Day Out

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The Independent Culture
The one continuum through the whole of my life has been the fact that I've always supported Manchester United so, on an ideal day, I would go to Old Trafford to see them play. After arriving in Manchester from London I'd go to Chinatown for lunch, then have a pint of Bodingtons in Stretford, which is the traditional pre-match beverage. The main objective would be to reach the ground reasonably early. The nearer to the stadium I get, the further back in time I go. I started supporting Manchester United when I was 11 which is quite a long time - I'm coming up for 50 this year - and all my life I've been scrounging tickets to games. I remember walking down what is now called Sir Matt Busby Way countless thousands of times and lots of images still remain, particularly the violence between rival fans and the day of the Munich air disaster.

There's also that wonderful moment when you hand over your ticket at the turnstyle and it's a bit like scuba-diving, you can taste the difference. Just looking at the ground brings back waves of memories. As a child, I would take my feet off the floor and get carried along by the crowd, which never seemed dangerous. If I felt hungry I'd still go for one of those delicious, dodgy pies.

After the match, the idea would generally be to try and wheedle one's way into the players' lounge but I'd probably go back to The Wilton pub in Middleton and dissect the game with friends. You take a last deep gulp of the match atmosphere and try and make that breath last as long as possible. You've more or less expelled it by the time you get back to London which obviously feeds a need to go back and do it again another time.

Bernard Hill stars as Len in 'Once Upon A Time In The North', 8.30pm tomorrow on BBC1

(Photograph omitted)

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