A quick scout on Wikipedia tells me that it was the 17th August 1983, which would make me 4, when my Dad took me to Old Trafford for the first time to begin a life-long love affair with the red half of Manchester, to see United take on Aberdeen in Martin Buchan’s testimonial match. Three things stick out in my memory from that night. Firstly the walk to the ground, Dad’s hand tightly grasping mine as we joined the throng heading for the bright red neon sign over the main stand “MANCHESTER UNITED”, like a lighthouse beckoning on the masses. Secondly, my amazement at the brightness of the floodlit pitch as we climbed the stairs out into the open and I got my first glimpse of the hallowed turf. I still get the same swooping feeling in my stomach today at 31. And thirdly, the childish decadence of chips on the way home, already up way past my bedtime, to provide chips on top of this must have made going to the football seem the most amazing thing ever.
I suppose there was some football played too. History says Frank Stapleton scored twice for United in a 2-2 draw and that Aberdeen was managed by a certain Alex Ferguson on his first trip to Old Trafford, and also that this was when Gordon Strachan first came to the attention of then manager Ron Atkinson. Perhaps it’s fitting as a four year old that I remembered none of this. Feelings and emotions are surely what football is supposed to inspire in people if moments are to be remembered, more than names and statistics.