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`Glory, Glory Man United'

POSTED August 02, 2014
BY Rick Wilson
Twitter: @scribewilson

                                                                 “Glory, Glory Man United

                                                                   Glory, Glory Man United

                                                                   Glory, Glory Man United

                                                                    As the Reds Go Marching

                                                                              On, On, On….”


            WASHINGTON D.C. – It’s not that my son Jonathan and I have bad voices. At least I don’t think so. He’s got a new found baritone while I think I’m Paul McCartney or somebody like that sometimes. It’s just that my wife is darn tired of the song and has threatened us with bodily harm if she hears it one more time.

            Just not enough passion and respect for mighty Manchester United. Of course after a couple of days earlier in the week, maybe we can cut here a tiny break, but just a tiny one.

            Jonathan has been pumped up since April when I told him that we had tickets to see his beloved Manchester United team take on Inter Milan at Fedex Field in Washington D. C. as part of the International Champions Cup Tournament. He’s become a United fanatic, you know, stats, trades, salaries, the works. He has the Manchester United app on his phone.

            Bottom line – he’s hooked, like a halibut being hauled into the boat. At the top of his bucket list is seeing the Reds (not Cincinnati or the Communists) in England, preferably at their legendary home Old Trafford. My guess is that we or he will get there.

            I love Washington D.C. Hey, I’m a history guy so between the capital, the mall and all of its monuments especially Mr. Lincoln, the Smithsonian buildings, the Holocaust Museum, the White House, free price tags for so much, it’s very much a cool place to be.

            Not what it was all about for Jonathan. Franklin, Washington, Lincoln and the gang? All cool, but second place to Giggsey, Wayne Rooney, Mata, Nani and the rest. Note – A lot of these futballers only have one name. Saves on uniform space and ink and such.

            Jonathan on his Manchester United app found out where the 13-time Premier League champions, who also pretty much stunk up the joint last year adding to the industrial pollution of their home city, were staying.

            So yes, I admit it we did it. We ambled our way around D.C. and somehow found ourselves at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel where the Reds were staying. By the way, with six more jobs and a sizeable loan I can probably afford to stay there some day.

            We immersed ourselves in the elegance, looking very much like star-struck stalkers. While my wife and Jonathan wandered about looking for a familiar face that except for Rooney only Jonathan would recognize.

            Wouldn’t you know they were having a photo shoot out back in the court yard and with precious little security. So, while I bellied up to the bar to purchase a cocktail out of thirst and the idea that we should at least make an effort to look like we belonged my wife and Jonathan headed out back.

            After producing $17.50 for two glasses of beer which made feel right at home like I was at Fenway or Yankee Stadium except the servers were better dressed I headed out back. Just for the record, the bartender did put down a dish with olives that had the cute little swords in them to dine on. Classy and no charge.

            Jonathan had a smile on his face, the kind you put in your pocket and memory bank and don’t forget. Sitting in the corner was Ryan Giggs. Now Giggs is a Manchester United legend, having made more appearances for the club than any player in history. He retired at the end of last year and is being groomed to take over the club when new coach Louis van Gaal ends his tour of duty.

            Translation: Giggs is very, very big in the soccer world. Jonathan exchanged a couple of words with him, got his Manchester United cap, given to him by Waterbury Republican reporter Joe Palladino (a West Ham fan), signed and if you’ve seen a 14-year old on the top of the world, you’ve seen Jonathan.

            Rooney was there, Mata and many of the rest. No more autographs but a lot of sightings. The team was heading out for practice and we joined a group of hearty and boisterous fans at their big gray bus.

            The biggest cheers were for Rooney who signed autographs but not on the side we were standing. Chicharito stood two feet from Jonathan although he did not sign his hat obliging those who had his jersey on.

            Again, the smile was world-wide. We left the hotel (my request for an urgent loan was turned down so we couldn’t eat there) and headed out for supper.

            The game was the next night. Jonathan wanted to get there like last year but we were there at 5 p.m. for a 7 p.m. start. We haven’t seen so much red since our last financial report came in.  There were no Redskins but plenty of red shirts. The stadium looked like a giant blood clot.

            Jonathan bought his official Manchester United jersey which he has been saving up for forever. My wife and I have our World Tour T-shirts and I bought an Inter Milan – Manchester United scarf for those cold days this winter or if you are drinking martinis. It can masquerade as an ascot.

            It is fascinating to watch good soccer and we watched good soccer from seats about halfway up, surrounded by passionate Reds’ fans.  Rooney narrowly scored when he unleashed a powerful howitzer at the goal in the first half from 30 yards out that was wide.

            The decidedly pro Manchester United crowd of more than 61,000 oohed and ahhed at every opportunity. The wave was out in force and there were choruses of Glory, Glory Man United.

            Definitely a crowd that felt right at home watching futbol in a football stadium. Of course there was some derision from the crowd when the scoreboard listed the Reds home residence as old Traddord. Hey guys, we understand the fingers rebel when typing sometimes but not even a correction? Old Trafford is one of the world’s most famous soccer venues.

             Neither team was able to get on the board despite some late pressure from Manchester United. The game went to penalty kicks and Darren Fletcher clinched it for the Reds who took a 5-3 edge in the kicks.

            Jonathan said to me after the game, “Tell me you are not a Manchester United fan now, dad.”

            I’m getting there. We certainly enjoyed the whole experience and we toodled our way back to the car with ‘Glory, Glory Man United’ ringing in our ears.

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