From Pallister's sofa to 'ell at the Emirates

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Where I've been and what I've seen after nine exhausting days on the road...

1) A lad in a Liverpool shirt with ‘Gerrard’ on the back… walking down Chester Road past thousands of Manchester United fans heading to Old Trafford before the Hull game. He seemed to revel in the abuse. Definitely a ‘not right’.

2) Being the only United We Stand seller at Old Trafford before the Hull game after the usually reliable lad who looks after our sellers failed to get out of bed because he’d been on the piss. That’s never happened in the 19 year history of UWS. I was absolutely livid.

3) Getting up at 7am on Sunday morning to drive my brother Sam to Lilleshall to play for Stockport County against Shrewsbury Town. He scored twice. The boy can play.

4) Doing a three-hour interview with Gary Pallister at his house in the beautiful village of Yarm, near Middlesbrough. Pallister conducted the entire interview lying on his sofa. He was good value and finished by saying: “I’ve told you far too much haven’t I?”

"Did I mention I've just had a brand new sofa delivered..."  

5) Walking into St. James’ Park just as Newcastle scored their second against Villa. It’s easily the best-located stadium in the country.

6) Nicky Butt turning up 40 minutes late for an interview because his car had a puncture. He apologised profusely then said: “I’m not going to train today so we’ve got as much time as you like.” Butt was superb – his frankness surprised me. He kept saying: “I’ve never said this before, but…”

7) Visiting Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland on a sunny winter’s day. There was barely another soul about at what must be one of the most beautiful spots in the British Isles.

8) Celtic fans singing “We shall not be moved” after United got a late equaliser at Celtic Park. The atmosphere wasn’t on a scale with Vasco de Gama vs Manchester United in the Maracana, but it was very, very loud.

9) As the TAG style police stood outside the pub I was in with many other Manchester United fans close to Glasgow’s Buchanan Street, I hopefully confused one of them by asking for directions to the city’s Burrell Collection. He didn’t know, but his colleague did.

10) A lift to Celtic Park with the very affable (despite getting a parking ticket) Michael Grant, chief football writer for the Sunday Herald. He’s an Aberdeen fan and Sir Alex Ferguson is still like a god to him and his fellow Dandys.

11) Larry McMahon, a Celtic fan sorted two United We Stand writers out with tickets for the match. I expected them to be face value. Larry insisted that they were free.

"What do we want... FANZINES... When do we want them..." 

12) Watching Paddy Crerand meet and greet old friends and foes at Celtic Park. It gave me great pleasure just to watch and see him full of energy and enthusiasm for life.
13) Having to keep my Mancunian accent very quiet as I did an interview for a radio station in Dublin… while walking alone surrounded by thousands of Celtic fans down London Road after the game.

14) Hearing the thud as an elderly Celtic fan slipped off a rail and banged his head on the wet concrete outside Bridgeton rail station after the match. He’d tried to climb over the rail by the side of the road. It was horrible. I told a police medical officer (quietly) and he was soon trying to help him. I hope he’s alright.
15) The Caledonian Sleeper from Glasgow to Euston. Why was I as excited as a six-year-old at the prospect of sleeping on a train?

16) An Irish girl asking me if I was a Scouser in Kilburn because “my accent sounds Scouse.”

17) Highbury used to be one of the cheapest top flight grounds for away fans. At the Emirates it is £48 to sit in the away end. And several Reds asked me why they couldn’t buy UWS at the Hull game. Grrrr.

18) My discomfort at the result was tempered by meeting a Michael and Justin, a father and son from Oxford on the tube after the game. Both Gooners, Michael is a doctor who has been working in Uganda. They were delighted with their team, but complimentary about United. I hope Justin doesn’t think all United fans are evil from now on.

19) Getting 82 emails on Friday and telling my girlfriend that I need a secretary, ideally a 21 year old female. “She has to be 60 and fat,” she replied.

"Telephone call for you Mr. Mitten..." 

20) Arriving back in Barcelona to see that Barca were again smashing another team to pieces in the first half. And to meet the delighted Manchester La Fianna players who had beaten main rivals Dynamo 2-0.

Travels for work have seen me become a more peripheral figure. Perhaps that’s why we’ve won every game this season and are top of the league…

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