Once a year Roger Willems and Ralph Thijssen take a football trip together. They leave their wives at home and head out for a weekend in the pub and stadium. This year they visited Manchester United, where they were impressed by the intense football atmosphere.
You can hear a pin drop at Manchester United stadium, Old Trafford, before the game against Wolverhampton. The 70,000 people in the stands are silent for one minute to commemorate the 1958 plane crash. The crash killed 23 people, including Manchester United players and staff. When the minute passes, there is deafening applause. Two friends from The Netherlands sit between the 70,000 people and clap along. “It was special to experience that. Everyone was silent to commemorate the history of the club. We were part of that for a while, it touched me, “says Roger.
“Our football trips have brought us closer together”
Roger and Ralph have a season ticket with Borussia Mönchengladblach, have often visited FC Barcelona together and visited the first game in the new stadium of Tottenham Hotspur last year. The two grew up together and now, thirty years later, they still see each other every week. “Our football trips have brought us closer together,” says Roger. The two always go without their wives, who stay at home. “My wife doesn’t share my passion for football, but she’s letting me go on these trips. She goes to music festivals, I go to football. ”
In every country the two visit, they experience that the football and the atmosphere in the stadium is different. “In England everything is very structured. The United stadium is well maintained, the area is safe and there are clear rules. You are kindly requested not to smoke inside, so you don’t bother others. And we were also not allowed to drink alcohol in the stadium. That’s not a problem in Germany, for example. ”
Pleasant, casual atmosphere in Manchester
After a good English breakfast, Roger and Ralph head to the stadium on foot on matchday to get a glimpse of Manchester as a city. It is a working city with many factories, but in the center there are some beautiful buildings. “You can also shop well there, but we skipped that. After all, the women were not involved, ”says Roger. “As we got closer to the stadium, we saw more and more people in the red Manchester United shirt. It was a very pleasant, casual atmosphere. Several people asked where we came from and what we were doing here. ”
The two visitors from the Netherlands take their seats in the stadium an hour in advance. They see the stadium filling up with people and enjoy the singing of the fanatical supporters. “United’s fans sang to Wolves’s. They sat across the street and sang back. So it went back and forth. At one point, all United fans joined in. ”
Singing for ninety minutes
Roger and Ralph are impressed by the match. Both teams put a lot of energy in the game and the intensity is high. Unfortunately, it remains at 0-0, so fans don’t get a chance to cheer. “A goal increases the atmosphere, but the setting was already very atmospheric. The fans sang for ninety minutes. ”
Roger and Ralph leave the stadium and walk towards the city center in a group of United supporters. The group is slowly getting smaller and smaller. “You saw people walking back to the side streets, back to their houses. It was a neighborhood that I would not visit by myself, but it was safe and gave a nice picture of the daily life of the supporters. Like many others, we went into the pub to finish the matchday.”
Many nice destinations left
Roger looks back on the weekend in Manchester with fond memories. “It is a city that has a lot to offer, from restaurants and pubs to discotheques. Fortunately, we had three days of nice weather, so we could walk all over the city. That way you get into the atmosphere of the country and you experience football even more intensely. ”
Roger and Ralph enjoyed the service of Football Trips Online. “We were able to put together our own trip and very good deal. Everything was arranged for us and we had the assurance of a reliable partner. Next time we will definitely book at Football Trips Online again. We still want to go to Scotland or Italy, but Seville is also high on our list. There are plenty of nice destinations to think of, so we will certainly continue this tradition for the coming years. ”