It was an Easter Monday like no other as I was invited down to Old Trafford – the home of Manchester United Football Club to review their Stadium Tour, Museum and Red Café experience.
As a lifelong Manchester United fan, the opportunity to go to the club I love on the back of an astounding home win against league-leaders Chelsea was impossible to resist.
On a rather cloudy Monday morning there was quite the gathering around the stadium, putting the true magnetism of the club on show. People were taking pictures, soaking in the ambience, taking in the views of the jaw-dropping stadium and embracing the wonderful services Manchester United Football Club offer outside the match-day experiences.
I went inside the Museum Tour entrance and proceeded to level 3 to meet Jason who is Business Development in the Museum & arranges VIP/Bespoke Experiences. We took a seat in the Red Café and ordered some food. I wasn’t expecting such a wide variety of choice on the menu with everything from pizzas to ribs but I took the plunge and went with the Cajun Chicken Fajita’s. I’ve been to many hospitality cafes in the past so I wasn’t expecting the biggest of portions, but when the Fajita’s arrived (rather quickly in-fact) the portion size blew me away. The tortillas were huge, there was enough sauce to garnish me twice over and the Cajun Chicken came on a sizzling skillet with peppers, jalapeños and onions all combined to deliver a taste-bud-exploding experience. Jason was telling me all about my upcoming days’ events as I was juggling to keep my tortilla intact as it was bursting at the seams… I think I’ll order something a little less messy next time.
The fajitas were nothing short of incredible and Jenny, our waitress, was friendly, accommodating and made sure we were never short of drinks. With a full belly and highlights of the Chelsea game playing all around the Cafe on the big screen, I was in the perfect mood to get this day rocking and rolling.
It was time to visit the museum. A quick photo with the EFL Cup, FA Cup and Community Shield as a souvenir to take away and then it was time to explore the archives. Anywhere I turned the magic of this football club all came rushing back to me. Trophies as far as the eye can see, historic jerseys from decades of triumph and sporting memorabilia from some of the most iconic moments in Manchester United club and player history. A stand out item for me was David Beckham’s jersey he wore when he took the legendary 30-yard free kick against Greece three minutes into injury-time allowing England to qualify for the 2002 World Cup finals. What an incredible moment it was, and to see it right before my very eyes brought back all the emotions of when I first saw the ball slam into the back of the net.
The museum was so vast with a broad range of information to accompany the extensive range of display items. Every little detail exploring player backgrounds, the tragic Munich Air Disaster and a whole section dedicated to past and present managers was on offer. There really is something for everyone in the museum and you could easily spend a whole day looking around at the items on display.
My tour guide for the day was Graham, and, as I was on my own for the experience Graham offered to take my photos should I need any and the security guard with us also offered. It was a nice gesture from them that made me feel comfortable in knowing I could still get all the pictures I wanted to post in this feature.
The tour literally flew by Graham delivered quick, punchy information that kept everyone’s attention, which for me, is always the best way to approach a tour. If you saturate all the information into long detailed paragraphs you’ll definitely forget a large portion of what you’ve been told before you leave. The tour hit on all of the major points as we explored this beautiful stadium. We were taken to the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand, the Disabled stand, the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand and then made our way to the players’ dressing rooms.
Sitting in a room where so much history has been celebrated; a place where so many world-class players have sat on these very same benches and the nostalgia of being inside an area of the stadium that the public just doesn’t have access to on match-days was a wonderful experience. We took a look around the press theatre where press would conduct their interviews with the managers post-match. Then we took a look at the VIP area where celebrities and invited guests would hang out during matches. We all lined-up in the players’ tunnel as a speaker played some crowd chants. Atmospheric music played as we made our way towards the pitch. I was in awe as I imagined what it must be like for a player to step out in front of a full Old Trafford crowd cheering you on as you emerge. We walked along the side of the pitch as we made our way to the dugout to take more photos. There wasn’t any room on the home dugout at first so I hesitantly made my way to the away dugout for a quick sit down knowing that only a day earlier, disheartened Chelsea players were sitting exactly where I was, wondering what will happen to the rest of their season. This made my seat instantly feel just a little bit more comfortable. Once the crowds had cleared I managed to get a quick home-side dugout picture.
The tour was over in a flash and I can’t thank Graham enough for allowing me to get the individual pictures that I needed, in addition to providing a straight-to-the-point tour that left me hanging on his every word. Once the tour ended we were lead into the gift shop to browse all the merchandise on offer and to pick up your complimentary tour certificate.
Every step of the day made me feel exclusive. A bit of that Old-Trafford magic swept around everyone that day and the whole experience made me feel closer to the club I’ve grown up supporting. Even if you’re not a Manchester United fan there’s really something for everyone at the club. Even the breathtaking views and intricate details of this well-oiled machine could convert the most die-hard of Liverpool fans into admitting they’ve had a wonderful day.
Thanks to Jason for making all of this possible and if you want to experience the magic of Old Trafford for yourself then head on over to http://www.manutd.com/en/Visit-Old-Trafford/Museum-And-Stadium-Tour/Stadium-Tour.aspx to book yourself a stadium tour.
If you’re after a bite to eat with your tour then I’d certainly recommend the fajitas. Hopefully you can eat them with a bit more grace than I did!
Manchester United offer a wide variety of bespoke options for their tours including private tours around the stadium, a legends tour where an ex-player shows you around the ground and various high-end luxury and VIP match-day experiences.
To enquire about creating a bespoke Museum & Stadium Tour experience please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0161 868 8629 for more information.