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  • The Northern Casual 15:25 on September 5, 2012 Permalink | Reply

    MUFC Away Days – Southampton Get The Famous ‘United Late Show’! 

    Firstly, to any readers of these articles, visitors to the site or those who lurk in silence, please accept my apologies that I didn’t bother with an account of the trip to Goodison for United’s first game of the season.  Sky’s insistence to ruin what was always a great opportunity for a day out in Liverpool by moving the game to a Monday night meant there was not a great deal to say following a quick dash home from work and to the game.

    And the less said about the game and result the better to be honest!

    So now on to Southampton away.  A lengthy trip for a Sunday 4pm kick off meant options for travel were restricted by both duration and cost.  We decided to take a coach down, run by Champion Sports Travel, because we’d used them before and the cost was reasonable…it was easily the best option.  We set off from the meeting point around the corner from Old Trafford just before 8am on Sunday morning, I don’t think there’s anything else other than United that could get me up so early on a Sunday!  Four hours later and we were pulling up for our stop for the day. Rather than heading into Southampton we were dropped in Winchester.  Just imagine the scene if you will, a picturesque old English town on a Sunday afternoon with shoppers milling around going quietly about their business when two coach full of lads (and a handful of women) pile off and into the nearest pubs.  It was quite a sight.  A few hours were spent around the town enjoying a few beers and watching the first half of the Liverpool vs Arsenal game before it was back onto the coaches and towards Southampton…and the game.

    We got down to St Mary’s shortly before kick off and made our way into the ground.  The United end was in good voice as the teams made their way onto the pitch.  (More …)

  • The Northern Casual 12:48 on March 21, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Away Days: Ten Steps To Twenty – United at Wolves 

    United’s recent league form has seen us claw back City and take the top spot in the Premier League. Where we belong. The form displayed in returning to the summit has hardly been exhilarating with more function than flair but as we approach the business end of the season the three points on offer each game matter more than any ‘moral victories’ or heroic defeats. Grinding out a win accepted with far more relish now you can suddenly count the remaining Premier League games on both hands. And so it is to Wolverhampton Wanderers. (More …)

  • The Northern Casual 13:07 on February 25, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Amsterdam ArenA   

    MUFC Away Days: Thursday Nights, In Amsterdam – United at Ajax. 

    Amsterdam Arena, Ajax

    I will be the first to admit that when I trudged away from the St Jakob Park following FC Basel’s 2-1 win over United, a result that sent United crashing out of the Champions League at the group stage, that the prospect of the Europa League was not one that I relished. The limp performances in Europe had led United there, unquestionably, but the idea of having the taunts of “Thursday Nights, Channel Five” that we had gleefully forced down the throats of Liverpool and City fans alike coming back to bite us on the proverbial was one that I never thought I would encounter.

    But then it all changed.

    It was the early afternoon on Friday 16th December. UEFA was in the throes of their drawn out, grandiose version of drawing balls out of a hat for the knockout stages of the Europa League (the Champions League draw having been done earlier without any notice or attention from yours truly). Ajax came out of the draw followed swiftly by United. Unbelievable! Text messages went back and forth, all reporting a similar message “Amsterdam!”. United forums, and varying social networks were ablaze with the idea of taking a trip to Amsterdam that would also incorporate seeing United play…what more could you ask for? We quickly booked flights, a hotel and decided we would spend a few days in Amsterdam for the game.

    We were to fly out on the Wednesday morning before the game and had previously come to the decision that we were going to start our trip in the right manner. This meant holing ourselves up in the executive lounge at Liverpool airport and taking advantage of the open bar despite the time still being in single figures. We landed into Schiphol airport for lunchtime (local time), and passed by David Gill and a throng of other United staff and security (no players I might add) as we swaggered through the airport, buoyed by the prospect of what lay ahead. We travelled via the train through to Amsterdam Central Station and then on to our hotel, which provided one disappointment to the trip. A tiny room populated with two small thin single beds did not scream ‘luxury’ to us, but then again we figured we’d spend very little time in there anyway…after all, you don’t have to try very hard to entertain yourself in Amsterdam!

    the smallest bar in Amsterdam

    We set straight out for the afternoon and spent a few hours in what was apparently “the smallest bar in Amsterdam”, which to be fair you could not argue with. The ceiling was adorned with plenty of scarves of various teams across Europe, no doubt given up by visiting fans as a memento but this also allayed to how big the bar was – essentially as wide as two scarves! The stairs to the toilet were so steep it was almost like climbing a ladder. But the beer was good, the atmosphere relaxed and we got talking to another group of United lads that had also travelled over that morning. We enjoyed a few beers there before moving on to the infamous Red Light District. Now, for the benefit of anyone who has never been, the Red Light District in Amsterdam has plentiful bars to enjoy! We enjoyed a few beers around there before deciding that we could not come here and not sample some of the ‘culture’ which in this instance meant going into one of the numerous shows. Luckily entrance included a few drinks with the price. I won’t go into too much detail but the seedy element within our group now satisfied we headed back to the hotel for a quick pit stop before eating.

