By Lance Thorpe
The Sun is shining and the Pimms are out here in Manchester city square as I lay back in a deck chair and look up at the big screen where BBC are giving great previews and build-up to the London Olympics 2012.
Today is a mark of history as GREAT BRITAIN (team gb) take on Senegal in the first game of the Olympics in the Football. It’s been 52 years since the last time Great Britain took part in Olympic football and back then it was competed by Amateur footballers from Non-League.
In the game today it’ll be far from amateur with the likes of Ryan Giggs, Craig Bellamy and Micah Richards joining a squad of under-23’s for this impromptu appearance that saw Scotland withdraw any of their players from selection.
Before I pop over to the Old Trafford, I am out of my deck chair, necking my glass of Pimm’s and setting off around the corner to the National Football Museum which has just opened up a few months ago, right here in the City centre. It is a splendid location than that of the old site in Preston which was a dreadful mischief to get to.
It’s in a modern looking glass building that rises up to 4 floors. I am impressed with the free entry but generously slip a 20 pound note into the donations box and approach the escalator to start this Football museum.
Unfortunately it is the Summer holidays and there are plenty of rugrats running a mock that ruined my experience. Can they not put the snotty little brats in a crèche?
There is plenty to see on the first floor, the most delightful was the origins of the game with copies of the first Rules behind and a cabinet full of Football’s dating back to the 1860’s. They’re all sorts of shapes and sizes, there’s even one made out of old condom’s and pigs guts. Horrid to think they’d have been kicking and heading that thing back in the day.
Another delight were the memorabilia from a number of decades on display, I believe this was in the fans section which was also a nice touch about how Fans make football and the clubs they represent.
Unfortunately there was no opportunities to touch of lift any trophies, though you could see them through a glass cabinet, all cramped together. I would’ve preferred an entrance fee and the chance to lift the old FA Cup. A Kodak moment of the finest.
The museum could’ve been a lot better if they have more funding and memorabilia donated to them. Considering we like to call ourselves the founding fathers of Football it was a poor show. However, one must say that the Gallery on the top floor was most delightful full of a variety of photo’s that grasp the essence of Football itself.
Once I had dodged the chavs with push chairs I got myself onto a Tram heading towards Altrincham. The only trams I had experienced were the ones in Blackpool and it was a rather odd experience to be on one in a big City.
It took all the time in the World to arrive at Old Trafford but eventually I turned up with about 20 minutes to spare before the first game kicked off between Uruguay and United Arab Emirates. A lovely lad informs me that all pockets are to be emptied when entering the ground and items must be placed in a clear transparent bag, which he hands me.
You’re only allowed 100 ml of liquid too in lidless bottles. For a second I thought I was attending a game of football, not boarding the Concorde to New York.
Once I’d got frisked on the gate by a Scouse security guard moaning that he’d been at work since 5 am, I heard a commotion behind me. A young man is being taken away by two Police officers and crikey me! It’s Colin Robinson, the chap from The Gonzy meeting.
I wonder what an earth he’s been getting up to. I hope Bill did not plant drugs [No I Did Not – Bill] on him. I bet they don’t tolerate that sort of delinquency here.
They’d taken young Colin away before I could see what was going on so I made my way to my seat. Being a tall gentleman I’d been pre-warned about the seating conditions at Old Trafford being on the cramped side. Surely a stadium that’s held in high regard as the Theatre of Dreams will not have uncomfortable conditions. The answer was yes and fortunately I persuaded a chap sat facing the stairs to swap with me so I did not develop deep vein thrombosis.
I took a partial viewing to the first game and decided to cipher through the match programme which cost a remarkable £5. What also cost £5 was the stadium ‘Meal Combo’ which consisted of a soft drink and a meat pie. Even McDonald’s would’ve been a more welcomed option and that’s the Devil Incarnate.
Suarez was getting booed every touch and rightly too. The fans warmed to UAE too who played some decent football in the first half but just ran out of legs in the second and Uruguay were able to get a narrow victory.
It’s surprisingly a packed crowd for this Team GB versus Senegal game as both teams line-up for their respected anthems. “God Save The Queen” makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up on end but it’s almost sung with a nervy disposition by the English players and fans who are aware of any Welsh, Scots or Northern Irish folk in attendance.
Why could’ve we have just sung “RULE BRITIANNIA, RULER OF THE WAVES, US BRITONS WILL NEVER BE SLAVES…”
The atmosphere was dead and after 15 minutes I did stand up and sing the chorus to Rule Britannia which only got a few laughs from the indifferent crowd which appeared to be full of children, mainly groups of them from a daycentre or what not.
A chorus of GEE BEE with clapping crescendo was the closest anyone got to a rousing song. Even a GREAT BRITAIN chant similar to “Ingerland” would’ve been sufficient but there appears to be apathy and scarcity to even mentioning the words GREAT BRITAIN with our very own OLYMPICS.
Do the public know we’re no longer Great and are ashamed to mutter the words with Britain? Even still, why can’t we just have a chorus of Britain or have we just lost our British identity in its entirety. It’s a shambles and this Team GB branding is a joke, better money would’ve been spent on getting a brass band in this stadium to get some atmosphere.
If I see another Mexican wave I may have to utter a swear word.
BLIMEY we have a goal and it is Craig Bellamy who opens the scoring with a lovely volley into the ground and it bounces into the back of the net.
Not sure if it was deserved, it’s been a drab of a first half and I am pleased to hear the half-time whistle. I get a voicemail from the chief writer at the Gonzy, Bill Camden, who says I should look out for Colin who’s on mushrooms.
I text him back to say why would I be worried if he’s eating mushrooms when there’s only pie or sausage rolls to eat here. He responds with a fit of HAHAHAHA’s and I am left bemused but await the second half to kick off.
Senegal have upped-the-ante and have started making tackles in the school of Kevin Muscat. The Referee does not seem to care however and they’re going unpunished.
It should be a penalty! Craig Bellamy is brutally assaulted just inside the box but the linesman flags for a throw. It was a brutal assault by the Senegalese left back Ciss.
I Don’t Believe It!
Senegal have only gone and equalised. Kanate I think is the goal scorer. What a load of pugwash!
“GET OUT OF HERE PEARCE, YOU CAN’T MANAGE YOUR WAY OUT OF A PAPER BAG!”
Despite the aggression from Senegal, we have been far to relaxed playing the ball around our back four at 1-0 up and not try to kill this game off. It’s a typical Stuart Pearce side, he did it with the Under 21’s and he did it with Manchester City and Nottingham Forest.
The guy should go to 1990’s Italy.
I make my way down the stairs to see Marvin Sordell hit the crossbar after some good work from Aaron Ramsey but it’s just not enough. I’m walking out of the exit before the final whistle goes to try and beat the crowds but it looks like thousands of others have had the same idea and we’re being slowly marched towards the main street.
The game has left me in a foul mood and this slow walk to get back to the City centre is testing my patience. I think I spot Colin sat on a wall next to a burger van and whistle over to him. He looks very sombre, he explains how he took some magic mushrooms on the train up to Manchester, he ended up in Moss Side and was mugged of his match ticket.
That’s why I saw him being escorted off by the coppers as he tried to get in without a ticket. He looks like he needs a companion so I invite him to come back with me for a drink in the City centre. His explanations about these magic mushrooms distracted my attention away from the game and have made me wonder about these scandalous drugs.