Barcelona player and we would only have a few seconds respite before more Barcelona attacks came flying into our half. The board showed that there would be 3 minutes of injury time which none of us could argue with but knew it would feel more like 3 hours. Just as injury time was about to begin, Evra went down injured after a boot in the face from Deco which although gave the lads time to have a breather, meant that the agony would be prolonged as the referee added more time onto that injury time for the Evra injury. As the game went into 93 minutes, 94 minutes, 95 minutes, we wondered if there would ever be an end to the torture. I refused to let myself believe we had got there as there is always the possibility of a twist at the end. Just a few seconds before the end of the game, Barcelona were given a free kick and it was all I could do not to bury my face in my heads and not watch it. The tension in the stands at that point was palpable. Their goalkeeper came flying into the box and I prayed it wouldn't cause confusion in our defence. Well, I should have had more confidence in them than that as the free kick was swung in but it was dealt with swiftly by Silvestre which was to be the last action of the game. The referee finally blew his whistle to an eruption of noise which must have been heard in Moscow! In the stands, there was delirium. Hugs and kisses were flying in from all directions- Hubby, Tall Bloke, Ginger Bloke, the guys in front of us, Shouting Guy, Bolton Paul.....even people that didn't know each other just grabbed one another in scenes of pure, unadulaterated joy. I saw grown men, blokes who I had been sat near to for years, crying unashamedly. Even I was tearing up I have to admit, such was the emotion. On the pitch, the lads were delighted and one fan tried to join them but was caught by stewards. 'Glory Glory Man United' then came over the tannoy and was echoed from the stands with passion. An absolutely indescribable moment.

When we all finally began to leave the ground and filter out into the chilly Manchester night, we didn't feel the cold. We had a warmth from within. A warmth of pride and elation. After months of being sung, I finally allowed myself to sing, 'Follow, Follow, Follow, 'Cos United are going to Moscow, There'll be thousands of reds, And we'll be pissed out of our heads, 'Cos United are going to Moscow'. I could sing it now because it was fact. I couldn't put a jinx on it now. WE ARE GOING TO MOSCOW!!!!!!
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Wigan vs United- A view from the stands with pics

Mon May 12, 2008 8:22 am

Seeing as I was too busy celebrating last night and am currently too hungover to write AVFTS yet, I thought I'd put some of my pics up on here for now :D Sorry that some of them are a bit blurry!!


JJB Stadium

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At the final whistle


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The score that counts!



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The trophy presentation



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Celebrations!


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Re: Wigan vs United- A view from the stands *pics*

Tue May 13, 2008 9:49 pm

Sorry for the delay, but this has taken me a while!!


Well, what could be said about this game? Wigan vs United. The title decider. 90 minutes of football in which our destiny as Premier League Champions or Premier League Runners Up would be decided.

The match was the first thing I thought of when I woke in the morning- unnaturally early for a Sunday morning. Nerves were already kicking in. I had no idea how I was going to make it through the day. I went to work and hoped that I was going to be busy enough to take my mind off it. Of course, that was never going to be the case. Although I hardly stopped all morning, it was still there in my head no matter what I did. I even found myself talking to complete strangers about the match! Pretty much everyone was certain that United would win but that kind of thinking always plants a seed of doubt in my mind- things never go that easy when people expect them to. I left work at 1pm and made the short journey over to Wigan. We managed to grab what looked like the last parking space for miles around and started walking to the ground. It seemed as if United fans were outnumbering Wigan fans quite dramatically around the ground and it almost had an air of a Cup Final about it. The sun was shining, people were proudly wearing colours which is rare for an away game, and the mood was positive and optimistic. Well, all except for mine. I was getting myself in such a state about the game that I was nearly physically sick with nerves several times. I began to wonder if I should have had a couple of drinks before the game to calm myself down! I never drink during United games- I like to have clarity when I'm watching the match and experience my true emotions at the time but before this match, I was sorely tempted to break my personal code! As we carried on walking down the road, every few steps someone would ask us if we had a spare ticket. It was incredible. Some guys were even flagging down cars driving down the road to ask them! I'm sure the ground could have been filled at least 2 or 3 times over, judging from the amount of people desperately trying to get their hands on a ticket! We got to Asda and thought that as we had enough time, we should nip in there and have our lunch. A couple of seasons back, we'd gone in there for our tea before the match and United had won so I was now so desperately clutching at straws to help us win, I thought it could be an good omen! I was even trying to figure out what top or socks I was wearing when United beat West Ham or Barcelona and tried to avoid wearing the same thing I did at Middlesbrough or Blackburn, just in case it made a difference. I think at this point, I was spiralling out of control to put it mildly!! So, we went into the cafe and had exactly what we did last time (meat and potato pie and chips- it's virtually mandatory to have a pie in Wigan!) and I somehow managed to keep it down. My nerves were now impossible to keep under control and between that and the heat, I was beginning to feel drained before I'd even got to the ground! As we got nearer and nearer the JJB, there were stalls everywhere selling United t-shirts, scarves, inflatable trophies, flags and even rosettes which was amazing! I wondered how the Wigan fans actually felt about us taking over their patch as it was beginning to feel more and more like a home game, the closer we got to the stadium! There were United fans singing, cheering and making a general racket all around. One bloke was stood in a middle of a roundabout wearing a Ronaldo shirt back to front, and singing 'Viva Ronaldo' which was absolutely hilarous! I looked around, puzzled at the police presence as we'd heard it would be the biggest police operation ever undertaken at JJB but there were very few signs of there being any more than usual. Even when we got nearer our turnstile, the only added bit of security that I could see was that there were stewards and police who had formed a barrier preventing anyone going through until they checked the tickets. However, once through there, not even our bags were searched which I wish I'd known before as I would have taken in some water with me, to cope with the blazing heat.

Once through the left hand turnstile (as if there'd be any other that I would go through on such an important day!) and into concourse, it was absolutely heaving. There was almost no room left to even stand so getting things like a drink or programs were definitely out of the question! The place was buzzing though. I wondered how there weren't more people like me, looking stressed and feeling sick with nerves. I decided that either they were all drunk, or maybe I'm just not cut out to be a United fan as I get too wound up and stressed. Maybe I'd be better supporting someone inoffensive and mediocre like Blackburn Rovers or Middlesbrough, who never really seem to have any reason to get stressed as they rarely have big matches to worry about anyway! There was no reason to hang around in the concourse really so we then headed up to our seats. The lads were already out there warming up and at the same time, the teams were being shown on the scoreboards. I was delighted to see Vidic back in the team but astonished to see Rooney! I couldn't have been happier with the team- it was a team that could play well and win. I just hoped the lads had read the script too! Scanning the crowd, I didn't see any faces I knew but that was hardly surprising as the area that United fans 'officially' had was so vast. The empty seats next to me were then filled by a couple, who I was rather sceptical about. They were dressed more for a boat trip down the Thames than a football match! I decided to keep an open mind and just hope that the club had distributed these all important tickets to the right people. The songs then started off from the United end and joining in as usual, I found that it somehow calmed my nerves a little bit. So I carried on, swirling my lucky scarf above my head and putting as much of my nervous energy as I could into singing! The lads then headed back down the tunnel and I realised that I hadn't noticed any of the pre-match build up. So I made a point of listening out for it but clearly it wasn't their strong point as the music was so quiet that it was impossible to even hear what it was! Time was ticking along and soon it was time for the teams to come out. As they made their way out onto the pitch, the noise was immense. I felt like I had half of the world's population of butterflies fluttering around in my stomach, such were my nerves!

