A MANCHESTER United football fans club has celebrated 30 years backing the Red Devils with a presentation on the Old Trafford pitch from former skipper Brian Robson.
Members of United’s Chepstow & District supporters’ club won’t have far to travel in the next round of the FA Cup - just up the road to Newport County.
But the dedicated fans are well used to travelling much further, having made the “long old trek” up the M16 to Olf Trafford since 1994, and were delighted to receive a framed shirt from the former England skipper on the hallowed turf at a recent game.
Supporters’ club secretary Matty Haines, speaking the morning after retuuning home from a night match at 4.30am, told the club’s website: “It does affect your sleep. We had three games in 10 days, and you seem to be living in Manchester!
“But we do every home game, whether it’s Crawley Town or Cambridge United, Bayern Munich or Real Madrid. A win does make a lot of difference, but we have a good craic on the way back home anyway. We just chuck a Spotify playlist on and have a sing-song!”
Members of the branch enjoyed a pitchside reception before Boxing Day’s dramatic 3-2 win over Aston Villa.
The branch was founded in 1993 by a small group of Reds from the Monmouthshire town, led by original secretary Tony Parsons.
Between 47 and 56 make the trip up to each home game, depending on the size of the hired bus which stops at nine pick-up points within South Wales. At the journey’s end, the branch’s adopted pre-match home is the Trafford Social Club on Derbyshire Lane.
From there, they hop on the Walsall branch coach for the final mile or so to Old Trafford, for the princely sum of £2 per head.
“We’ve got about 660 Reds on our Facebook group, and at least 280 official members,” continues Matty. “I took over as secretary three years ago.
“The guy that used to run it, Dickey Thomas, decided he’d had enough of being secretary, though he still travels with us.
“The branch might have folded, and I just couldn’t see myself and Reds not going up there any more.”
“I think it’s a very good achievement, 30 years of travelling all the way from South Wales up to Manchester,” says Haines.
“We’ve seen us lift some trophies and had some rough times, but there’s more good memories than bad times following United.
“And it’s the friends [you make] for life. I think in 14 seasons I’ve missed about eight games.
“It’s just that buzz. Even walking into the ground, you still have the same goosebumps.
“You go into your seat, and even though I’ve been sat there for 14 years, I still get it. I don’t know if others do, but to me it just feels like you’re a kid again.”