Justin Mottershead is a Manchester United fan, and editor of MUFC webiste Red Flag Flying High. This is his first article for The Faithful as a guest writer. We hope you enjoy it.
Memories of the 1999 Parade
News that Manchester United will be having a parade this year was met with a collective cheer by many Reds, for me it was greeted with a jumping up punching the air type celebration normally reserved for match winning goals.
One of my fondest memories as a United fan, was the treble winning parade of ’99. Being 31 years of age, I’ve been fortunate enough to witness unparalleled glory throughout my entire adult life so claiming an open top bus driving through Manchester is one of my best memories may seem a tad melodramatic but allow me to elucidate.
When United won their first Champions League –or European Cup- of my lifetime, it was one of the most emotional times I’ve ever experienced as a Red. I remember frowning somewhat only six years earlier when my Dad and his mates started shedding tears as Nick Henry’s winner against Aston Villa ended United’s 26 year wait for the title. Now I understood what it felt like to be overcome with joy to the extent it moves you to tears.
The parade was the icing on the cake, a chance for the fans to show their appreciation to the treble winning giants who’d made history not just by winning three trophies but also with the sort of football Sir Matt Busby would have been proud of.
“Can they score? They always score,” pretty much summed up United’s season.
Living only a few miles from Old Trafford I was spoilt for choice as to where to witness the homecoming of the greatest club side in English history. My mate-Jay- and I decided a road sign on Chester Road was the perfect place to cheer the boys on as it put us at eye level with them.
As hundreds of thousands of Reds lined the streets, I’d never seen such an array of United fans. It was a joy to behold the sea of Red White and Black that seemed to stretch for miles. As the bus approached me and Jay we were cheering and shaking the sign we stood on to the extent I remember worrying it may actually fall over-not that it quelled our exuberance. The team bus may have only taken all of ten seconds to go past but it literally felt like hours and I can clearly remember those few moments as though they were yesterday.
My first memory is of Teddy Sheringham’s beaming smile as he looked at us clinging on to our road sign cheering and shook his fist in a celebratory fashion. It was mint. “Went to Man United and he won the lot!” was duly sang as those amazing dimples beamed back at us.
The next player to catch our eye was David May who’s reaction was the complete opposite of Sheringham’s. Had I pulled down my trousers and projectile urinated into May’s face I don’t think he could have looked at me and Jay with any more disgust than he already was.
To be fair we did look like a pair of scallies, me a nineteen year old skin head and Jay with his arm in a plaster following a ‘work accident’ –at least that’s what he told his boss- hanging off a road sign singing United songs, but there was still no need for such a look of disdain. I’d never rated May as a United player, and find the post revisionist theory that he’s some kind of cult hero, all a bit laughable. He seems to have become lauded for celebrating the Treble win in the Camp Nou so emphatically. It’s a shame he didn’t appreciate others doing the same.
The final player I remember clearly on the bus was Roy Keane, although you’d think he’d lost the Champions League the way he looked. He was sat on the back with his head down looking completely devastated. Me and Jay started chanting “Keano! There’s only one Keano!” and he raised his hand to us in almost depressed manner, I’m not lying when I say he seemed gutted.
Once the parade went past we jumped in my mate’s car and sped towards town to catch it again, getting out just past Old Trafford to have another look- this time from ground level. One thing that struck me the second time was Martin Edwards waving regally from the bus as though any fan wanted to see him there. Somehow I doubt the Glazer’s will be so naïve this year.
The parade moved on to the City centre and after chatting to a few more mates who were following it on foot we decided to go back to my local which was still offering celebratory Treble winning drinks at half price.
Ever since that week I’ve looked forward to another parade like the one in ’99. I was furious when the Neanderthals masquerading as football fans wrecked Manchester during Ranger’s UEFA Cup final loss to Zenith St Petersburg costing us the chance to see United displaying the trophies of the 2008 double winning campaign.
Whether it’s with a Champions League trophy in tow or a celebration of the 19th title, if the parade on May 30th is anything like the one in ’99, it’ll be one to remember.
Hopefully this time round Gabriel Obertan won’t look at me like I’m something he stepped in.