I have vivid memories of last season’s game at Blackburn. A glorious, sunny Sunday for a lunchtime game where a win would see United have one hand on the Premier League trophy and that illustrious mark of nineteen titles, and thereby becomng the most successful domestic club in the country. Then it all unravelled in a tense and insipid 0-0 draw and the walk back after the game felt like something of a funeral procession for United’s title hopes as Chelsea went on to win the league. It was an awful day, a depressing day, and one that I didn’t want to repeat this time around.
A season on and the only similarity this time around was the result. Pre game nerves had got a serious hold on me as we made the early morning trip to Blackburn, even a few beers in Blackburn couldn’t stop the gut wrenching feeling I had. Not even the advice of a mate to relax, enjoy the day and that we had the Blackpool game as a safety net could do anything to relieve the tension I was in full on nervous wreck mode! I couldn’t think about the Blackpool game, I wanted the league wrapped up there and then in Blackburn.
We got into the packed away end (Blackburn being one of the few clubs to still give us a decent away allocation) and everyone is in full voice and high spirits. The game begins and as usual United’s away form is non-comparable to our home form. The team don’t have the ebb and flow of the previous game when we blew away Chelsea and the tension and jitters aren’t helped by Tomasz Kuszczac’s erratic and confusing behaviour. Then horror of horrors Blackburn score and the home fans explode into life. The high spirits in the United end suddenly drained and replaced with a collective nervousness now, no one wants to wait another week…everyone wants to win the league here and now! Half time comes and the discussions and analysis of the first half are ignited over beers and a strangely concocted ‘breakfast pie’.
The second half starts and as the minutes tick by and United fail to get the goal needed to clinch the league the tension increases, and increases. The MUFC Faithful lend their voice to the cause trying over and over to provide the spark that the players on the pitch so badly needed. Then in a second Hernandez is brought down in the area and in what seemed like an age the referee consults with the linesman…and penalty! The United end erupts! This is quickly tempered by a 7,000 strong nervous deep breath as Rooney picks up the ball and places it on the spot. His chance to etch his name into our history and finally put to bed the past year and put him back into the hearts of all United fans.
And he scores and with the net rippling the United end of Ewood park explodes!
The jubiliation and relief smashes away the tension and nerves that had inhabited the previous 70 minutes of football. Flags bearing 19 related messages are unfurled and songs reserved only for league winners are roared out of the United fans. After 15 or so minutes of the game the referee blows the whistle and United players and fans alike indulge in joyous celebration.
History was made, history was ours.
Seeing the players stood dancing, celebrating and enjoying the occasion as much as us in front of us was great to see. As we’re leaving the stadium every United fan bounces out of the stadium to be greeted by floods of league winning and 19 related merchandise that were quickly snapped up. The walk back into the centre of Blackburn was very much enjoyable…in stark contrast to the year before. We didn’t have the weather this year but no amount of Lancashire rain could dampen our spirits. The rest of the day spent celebrating, although the insistence that we had to have our £35 bottle of champagne served to us in plastic pint glasses wasn’t quite in keeping with the mood!
Happiness like this doesn’t come often…only when you make history.