The teams then lined up, ready to kick off and it was obvious that the lads were all eager to get going. So were we, but Steve Bennett held up kick off for a while which we figured to be because all the games had to kick off at the same time. It was pretty frustrating but thankfully, Bennett soon got the game underway. The lads started the game rather nervously and in the stand, we did our best to support them by singing lots of different songs. We sang player-specific ones ('Viva Ronaldo', 'Anderson-son-son', 'Saw my mate the other day...', 'Park, Park, Wherever you may be', 'He scores goals galore, he scores goals', 'Nemanja woah'...' etc) as well as general United ones ('Take me home United Road'- the true version, 'U-N-I-T-E-D', 'United Calypso', 'I see the Stretford End arising..'). It was really buzzing. Back on the pitch, and the lads still hadn't really settled into the game. Wigan were playing well and the lads looked frustrated. This was summed up by a booking for Scholesy and I felt like it was going to be a long day. The atmosphere dipped just a touch as it was obvious that we were all starting to get on edge. I even had a mini-argument with the bloke in front of me after he had a go at Park, calling him lazy and also puzzlingly Chinese so I decided to correct him on both counts! Suddenly out of nowhere, the heavens opened and rain came lashing down! As we were all stood in the ground wearing t-shirts and shorts etc, we hoped it would pass quickly before we had to walk back to our cars as well as worrying about what effect it might have on the players. Shortly afterwards, United launched an attack towards the Wigan goal and even from our position at the opposite end of the ground, we could see Rooney's legs being taken out from underneath him. We all collectively held our breath as we waited to see what the referee would do. Miraculously, he pointed to the spot and our end erupted. Well, all except for me. Ever the pessimist and convinced that I have cursing capabilities on the lads, I refused to celebrate until I saw that ball in the back of the net. As Ronaldo put the ball on the spot, Hubby told me to make sure I watched it being taken. I had begun to get a habit of covering my eyes as I can't bear the tension of watching it but this time, I agreed to keep my eyes firmly open! As Ronaldo completed his run up and struck the ball, you could have heard a pin drop. Thankfully, the net bulged a split second later and Ronaldo had put us in front. Delirium reigned in the stands although on the pitch, the lads were a little calmer. They knew that there was still work to be done. Well, they all seemed calmer except for Scholesy who went charging into Palacios not long after our goal and ran the real risk of getting a second yellow card. The Wigan fans predictably screamed "Off off off" in his and the referee's direction but thankfully for us, Bennett just gave him a stern telling off and we breathed a sigh of relief. The Wigan fans weren't quite so impressed however and proceeded to boo Scholes every time he had the ball afterwards. As half time approached, people were starting to check their phones for the latest Chelsea score. I was determined that I was going to avoid it and just concentrate on our own game but it was impossible not to be sucked into it. It was like a game of Chinese whispers in the ground though as people were telling each other different scorelines- 0-0, 1-0 to Chelsea, 2-0 to Chelsea.....never was there a rumour that Bolton were in front though! Then a rumour about Terry being injured swiftly followed. Some said he'd dislocated his shoulder, some said he'd broken his arm...I refused to get too happy until I knew the full facts! The half time whistle went to the relief of us all and I mentally wished that we could just finish the game on the half time whistle- I wasn't sure if I could make it through another half!! I decided not to bother going down to the concourse at half time as I knew it would be crammed so just stayed in my seat instead and had a chat with the bloke sat next to me. He seemed reasonably knowledgable so we had quite a good conversation although I longed for the humour and familiarity of the Yorkshires. It was a shame that we couldn't have shared this experience, having been through so much of the season together. Hubby had braved the concourse though and on his return, said that he had seen Little Guy and European Away Guy down there so I was pleased that at least they managed to be in the ground for the game as the Yorkshires in particular, had been struggling for tickets. Looking out towards the pitch, the weather was getting worse. The thunder cracked all around, accompanied by bright flashes of lightning. I said to Hubby that if it continued and we won the league, I wouldn't want to be the person stood in the middle of the pitch holding a metal trophy aloft!

The players then came out to begin the second half and although the thunder and lightning had eased, the random heavy rain downpour definitely had not as the players seemed to get soaked to the skin almost instantly as they came out onto the pitch. It seemed to be an eternity before Bennett allowed the second half to commence as once again, we had to be in sync with the rest of the games being played. This phase included several false starts which frustrated both the fans and the players as we were all itching to get the game underway. Finally, he blew his whistle and we were 45 minutes away from knowing our Premier League fate. The lads started off quite confidently as it became evident how important that fiest half goal had been to ease a little bit of the pressure off the players. The bloke behind me however, was even more pessimistic than me as he declared that we needed 'at least another 2 or 3 goals' in the half! We had a good shout for a penalty when Scholes was taken clean out in the box but Bennett, seemingly sure he'd done his job by giving us one penalty already, refused to give us another. Rooney was absolutely furious and seeing what was going to happen, I shouted to Rooney to calm down and walk away. Unfortunately, I forgot that he couldn't hear me shouting in a crowd of thousands no matter how loud my voice was and he continued to have a go at Bennett which predictably resulted in a yellow card. Now we had possibly two of our more 'passionate' shall we say, players on a yellow card and I was beginning to get edgy again. Soon afterwards, news began to filter through that Chelsea had gone 1-0 up through Shevchenko of all people and a little bit of doom and gloom began to creep into the stands as our game was so balanced on a knife edge. I hoped that the players wouldn't sense it and let it affect them. Hargreaves was then brought on to replace Scholes which I think was both a good move physically and mentally and things began to calm down again a little. Almost straight after that, Giggsy was brought on to replace Park and to notch up his record equalling 758th appearance and he was greeted warmly by everyone. The lads really started to take a hold on the game as Kirkland pulled off some excellent saves which brought a rendtion of 'England's number 1' from the Wigan fans whose contribution apart from that during the game was to boo Scholes and Ronaldo and for a few of them to throw some aeroplane arms in our direction which was predictably depressing. The lads kept plugging away however and at this stage, I didn't feel like Wigan were threatening much- it was as if United had the finishing line in their sights. In another lovely attack, Rooney played a terrific ball into Giggs and we were all screaming 'Hit it!!!' at him like a bunch of lunatics! However, he was the calmest person in the ground as he coolly slotted the ball home to score the goal that sent United fans and players alike into seventh heaven. We were all jumping around like crazy and the players were as bad, with every single one of them piling on top of Giggsy. Even Van der Sar ran the length of the pitch to join in. All of Giggsy's songs got an airing and he looked absolutely made up as he saluted us all. The players now believed the league was theirs. With 10 agonising minutes still left on the clock, I still wouldn't let myself be sure of it. As everyone around me were singing 'Championes' and 'Now are you gonna believe us....we're gonna win the league', I was shouting encouragement at the players to keep concentrating and keep playing! The last 10 minutes were a bit of a blur. I must have look at the clock dozens of times as it seemed to stubbornly refuse to tick down. Wigan all of a sudden, seemed to decide to make a fight of the last few minutes as they peppered our goal with a few attacks that had we not already been 2-0 up, would probably have given me a heart attack on the spot! As we edged nearer and nearer to the final whistle, I almost let myself believe. I joined in with a couple of the songs and prayed dearly that I hadn't cursed the team. Just before the final whistle went, we noticed Fergie embracing Quieroz in celebration. It was then, I truly let myself believe. The final whistle went and I let out a huge scream which was lost in the malaise. People were jumping all over the place, hugging each other, kissing each other....it was remarkable. Suddenly, all of the United fans who had been hidden amongst the Wigan fans emerged and there were literally thousands of them all around the stadium. Unfortunately not all Wigan fans were so accepting of them as I watched one bloke just randomly laying into a bloke who was walking down the stairs, hitting him in a vile way. Thankfully stewards soon broke it up and the man was soon ejected. The players were indescribably happy as they all came running towards us, diving across the ground in celebration. They celebrated with us for a few minutes before heading off down the tunnel whilst the stage was set for the presentation.

