Manchester United fans brave rain for parade

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The Independent Football

Tens of thousands of Manchester United fans have put European heartbreak aside to celebrate a record-breaking Premier League victory parade for their heroes.

Sir Alex Ferguson and his team, wreathed in smiles and waving to hordes of fans, revelled in the atmosphere as fans cheered and applauded their open-top bus as it made its way through Manchester city centre, teeming with supporters - and heavy rain.

With the Premier League trophy held aloft the bus bore the number 19 - the record number of times they have now won the league, beating the previous record of bitter rivals Liverpool.

And despite the disappointment of defeat to Barcelona in Saturday's Champions League final and typical Manchester weather of steady drizzle, the Red Army turned out in force to welcome the team home.

Bedraggled, rain-sodden fans waved United flags and scarves, sang and cheered as the bus set off from Manchester Cathedral to the Queen song We Are The Champions.

Fathers held young sons on their shoulders as supporters clamoured five-deep along Deansgate to catch a glimpse of the players.

Youngsters added to the cacophony of sound, blowing vuvuzelas as Rio Ferdinand led the players, microphone in hand, singing football songs blasting from loudspeakers on the bus.

"Glory, Glory Man United," rang out, along with, "Are You Watching Merseyside?"

Numbers expected for the parade, notoriously difficult to predict, had been put at between 100,000 and 150,000, though it is not clear if the weather affected the size of the crowds.

Damian Martin, 43, from Salford, with his son, Damian, five, and nephew Dylan, eight, said: "The weather could have been better and it's a bit early on a Bank Holiday to be up and out of bed, but the kids really wanted to come. They are United daft and it's great to see the players enjoying themselves. They've done us proud this season."

Grant Howard, 22, from Preston, said: "I was up early to come here today and driving into Manchester in the rain I thought it may be a bit of an anti-climax after Saturday, but the turnout is fantastic, it's like being at the match with all the singing."

Dave Edgar, 33, from Salford, added: "I'm not disappointed at all - it's not 'only' one trophy. City and Liverpool can say what they want, we are the best in Britain and we'll have another crack at Barcelona next season. United have done Manchester proud."

The open-top bus travelled down Deansgate to Chester Road, heading towards Old Trafford, before the parade ends at Stretford Mall, with much of the four-and-a-half mile route lined by fans.

It is the second victory parade in Manchester in a week.

On Monday, up to 100,000 Manchester City fans celebrated their team's first trophy in 35 years with an FA Cup victory parade from Albert Square to the City of Manchester stadium.