MANCHESTER UNITED vs AFC BOURNEMOUTH – MATCH ABANDONED
So we set off for the game as we always do about an hour before kick-off. We just missed a tram so we were running slightly behind schedule when we reached the ground at about 2.45pm. As we approached the ground it wasn’t any busier than usual but as we walked across the concourse towards our turnstiles on the north east corner of the ground we could see a concentration of police horses on the bridge over the canal leading down towards Salford Quays.
It was as we approached our turnstiles that it became clear that something was wrong. There was a congestion at the corner and we could not reach our turnstiles. No one was pushing, everyone was just stood waiting. What we couldn’t see was a line of police and stewards further ahead holding fans back. After a couple of minutes a steward came forward through the crowd asking everybody to move back across the concourse onto the car parks. People did this and again stood around calmly not knowing that was going on. Then rumours started to spread , probably via social media that the kick-off of the game had been put back 45 minutes. There was good humour with plenty of people cracking jokes about this being the most exciting thing to have happened at Old Trafford this year etc. I always find reception on my phone to be fairly poor in and around Old Trafford on match days but I managed to make a phone call. I was with my ten year old son and managed to call his uncle Peter to see where he was, (we all sit together). He was stood further back being held near the bridge over the railway on Sir Matt Busby Way and knew less than we did. He was disappointed that the kick-off had been put back as he has to travel down to London tonight for a work meeting tomorrow, but was cheered up to hear the news that his cup final ticket had arrived in Saturday mornings post.
About ten minutes after we had moved over to the car park the club stewards started to move among us and advise that the game had been abandoned. They were asking everyone to leave. People did this moving away calmly and quietly. Now the rumours started to spread that a suspect package had been found and that two sides of the ground were still full of spectators. I managed to get a better reception as I reached Lancashire County Cricket Club and it was then that I was able to pick up more and more details of events.
The overriding feeling was one of anti-climax. You set off for the ground looking forward to the game only to then have to turn around and come home again without your football fix. Nevertheless safety has to remain paramount and you can only hope that everyone is okay, players, fans, members of the media and the security services who have to stick around and continue to do their jobs.
But the most prominent memory will be one of how calm and stoical everybody remained.