    Now, in a slight change of topic I have to mention the restaurant that we ate at Balthazar’s Keuken. I had read reviews on the internet previously and it did not disappoint. The idea here being that the restaurant does not have a menu available and creates one daily from the ingredients that they purchase and for a very reasonable price for three courses of outstanding food. The starters are canape like, a number of small dishes but each one in itself amazing (even something as simple as halved boiled egg in mayonnaise was topped with truffle shavings). You then have a choice of just two main courses, meat or fish, which we chose the Angus beef course. Again it was amazing. The dessert of baked apples was equally full of taste. If you ever take a trip to Amsterdam I encourage you to visit this place…if you can get in that is! It’s quite a small place, with an open plan kitchen and with no shortage of demand. I drew comparisons to a Michelin starred meal I had enjoyed and to be honest there was little difference in the taste and quality of the food served here. After our meal we called it a night, with the day of the game looming it was as sensible an idea as you can expect yourself to have when in Amsterdam!

    Amsterdam ArenA Ajax

    We rose early on the Thursday morning as for some reason the official ticket pick up point for United fans was not in the city centre (as on previous European trips) but at the Amsterdam ArenA itself. This meant an early start to get the train to the ground to pick our tickets up, this had one positive as it meant we could see the ground in the daylight with the height of the stadium being of particular note. We journeyed back into Amsterdam to meet up with the remaining member of our travel party who had taken the option of the day trip which meant we would have to repeat the adventures of the day before again. It’s a tough life following United! We joined up and headed back into the Red Light District, stopping off at a few of the bars we had frequented the day before and discussing our plans for the day. We popped in and out bars that were now full of the United Faithful and it was plain to see that there were far more there in number than the 2,500 or so tickets that United had been issued, with these numbers contributing to the atmosphere of the day. As the morning turned into the afternoon more and more Ajax fans also joined the area and to join in with some of their own songs, adding in to the banter between both sets of fans. It was then decided that we would frequent yet another show for a bit of a change of scenery…so to speak! A few more pubs followed by some food and we were ready for the game.

    We headed to the train station to make our way to the Amsterdam ArenA and arrived in time for kick off.  We did not however factor in more European riot police spoiling for trouble by herding United fans into a line and not allowing anyone contained within into the ground.  We finally got into the ground just after kick off.  I’m afraid I cannot provide any kind of match report as we struggled to find a spot in the stand to watch the game from, made worse by the view in what is reported as the third most steepest stadium in Europe.  But United won and that’s all that mattered.  We headed back to our hotel for a final night on the tiny, lumpy mattress before rising early again on the Friday morning for our trip home.

    “Amsterdam eh?  Bloody hell!”

  • The Northern Casual 14:35 on December 10, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    MUFC Away Days – The Ghost of Champions Leagues Past..United at Basel 

    I will be the first to admit that United in Europe this season have been insipid and uninspiring at best.  Losing in Basel was not the cause of United suffering the ignonimity of having to play in Europe’s second competition, the seeds were sown in each game before that.  We were overrun by Benfica and outplayed by Basel, and even two routine wins against a Romanian side that no one had heard of previously was not enough to see us through.  And here we are, “Thursday nights, Channel Five” as we have so gleefully reminded our scouse and City counterparts in recent seasons.  All of our chickens come home to roost?  Maybe.  Time to take it on the chin lads. (More …)

  • The Northern Casual 15:56 on November 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    MUFC Away Days – In A Mersey Paradise? Utd at Everton 

    It goes without saying that the humiliation we suffered at the hands of our lazer blue rivals from across Manchester will take some getting over.  The media made a lot of fuss over the Aldershot game, billing it as United and Fergie’s first steps to redemption.  It was far from it as the routine win did nothing to banish the anguish and inevitable wind ups that every red had to suffer that week.  So it was on to Everton and again all eyes on United to see whether in fact the City result was just a one off, or we were indeed in the ascent of one mighty, mighty ‘wobble’.  Inexplicably the game was made a midday kick off and with no Sky or TV coverage you have to wonder the thinking behind this.  If it’s in an attempt to reduce the drinking that both sets of fans would do before the game then it’s fair to say they failed, or as a member of our travelling party put it, “I’ll just start drinking earlier”. (More …)

  • The Northern Casual 08:48 on October 22, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    MUFC Away Days – The Red Army Marches To Romania 

    So, game three of this seasons Champions League saw us making the trip into Eastern Europe and to Romania.  Otelul Galati’s stadium was deemed unfit by UEFA meaning the debut in the Champions League of the reigning Romanian Champions had to be played over 140 miles away in Bucharest.  There was little known of Galati before this season so whilst this trip was never going to be a game against one of the European superpowers it was not a trip United could afford to take lightly…especially given our somewhat insipid start to this seasons European adventure.

    Romania having been once a Communist country, it was fairly safe to say that our expectations of what lay ahead in Bucharest were fairly low.  But as our plane came in to land in a crisp morning sun we noted the size and quality of some of the estates caressing the runway, even more so the number of swimming pools attached to these mansions…it was more Alderley Edge than Eastern European ghettos!  We landed into Bucharest’s Baneasa airport to find a quite small and basic set up, to move on to the waiting coaches, under the watchful eye of the Romanian gendarmerie.  To give credit where it is due though, the Romanian riot police had a seemingly great attitude towards the travelling Red Army, in that they were prepared to stand guard giving a presence as opposed to some of the other (and so called better equipped) European countries when their riot police are just thugs in armour looking for trouble. (More …)

    • Andreas 11:58 on October 22, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Great read as always mate. Kudos!

    • Paul 12:57 on October 22, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks Andreas and thanks for reading.

  • The Northern Casual 21:14 on September 18, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Lisbon, Madrid, ,   

    Away Days – Benfica: Sun, Superbock & (not really) Sea 

    When the draw was made for the Champions League group stages for 2011-12 season, we were quite happy with our lot.  Not only did United look as if they have a relatively straightforward path to the knockout stages early next year, but there were also three decent away trips on the card.  Three countries that I had yet to visit in Portugal, Romania, and Switzerland.  We held hope that out of the three the first game would be Benfica as it meant as the weather in the North of England was taking a turn for the worse, we would be nipping off for a few days in the sun to see United!  And lo and behold we got our wish.  Granted we ultimately took an indirect route (having to fly from the scousers strip of airfield to Madrid, then on to Lisbon) but that surely only adds to the adventure….Travelling out it does anyway, not so much coming back! (More …)

  • The Northern Casual 12:39 on September 12, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    MUFC Away Days – A Reebok Rampage! United at Bolton 

    It’s fair to say that United’s start to the season has been explosive, with a brand of attacking football imposed with pace and power that is a delight to watch.  Compare that with last season when rather than blowing teams away we were grinding results out.  Yes, there were emphatic scorelines but these were not achieved with anything like the verve and style that we have seen so far this season.  So when we set out to Bolton yesterday for a game against one of United’s smaller North West rivals it was with a sense of excitement with what would lie ahead. (More …)

    • Amar 17:12 on October 18, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      haha im in the pub pic, standing on the railings above the guernsey reds flag! stewards in the ground were tossers

  • The Northern Casual 17:18 on August 15, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    MUFC Away Days – New Season! “Panic on the streets of Birmingham” – Utd at West Brom 

    Getting a ticket for an away match for United is no easy feat.

    You may know someone with executive facilities in which case it’s easier to get an away ticket than your run of the mill season ticket holder.  If you have only got your Season Ticket and if you are lucky enough, you will get one in the ballot (at odds of about 30-40,000 to 1!) and if you are not lucky but have some spare cash you want to rid yourself of there is always someone to talk to.  So when I count myself lucky when I manage to get a ticket…with one exception.  The visit to West Brom in the 2010-11 season was not one of my fondest trips or memories.  Television had dictated that we were to kick off at 12 o’clock on New Years Day so dragging myself through town to the train station at 7am on New Years Day (and still seeing revellers just about finishing their celebrations) was not kind to me.  Nor was the ‘flu I had managed to burden myself with.  Only the Little Pea’s goal to give United a 2-1 win gave me any form of joy that day.  So when I got a ticket for United’s opening game of the 2011-12 game at The Hawthorns I was doubly determined to make the most of the trip this time around.  I imagine Gary Neville probably thought the same, tucked up in the Sky studio this time, it was this very fixture early in January 2011 that effectively ended his career with United.  So onwards and upwards. (More …)

    • Mike Plant 20:03 on August 15, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Your last sentence it must have been like walking through Salford, but then you like most united supporters probably don’t live in Manchester because they are a novelty.

