Date: Tue, 20 Jul 1999
Subject: Sydney Weekend
Greetings Fellow Reds, The memories I have of this weekend just gone will be cherished forever. I've simply had the time of my (Red) life. It all started on the Friday. The MUSC of New South Wales arranged via the tour promoters ( Rivkin Ent.) to attend a welcome dinner put on by Rivkin for Manchester United and the Socceroos at the brand spanking new Sydney Harbour Casino. Luckily I was allowed by "she who must be obeyed" to have an expensive splurge after I took great lengths to explain the ''chance of a lifetime" situation of such an occasion to her. Julie's understanding of what this opportunity meant to me still leaves me speechless... Arriving very early at
the Casino's lobby at roughly 6:30 pm in a black suit and the obligatory United tie felt odd, as there were loads of people wandering around in a lot less formal gear. One of those was Phil Neville, who was completely anonymous until he ambled past me. I quickly leapt to my feet, shook his hand and welcomed him to Sydney, and he was good enough to sign my "Just Champion" book about the Premier League title in 1993. Not long afterwards a trio of young blokes in United polo shirts followed Phil's route, so I jumped to my feet again to greet Wes Brown,
Jonathan Greening and Michael Clegg. They all took the time to sign my book after the welcomes and handshakes. I had a quick chat with Wes about the knock he picked up from the Melbourne match, and he took the time to explain how it was wasn't that bad. He could have just said "it's ok" and taken off, but they all took the time to stop and chat for a few minutes. I'd have to say that these three impressed me greatly. Meeting them felt like a brush with royalty in a way, but I found them to be really down-to-earth, run-of the-mill guys, and it was an
honour to have met these three gentlemen. I was well chuffed after that, but little did I know at the time that this just the lead-up to what was to be a magic evening. Wandering around the Casino eventually led to meeting up with a few of the MUSC members who were also attending the do. We started to gather around the entrance doors to the ballroom where the function was being held, and began to enjoy the free drinks being carried around by the posh-looking waiters. It didn't take to long to get a reasonable crowd gathered, all dressed to the nines (and in a
few cases leaving me dazzled by the state of dress - or undress - depending on how you looked at it :-)) ). I thought to myself that these society types can't all be die-hard Reds, and that was proven to be correct later on. As fate would have it, I found myself standing right next some escalators. Then all of a sudden my arse fell off. Coming up the escalators and looking very smart in black dinner jackets, collars and ties, were my heroes.... all of them - the lot. The resulting crush from the crowd was almost like a stampede. I couldn't believe that in the space of a few
seconds a politely mingling crowd changed into a raging monster. Even more unbelievable was that in a few short minutes I'd somehow managed to get the signatures of Jaap Stam, Ryan Giggs, Ole, Andy Cole, and Martin Edwards (!!) into the book. The squad were then ushered into a separate room behind rock-solid security. The security guards were big, burly looking gorillas and looked like they could snap a Rottweiler is half, so we opted for leaving them alone and waited for the function to begin. After waiting for a while, the ballroom doors opened and all guests were escorted to their correct seats - except me !! I found out later that my seat was literally six feet
away from one of the United players' tables. I did eventually get to sit where I was supposed to be in the first place, but only after having eaten an entree that I can't begin to describe, and a main meal that I could hardly see. I think it was a pre-pubescent chicken judging the tiny size of it, positioned on my plate amongst some arty-farty looking vegetables. I was keeping a close eye on the United tables, most of what I saw was that they ate and drank exactly the same as we did. Dwight Yorke decided to leave his baseball cap on for the entire night, and was all-but
unapproachable due to the bodyguard living in his shadow for the entire night. The Oz players looked sadly outclassed in all departments and looked a little out of place in their track-suits and running shoes. Speeches were given by Rivkin and Martin Edwards, then along came the founder of our Supporters Club - Fred Pollitt. He thanked Rivkin for organising the Oz tour and presented Martin Edwards with a plaque and a banner to commemorate the occasion. Rivkin them decided to make a complete t**t of himself by condescendingly
Ken, Nick, Paul & Matt in song!
