TF Chronicles – The Premier League Grounds Part Three

Here we go with Part Three of our list of Premier League grounds. If you have missed the first two parts then you can catch up here. Listed below is part three of these stadiums and some of our favourite matches and memories from watching United play in them, along with the opposite end of the spectrum – some of our worst matches and memories from United games in these stadiums. Every United fan will have their own favourites and worst ones, but these are the ones that stand out for myself (@luzhniki2008) and Kim (@Sparkly_Devil1):-

20) Fulham – Craven Cottage
Craven Cottage stadium is definitely the most traditional of grounds United visit in the Premier League. Fulham were promoted to the Premier League for season 2001-02 season and have remained in the Premier League ever since. For the 2001-02 season, Fulham’s stadium still contained terraces on 3 sides of the ground, so some of the United fans there for our match there got to stand for one last time in the Premier League. For the next 2 seasons Fulham played at Loftus Road stadium, as building work was due to begin at Craven Cottage. The plans were scaled down in the end, due to planning objections – with 2 stands being built behind the goals, rather than rebuilding all 4 sides of the ground and demolishing the cottage. Capacity now is just over 25,000.
Favourite match – the 2006-07 match there – a late winner by Cristiano Ronaldo, which was a very important one as we sought to reclaim our Premier League title. Big celebrations for the fans there and these carried on at Putney Bridge Station nearby and on the trains away from there.
Worst match – the 3-0 defeat there in December 2009 – a cold winters day and a United side missing Van der Sar and the majority of our defenders. Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick were forced to play as centre halves as a result.

21) Fulham – Loftus Road
United visited QPR’s Loftus Road in 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons for their away matches against Fulham. Neither match was a success – both ending in a 1-1 draw. There will be a return to this stadium for the 1st time since 1996 for United this season, to face QPR. Most memorable thing from these trips – during warm up for 2002-03 match – Fabien Barthez and Tony Coton during warm up – ended up smacking a United fan in the Upper Tier 1st row behind the goal. As stands are so close to pitch, he was hit hard and his full cup of hot coffeee went all over him. Barthez and Coton kept apologising to him.

22) Hull City – KC Stadium
In 2002 ,Hull City left their Boothferry Park Stadium to the newly built 25,000+ stadium which they would share with Hull Sharks rugby team. Hull City spent 2 seasons in the Premier League and these 2 matches are United’s only 1st team matches there so far. The stadium is very similar in design to Reading’s Madjeski stadium. United won both matches there – so they can be classed as equally successful. The 2008-09 visit was our last League game of the season and with United due to face Barcelona and having already won the League, Sir Alex Ferguson rested a lot of players. Tickets for this game had been in great demand as it was earlier seen as a possible title decider, as well as a new stadium to visit. The United team won 1-0 thanks to a great Darron Gibson goal. Hull City just about managed to avoid relegation that day, despite their defeat, with Newcastle United being relegated instead. The following season, United visited in December and beat a struggling Hull side 3-1. Since their relegation, Hull have had financial problems, so a quick return to the Premier League has not been possible for them.

23) Ipswich Town – Portman Road
Ipswich is one of the furthest away trips for United fans, but this is compensated by Portman Road being a nice stadium and the away section offering a great view of the match, along the side of the pitch. During Ipswich’s successful time under Bobby Robson, the stadium was developed well and then again at the start of 2000, further developed, making it at 30,000 stadium. Ipswich were in the Premier League when it started and remained there until the end of 1994-95 season when they were relegated. They returned in the 2000-01 and 2001-02 seasons, but haven’t been back since.
Favourite match – The vital 2-1 win there in May 1994, which helped the club clinch a 2nd Premier League title and the 1st part of the club’s 1st domestic double. This was a tense match too, as Peter Schmeichel went off injured to be replaced by Gary Walsh, who hadn’t seen 1st team action at United for a few seasons.
Worst match – Losing 2-1 there in January 1993. At the time, United still hadn’t won a league title since 1967 and memories were fresh of the previous season’s loss of form. Luckily this result was just a blip for the Cantona inspired team.

24) Leeds United – Elland Road
Without doubt, one of the least pleasant away grounds for the United players and fans to go to. It is pure hatred that the Leeds fans have for us. It is also one of the few grounds that United fans are locked in the ground for after the match, for up to an hour. Leeds were in the Premier League from 1992-93 until their relegation in 2003-04. They have not been back since. Apart from the building of the large East Stand or Lurpak Stand in 1992 and putting seats in place of terracing in 1994 as it was known for a while, nothing else has really been done to Elland Road for a long time and it is showing its age.
Favourite match – the dominant 4-0 victory there in 1996-97 which cost Howard Wilkinson his job as Leeds manager. The match is also remembered for Eric’s late goal celebration in front of the Leeds fans – his parting gesture to Elland Road, as it would turn out.
Worst match – the 2-1 defeat there in 1994-95 season – the first time we had lost to Leeds since the early 1980’s.
Special Memory – In February 1993 – Eric Cantona made his 1st return to Elland Road as a Manchester United player. To celebrate the occasion, the United fanzine Red Issue sorted out a brilliant plan – United fans in the stadium that night throwing literally thousands of paper planes, containing a thank you message for Eric Cantona, all around the stadium and into the Leeds fans.

25) Leicester City – Filbert Street
Filbert Street was a classic away ground to visit for United. With the exception of the large Main Stand built in the early 1990s, the other 3 sides of the ground were very traditional stands. In particular, the small away stand, which ran along the side of the pitch was a great place to watch United play. Our fans were so close to the pitch and could hear what the players were saying. Also, the low roof helped amplify the noise our fans made. To the left,behind the goal would be the most vocal Leicester fans, which helped liven things up – both inside the ground and usually outside in the streets after the match. Leicester were in the Premier League in the 1994-95, 1996-97 to 2001-02 seasons and then the 2003-04 season. They left Filbert Street at the end of the 2001-02 season, as they could not extend capacity above its then 21,500 figure.
Favourite match – The 6-2 victory there in 1998-99 was a great game, especially with Jaap Stam’s goal for United. However, the most memorable one has to be the 3-0 victory there in October 2000. David Beckham and Gary Neville joined the United fans in the away section that day.
Worst match – United never lost at Filbert Street in the Premier League – drawing twice. In 1996-97 it was a 2-2 draw with Solskjaer getting both United goals. In 1997-98 it was a more uneventful 0-0 draw – the only match like that at Filbert Street for United.

26) Leicester City – Walkers Stadium (now called King Power Stadium)
Leicester City returned to the Premier League in 2003-04 for one season and it was to Leicester’s new 32,000+ Walkers Stadium that United visited. The stadium was built along the same lines as Southampton’s St Mary’s Stadium ,which was built around that time too. United won that game 4-1 and Ruud van Nistelrooy was in top form – scoring a hat-trick. The previous game had been the Arsenal game at Old Trafford where the Arsenal players, like Martin Keown, had abused him for not scoring a late penalty which would have won the game. It was a much happier Ruud that day and he made a special point of celebrating his goals with the United fans at Leicester that day, who had backed him since the Arsenal game.

27) Liverpool – Anfield
Liverpool have long been United’s biggest rivals, as United and Sir Alex Ferguson sought to catch their trophy haul. In May 2011, United finally overtook them – with 19 titles to Liverpool’s 18. Liverpool away has always been a hostile place to go for players and fans. It is another stadium where United fans are locked in after the match for safety reasons. Although 3 sides of the ground – The Kop, Centenary Stand and Anfield Road Stand were redeveloped in the 1990s, Anfield’s stadium capacity of around 45,000 is seen as too low. Plans have been in place to move to a 60,000 capacity stadium in Stanley Park for a number of years, but nothing has happened with that. The club had also considered plans to further re-develop Anfield too. United have had some great victories at Anfield but also some tough defeats though.
Favourite match – The 2006-07 match there when John O’Shea scored that very late winner. What a way to win at Anfield! That victory went a long way to United reclaiming the Premier League title that season. After the match, United fans didn’t mind being locked in the stadium as we got to sing lots of songs to the Liverpool players who went back onto the pitch for their warm down.
Worst match – The 2010-11 3-1 defeat there. Terrible result, but at least we still went on to win our 19th League title despite this.

28) Manchester City – Maine Road
Maine Road held lots of significance for United as the club played its home games there after the Second World War after Old Trafford was bombed and after that, night matches before floodlights were installed. Plus United had some great FA Cup semi-final replay results there. However, in the Premier League years when City were in the top flight playing there from 1992-93 to 1995-96 and 2000-01 and 2002-03, it was the home of the hated city rivals. With 4 completely different stands in the stadium, it was often mocked by United fans, in comparison with Old Trafford. The capacity in City’s final season there in 2002-03 was about 35,000 with temporary seats being used too. They had plans to extend capacity there, but instead moved to Manchester’s Commonwealth Games Stadium instead in 2003.
Favourite match – 1993-94. United, having been knocked out of Europe a few days earlier by Galatasaray went to Maine Road to concentrate on the League again. at half time it was 2-0 to City. Some City fans had also been throwing Turkish Delight bars at United fans there too, in reaction to being knocked out of Europe by a Turkish side. The 2nd half was a classic United comeback to win 3-2 with 2 goals by Eric Cantona and a late Roy Keane winner.
Worst match – 2002-03 was United’s final visit to Maine Road and until that day, United had been unbeaten there in the Premier League. However this day was a complete disaster as we lost 3-1 to them. A bad defeat, made worse by Peter Schmeichel who was in goal for City celebrating the City goals too.

29) Manchester City – Eastlands
In 2002, Manchester hosted the Commonwealth Games and a new stadium was built for this. Had Manchester got the Olympics in 1996 or 2000 this stadium would have been even bigger – up to 80,000. After the games were over, the stadium was given to Manchester City, the running track was removed and an extra tier of seats was installed making it a 48,000 capacity stadium. City moved there for the 2003-04 Premier League Season, solving their problem of what to do with Maine Road which was then demolished. The stadium was nicknamed ‘The Council House’ or ‘Wastelands’ by United fans. United have had mixed results in this stadium.
Favourite matches – 2 matches really stand out here. The 2006-07 1-0 victory in May which, in the end, clinched the league title for us, helped by a late Van der Sar penalty save. Possibly even more dramatic was the 2009-10 very late winner there in April by Paul Scholes. although we did not win the league that season, it was still an amazing way to win there.
Worst match – the shocking 4-1 defeat there in 2003-04 on our first visit to the new stadium.

30) Middlesbrough – Ayresome Park
United only played 1 Premier League match, a 1-1 draw there in the 1992-93 season. This match came only a few days after United were knocked out of the UEFA Cup on penalties away to Torpedo Moscow, so the mood amongst players and fans that day was more subdued. United’s goal that day was a penalty too – by Steve Bruce. Middlesbrough were relegated at the end of the season and did not return to the Premier League until 1995-96 season. As Ayresome Park was an old 26,000 capacity stadium with lots of terrracing and was surrounded by housing, it would be difficult for Middlesbrough to comply with the all seater regulations. So the club decided to leave Ayresome Park in 1995 and move to a new stadium.

31) Middlesbrough – The Riverside Stadium
Middlesbrough, managed by United legend Bryan Robson, returned to the Premier League with a brand new 30,000 stadium (later expanded to 35,000). This showed at the time that Middlesbrough, under owner Steve Gibson, wanted to remain in the top flight. They were relegated at the end of the 1996-97 season but returned for the 1998-99 season. They remained in the Premier League until the end of the 2008-09 season and they have not returned since then. The Riverside stadium design was followed by Derby County and to a certain extent by Stoke City soon afterwards. This stadium is not popular with United’s away support though. This is due to Middlesbrough’s continuous decision since 1999-2000 to give us a massively reduced ticket allocation, due to our fans standing. United fans are by no means the only fans to do this, but it feels like United were singled out with reduced tickets – sometimes as low as only 1000. When they were relegated in 2009, many United fans were happy because of this. Those fans lucky to have still got tickets there for our away games will have enjoyed mocking Middlesbrough’s song. The team came out to the Paul Oakenfeld remix song Reach Up and the Boro fans celebrate goals singing this. In response when United score against Boro, particularly in games we scored lots of goals, we mockingly chanted this song back to the Boro fans. At times the United players, including Rio Ferdinand and Darren Fletcher have joined in with this too.
Favourite match – winning the League there on the last day of the 1995-96 season. A brilliant first visit there – we won 3-0 and were presented with the Premier League trophy on the pitch after the match. The players then did a lap of honour and spent plenty of time in front of the 3,000 United away fans there that day. ‘Down by the Riverside… we won the Football League again’ chant was sung loads that day too. Amonst the United fans that day and joining in with the songs was a young Kasper Schmeichel.
Worst match – the 4-1 defeat there in 2005-06. A shocking performance by the team and a miserable journey home for us. The next day, Roy Keane, who was out injured, went into the MUTV studio to do the post-match analysis of the game, as players always did at the time. Roy Keane gave his completely honest opinion of the United performance that day and his view of the players at the time. This was never shown by the club and led to Roy Keane’s departure from the club, following a further meeting with players and staff to discuss what he said.

For Part Four of The Premier League Grounds by Dan (@luzhniki2008) and Kim (@sparkly_devil1) click here

About Steve Ferguson 886 Articles
Steve Ferguson had taken over & re-branded The Faithful MUFC website back in the summer of 2014 and is now the owner and editor of the site. Steve, from Ashton-Under-Lyne in Greater Manchester, is a 35-year-old life long Manchester United fan, travelling over the globe to see the Reds play. Steve has been lucky enough to be at both the 1999 and 2008 Champions League finals, seeing Manchester United lift the biggest trophy in the World, none more exciting than that faithful night in Barcelona in 99. The website is a blog, but also hopes to deliver the latest Manchester United news from around the internet too, linked up with our growing twitter account which is @TheFaithfulMUFC, give it a follow as we will follow you back as soon as we can.

1 Comment

  1. A big hello from Elland Road!! I’m not sure but I’ve got a feeling that you’re not too keen on Leeds. Secretly though you know you miss us.

    See you next season!

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