The Stretford End!!!
How could any of us who stood there ever forget?
The most amazing place ever Everyone of us felt such a sense of belonging
Quote Traditionally, the Stretford End housed United's diehard supporters. In the days before all-seater stadia, it was the main standing area of the ground, accommodating 20,000 standing United fans. The noise and atmosphere of the ground on matchdays came mainly from the Stretford End,
and it was once measured that the roar from coming from the Stretford End was louder than a 747 Jumbo Jet taking off.
Alan Gilzean on Alex Stepneys Penalty save
"We were awarded a penalty after about 10 minutes I was feeling very confident until I placed the ball on the spot This wall of hatred, a torrent of abuse nearly knocked me off my feet. It was very unsettling to say the least as I ran up to take the pen seeing that huge wall of red and white roaring the name Stepney, Stepney Yes you could say they put me off Let's be honest though I didn't just have to beat Alex Stepney It seemed as though everyone of them was standing shoulder to shoulder on the goal line with him"
A young Pat Rice
"I couldn't believe it I had played in front of the Kop twice already But this lot! They started the match off as a sea of red and white By now the whole Stretford End had turned into a seething, swaying, boiling cauldron of noise The singing and chanting was non stop I thought to myself 'If this is what they are like when United are losing 3-1 what on earth must they be like when United are winning?"
Gornik Goalkeeper Kostika
"I was very frightened I could see them in the first half Down there Hear them so loud I didn't want to be in goal in the next half In front of the madmen I went to the referee and asked 'can we not change at half time? I am afraid of these Stretforders' NO And I went out very afraid I saw 20,000 hands rise up and clap clap me I was so emotional They sing all the time for Manchester They clap every save I made Then when the end came They again clap for me and shout my name I threw my lucky gloves to them Such passion and love"
I felt after reading about Old Trafford we should salute the one's who were the Loudest and most loyal fans in Football
Forget the Kop they got all the publicity for all the wrong reasons They didn't start the singing Dad tells me in the 1930s you could here United being chanted and during the time of the Babes the "United Calypso" often echoed around Old Trafford Plus other teams like West Ham (Bubbles) Birmingham City (keep right onto the end of the road) and of course the Geordies (blaydon Races) where all famous back in the 20s long before the Kop
But the Stretford End never really came into it's own until about 1963/64 Mainly because Old Trafford was a family ground You had fights up and down the country but never at United A lot of this was because for some reason we were regarded as the most sporting fans The term "A Real United Welcome" was something special and many older fans will tell you how they enjoyed their trips to United
But the Stretford End was still just beginning and because of the times nobody really looked on it as sacred Fans just grouped there and sang and chanted But they did in other parts also But in 1964 the Stretford End got it's first bad headlines About three quarter time Everton fans invaded the place To be honest it's a wonder Hillsborough didn't happen then and there There was a massive crush followed by a pitched bottle battle The Everton fans had come ready armed Their problem was they didn't know the layout What the did was come pouring over the terrace up in the corner under those new quadrants joining were North Stand now is They didn't know you could pile out through the Tunnel and come back in over the top behind them They got battered But I remember looking at the mess in there Honest it was a wonder the weren't deaths on that ground that night
It never happened again from then on the place became a fortress Chelsea tried it once they brought 10,000 up from London
They didn't take 10,000 back
But it fast became a place kids didn't go Well Dads wouldn't let us So up until about 1967 I used to stand in the paddock and gaze longingly at what I regarded as the true supporters I managed to wangle my way in when I went on my own for a Spurs game in 1967 The one Gilzean talks about above It was hopeless until I got to the front Couldn't see a thing But after Christmas I spent the most of the Championship year on there firmly entrenched Only to venture out to the Paddock when Dad insisted
It was an amazing place Wether you were in there or not, it influenced the whole ground Often chants of United coming from the Stretford End would gradualy be picked up by the Paddock and then the whole ground would be chanting Ask any other teams supporters in the second half of the sixties right through to the eighties were did all the songs come from? The Stretford End We made up more than anyone Commentators grudgingly admitted we were worth a goal start to United The passion was unbelievable
I have stood on the Kop several times in fact When it was the Kop OK YNWA was impressive But what a dump It stank And the crush! They hardly sang during the game itself unless we played them
I remember the big European nights The place used to take on a life of it's own Especially if it was during winter and it had been dark since 5 pm There used to be all this noise and singing coming out of the darkness That was the other thing We never shut up We had invented this sort of staccato clapping that sounded like a train accompanied by OOOOOOOOO that went on none stop between songs and chants When we got bored we would start up a non stop chant of "We are the champions" Our record was from just before two o'clock until the teams came out just before three. Frightened the life out of Burnely
The singing and the swaying had to be experienced It must be awful now sitting and not being able to sway Or lean on your mates shoulder and shout a stream of profanities at the ref
Own up How many of you as kids slowly started to sway until you had the whole crowd swaying?