Whilst the stage was being set on the pitch facing us, the Wigan players went around the ground, doing their lap of honour with it being their last home game of the season. To their credit, the Wigan players came over and applauded us too. As they filtered off and we continued to wait for the players to reappear, we found out that Chelsea had only managed a draw with Bolton which made it all the more sweeter- we had beaten Chelsea to the league by 2 points. The players then emerged and looked as if they couldn't wait to get their hands on the trophy! They all lined up and each of their names were announced as they were presented with their medals but to be honest, there was such a din in the stand that we could hardly hear a word! Giggsy was last to receive his medal and he got one of the biggest cheers of all. Amazingly, most of the Wigan fans had actually stayed behind to watch the presentation which was good to see. Finally, the Premier League trophy was handed to Giggs and as he held it aloft, fireworks and streamers went off behind. It was about as perfect a sight as it's possible to see. Tears welled up in my eyes and I could see that I wasn't the only one. They celebrated on the podium for a little while but soon headed over to us to continue on in the celebrations. Scarves, shirts, hats, flags and even a cushion strangely enough, were flung towards the players for them to wear! Fergie and Carlos held the trophy between them and every time they flung it in the air, the fans gave them a cheer. This happened a few times until they pretended to do it but stopped at the last minute, but the fans still made a cheer. Seeing that we'd been conned, we jokingly booed them both and they fell about laughing! The trophy was passed from player to player as they all got their songs sung. The players were stood in little pockets together and we hardly knew which direction to look. At one point, Anderson's song was sung and we couldn't believe it when the players joined in with it! As if that wasn't funny enough, Anderson himself then broke away from the group and did a little dance to his song! The players carried on moving around and continued to amaze us with their knowledge of our repertoire as they sang 'Gary Neville is a red' and even 'He's won it 10 times, he's won it 10 tiiiiiiiiimes, That boy Giggsy, He's won it 10 times' and that was only invented a few minutes before the end of the game, which Rio started on the pitch and encouraged all the fans to sing!! They even sung along to 'Viva Ronaldo' whilst swirling scarves above their heads just like the fans! It was an utter joy to see and something that made us feel that bit closer to them as if they weren't as totally out of touch with fans as we'd thought. They then held aloft a banner saying 'Full steam ahead to Moscow' which was in the crowd during the game and almost reluctantly, they left the pitch and headed down the tunnel to continue their celebrations in the dressing room. We too were reluctant to leave- we wanted it to carry on forever. We left the stadium, and it was like we were floating on air. I had lots of Wigan fans approach me as we headed back up the road to say that the best team had won the league, and that they were pleased for us. Armed with a newly printed 'Champions' t-shirt which were being sold outside the ground, I continued to sing my heart out along with thousands of others in the blistering and now bone dry early evening in Wigan until I got back to the car.

So, that was it- Part 1 completed. United are officially Premier League Champions 2007/2008. So now all eyes turn to Moscow- could United complete the Double? Who knows? But one thing's for sure- we definitely won't be finishing the season empty handed! No matter what happens now, the lads have done us all proud.
"We all agree, K-Stand is better than J-Stand"

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CL Final A view from the stands photos & MATCH REPORT

Thu May 22, 2008 5:22 pm

Ok, well it is seriously going to probably take me until the weekend to get coherant enough to write a proper AVFTS (currently feeling like I've been whacked over the head with a sledgehammer!) so I thought I'd post some of my photos. Some of them again are blurry, partly because of the zoom on my camera phone and partly because I was shaking lol :P



Arriving at Domodedovo Airport


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Around Red Square



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Kazan Cathedral


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Lenin Mausoleum


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The Kremlin


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St Basil's Cathedral


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Me in front of St Basil's Cathedral


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The fanzone around Red Sqaure


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The European Cup within touching distance...


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At the Luzhniki Stadium


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My ticket


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Inside the ground


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The lads warming up


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The pre-match 'show'


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James Richardson (of Gazzetta Football Italia fame) was doing the pre-match announcer


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The fantastic United support


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Post match celebrations


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The presentation of the trophy (honestly!)


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More celebrations


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Crazy time of night to be in a football ground!!


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One last look at the Luzhniki Stadium


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"We all agree, K-Stand is better than J-Stand"

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CL Final A view from the stands photos & MATCH REPORT

Mon Jun 02, 2008 10:37 am

Ok, here it is. I'm sorry it's taken me so long to do but I hope you'll understand why when you see the length of it!!

This was it. The big one. Champions League Final 2008, Luzhinki Stadium, Moscow. The opponents- our relatively new foes, Chelsea.

It was going to be a long day ahead of us as we were just doing a day trip to Moscow so we tried our best to go to bed early the night before, in an effort to get a few hours' sleep to keep us going. Of course, that plan didn't really work as firstly, it was not normal for us to try and go to sleep at 9pm when it was still light outside and secondly, it was the eve of the Champions League Final for crying out loud! Needless to say, I don't even think we managed two hours' sleep between us, and we were both awake before the 4 alarms that we'd set for 1.45am had gone off (after our alarm didn't go off before the Roma trip, we have been ultra paranoid about setting alarms ever since!). After getting ourselves ready and constantly checking that we had our tickets and passports safely in the bag, we made the short drive to Manchester Airport and arrived there just before 3am. Already, we could see loads of United fans around and I wondered how they all seemed to look a lot perkier and more awake than me! We made our way into Terminal 1 where our flight was departing from and we were instantly hit by the sheer number of United fans crammed into it- there was just an absolute sea of red in every direction. Looking on the departure screens we could see that over about 4 hours, there would be around 22 flights leaving Manchester Airport for Domodedovo Airport (the 'United' airport in Moscow) and that was just in our terminal- goodness knows how many there were in the other two aswell! We eventually managed to find our check in desk and thankfully, the queue was quite small. I managed to bag us exit seats (after cheekily asking for them!) and we were soon checked in and left with a couple of hours to kill before boarding. Before we left the desk though, we were given red wristbands which we had to keep on all day as we would have to show them at passport control in Moscow as part of a security check. For that reason, it was imperative that we didn't lose them and that set me on edge all day as I have randomly tiny wrists and I'm forever losing bracelets because of that! We headed straight through security which was an absolute breeze due to the upgrades that have recently been made and then on into the shops and cafes area. Not unsurprisingly for 3.30am, a lot of the shops were closed but there were some open like a sports shop which was full of United merchandise (they obviously spotted an opportunity there!) and WHSmith so we could buy newspapers and read all of the pre-match build up. Apart from that, all that was open were the bars and cafes so predictably, that's where we found almost all of the United fans hiding out! Most that were in the main bar looked as if they hadn't even bothered going to bed to be honest! Amazingly in amongst all of those people, we found European away guy! We were pleased to see him because we weren't sure if he would even get to be at the Final, despite him going on every European away all season, because he is only a One United member. We had a fair chat with him and he told us that for once, he was doing an independent trip as the official club ones had all sold out by the time his ticket was confirmed. He gave us a couple of tips about things to see in Moscow as he'd been there a few times, and we wished each other a good day. We then headed upstairs to the restaurant and miraculously found 2 seats which was a near impossible task despite the place being huge! We decided to split a cooked breakfast between us as neither of us could stomach a whole one quite so early in the morning, but we did take good advantage of the refillable mugs of tea! Amongst the hoards of fans and staff (who were all wearing 'Road to Moscow' t-shirts amusingly enough, to mark the occasion!), we spotted two families who looked like they were just going on their holidays. They looked totally bewildered by it all as I'm sure they were expecting to find a deserted restaurant all to themselves at that time! After wasting as much time as we physically could in there, we decided just to head to the gate. I wasn't getting a duty free perfume from Hubby this time as we were worried about being allowed to take it into the ground (usually we leave our bags on the coach when we get to the ground on Euro aways but there were no pre assigned coaches this time). As usual, it made me paranoid about it being bad luck as I'd had one before every Euro away this season and we'd won! I jst hoped that I could balance it out with enough good luck with my lucky perfume, the same clothes I wore when we won the League at Wigan (obviously washed since then lol!) my lucky scarf and my nail varnish called 'Russian Navy' which turned out to be a good omen last time I wore it against Barcelona at home! Honestly out of millions of United fans around the world, god only knows why I think that me not having a duty free perfume or wearing the wrong clothes is going to be the thing that affects whether we win or lose! We got to the gate and we ended up with a 45 minute delay which wasn't entirely unexpected because of the sheer number of flights leaving and arriving in the same place. Evidently we got off lightly though as we heard tales of long delays, some up to 8 hours, and some flights that were cancelled altogether! Soon enough, we were boarding our flight on Transavia (an airline which I'd never heard of before but soon found out it was Dutch, after doing some Googling!) to Moscow. Almost all of the planes being chartered were non-UK based airlines so it wasn't at all unusual to see 'Air Slovakia', 'Air Mediterranea' or 'Corsair' flights going to Moscow, along with a myriad of other obscure airlines! I was just happy we weren't flying with Aeroflot as I had my doubts that they would have got us there and back in one piece! Our flight ended up being terrific actually. The plane was new so it was absolutely immaculate, the crew were really friendly, the food was actually edible and best of all, the flight time was only 3 hours 20 minutes! Most people chose to take the opportunity to have a nap on the plane which made for a rather quiet flight but we did have a bit of chat to the bloke sat next to hubby about the prospects for the match.

We landed at Domodedovo Aiport and straight away, we were all drawn to the windows, wide-eyed. Few of us on the plane if any, had been to Russia before and we were all clamouring to get our first look at this imposing country. The first thing we noticed were the state of the planes- a lot of the Russian based airlines had very old planes and I couldn't even imagine some of them ever making it off the ground, judging by the look of them! I thanked our lucky stars once again that we weren't flying on one of those! We entered the terminal building and contrary to our first impressions, was actually fairly modern. We braced ourselves for a long wait at passport control with all of the measures that had been put in place for travelling fans but I have to admit, it wasn't bad at all! It probably took about half an hour all in all including time in the queue and it seemed well organised. We had to hand in our passport, immigration form, match ticket and show our wristband to be permitted into the country and it all seemed so straight forward compared to the hassle there would have been over the visas. We then made our way through the terminal building and towards the exits and that in itself, was a task. It gave us a glimpse straight away into the pace and chaos of the city as people were jostling each other and racing around the terminal, barely even having time to draw breath. It was quite a shock compared with the orderly and mild mannered way in which the British tend to be in airports! Once we finally battles our way to the exit, we saw a massive line of buses, all with Manchester United crests in their windows, waiting to take us into the city. It's no exaggeration to say that the line must have been at least a mile long- it was incredible! We grabbed the first bus we came across and it happened to be one that looked as if it was build somewhere around the Stone Age period- it was only slightly better than us all having our feet running through the floor to make it move, like The Flintstones! The journey into Moscow was very long. Despite it raining quite heavily outside, the bus was rather stuffy so we had all of the windows open to try and get some air circulating. Unfortunately, the fumes from the bus were very strong and became rather overpowering after a while! So we closed the windows again, plumping for the lesser of two evils as the bus carried on chugging down the motorway. The traffic itself was absolutely insane- it was like Wacky Races! Nobody seemed to have any concept of lanes or indictors and eventually, the traffic just came to a standstill completely! The driver didn't appear to be helping matters as at one point, he actually had to pull off the motorway to ask a policeman directions!! Not a good sign! Eventually somehow, we arrived at Luzhniki Stadium which was where everyone was being dropped off on the buses. The journey from the airport had taken 2 bottom numbing hours.

Armed with our waterproof jackets (we'd checked the weather report the night before we went), we got off the bus and our first thought was to look for programs. After them all being sold out at Wigan quite a while before kick off, we didn't want to make the same mistake again. Thankfully there were plenty of people selling programs so we bought what we needed to and decided to leave the stadium area, and hop on the metro and head into Red Square as contrary to rumours, we were allowed to have as much free time as we liked in Moscow and even make our own way to the stadium. The metro was an experience in itself. We had bought ourselves a Moscow guide book before we left which had a street map and metro map inside it. Although the names were written in English letters, it was still the Russian names. However all of the metro stops were in cyrillic (Russian) letters and didn't look anything like the same names using English letters! There were no signs in English or any spoken in announcements so we were very reliant on guess work! We used our guide book map to count how many stops it was to Red Square from the stadium and try and work out from that where we needed to get off! Thankfully, our guess proved correct and we got off the metro and we were only less than a minute's walk from Red Square. As soon as we arrived in the square, we were dumbstruck- it was such a surreal experience being stood somewhere that we'd seen so many times on TV and in books. The vastness of it shocked us too- it was absolutely huge. This was illustrated pretty well by the fanzone that had been set up there which hosted lots of souvenir stalls, a huge room displaying the European Cup and even a five-a-side pitch and all of that only took up one tiny corner of the square! We took lots of photos there of the likes of The Kremlin and Kazan Cathedral. I asked a Chelsea fan to take a photo of Hubby and I in front of the St Basil's Cathedral actually but I don't think they realised we were United fans! The square was teeming with fans from both teams actually but it was evident even then, that United fans were outnumbering Chelsea fans quite a bit. Unbelievably in Red Square, we saw both Royal Mail Guy and Tweed Hat which I couldn't get over. Out of a city of millions, I see a couple of blokes that sit in K Stand!! They looked like they were having a good time anyway! We then nipped into the fanzone for a bit before getting back onto the metro to head to the Arbat which used to be, according to our guide book, the heart of Bohemian Moscow where nowadays there are lots of good souvenir stalls, bars and restaurants. Unfortunately for us, the station which we had to use to get to Arbat was almost identically named to another station further away. Naturally, we got off at the wrong stop and spent about an hour asking random Russian people and even some of the police who were milling around, which way we had to go. Again, our map used English letters which the Russian people didn't understand and they all ended up pointing us in different directions! Eventually, we found our way there only to find that the street was full of United fans! I would love to know how they all managed to find the place so easily! It was even more evident there that red was vastly outnumbering blue and I began to wonder if Chelsea had even sold all of their allocation. We stocked up on plenty of souvenirs there- Russian dolls and a Russian hat each for hubby and I (and I even managed to haggle the price down of my hat by 500 roubles- about £11!) and then headed on to Hard Rock Cafe for some more bits. We had been planning to eat there for dinner but the place was heaving so there was no chance of getting in there whatsoever! So in the spirit of embracing Russian culture, we ended up at a pizza place followed by Starbucks!! Interesting fact- caramel macchiato was called the same thing there! It was quite a bizarre feeling sitting there drinking coffee at 8pm knowing that at 8pm at home, the game would've already started. I had to keep reminding myself not to panic about running out of time! As I idly looked out of the window, I had to look twice as I saw Quiet Bloke walk past and down the street! I looked frantically for any sign of my remaining Yorkshires but alas, they were nowhere to be found. We then decided it was best to head to the ground, as we wanted to make sure we had plenty of time to get there in case there were any hold ups on the metro or we had lots of security checks in the stadium. On our way there, we incredibly bumped into Keith our program guy and all of his friends! I couldn't get over the coincidences of seeing so many people that we knew! We chatted to them for a while, and they told us they'd been sightseeing like us all day. They told us a bit about their flight too and they weren't very impressed to say the least! We carried on to the metro and thankfully, we managed to get on at the right station near the Arbat this time and although we had to change trains once, it was so much easier as almost everyone on the train was going to the stadium so we just followed all of them!

We arrived at the metro station by the ground and once again, it was obvious that there were more United fans about than Chelsea. United songs were flying around left, right and centre and eveyone was joining in. It was absolutely rocking and the Russian police and soldiers looked as if they'd never seen anything like it before in their lives! They were taking photos and videoing the fans but not for official purposes- they were doing it for themselves. They were clapping along to the songs and had huge smiles on their faces! Out of the station, we had a five minute walk to the ground and only then did any Chelsea fans try and pipe up. A handful sang 'We are the famous CFC' and one bloke on his own tried to make up a song about all United fans flying in from Stanstead *rolls eyes*. Apart from that, I never heard another peep out of any of them outside the ground. Looking around, all of the souvenir stalls with United stuff had sold out and I'm not just saying this, but there was honestly still loads of Chelsea things there. There were no programs left apart from a couple with some Russian people who had obviously bought a few earlier in the day and were now trying to sell them on for more than double the price! As we approached the stadium, we had our first security check of the evening and that was the point in which the United and Chelsea fans were separated and a fence and wall of police was between us. Our tickets were checked and then we progressed towards the stadium. A bit further along, we were stopped once again and had our tickets checked- not much chance of anyone jibbing into the ground for this match! Finally, we reached the turnstiles and as well as having our tickets checked, we had our bags searched. We were a bit nervous about this as Hubby had a carrier bag full of souvenirs including things like a shot glass, which we were convinced would be confiscated. The steward in question began to look through the bag and when he saw the hats and dolls etc, he exclaimed, "PRESENTS?!". We said yes, and he waved us through with a big grin! Everything there was good humoured actually as everywhere, people were getting their photos taken with the Russian soldiers, and the soldiers would plonk their hats on the fans' heads so they could pose with them on! Some of them were even trying to swap scarves and shirts for items of their uniform!! Once through the turnstiles (naturally, I kept up my ritual of going through the left hand turnstile!), we had one final ticket check to get to our seats. The steward who was checking my ticket looked at me and exclaimed, "Manchester fan!". I said yes. He then said, "Manchester fans- very nice fans" with a huge grin! I said thank you, and he looked genuinely pleased to see us there! This was quite a shock as from what we'd heard before we'd got to Moscow, the stewards, police and soldiers were supposed to be harsh and dour. But they were absolutely the opposite when we got there- we found them helpful, polite, warm and even had a sense of humour! And contrary to many, many European aways, I didn't see a single incident of a member of police or a steward having a go at a fan. It was all tremendously good natured. We got into our seats and found that we were in the first occupied row by the corner flag (the first 3 rows were empty, possibly due to the advertising boards like they do at Old Trafford). We were rather low down due to the gradient that the stands were on so it was going to be a view that I'd never experienced before. I nipped quickly down to the concourse to have a wander around and as weird as it sounds, check out the toilets as they have been the bane of my life on European aways previously! Happily, I found that they weren't holes in the ground, and they were immaculately clean. From the outside, the Luzhniki Stadium looked old and it was a concern that it perhaps wasn't up to scratch inside. But it had clearly been updated, and was more than adequate for hosting this game. And as I like my stadiums, it had character! I went back into my seat and all of a sudden, it hit me- I was at a Champions League Final. As ridiculous as it sounds, I don't think the magnitude of the game had quite sunk in before that moment. It hit me like a ton of bricks and a wave of nausea, followed by panic engulfed me. I had been unusually calm all day up until that point and all at once, nerves started to take over. I couldn't sit still- I became edgy, stressed and I just wanted the game to start. I didn't know how I was going to stand watching the whole match without giving myself a heart attack!! I decided to try and distract myself for a while with the pre-match build up. For some inexplicable reason, James Richardson (who those of you who used to watch Gazzetta Football Italia on Channel 4 many moons ago will remember, was the presenter) was doing the build up I can only assume on account of him being neutral (I'm presume) and also speaking English!! I have to admit, he actually did a pretty good job and came down to each end and spoke a bit about each team, getting the fans behind the teams. Of course, we were far superior to Chelsea in that respect lol! We then each had a montage of our road to the Final to watch on the screens and I don't care how biased I sound, but ours was so much more interesting and exciting to watch! The ground, despite it still being a while away from kick off, was now nearly full and the atmosphere was building. United fans were singing loudly and proudly already, going through the most popular ones like 'U-N-I-T-E-D', 'Viva Ronaldo', 'Anderson-son-son', 'United Calypso' and naturally 'Championes' to really rub it in to the Chelsea fans! We did notice that there were sections of the Chelsea end that had empty seats though and there were rumours that Russian people were being given tickets in the Chelsea end just to fill it up, and that would tally up with the amount of Russians around the Chelsea area of the stadium that we saw. The pre-match ceremony then began and it looked very pretty, but none of us could really grasp what was going on! To be honest, I think nerves were beginning to set in then so we weren't really paying close attention to it! Eventually, the show finished and shortly the players emerged from the tunnel to huge cheers! I found the experience quite surreal, being so far away from home and in a strange stadium but playing an English club that we knew so well. In fact, it was the first time I'd ever seen United play an English club in a European match. On the big screens, I noticed that the word 'Believe' was in a stand. Firstly, I thought it was showing when it was held up at Old Trafford but then I realised it was being held up right at that moment, and I turned around to see the word being spelt out behind me. It looked beautiful. Over at the Chelsea end, it looked like they'd had blue and white checked flags left on their seats which they were all waving, but it had nowhere near the same impact as our mosaic. The teams then lined up and the Champions League music boomed over the tannoy. I was caught totally off-guard as I felt a lump in my throat and began to get choked up. I was getting overcome with emotion at the occasion and I looked over at the players and hoped that they wouldn't do as I did!

The game kicked off and the roar from our end was immense. We all had to work even harder to create a good atmosphere because of the huge running track between the pitch and the stands. The lads started off brilliantly and this encouraged the singing even more from United. From where we were stood, it was actually very difficult to see the players very well because although we were on the first occupied row, we were so low down that there were lots of parts of the pitch which were blind spots for us in all honesty. The team did have a lot of possession to start with and I think we were all delighted with the way they had started the game. This was duly rewarded from an attack deep into the half when a fabulous ball from Brown was launched across the box and buried with a terrific header by Ronaldo of all players. We all went absolutely ballistic in the stands and it seemed as if everyone who had a scarf was waving it proudly above their heads and singing 'Viva Ronaldo' with so much passion. The stewards in front of us were smiling broadly and looked to be pleased that we were 1-0 up! Scoring seemed to spur the lads on even more as they took Chelsea to pieces with attack after attack. They were completely outplaying them at this point and we were so, so unlucky not to have gone 2-0 up when Tevez smashed a header towards goal which Cech got down to save. When the loose ball fell to Carrick, his shot looked absolutely destined to hit the back of the net. We were all ready to celebrate when somehow, Cech denied us once again to push the shot around the post. The look of agony on Carrick's face was mirrored by our own as we all stood with hands on heads, puzzled
at how on earth the shot stayed out. The lads were playing such terrific stuff that we couldn't see Chelsea getting back into the game at all until somehow just seconds before half time, Chelsea took advantage of a lucky deflection which fell into the path of Lampard who benefitted from an even luckier slip (for them) by Van der Sar on the greasy surface to slot home the equaliser. Shock just reverberated around the United end and we were stunned into silence, I have to admit. I couldn't believe that once again, we had somehow succumbed to a Chelsea goal just before half time. In fact, I screamed as much into the now chilly Russian air and the stewards looked at me in surprise! The half time whistle went shortly afterwards and it was fair to say that their goal took the wind out of our sails a bit. I had a brief chat with the guy next to me and we decided that Ronaldo's goal in the first half quite possibly cemented his chances of being crowned European and World Footballer of the Year. The rest of the break was spent watching the first half highlights on the big screens and once again rejoicing in Ronaldo's goal but despairing over Lampard's. We were then surprised to see the United lads reappear for the second half so quickly as it seemed like almost no time had passed at all. I wondered if they had particularly stringent rules for half time in the Final. The Chelsea players shortly followed and although we'd barely had time to draw breath after the first half, the second half was about to get underway.

The second half kicked off and I felt a bit of a pang as I wondered where the Yorkshires were sat. I couldn't believe that despite seeing them at so many of the matches this season (not just home ones), that I didn't see them at all at Wigan or Moscow, two of our most important games all season. However, I didn't have too much time to ponder as I had the match to concentrate on! Chelsea seemed to be boosted by their goal just before half time and similarly, it seemed to knock the confidence of the United lads who had been so fearless up until then. Chelsea had a lot of the possession and were flinging a number of shots towards our goal, but Van der Sar didn't seem threatened too much. It bouyed the Chelsea fans up though however, and the previously silent blue end now began to be more vocal as they sang 'We are the famous CFC' once again (one of only about 3 songs they seem to have). We did our best to outsing them again though with our vast repetoire! However we were all beginning to get edgy and tense though and I'm afraid I didn't deal with the tension at all well as I screamed and bellowed towards the pitch, bollocking any Chelsea player who breathed near a red shirt whilst similarly trying my best to encourage the lads and drive them on. Once again, I had an audience as the stewards facing the fans (not being allowed to turn around and watch the match) seemed totally bemused and a little scared by my efforts. Time ticked on and still we were unable to get a breakthrough. Chelsea still had lots of the ball but were yet to really punish us with it. This almost wasn't the case though as deep into the last 15 minutes of the match, Drogba sent a long range shot curling towards our goal. All of us held our collective breath as it seemed absolutely on course to smash into the top corner of the net. Thankfully, it smashed into the top corner of the crossbar instead and the relief in our end was immense. From then, time just seemed to evaporate and then it dawned on me that if extra time was imminent, when on earth would we get home?! But at that moment, I couldn't have cared less if I'd got home next week as long as United would be lifting the European Cup! As the 90 minutes began to draw to a close, Giggsy was brought on to make his record breaking appearance and was welcomed onto the pitch with a roar of acclaim from the travelling reds. We were a tad puzzled that Scholes was making way for him and we briefly wondered if the manager had penalties in mind as Scholesy has missed a couple over the years. Of course we couldn't see that Scholes' nose had been smashed in by Makelele so that decision became much more understandable knowing that! The referee then whistled to signal the end of normal time and I slumped back in my seat, already exhausted from the first 90 minutes. I wondered how the players were feeling.

