Born a Red


Friday 1st February 2008

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I was born a Red.

By that I don't mean I entered this world a hardline communist. Perhaps I should have said I was born a Red Devil; and no, I don't mean I was an evil little hardline communist, what I mean is when I was born I was pre-destined to be a fully fledged "heart and soul" supporter of Manchester United Football Club.

Raised on tales of Bobby Charlton, Dennis Law, George Best and also the legend of the Busby Babes, Eddie Colman, Dennis Viollet and in particular Duncan Edwards the greatest footballer of all time; I couldn't have been anything else other than a red. It was in my blood.

In the fifties my father served his National Service with the Army and was fortuitously stationed near Altrincham, only a few miles away from Old Trafford. This allowed him the luxury of regularly watching United play during their golden era, a time now enshrined in football folklore. United's team of talented young men were destined to become the greatest, eclipsing their arch rivals Real Madrid.

Then Munich happened.

What happened fifty years ago on that snow-bound Munich airport was a tragedy. My father remembers clearly (like a JFK moment) where he was when he heard the news. Whilst he was already an ardent supporter, after the 6th February 1958 it was different. And I've inherited that difference.

It's not just football, it's everything. (For at least those 90 minutes!)

I wanted to mark the 50th Anniversary with a visit to the crash site to pay my respects. It just felt like what I needed to do. Fellow Boyo Steve, a season ticket holder and a more committed supporter than even I am, needed no persuading. He immediately bought into the pilgrimage.

Of the Krakow veterans only the two of us were United supporters but that didn't stop an enthusiastic Evertonian from joining up. Garry was well up for it. David and Nathan, whose allegiance lay more with the oddly shaped ball of Rugby rather than the perfect sphere of football, were less keen and ultimately they didn't sign up for this tour of duty. However a new dimension was added to the group when Julie enlisted and press ganged Sonya into joining forces. Women in the ranks? What's this world coming to?

I was secretly quite thrilled on many levels, especially because an important part of any experience is the sharing. I have great Berlin and Krakow memories but they don't involve Julie and it's a shame that we can't reminisce together about them. Other than childhood memories I don't have many other experiences that wasn't shared with her and I love that. It's quite special.

So here we go again, Boyos III (and II Boyettes).

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