announcing that the United squad will be on his yacht on Saturday, to which some of us replied with half-hidden hand gestures of a w....r. As the evening wound on, it was becoming apparent that the players weren't being given a minutes peace to eat their meals without someone shoving a pen and paper or something else under their noses demanding their signature. The security guards were trying to stem the tide - but doing not very well. I can understand the reasons why people want their signatures, but to constantly interrupt the players, especially while
they were still eating was just plain rude to be honest. I was having more than my fair share of luck by waiting patiently for the right moment to approach - ie: waiting for one of the players to get up from their tables and head out of the room, and wait for them by the door. At one point I was standing with a group of five MUSC members just outside the ballroom when a freelance photographer rushed up to me and hurriedly got his camera ready. Only then did he realise that I wasn't part of the United squad. We had a good laugh about that afterwards!! Using the
stand-by-the-door method allowed for much more success than I had bargained on, as throughout the evening I got signatures from Denis Irwin ( the one I really wanted above all ), Teddi Sheringham, Mark Wilson and John Curtis. As if that wasn't enough, I also managed to get separate photos with Steve McLaren and Martin Edwards. As I said above about Brown, Grenning and Clegg the same also applies here to both McLaren and Edwards. Both of them were very patient with the attention they were getting throughout the evening and conducted themselves
very well. I managed to talk to Martin Edwards about the situation with Roy Keane's current negotiations to which he replied " Negotiations are still underway". I then asked for the unofficial version, and his reply was exactly the same, except that when Roy's agent was mentioned he corrected me by saying that the man in question is in fact Roy's solicitor. And that folks, is straight from the horse's mouth. He also mentioned the franchises of 150 Red Cafe's to be opened worldwide, alas none will b Not long after having found my seat and coming to terms with the
luck I'd had, the United squad had had enough and called it a night, despite the best efforts of the officials to keep the audience at bay. When the announcement came over that United were packing it in, the resultant cries of despair from the society types would have sounded better on an opera stage, such were the dramatic acts of sadness that followed. As soon as United were gone, a lot of the toffs had also grabbed their Gucci gear and left. We MUSC Reds stayed on for a while to mingle amongst ourselves and go over what had been such a fantastic
night. It ended up being a louder night than was expected for most of us, and as most of the ''in'' crowd had left for their champagne, diamonds and Porsches we suddenly broke into song. We gave the "Pride of All Europe" a good going over, as well as "Glory Glory" and about a dozen others, much to the amusement of those still there. Finally bidding our farewells to all was met with a longish drive home before getting to bed at roughly 2am. Getting to sleep was another matter all together. I laid there and couldn't wind down enough to doze off until about 3:45am,
knowing full well that I'd need to be out of bed again by
7am to watch United train at a venue pre-arranged by Rivkin and the MUSC.
We had strict instructions that this session was for MUSC members only,
and that if the media got wind of the arrangement the session would be
cancelled immediately.The adrenalin was still pumping as I tried to fall
asleep and I still couldn't believe what had happened earlier that night.
Ned Kelly - the famous recipient of the "Who the f**king hell are you"
NSW MUSC attending the Saturday morning training session at St Joseph's College
Saturday. Getting out of bed was surprisingly easy enough, and the early morning drive to the training session being held at a private school in Gladesville was uneventful. Arriving very early (again) had me well positioned at the gates when they eventually opened. We spent the time still chattering about the night before and our lack of sleep. Again we had to show our match tickets to the security men and filed through to a small grandstand and waited in the chilly morning air. Not long afterwards my phone rang, and John and Nick Coppack had arrived from
the airport. Originally we had planned on meeting at the airport but the schedule for the training session had been changed at the last minute and there was no way that I could have met them and driven to Gladesville with enough time to spare. It was great to finally put faces to the two guys that I've had so much long-distance chat with lately. As it turned out they were there before United had even turned up, as the United coach (with police escort) didn't arrive until after 10am. Argh !! Not long afterwards Dave Marshall from Brisbane showed up with a life size cut
out of Arthur Daley in his United strip. More about Arthur later. The training session went very well, and our worries about the media threatening the session going ahead were unfounded as they were nowhere to be seen. Luckily the weather had been very kind as it was sunny for the first time in weeks, and there was no sign of the constant rain that we'd had for the last week or so. The pitch itself was in magnificent condition and seemed to suit the players much better than the Melbourne mess from a few days earlier. We all watched them go through a
session that lasted about 1.5 hours, including some stretching, running, various forms of jogging etc. The squad then separated into two sides, one being strikers and some of the midfielders, the other being the defenders and the rest of the mid-field. They had their own shots at goal sessions which lasted for easily 45 mins. We couldn't help but notice that Dwight and Andy were inseparable for the entire session, they were almost joined at the hip and seemed content to be playing around with each other like two small puppies. The two mini-squads were
concentrating on shots from around the edge of the penalty area, but occasionally you would get a cross from Giggsy, Cruyff or Greening that would be met with the head of Cole or Teddi, if not plucked from the sky by Bosnich (or Rai later on). David May must have had an injury of some kind (or a hangover) as he sat behind the goal for the entire session and never even got onto the pitch. Then it was all over. Giggs and Wilson made an attempt to come over to us but they were abruptly about-faced by one of Rivkin's henchmen, so they stood and applauded us from near the centre circle. We naturally returned the applause, along with cheers and best wishes
John, Nick, Paul at training session.
for the game tomorrow. They then all wandered back to the coach and
were gone in less than a minute. That was the end of the day for us as
well. There was a rumour going around that another training session would
be held at the Olympic Stadium in the afternoon so John Nick and I went
along, but there were no signs of life at all. We three then made our arrangements
to meet at Strathfield railway station in the morning, and I drove them
back their hotel. I saw on the evening news that Giggs, Butt and Brown
had spent their afternoon in a children's hospital, so that was good enough
John and Nick at the railway station went without a hitch, until we got
on the train and headed for the 11am List meet at the Orient Hotel in The
Rocks. Only ten minutes into the train trip did John say "Oh shit,
I've left the match tickets behind". A hurried trip back to his hotel
meant that Nick and I met him at the Orient later on. The pair of us got
off at Circular Quay and wandered past all the hundreds of tourists and
headed towards the pub. Nick had to stop and get a few snaps of Sydney
Harbour and the Opera House
( bloody tourist :-) ) and we
were the first at the pub. The Orient was quiet for a few minutes until Reds started wandering in. Each were greeted with cheers and a song of "new boys, get the beers, new boys, new boys get the beers". By 11:30 the place was filling with song as more and more Reds filtered in. We had to be careful with our singing as a few of the barmaids were making noises about some of the language in our songs. We went silent at the right moment in each song, but that didn't last long as more and more Reds had packed the pub in no time at all. By midday the place was absolutely rocking with song and no-one was worried about our words. Two Aussies wandered in and hid over
Nick Coppack is the 3rd from the left, Boddies in hand and scarf around neck
the other side of the bar, which led to wave after wave of banter from roughly a hundred of us. "Aussies, give us a song... shhhhh'' and "Iran, you couldn't beat Iran'' and "Saw you crying on the telly" got a good airing. We also gave them some stick about Shane Warne, and they seemed to take it all in their stride. While all this was going on Dave Marshall appeared at the pub door, complete with Arthur, which got a loud cheer from the now packed pub. "Arthur, Arthur give us a wave" was the tune. Loads of tourists had been peeking in to see what all the noise was
about, some taking photos and movie snips. Each were greeted with more cheers and songs. A group of five young lads arrived in what looked like Private School blazers so they were greeted with "Are you old enough to drink?". They soon nicked off. Two policemen had a look in, and were greeted with the tune to Laurel and Hardy. They laughed and we laughed and all was well. I managed to bump into Matthew Wheeler and his lady (who's name I missed), as well as Ken Simpson from Adelaide. Not long after Rob Durie and son arrived. Rob's son was given a
warm reception as he wore his Liverpool shirt and was the only scouser in the pub. We gave it to him big time. "In your Liverpool slums", "If you all hate scousers / still hate scousers clap your hands", "F**k McManaman, Ince McAteer" was changed into "Sold McManaman...still f**k For the next hour or so we were in full-on party mode. We gave it to Keegan, Wenger, Arsenal, Liverpool (again) and anyone else that deserved a mention. But the best singing was held for United. This made the hair on my neck stand up as we belted them out at full voice for ages. We sung for Dwight Yorke, Ole, Ferguson's Red and White Army, 2-1 in our Cup Final, Oh Andy Cole, Let's all
have a disco / let's go f*cking mental / Rivkin is a wanker, Championes, Pride of All Europe, We won the league again down by the ship canal, Swing low sweet Andy Cole, What friend we have in Jesus, Oh Manchester is wonderful, (Oh merseyside / Oh Bondi Beach / Oh Opera House is full of shit), the United Calypso, Yip Jaap Stam, and a full rendition of the twelve days of Eric, which drew a great round of applause at the end. We found out that the Boddingtons had run out, so we sang about that as well. There were loads of other songs that I wish I could
remember we sang, but I hope you get the general idea of what this meet was like. The clock ticked to 1:15 and we all left the pub en-mass and walked through the Quay to the railway station. This was one of the best parts of the day. Singing away at full voice and hearing the echoes around us sounded a lot like what I imagine Old Trafford to be like on match day. By this time the Quay was packed with tourists. They were all watching the buskers but quickly turned around to see an army of Reds passing through. One busker tried to play along with us, but he got
greeted with "You've only got one song". He laughed, the crowd laughed, we laughed, and all was great. Cameras were snapping everywhere and we played along with it. On the platform we gave the other travellers a bit. "You're supposed to be at home" got a few grins. Changing trains at Central meant nothing as far as our voices were concerned. We saw one lad in a City shirt and gave him it as well. "Let's all laugh at City" as we filed through the gates to the train to get us to the Stadium. The train ride was our football spec From there it was a case of getting
Nick Coppack is 2nd from the left, red scarf,Paul O'Farrell is the tall bloke at the back
into the stadium as quickly as possible. No problem in the end, as the kick off was late for some reason. I was sat on the second tier with Nick and John, just to the left of the half-way line. My view of the pitch and the entire stadium was very good, but I would have preferred to be a little closer to the pitch. We also had to contend with the sun in our eyes for a little while. Unfortunately we also had roughly the same atmosphere as Melbourne suffered a few days ago. When we Orient Reds all arrived at the stadium we split and went our separate ways. There was no
segregation of fans, so we were now all over the place. John and Nick and I tried to get into some more singing, and were successful for a handful of times but the rest of the time was spent wondering where the voices had gone. Before we knew it the players were on the field and ready to roll. United looked to be playing in a new away strip. It looked a bit Spurs-ish, predominantly white shirts with navy blue shorts. I prefer last seasons strip with the hoops. As per Melbourne there were no names on their backs either. The pitch looked in much better condition
than Melbourne, but it could have been even better if Sydney hadn't had a week of rain prior to the match. It looked to be drained well and wasn't cutting up much, which helped United play more of the one-touch game than we saw in the previous match. Before this weekend I'd made a mental note to keep a close eye on Andy Cole throughout the match, as I remember other List members saying he does a lot of running off the ball which TV viewers just don't see. We knew this match was a pre-season friendly, and I'm sad to say that Andy must have been in the same frame of mind, as he did hardly anything at all. Very little running off the ball and little activity in
general. The game started off slowly as usual, and as the first half wore on the Aussies seemed to be more "up for it" than the last game. The challenges and tackles were a lot more physical and that set the tone of the entire match. United seemed content to let the Oz boys come at them and defend rather play the attacking football that we're used to seeing. They Oz boys had their chances but the collective defending of Stam and Irwin snuffed out a majority of their attempts. 25 minutes into the first half and Giggs placed a beautifully judged pass for Dwight
Yorke to run straight into the penalty box and shoot to the near post, past the keeper and in. Our whole stand rose to its feet and cheered, but again we were given the impression that not all the players really cared that much, as only Jordi went over to congratulate Yorke. As the half went on the referee seemed to be letting quite a few hard tackles go. He seemed to be more interested in watching the ball, and only when Andy Cole made a studs-in challenge for the ball but contacted Colosimo did the ref remember that he was the one carrying the whistle. Tiatto
made a meal of having a verbal with Cole, but Cole having none of that and gave as good a verbal as he got. One effort by Cole in the 66th minute was a half chance but the Oz keeper had it covered, the ball trickled outside the left hand post. After the Yorke goal, Giggs and Cruyff switched wings. I felt Jordi Cruyff was running around a lot but achieved little, apart from one left footed effort at a goal in the second half which came off the keepers leg. Cruyff was eventually subbed mid My man of the match has to be......Jaap Stam. He was mountain in defence and
never put a foot wrong. He was there to snuff any half-chances that the Oz boys got, and he dealt with them very well. Denis Irwin was as consistent as ever, and as the second half wore on, he and Stam had the back four in complete control.
