Outside the Box: Old scores still to be settled between Manchester United and Real Madrid
Manchester United are to have a rematch with Real Madrid, though not as a result of any admission that the Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir made a mistake in sending off Nani in Tuesday's Champions' League tie.
Senior citizens – sorry, "legends" – of the two clubs will meet at Old Trafford on 2 June in a return game from the one played in Madrid last summer, when a Spanish side including Zinedine Zidane and Luis Figo won 3-2, Teddy Sheringham and Lee Sharpe scoring for United.
Among those due to take part are Bryan Robson, Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole, Denis Irwin, Dion Dublin, Emilio Butragueno, Amancio Amaro and Manolo Sanchis. Ryan Giggs, who is almost old enough to be taking part in the aforementioned game – and is unquestionably of legendary status – is said to have played his 1,000th senior match against Madrid at the Bernabeu but that statistical landmark has been the subject of some dispute.
United's official figures, backed up by the English National Football Archive, give him 932 club games to go with his 68 for Wales and Great Britain. But the normally reliable Soccerbase website has him on 934, with two extra League games, which meant his 1,000th game would have been in the first leg against Madrid, not the return. As Soccerbase have only been inputting their own data since 1995, they admit the mistake is more likely to be theirs.
Cheer for the supporters
The breakaway supporters' team FC United continue to thrive, drawing a crowd of 2,465 against the EvoStik Northern Premier League leaders North Ferriby United, which was only 26 fewer than their landlords Bury attracted in League One the previous day.
Sharing Gigg Lane should soon be a thing of the past; last week the club learnt that a legal challenge to their proposed new £4.5m stadium at Moston in north-east Manchester had been dismissed. The theme for yesterday's home game against Chorley was "A Woman's Place is at the Match", celebrating the role played by female fans, volunteers and staff, as well as the newly formed women's team, who are guaranteed the runners-up spot – behind Manchester City Ladies – in their first season in the Greater Manchester Women's League.
One of our fans is missing
Staying on the northern non-League circuit, last week's column mentioned that the "other" Bradford club, Park Avenue, had an attendance of 285 for their home game with Corby Town; next match, against Workington last Monday, it was 284. But what had upset the missing fan? Park Avenue did after all beat Corby and then Workington for a fourth successive home victory. No doubt he or she will be back...
Fists better than Blades
There is no meeting of Sheffield United and Wednesday this season so the recent fight between two of the city's welterweights, Ryan Hardy and Dale "The Black Mamba" Hutchinson, at the Don Valley Stadium seems to have been viewed as a proxy derby.
The fighters posed for press photos in the strips of the rival clubs, with Sheffield's former referee Uriah Rennie pretending to step between them. Ahead of the bout, the unbeaten Hardy tweeted: "Three days till I get to smash a Blade's head in and not end up in a riot van." He didn't manage that but did win on points – to the refrain "The city is ours" from Wednesdayites.
As they fight to stay in the Championship and United push for promotion from League One, it could be seconds out again next season.
Name changed by depot
Farewell the Home Depot Center (sic), a name that conjured up visions of a furniture warehouse rather than the glamour of David Beckham and LA Galaxy. The MLS club have sold naming rights to an online ticketing company – though whether the StubHub sounds any more ritzy is a matter of opinion.
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