After a brief break, the players were ready to go once again as the first period of extra time began. Chelsea once again seemed to start off quite brightly and within a few minutes, Lampard had the chance to put Chelsea ahead for the first time in the match with a curling shot which once again, rebounded off the woodwork. It seemed as if our goal was beginning to lead a charmed life! After that however, it felt like we were in control. All the Chelsea players seemed to want to do was roll around on the floor and try and break up our rhythm. It was getting rather frustrating. Then we had a fabulous opportunity to go 2-1 up when Evra made a tremendous run into the box and pulled the ball back for Giggsy who thumped it goalwards, but somehow was cleared off the line by John Terry. None of us could believe it and we all looked at each other hands on heads, as we watched the replay on the screens. It was at that point that my legs just gave out on me. Whether it was tiredness or whether the sheer stress and tension of the occasion had finally caught up with me, I don't know. So I had to watch the remainder of extra time sat down as I just couldn't physically stand up any longer. The end of the first period soon came around and after just a couple of minutes, we were into the second period. The lads continued to play in a very positive fashion, and really tried to go out and tie the game up. Still I never felt like we were in danger somehow and we were all doing our best to get behind the team as we sang 'Forever and ever, we'll follow the boys.....' and 'We love United, we do...' amongst others. The Chelsea fans were non-existant once again. Maybe most of their end really was Russian, so they didn't know the words to the Chelsea songs! As time appeared to be running out, Cech put the ball out of play when a few of the Chelsea players yet again went down with cramp. As Chelsea had done to us several times during the game, Tevez put the ball out of play to give possession back to Chelsea instead of giving it straight back to Cech. Suddenly, almost all of the Chelsea team came flying over to the touchline and started jostling Tevez and shouting in his ear. Of course, I was screaming at John Terry (as if he could hear me lol), 'What the hell are you moaning for? You did exactly that to us earlier!'. I couldn't believe how they were behaving and I said to Hubby that this display just showed their arrogance and lack of class completely. In the middle of the melee, a red card suddenly appeared and Hubby started cheering. I said, 'Why are you cheering? How can you tell who was sent off? Couldn't it be one of our players?'. But somehow he knew it was Drogba although god knows how, as we couldn't see what the hell was going on from where we were! Of course Drogba was still bitching and moaning as he left the pitch, which he took a good few minutes to do. At that point, it didn't even cross my mind about the possibility that he would have been one of Chelsea's penalty takers as I was still concentrating on the possiblilty that we might still win the game in extra time. But as time continued to tick on, it looked less and less likely. With one last throw of the dice, Ronaldo launched a ball into the box and Tevez couldn't quite connect his head onto the cross so the chance went begging. Anderson just managed to get onto the pitch to replace Wes Brown before the final whistle went, with Fergie clearly thinking about penalties. When the whistle went, there was collective groans around the ground- none of us wanted a penalty shoot out, especially as our nerves were already shot to pieces as it was!!

We awaited with nervousness to see which end the penalties would be taken at and we were pleased to see that it was at ours. We hoped and hoped that it could make some sort of difference. I was now beside myself with nerves and I was resorting to clasping my hands together in a prayer almost, just saying 'please, please, please, please...' over and over again. I decided I had to stand up for the penalty shoot out too although I could barely stand- my legs were completely numb and wobbling like jelly. How on earth I didn't have a heart attack stood there, I will never know. So, we were to start taking the penalties first. To get the ball rolling so to speak, Tevez stepped up first. The roar of encouragement that greeted him from the reds was phenomenal. Strangely enough where we were positioned in the ground, we couldn't actually see when the ball was struck or indeed, see it go into the net. The only way we would be able to tell the penalties had been scored or missed, was to wait and see if the back of the net rippled or not! As a lot of you know from my previous AVFTS all season, I have a real problem watching penalties being taken. The pressure and intensity of the situation is just too much for me. But I was persuaded by Hubby to watch Ronaldo's penalty against Wigan and once again, he convinced me to watch the penalty shoot out, especially as we had come such a long way for it. I thought back to the penalties that I covered my eyes whilst were being taken- the likes of the Portsmouth one which knocked us out of the FA Cup and the one which Saha missed at Celtic. So I figured that if I'd watched Ronaldo's at Wigan and he scored, then maybe somehow I could bring good luck to the team by watching the shoot out. As you can tell, I was rather clutching at straws at this point! As Tevez ran up to hit it, a hush decended over the United end as we didn't want to do a single thing to distract him. In the background, we could hear the faint whistles of the Chelsea end. He smashed the ball and the net rippled so we knew from that, he had scored. Next came Ballack to take the first Chelsea penalty and I said to Hubby that there was no way Ballack would miss- after all, he was German and they are the absolute masters of penalties. As expected, Ballack slotted home to make it even at 1-1 despite all of the boos and whistles coming from us to try and put him off. At this point, even the stewards had given up watching the crowd and were turned towards the pitch to watch the shoot out. Absolutely everyone was just looking on with bated breath. Next up for us was Carrick which was a bit of a surprise but nevertheless, we put absolute confidence in him scoring and he didn't let us down as he sent Cech the wrong way. Belletti then followed and I hoped that maybe he would be a bit 'cold' as he hadn't participated much in the game. That remained just a hope though as he too, put his penalty away. With us both still evenly matched at 2-2, it was now Ronaldo's turn to step up. I immediately turned to Hubby and said 'He's going to miss this'. Hubby just laughed at me as if I was being stupid but to me, it was so obvious. He'd had such an amazing season that it was almost as if there had to be something around the corner to knock him down. I could just imagine all of the headlines in the papers the next day- the media would dine out on it for weeks. He was going to be vilified by them. I hoped dearly that I would be wrong but alas, my feeling was right. Cech saved the penalty and shock and dejection was etched across all of our faces. I looked over at the Chelsea players and they were celebrating as if their name was on the trophy. We all then looked to Van der Sar to try and do the same against Lampard as Cech did on Ronaldo but the net rippled yet again, and we were now behind. Next for us was Hargreaves, and I didn't know what to expect really. Well, we didn't have to wait for the net to ripple as the ball nearly smashed through the back of it with a terrific penalty to keep our hopes alive. Ashley Cole then took Chelsea's next penalty and for a split second, we thought Van der Sar had saved it as there was a slight delay in Cole kicking the ball and the ball hitting the back of the net. Unfortunately, Van der Sar's hand wasn't quite enough to stop it creeping in and still we were trailing. Nani then stepped up to take our next penalty and I was quite surprised to see that. It seemed like a lot of pressure for such a young player but he took his run up wth confidence and although he tried a little bit of a Ronaldo pause before he hit it, luckily for him it worked and we were still in the game. It was at this point that I didn't know how much more of it I could take. I felt physically and emotionally drained and I was so stressed and panicking, that I was almost hyperventilating. My heart was racing and for a second, I couldn't imagine why the hell we paid so much money to put ourselves through it. I clasped my hands together a little tighter and almost got on my knees to pray. John Terry then confidently strode towards the box, to take the next Chelsea penalty. I think my head had totally gone by this stage as I didn't realise at that time that if he'd scored the penalty, Chelsea would have won. I don't think I was even keeping tally of how many had been taken at the time, I was in such a daze- I was just concentrating on one penalty at a time. When Terry hit it, I waited for the back of the net to ripple. For a second, I couldn't understand why it hadn't as I could see from where we were that Van der Sar had gone the wrong way. It suddenly dawned on me that he'd missed. The United end went beserk but I only allowed myself one loud 'YES'. We still had work to do. Anderson was up next for us and I guessed that he must be quite good at penalties for Fergie to bring him on specifically for it. I was still very nervous seeing him step up but he muct have been the coolest person in the ground as he buried the penalty and then gave us fans a huge roar of encouragement to get the lads over the finishing line. We reciprocated with a huge roar of our own. Kalou then took Chelsea's next penalty and Van der Sar had no chance as he hit it hight into the top corner. Giggsy was next to go and I was absolutely terrified. Not because I didn't have confidence in him but because I couldn't think of a crueler twist of fate for a Giggs missed penalty to cost us the European Cup in his record breaking appearance for the club. I'm sure I wasn't the only one thinking these thoughts as everyone around me seemed to look more tense for this penalty than most of the others. He struck the ball and the net didn't just ripple- it bulged. And it may have been my imagination but I'm sure the cheer for his penalty was a little louder than most of the others. The tension was now at such a peak, that it was almost suffocating. I felt like I could hardly breath. Then up stepped Anelka. I thought bitterly that he was bound to score, being an ex-Liverpool, City, Arsenal and Bolton player. It seemed inevitable. In desperation, I shouted out to Van der Sar, 'Come on Edwin- you have to save at least one'. Then Anelka began his short run up. It was almost as if I was watching it in slow motion- it felt like a real out of body experience. I looked to the net. No bulge. Not even a ripple. I couldn't quite grasp it but then the realisation came crashing down on me- Van der Sar HAD saved it. We were Champions of Europe!! I let out an almighty scream, like a banshee and I just stood on my seat for at least a minute, just looking up to the heavens and screaming. My screams were lost in the pandemonium. The end just exploded. I mean, I've never seen euphoria like it in all my life. The players came tearing over to Van der Sar and then to us and I just burst into tears. I stood there crying my eyes out for ages- I just couldn't believe it. Even the stewards were celebrating!

The real celebrations then began. Fans were just jumping all over each other in absolute delirium. I even had one bloke come up to me, give me a huge kiss and tell me he loved me! Don't think Hubby would have cared less what that bloke had said to me at that moment but the bloke carried on and shook Hubby's hand anyway! The players came flooding over to us, some of them looking like they were in tears themselves and just let loose. They were jumping everywhere, especially the likes of Rio and Nani. Anderson then did another samba dance which was greeted with huge cheers! The United fans then broke out into a newly updated rendition of 'We've won it 3 times' which we were amused to see all of the United players joining in with, some of them knowing it word for word! This was then followed with 'Are you watching Merseyside?' as I'm sure all of the scousers who were watching the shoot out were full of disappointment! These celebrations continued for a little while until the lads had to go up and collect the trophy. Firstly, Chelsea had to go and collect their losers' medals and looking on the big screen, we saw that the lads had made a guard of honour for them although they didn't conceal their glee at all well!! I barely noticed the Chelsea players collecting the medals but what we did notice very much was Peter Kenyon leading them up. Cue a HUGE rendition of 'Peter Kenyon, you're a w****r, you're a w****r' which went on for a good minute or two. I'm certain he would have heard it loud and clear! Next, it was the lads turn to go and get that trophy and because it was over the other side of the pitch to us, we glanced at the big screen as they made their way up the steps. As I saw Sir Bobby leading the lads up and wiping away a tear himself, it nearly set me off crying all over again! I had a quick look around the stadium and I was surprised to see how many Chelsea fans had stayed behind to watch the trophy presentation. Less surprising was the amount of United fans revealed in the 'neutral' area. It was clear from there that we had heavily outnumbered them by at least a third. Michel Platini then handed out the medals to the lads and he then passed the trophy to Rio and Giggsy who lifted it together to such a roar from us that I'm surprised it didn't rip the roof right off and drop it in the nearby Moskva river! The lads each then took it in turns to lift the trophy and they then headed down onto the pitch for a team photo with the cup. Fireworks and gold streamers then went off behind them and the lads were covered in a glistening blanket of gold. They then made the way back over towards us and were surrounded by a crazy ring of photographers, all clamouring to get photos. Eventually, the lads managed to escape them and some even vaulted over the advertising hoardings and onto the running track to be nearer to us. The elation on their faces was indescribable. It was such a perfect moment that it almost seemed surreal. We were still singing our hearts out proudly and then lots of songs were coming over the tannoy- 'Glory Glory Man United' was the first, and players all joined in as well as twirling scarves above their heads. The United Calypso then followed and that piece of nostalgia took my mind to the significance of the win in terms of the club's history- 50 years since Munich and 40 years since our first European Cup win. I shed yet more tears then. Finally, the sanatised version of 'Take me home, United Road' started playing and although I usually dislike it, we all joined in and sang along! Eventually, the players made their way back towards the tunnel and with one last triumphant gesture in our direction, they left the pitch. None of us really wanted them to leave but they had more celebrating still to do! We were then kept back for about 15-20 minutes inside the ground but none of us could have cared less. Russian music was played over the tannoy whilst we were waiting and everyone was singing and dancing along to it which, bearing in mind how about half of the fans were also wearing Russian hats, looked absolutely hilarious!!

We were then let out of the ground and glancing up at the clock, it was well after 2am. It didn't matter at all to any of us though- I still felt like I was walking on air, and the adrenaline was still coursing through me. We headed back to the buses which took us straight to the airport and as soon as I sat down, it all seemed to catch up with me. Most of the journey back I spent asleep so before I knew it, we were back at Domodedovo Airport. Passport Control was an absolute nightmare with the sheer amount of flights heading to Manchester so we were queuing there for at least an hour as everyone had to have their passport stamped with a departure stamped as well as having the match ticket stub, immigration form and wristbands checked once again. Once through there, the security check took about another half an hour and I felt sorry for the poor people caught up in it that were actually going on holiday! Once through there, we looked at the departure screens to look for our flight and found that our flight number was nowhere to be found. Concerned that it might have already left, we asked one of the members of airport staff about the flight and we were directed to a gate where a plane was boarding. Apparently the decision had been taken that there was to be 'free boarding'. Essentially, we could board any plane that was leaving for Manchester despite the airline or flight number! This worked out brilliantly for us as we got to leave the airport quickly, with very little hanging around. So we ended up on some random Italian based airline and except for 5 minutes when we were given a tuna sandwich to keep us going, I slept for almost the entire flight! A couple of times I did wake up a little disorientated and it took a few seconds for me to remember that we were European Champions and when I did, I kept welling up again! The emotion of it all had just overwhelmed me completely. We soon arrived into Manchester Airport and bleary eyed and still wearing our Russian hats, we made our way through Passport Control and then into Arrivals where we were met with a blaze of lights, TV cameras and journalists all trying to interview us. Some enterprising people had decided to set up a table right as we came into Arrivals full of newspapers so needless to say, we stocked up with them all there and then!

Heading out of the terminal and into the beautiful Manchester morning, I felt on top of the world. It was a feeling I had scarcely dared to imagine, all the way through the season. Never in my wildest dreams, could I have imagined such utter joy when we kicked off our season all the way back in August. My heart just swelled with pride thinking back and reliving all of those months. The ups, the downs.....no other club in the world could send us all on such a rollercoaster ride of emotions. But it was worth every painstaking second. Manchester United- Premier League and Champions League Winners 2007/2008.
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AVFTS 2007/2008 - The boxed set Collectors Editon

Mon Jun 02, 2008 11:23 am

I have prepared this collation of all the AVFTS posts by our very own K-Stand Red.

All work and praise to Kim

If you would like to read the full AVFTS topics, including all replies then please visit the 2007/08 Archive in United.

I apologise that some members also occasionally posted AVFTS contributions that is not included in this collection. It took me all morning just to find and copy these from Kim without also scanning inside every topic for a reply from others. So I am sorry that I did not have the time to do those also.

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Re: AVFTS 2007/2008 - The boxed set Collectors Editon

Sat Jun 14, 2008 7:36 pm

Thanks Condor ! Great job Kim, Those AVFTS we excellent and just a pleasure to read. Now rest your fingers for next season ! :P
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Re: AVFTS 2007/2008 - The boxed set Collectors Editon

Wed Aug 06, 2008 2:56 am

James Richardson (of Gazzetta Football Italia fame) was doing the pre-match announcer

:shock: :shock: :shock: :lol:

Thanks again for those terrific reads, Kim! :)
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Re: AVFTS 2007/2008 - The boxed set Collectors Editon

Fri Aug 08, 2008 2:11 pm

Lol, I know- it was halfway between saying 'he was the pre-match announcer' and that 'he was doing the pre-match announcing' :roll: My excuse was that I was very tired when I wrote it lol!!
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Re: AVFTS 2007/2008 - The boxed set Collectors Editon

Wed Feb 25, 2009 5:09 am

Where'd you go Kim??

I'm so glad you've kept these all up - was reading some of them again, particularly of Moscow, and it's just fabulous recalling all of it again haha.

I miss the fact that you haven't posted up many AVFTSs this season :(
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Re: AVFTS 2007/2008 - The boxed set Collectors Editon

Mon Mar 02, 2009 4:03 pm

I've been a bit stuck with time over the past few months, as well as not really having the best material to work with (ie: a lot of the home games weren't too memorable so there wasn't a lot I could say different about them!). I have missed a few games too this season- definitely more than I did last season. I will try my best to do another couple this season though :)
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Re: AVFTS 2007/2008 - The boxed set Collectors Editon

Mon Mar 02, 2009 4:05 pm

K-Stand Red wrote:I've been a bit stuck with time over the past few months, as well as not really having the best material to work with (ie: a lot of the home games weren't too memorable so there wasn't a lot I could say different about them!). I have missed a few games too this season- definitely more than I did last season. I will try my best to do another couple this season though :)
lmao!

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Re: AVFTS 2007/2008 - The boxed set Collectors Editon

Tue Mar 03, 2009 3:45 pm

K-Stand Red wrote:I've been a bit stuck with time over the past few months, as well as not really having the best material to work with (ie: a lot of the home games weren't too memorable so there wasn't a lot I could say different about them!). I have missed a few games too this season- definitely more than I did last season. I will try my best to do another couple this season though :)
Every player needs a time to rest! I remind all your avfts very well! Lets hope, that the guys improve (the playing and the singing one) and than you can restart ... and see you in Rome! :twisted: :whistle:

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Re: AVFTS 2007/2008 - The boxed set Collectors Editon

Thu Mar 05, 2009 8:34 pm

Ronaldo07 wrote:
K-Stand Red wrote:I've been a bit stuck with time over the past few months, as well as not really having the best material to work with (ie: a lot of the home games weren't too memorable so there wasn't a lot I could say different about them!). I have missed a few games too this season- definitely more than I did last season. I will try my best to do another couple this season though :)
lmao!

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I'm a perfectionist 8-)
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Re: AVFTS 2007/2008 - The boxed set Collectors Editon

Thu Mar 05, 2009 8:40 pm

oh my word kim - this is gonna take me a week to read!

great thread, what a lot of work as well

(Y)
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Re: AVFTS 2007/2008 - The boxed set Collectors Editon

Sat Mar 14, 2009 8:40 pm

Antonia wrote:
K-Stand Red wrote:I've been a bit stuck with time over the past few months, as well as not really having the best material to work with (ie: a lot of the home games weren't too memorable so there wasn't a lot I could say different about them!). I have missed a few games too this season- definitely more than I did last season. I will try my best to do another couple this season though :)
Every player needs a time to rest!

Kim's a playa? I'm sure she's married! :roll:
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Re: AVFTS 2007/2008 - The boxed set Collectors Editon

Wed Mar 18, 2009 12:53 pm

Takhar7 wrote:
Antonia wrote:
K-Stand Red wrote:I've been a bit stuck with time over the past few months, as well as not really having the best material to work with (ie: a lot of the home games weren't too memorable so there wasn't a lot I could say different about them!). I have missed a few games too this season- definitely more than I did last season. I will try my best to do another couple this season though :)
Every player needs a time to rest!

Kim's a playa? I'm sure she's married! :roll:
Boom boom :P
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Re: AVFTS 2007/2008 - The boxed set Collectors Editon

Wed Mar 18, 2009 2:21 pm

sorry I don't get this :shock:

but come on Kim, I have to help German boys to get some tickets therefore I get avfts! That is much work,(okay it's very different from yours and I know now, that Sparky is sooooo cooooool, but it would be much easier to read yours! :P

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Re: AVFTS 2007/2008 - The boxed set Collectors Editon

Mon Nov 02, 2009 11:42 pm

Why did you stop writing?
I just read this whole thread and my eyes are knackered.
Those paragraphs do sometimes test me if I'm honest.
But if we just look at the content, then you should write
these for yourself on your own site. That's not meant
with any disrespect to UL of course.

Writing of this kind, maybe not gramatically perfect,
but rivetting with regard to what you write about,
deserves better than to be hidden away on a Forum.

What you write is so real and lifelike - almost as if
we were there with you. It's not some fancy made
up Murder Mystery or another long boring love story.
It's just you and some other people going to a footie
match, but you made it more than that.

If you were to make a site, or even just a blog on
Blogger.com, the mere fact you are a girl will get you
a great following, so shallow as we men are. The
content of your blog would get you an even greater
following.

I know several girls who write about football and
they do remarkably well from it. One of them has
been published on a few news networks and is paid
for her work. Sometimes as much as $300 - $500
for 5,000 words.

Of course, another option would be to add your
AVFTC output to the UL Blog with plenty of exposure
to your good self naturellement. I'm sure the owners
here would be keen to make a deal whatever it entails.
I'd love to see you adding to the UL Blog too, but
ultimately the choice is yours.
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*****1968*****1999*****2008*****
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Re: AVFTS 2007/2008 - The boxed set Collectors Editon

Mon Nov 02, 2009 11:47 pm

I forgot to mention the photos you publish too. They are not the same old boring, pristine, super focussed and photoshopped fake shite we see every day. Again, these pics show it as it really did happen. If Ronaldo scored, the picture HAS to be blurred, how else could it be after the crowd erupts.

The pictures, added to your written content would make a beautiful read...... ;)
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Re: AVFTS 2007/2008 - The boxed set Collectors Editon

Tue Nov 03, 2009 12:28 am

I think I can answer a little for Kim here. She doesn't come on UL very much anymore but she stopped writing them because she was finding it so time consuming to do so. I'll have a word the next time I see her and see if I can encourage her to come back and explain for herself.
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Mark Moran
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Re: AVFTS 2007/2008 - The boxed set Collectors Editon

Tue Nov 03, 2009 12:45 am

MobileNanny wrote:I think I can answer a little for Kim here. She doesn't come on UL very much anymore but she stopped writing them because she was finding it so time consuming to do so. I'll have a word the next time I see her and see if I can encourage her to come back and explain for herself.
Yes if you can do that it will be very kind of you.

It would be nice to see her add to the blog once a week, I'd be a regular reader.

Ask her to send me an email and I'll have a natter with her :)
[center]"You Can't Win Anything With Kids"
1908 1911 1952 1956 1957 1965 1967 1993 1994 1996 1997 1999 2000 2001 2003 2007 2008 2009
*****1968*****1999*****2008*****
1909 1948 1963 1977 1983 1985 1990 1994 1996 1999 2004[/center]

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Re: AVFTS 2007/2008 - The boxed set Collectors Editon

Tue Nov 03, 2009 12:50 am

Alas Kim dosent come on much at all nowadays...very busy with their business I beleive :(
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