I often came out of there black and blue I got a right shiner once off this blokes arm as he threw a toilet roll when we scored Problem was it was agianst Norwich when they knocked us out of the cup There was bloody murder after the game Dad never believed I hadn't been involved So that was it exiled back to the Paddock
It had it's down sides There was always one particular post I used to get stuck behind Plus there was a funny sort of set of rails running up near the tunnel There was quite a difference in the height of the terracing to Up the very back were seats Only about six rows deep Sometimes we went in there problem was you had to get in as soon as the ground opened One time we had gone and scoffed about 5 pints One lad was only fifteen He was rotten All we could get out of him until kick off was "Sawful waiting isnit" They were rotten seats too We all spent our time standing on them anyway so they were mostly broken
But mainly it was a great place Some times we had off days when the singing was off key but we made such a racket anyway nobody noticed
We crowned Denis Law King Hit Bobby Moncur with a flick knife and abused referees, coppers and the opposition and sang the praises of United
One of the things I have noticed on songs that come across on the tele is A lot are just abusive mainly about liverpool and city and just a lot of swearing Not many of ours were like that For a start swearing was a big no no (we started it though, against Partizan) but none of the songs had any swearing really Mainly they praised United The only time we abused other teams or players was when we actually played them and it was more for humour than anything else
Of course the Skinheads changed everything The violence was shocking you even had fights on the Stretford End itself between rival crews The season we went down was wierd The Stretford End was always shut an hour at least before kick off but we all acted different We hardly ever spoke much Just sang and chanted But the sense of belonging that we all felt on there became so much stronger
Some funny things happened in there also I remember there used to be this one gang of blokes near the front behind the goal that I always saw Never knew anything about them then one day one of them asked me "Gorra a light der la?" they were Scousers! I got talking to them They had been coming to Old Trafford since the 40s! United Scousers!?
I don't think I would like Old Trafford now Not after being part of all that it was The Stretford End will never leave me Nor anyone who stood there with a ciggy cupped in their hands arm on their mates shoulder watching and singing Swaying and moving under the crush The sudden scuffle to get your scarf over your head as we sang "We'll support you evermore"
It was a family within the family I was down in Brighton once in this pub Some Skinhead just walks upto me and said "You go in the Stretford End don't you? Want a pint?" We always stuck together at away games Thats why we took over so many grounds the way we did No United fan was left on their own If any fans took one on they took the lot of us on
It's sad that things turned out the way they have I think todays fans have missed something I'm not saying we should return to the old days completely Who wants to go and stand on Derby County's Baseball Ground again? Or the Northbank at Wolves (or was it the south?) Any way That was this massive, massive terrace It held 35,000 people and for a roof it just had this little shed on the top. But looking on the tele and reading peoples post I don't think a lot of younger United fans have anywhere near the fun we had, the emphasis on success now seems to spoil things. We used to get into the ground early just for the singing. 1.30 was a good time, get your place in front of a crush barrier and then join in the chanting and singing
THE STRETFORD END - EUSEBIO? WE SAY KIDDO!
Break up the Union.
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― Richard P. Feynman.
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