United supporters hit the bar... if only Sir Alex's men had come so close
Ticketless faithful drown their sorrows at home as heroes sink to final defeat
Thursday 28 May 2009
Standing at the centre of the pitch last night in Rome, head bowed, arms crossed, face set in quiet disconsolation, Sir Alex Ferguson did not look like the Godfather of football, as some call him. But then, if Parts I and II of his European trilogy, in Barcelona 10 years ago and Moscow just twelve months back were masterpieces in the art of drama, suspense and ultimately triumph, perhaps it's true to form that the eagerly awaited Part III would be a little bit rubbish.
Back in the motherland over a thousand United fans gathered in a giant marquee by the Sam Platts pub in the shadow of Old Trafford to roar on their team. But they soon had the wind knocked out of their sails when Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o poked home after just 10 minutes.
Supporters unable to get their hands on the 20,000 tickets allocated to United fans instead downed shots of sambucca as the game got under way. The marquee was organised by the Manchester United Supporters' Trust, who were determined to create a Roman holiday atmosphere for the unlucky fans not able to travel to the final.
The trust set up eight huge venues all the city, charging fans £5 a ticket to pay for licensing and hiring giant screens. More than 1,000 supporters filled up the famous Palace Theatre, which usually hosts musicals and plays but last night was taken over by raucous supporters. Another 400 filled Copper Face Jacks bar next door.
Trust vice-vhairman Sean Bones said: "This could have been another great chapter in the history of Manchester United but it was not to be. We watched the match in the shadow of our famous club's iconic ground and thank the manager and the players for getting us so close to bringing home more glory."
Kenny Doran, 21, jetted over from Dublin to watch the game at Sam Platts. He said: "This has been a night to remember. I was thinking where to watch it – I could have put my feet up at home but that wouldn't have been the same. I wanted to say I watched the game by Old Trafford."
He stood next to lifelong fan Steve Savage, 44, from Manchester, who showed how much the club means to him by sporting a T-shirt bearing the legend: "And on the sixth day God created Manchester United." On the back it simply read: "Manchester United, Created In Heaven."
Wearing a centurion's helmet, Steve, an IT worker, said: "I started going to games in 1974 and haven't missed a home game since.
This club means so much to me. Barcelona were amazing and it is no disgrace to lose to a side like that."
Pensioner John Wear, 64, from the Wirral, Merseyside, still remembers the 1958 Munich disaster and the tragic loss of the Busby Babes. He said: "Nights like this prove how United have come back from that tragedy and are now the biggest and most loved club in the World. I'm so proud to be a United fan."
Meanwhile United-crazy Pole Anthony Wysniewski, 24, carried an inflatable Champions League trophy with the dates of previous wins – 1968, 1999, and 2008 written in pen on the side. He said: "I had my pen handy to write in 2009 when the time came. Now I will have it ready to write 2010 next summer. This is our competition and it won't be long before we win it again. I thought our lads played fantastically well. They were lions out there but we just had no luck."
Hundreds of fans in United kit spent the afternoon outside Old Trafford, visiting the club shop and waving flags. Cars with pendants hooted their horns as they passed the stadium. After the match, proud supporters still flocked to the ground – and still had the voice to sing their team's name under the bronze statue of Sir Matt Busby.
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
Rowan Atkinson to sell £10 million McLaren 'supercar' he crashed into a tree and a lamppost
UK weather: Snow to fall in the coming week with sub-zero temperatures to last until early February
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
US blames Russia after rocket attacks in Ukraine kill at least 30
Warriors in ancient Iraq suffered Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder more than 3,000 years ago, say researchers
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
George Galloway condemns 'racist, Islamophobic, hypocritical rag' Charlie Hebdo at freedom of speech rally
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
£30000 - £32000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding business...
£25000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in Henley-on-Thames, this...
Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...