    • Paul 20:17 on August 15, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Hi Mike,
      Firstly, cheers for reading and taking the time to comment, always nice to have feedback. Secondly bravo on the originality of the comment you’ll be telling me next that all United fans are from Essex? Out of interest, who do you support?

    • Shinpad11 20:35 on August 15, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      No mention of Two Shirts, £5.50 dinners or the other lookie-likes!
      Pleasant read, look fwd to the next one.

    • Paul 21:08 on August 15, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Haha nice one Shinpad, only thing is I’m not sure the world is quite ready for the legend of Two Shirts!

    • Mike Plant 16:18 on August 16, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I support West Bromwich Albion and have watched them since 1957.I was at the World Cup Final at Wembley in 1966, went to Mexico for the 1970 Finals. Was at Wembley to see the Albion win the FA Cup in1968 went back 4 days later to see Man Utd beat Benfica in the European Cup Final.I was also on the Stretford End in December 1978 M U 3 WBA 5. I was born and grew up within a mile or so of the home of the great Duncan Edwards. Refering back to my comment about united supporters in the sixties you had crowds of 60,000 + 90% of them lived in Manchester ,you average 75,000 + now but how many live in Manchester I bet not many more than 35%.

    • Paul 16:30 on August 16, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Fair play, sorry if I took your comment as a jibe, I was expecting it to be a City fan or something like that.
      I actually quite enjoy the atmosphere at The Hawthorns, one of the few teams we visit that both get behind their team and aren’t just preoccupied with the United fans.

  • The Northern Casual 09:30 on June 2, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    TheNorthernCasual’s End of Season Awards 

    Here’s my season awards for 2010-11;

    Best Player – I had to think long and hard about this one. It was a funny season where there wasn’t one outstanding player (e.g. Ronaldo ’08, ’09, Rooney ’10) but our team shone through. I have to try and see through the love-in for our new Mexican hero and go for Nani. I know he has his detractors amongst fans of all clubs, and even amongst United fans but without him we wouldn’t have won #19. Forget the dip he experienced in the last couple of months of the season and instead look at how he carried us as the creator and inspiration for the first 6 months of the season. He made goals, scored goals and generally gave us a threat that was lacking until the emergence of Hernandez and re-emergence of Rooney.

    Best Goal this season – I can’t really look any further than Rooney’s goal vs City here. You know the one. Overhead kick? That’s it. Truly one of those ‘where were you when…’ moments. The skill it took, the setting of the derby against our noisy neighbours, the fact he’d had a pretty poor game as well all added to the mix. I especially loved the ‘taking a bow’ celebration in front of the City fans. Beautiful.

    Best Moment – Javier Hernandez’ goal vs Chelsea after 35 seconds. I was going to go for Rooney’s penalty vs Blackburn, but The Little Pea’s goal so quickly versus Roman’s ‘hobby’ really put us in line for #19, and certainly settled all pre-match nerves that United fans (myself excruciatingly included) felt in the build up.

    Best Match – Has to be Liverpool at Old Trafford, 3-2. Always good to beat the scousers. Honestly though when they drew back to 2-2 I felt sick, we’d heard nothing from the rabble from the other end of the M62 for 60 mins and then boom we let them back into the game. But Berbatov came back to complete his hat-trick (first of many!) to seal the win and take the three points. And did I mention the overhead kick from Berbatov? No? Let’s then. It was ace. The touch, the audacity to even go for it!? It would have easily been ‘goal of the season’ it Rooney hadn’t pulled that wonder goal out of the bag.

    Special Mention award – Sir Alex. No question. Sealing the #19 and putting us ahead as the most successful domestic side in history. That’s a start. For me it was the whole Rooney incident that showed his class. Taking that interview when he was so obviously hurting really struck a chord amongst United fans, shown so well in the vociferous support and chanting of Alex’s name from the Stretford End that night in the game versus Bursaspor. It was a difficult time for all United fans but he pulled us, the team, and the club through to such an extent we won the league. Truly a phenomenal manager and human being. A true legend. A man that took a team labelled the worst in his reign and won the league and guided them to a Champions League final. Just quite simply the best.

    • Babatunde ladipo 11:57 on June 3, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I’d choose luis nani as da player of the season coz of d way he carried us early in d season wit assist n goals!

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