So that it folks, it has truly been a magnificent, unforgettable weekend for me. I only hope I don't need to wait another 15 years to live it all again. The only way I could possibly top this weekend would be to a trip to Old Trafford. Maybe some day......
Cheers All. Paul (N.R.T.F)
Copyright Paul O'Farrell 1999.
No part to reproduced or duplicated without the express written consent of the author.
Dave and Arthur - David Marshall and his special friend
Subject: A weekend in Sydney.
From: "David Marshall, Brisbane, Australia" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Hi Folks, Just a few notes about my trip to see the Reds (or whites as it turned out) in the flesh. The alarm woke me at 4.30AM and by 4.45 I was in the cab to the Brisbane airport for an international flight as all domestic seats were booked. A long wait and short flight had me arriving at about eight thirty to be picked up by my cousin whom I had not seen for 20 years. He's and a Blackpool supporter, and both remember the 1948 final! It was a cracker of an Oz winter morning - clear blue skies and not too cold. From there to St Joseph's college where the team was to
start a training session at 9.30AM. We were to be privilaged spectators as only members of the NSWMUSC were to be admitted. United were imposing a security screen in Sydney (God knows why) and you had to show both your match ticket and member's card to be allowed in. We had been warned in a letter that if there was a leak and any press turned up we would all be given the big A. By the scheduled starting time there were about 500 Reds in attendance and the team coach arrived late complete with police escort. I suspect there were probably snipers on
the roof too. We gave them a cheer and watched with interest as they were split up basically into forwards and attackers after some very gentle stretching exercises. We had some discussion on which one was Wilson who, BTW was very impressive in the game the next day. The defenders played a lot of 2 on 2 stuff and at the other end there were drills involving crossing and shooting, but all quite gentle and leisurely. McLaren has the voice and attitude of a sergeant major and I was surprised in the way he treated these knowledgeable footballers, most worth
millions and nearly all much longer at the club than he as if they were novices and sometimes fools. There was in particular a very strenuous exercise which involved players, in turn, standing between two markers about 5 yards apart. They were to move to the right or left when McLaren bellowed "Right!" or "Left" and sprint 5 yards forward on "Go!". He gradually sped it up until and then changed the meaning of the commands from the players' right and left to his own which made it much more difficult. Poor Wesley Brown was the most confused by this. I
thought the most nimble were Ole and, despite his size, Japp. At the end there was a drill where a player would set the ball up outside the box and another would shoot with Bosnich in goal. They were trying to score three to end the session and from when I started counting it took 47 shots to beat him three times. He looked absolutely great, got down very quickly and held a lot of powerful shots without losing control of the ball. I suspect he may do. At the end we gave them another cheer and were very sorry that, not only did they not come over to us, but only Solks,
Giggs and Neville bothered to even give us a wave before leaving. Afternoon free for farnarcling around Sydney. On the match day we walked down to the Orient pub where a meet had been arranged and spent a couple of top Red hours meeting people from this list such as Nick and Rob and lots of others. I had acquired a lifesized cardboard cut out of George Cole in a United strip as used in an advertising campaign for an electrical good chain here and backed him with plywood and hinged him to make him transportable on the plane. He quickly became very popular and known as Arfur Cole (a sort of hybrid name from Minder) and was considered by some to be
Andy's dad! The pub was crammed with Reds and Boddington's was on tap, though we drank them dry of it just before leaving for the game. All the United songs were sung including "The 12 days of Cantana", the Calypso and a "Yip Yap Stam", just to show we are up to date here. At one point some AFL came on the TV screen in the bar and nice rendition of "You can stick you AFL up your a*se" resulted. Football singing and chanting is not part of the Australian tradition and the pub attracted a lot of attention from the passing throng in this very touristy part of the city. Several Japanese folk came in just to take photos and probably to warn the friends at home what to
