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Old Trafford Part 1

“The most handsome, the most spacious and the most remarkable arena I have ever seen. As a football ground it is unrivalled in the world, it is an honour to Manchester and the home of a team who can do wonders when they are so disposed"

The above words were written on Old Trafford's opening day in 1910. Manchester United had just moved from their old stadium of Bank Street, Clayton, to a new stadium in the Old Trafford area of west Manchester. Built in 1909, for the then huge sum of £60,000 it was terraced on three sides with a seated main stand undercover. The stadium was designed by famous Scottish architect Archibald Leitch, who was also the designer of the stands in other major stadiums like Hampden Park, Ibrox Stadium and White Hart Lane.

A Record Breaker

At the moment Old Trafford could hold over 77,000 people, that is 10,000 more than the Old Trafford we know about today, but the trick was that Old Trafford only had seats in just one stand, The North Stand, the rest were all terraced stands. The record for the biggest capacity in England was smashed in a League game involving Man United and Aston Villa (70,504) but this was later that year again broken and the record was increased to 76,962 in an FA Cup Final.

Old Trafford suffered major destructions in both wars and when it was under construction Manchester United played their home games in Maine Road, home of rivals Manchester City, between the years 1946 and 1949. Old Trafford was also amongst the venues of the England World Cup in 1966 and was also again the venue for the FA Cup Final Replay between Chelsea and Leeds in 1970. Old Trafford also was the first stadium to erect fences on the perimeter of the pitch to avoid crowd disturbances.

Construction Starts

In mid 1950s, Old Trafford was later added with roofed cover on the rest on the stands but unfortunately visiting people disgruntled themselves because of obstructed views because of the antique way of stand-building, using the roof-post method. So, in time for the World Cup, development of Cantilever stands on the North and East stands began. The new design, after the completion of this upgrade, showed that at the front the stands had a terraced zone at the front and a higher seated zone at the back. With this new method taking effect on Old Trafford, the normal capacity was that of around 60,000.

Hillsbrough Disaster

After the Hillsbrough disaster, the FA issued the Taylor report which stated that the top English teams (Man United included) had to have their stadiums all seated to avoid another disaster like the one in Sheffield in which over 40 people were killed. This report slashed another third off Old Trafford’s capacity and the new capacity was a mere 40,000 which was too small for a majestic club like Manchester United.

The 1990s

For over 15 years Old Trafford never had its capacity increased but after long-term planning, the South Stand had its cantilever roof removed and construction of another two tiers on-top of the tier that already existed started. This stand had a monstrous capacity of 26,000 which was nearly half of Old Trafford’s capacity as the new capacity was now a much more respectable 56,000. This stand reaches 200feet from ground-level and has four tower lifts and also had a remarkable the biggest cantilever roof in Europe. Inside the stand, Manchester United situated the museum and the glittering Trophy Room which nowadays holds a unique room with the Unique 1998-1999 Treble in it. The modern Red Café Restaurant is also situated in this gigantic three-tiered stand. It also has two levels which hold the executive Sky boxes.

Nowadays the South Stand is the Main Stand of Old Trafford which is remarkably the smallest stand between the four that enclose Old Trafford. This stand contains the directors, television and police control boxes and also luxury restaurants and executive suites. It also contains the bricked bench areas of the Home and Away Team. This stand also has a lower angle which makes a little lower to the other stands. Interestingly the first 20 rows or so of all four stands are below street level. The TV gantry is situated in the South Stand (Main Stand) which makes it difficult for this stand to appear on TV. This stand also has the old tunnel from which the players used to come out but nowadays this is done from the North-East tunnel.

The East and West Stands

The East Stand was home to the K-Stand United fans (most of whom now are relocated in the famous Stretford End which is situated in the West Stand). The East Stand is now home to the Away fans (South-East to be more precise) and also contains the disabled section. This End was known as the Scoreboard End as in 1960s a scoreboard was installed but nowadays this has been replaced by two modern scoreboards one on the corner of the South Stand and the other on the corner of the North Stand.

Old Trafford was again expanded in January 2000 making the new capacity to 61,000. This expansion involved the building of the second tier on the East Stand. On the outside of this stand are large tinted windows. In front is a statue of the manager that started the Manchester United revolution, none other than Sir Matt Busby. The Munich Clock also stands here showing the time in which 7 United players lost their lives in a plane crash in the early morning of 6 th February 1958 . The Mega-tore, in which any Manchester United merchandise is sold, is situated in this stand as well.

Opposite this stand, the famous Stretford End is situated. In the past this stand was capable of with-holding over 20,000 standing people who were amongst the loudest in Britain. Ironically the shout coming out from this stand was calculated and resulted that the noise was bigger than that of a Jumbo-Jet taking off! After the expansion of the East Stand to a two tiered stand, Stretford End was also expanded just 8months later in August 2000. This made the total capacity of Old Trafford a staggering 68,500 seats (all seated). This stand is home to the players dressing rooms and lounges and also the present tunnel from which the players go onto the pitch. A second statue is available here but this one is the one of the 60s striker Denis Law – The King of Stretford End.


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