Old Trafford memories with Giggs, Solskjaer, Oar and Coke - Carl's Travels with Town
PUBLISHED: 09:28 12 December 2019 | UPDATED: 09:28 12 December 2019
Football writer Carl Marston has visited 120 Football League grounds, many of them reporting on Ipswich Town. Here he spotlights Old Trafford, Manchester United
Next Wednesday, I am paying a visit to Old Trafford to report on a fixture that doesn't pop up very often, a clash of two Uniteds - Manchester United versus Colchester United.
While on the subject of this Carabao Cup quarter-final tie, I thought I'd take the opportunity to mull over some previous visits to Old Trafford, while ignoring the obvious one, that 9-0 mauling on March 4, 1995, when a certain Roy Keane opened the floodgates by netting the opener.
Actually, even though Town have notched five wins at Old Trafford, since their first-ever meeting in 1958, they have had very little joy in more recent times.
I have certainly never had any 'joy' from my Old Trafford press box appearances, in terms of results on the pitch, regardless of whoever I have been reporting on.
Town's last four visits have yielded no wins, four defeats, 18 goals conceded, and no goals scored. Not a great record, I think you will agree.
In addition to that 9-0 defeat, which we will gloss over, I recall a 4-0 reverse from their last Premiership clash, in 2001, when a certain Ole Solskjaer (wonder whatever happened to him?) netted a brace.
Looking slightly further back, Town have in fact scored just one goal at Old Trafford, since 1984, despite paying eight visits over the intervening 35 years. For the record, Chris Kiwomya was the solitary marksman, in a 1-1 draw from 1992.
My first visit to Old Trafford was actually the year before, for a Rumbelows League Cup second round first leg tie against John Beck's route-one Cambridge United on September 25, 1991.
Not surprisingly, Sir Alex Ferguson's men cruised to a 3-0 win via goals from Ryan Giggs, Brian McClair and Steve Bruce, quite a handy trio!
Fast forward 14 years and I must just add a footnote about Town's last visit, for a League Cup tie.
Sure, it was a grand occasion with 6,000 Town fans making the journey up the M6.
But effectively fielding a Reserves team, for a trip to Old Trafford, did not sit easy with me that day, and it doesn't sit easy with me now.
A bugbear of mine has been the common practise of fielding 'weakened' teams for Cup games.
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The likes of Tommy Oar (now playing for Central Coast M in the Australian A-League), Jonathan Parr (these days turning out for Stromsgodset in Norway), Piotr Malarczyk (now playing for Piast Gliwice in Poland), Josh Yorwerth (currently serving a ban for an anti-doping violation, while at Peterborough) and Giles Coke (at Oldham) were all in the starting XI that evening, in 2015.
I never did forgive Mick McCarthy for that, or any of his under-whelming team selections for the 'magic of the Cup.'
- Club: Manchester United
- Founded: 1878 (141 years ago) as Newton Heath LYR FC, changing its name to Manchester United in 1902 (117 years ago)
- Ground: Old Trafford (since 1910)
Former grounds: North Road (close to the railway yard, 1878 to 1893) and North Bank (Clayton area of Manchester, six miles from Old Trafford, 1893 to 1910)
- Town's first visit: 2-0 away defeat in FA Cup, on Jan 25, 1958
- Town's last visit: 3-0 away defeat in League Cup (Capital One Cup), on September 23, 2015
- Town's overall record at Old Trafford: P28 W6 D4 L18
The club was faced with a winding up order (sounds rather familiar even in this-day-and-age ...... Bury, Bolton, Macclesfield ... etc etc), before undergoing a facelift as 'Manchester United' in 1902.
The old club, Newton Heath LYR (Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway), had begun life playing matches against other departments and other railway companies, turning out in the green-and-gold of the railway company colours and eventually joining the Football League in 1892.
But it later became saddled with big debts, and was served with a winding-up order until a group of local businessmen each invested £500 in return for a direct interest in running the club.
Well, Old Trafford might be the 'Theatre of Dreams,' and it still is the biggest football stadium in England, outside Wembley, but I have never been too enamoured by the press facilities.
In fact, I have enjoyed better Wi-Fi at just about every football ground in the land - with the exception of perhaps Watford and Huddersfield (though I'm harking back to visits nearly a decade ago).
I know, I'm not easily pleased.