expect in November. At one point a lad arrived wearing a Scouse strip with "Owen" on the back. He was made very welcome and given the full anti-scouse repertoire before he left. For me the best part of the whole weekend was the trip from the pub through the streets of startled locals to firstly Wynyard then Central stations and on the train to the ground. There were a couple of hundred Red yards all singing particularly "Oh Manchester is wonderful" and simply "United! United!" I felt I was home spiritually at any rate. The train trip was agonizingly slow and we only arrived at Homebush with 15 minutes to go and I remembered to buy the three programmes I
needed. Before leaving Brisbane I had managed to contact the chief of security at the ground to ask if taking Arfur in would be a problem. He advised me to leave him at home, so I was a bit worried he may have been incarcerated. I headed for the most junior looking female security person I could see and when she challanged me I mentioned the security chief's name, asked her if she knew him (she did) and told her he a authorized me to bring Arthur into the ground. It worked! We made the long climb up the spiral ramp and ended up very high indeed. We suspended our giant banner off the balcony (Oz Reds salute Manchester United) and settled down. Unfortunately, despite the
encouraging atmosphere before the game and allegedly being amidst 1000 or so NSW supporters it was absolutely impossible to get any significant singing or chanting going, and I now know how you who complain about OT must feel. What a let down! To top it off a couple of the security blokes rather sheepishly came to tell us the the ground authority had contacted them and requested our banner be removed. Talk about pathetic! I suppose it was something to be the first to see the new away strip (I wonder is it the Sportswool one?), but I would much preferred to have seen them in red. You have seen reports on the game notable for a great goal, a terrible injury inflicted by
Andy Cole and a quite spirited Oz effort. United hardly broke sweat IMHO despite Dinnis saying the Socceroos were the better side and McLaren claiming there were a lot of knackered players after the game. There was an absolutely crap "compere" - some American basketball personality I gather. Totally inappropriate, and dead ignorant "Come up Terry Sherringham". Full of artificial hype and bullshit. Then there was the awful sponsor of the whole thing, Mr Crass himself, Rene Rivkin, the epitome of immodesty - and a programme that was horrid and inaccurate having Becks, the other Neville, Keano and Scholsie in and all the fledgelings out of it as well as only 5
of the Oz players correct! After the game and the silly presentation there were 78 000 people on the railway platform with no signs or announcements to help. Total chaos, as you may imagine. There was probably more chanting then than during the game! I guess the things that stick out for me was the chance to see many of the treble winners in the flesh and the amazing support United had in Sydney. I think more than 30 000 at the game were in United kits and all over town you just kept running into Reds. Not exactly "Taking over Sydney" but pretty impressive nevertheless.
Cheers, David Marshall Brisbane, Australia.
Red 'til I'm dead - treble achieved, I'm ready to go!
PS The Story Of Arthur!
The story is, briefly, contact with the state manger of Chandlers electrical goods store chain with a plea for one of their life sized cut outs of George Cole (there were a few in various outfits) in Mnachester United kit. Spending an hour or two making a stengthening and folding ply backing, a carry bag and a cardboard box for him, flying him to Sydney (and back) with me, taking him to the training session, the pub and conning him into the game. He was very popular with Reds, but also with complete stangers on the streets as Minder was very well known here in Oz.
Known and loved by generations of viewers for his role of Arthur Daly in the long-running television series 'Minder', George's film career is often overlooked. Since his first appearance as Ronald in the Gainsborough picture 'Cottage to Let' (1941), he has entertained in a host of movies ranging from 'Christmas Carol' (1951),
'The Green Man' (1957) and 'Cleopatra' (1963), to the hugely successful 'St. Trinian's' trilogy.
For a list of all pre-saeson
in OZ click on pics use: