The contradiction of my feelings was summarized in the flight agent's question: "Are you sure you want to fly on Thursday?"...That was a tough yes/no question, and I knew that either answer would not make such a big difference.
After I managed to take what seemed to be the right decision, I had good four hours before my bus. I had no idea where to go in such a big, fascinating city, but the tram seized my attention. I remembered that early in the 20th century, we used to have such a thing running down the (at that time) narrow streets of Damascus. We were "Occupied" at that time... No doubt, we evolved ever since: Now we have some 30,000 micro-buses filling the used-to-be-nice-streets of the oldest city in the world…
At Piccadilly Gardens, I was staring at the list of different tram lines and stops. I remembered that a friend of mine has suggested Salford Quays if I had spare time in Manchester. I had no other choice, I got my ticket and went on...
Salford Quays was a nice, romantically calm place. It reminded me of the magnificent by-Thames wharves in London. Being located near the canal in the older part of Manchester, they used to be a kind of ship building dock. I was crossing one bridge there when a red sign in the horizon caught my eyes. It said: "Manchester United"!!!
It was a long walk before I reached 'Sir Matt Busby Way' and eventually found the place. I haven't been so excited in my whole life. I knew that at the other side was a huge stadium, home of the Red Devils. After a long period of hesitation, I decided that I should try to look inside and find a reception or something of that sort. I had no idea what was waiting for me!
It was another walk inside before I found the museum of Man. United. All the trophies, medals, formal shirts, and other memorabilia of the red team were there. I found the reception after a while...
- "Would you like to join the 4.30 tour?"
- "Would that go into the stadium?"
- "And can I take photos?"
- "As much as you like"
- "One ticket then, please!"
It was my first time to go into a real stadium. Although I couldn't get a ticket for the best-of-all-matches Menchester Utd. VS. Arsenal, I felt that it's not a bad thing to see an empty stadium! Especially if it was Old Trafford!
The tour itself was a great thing. I got to know lots of interesting things about Manchester United. The stadium, with a capacity of some 76,000 spectators, was the biggest in UK. Because of its location, it was almost completely destroyed in the second world war when the bombardment targeted the nearby ship canal. It was rebuilt and maintained afterwards, but the remains of the old part is still there as a tribute to the great history of the pre-war Manchester Utd. I learned about Sir Matt Busby, who was a football player and then a manager of the club for some 20 years. I heard about the Munich air disaster and other aspects of the team history. The enthusiastic fans of Manchester were something of a noticeable importance, and of course, the sponsors (now are AIG, and Nike, who runs the megastore as well). I became familiar with the anatomy of a stadium, the places of journalists and commentators, and the reserved seats for Managers and VIPs. It was 90 minutes that I will never forget.
I had to leave then: to leave Old Trafford, to leave Manchester, and eventually to leave England. I don't even know if I am meant to go back to any of them, I have nothing left but hope and sweet memories. I wish that one day I'll be able to take that tram to Old Trafford and watch the Red Devils playing a home game against Arsenal. You see, I couldn't but become a fan of Man. United!
For those of you who are thinking of going to England in the near future, please don't miss that chance. For Ascribo's sake, take the tram to Old Trafford!