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

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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Product Marketing Manager - Software & Services

£35000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Product Marketing Manager...

Recruitment Genius: Exhibition Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An expanding B2B exhibition and...

Recruitment Genius: QA Technician

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading manufacturer of re...

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion, an experienced and hig...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat