In the pub on a Tuesday night watching United v Stoke when one of us mentions “5 years ago, we’d have all been there tonight.” A moment’s reflection and it’s with a sadness that this truth is realised.
Sure we didn’t all get to sit with each other – and not all of us were season ticket holders, but it’s true – we would have all been there.
The obvious demise of the season ticket began with the Automatic cup scheme.
For the first couple of years, we put up with it. We were paying for games we couldn’t necessarily attend. My work means I have had to move away – so it’s a day off for me to attend a midweek game. My brother works nights, another mate does rotating shifts etc etc.
But the value of being able to apply for away games – that was something not to give up.
But then that dried up. Why?
Season ticket holders can apply for away games – and those who attended the cup matches got priority. Thanks to the ACS – all the season ticket holders have “Been” to the cup games, or to put it more accurately, all have paid for a seat, populated or not.
So now all Season Ticket holders make the away pot much larger, and as a result, the successful applications became almost non-existent.
December 2009 , losing 3-0 to Fulham was the last domestic away game I attended. It was only the second domestic away game we managed to get in that season – the other being Barnsley in the Carling cup a couple of months earlier.
Then, the final straw. After 5 years of attending every poor Carling cup game including two finals, surely we’d be rewarded with the dream ticket…..Man City, semi finals. Get in!
Except no – we didn’t get them. But we went to Barnsley!? I went to Southend when they only allocated us 1500 tickets (and we got beat!). How can we not get in this?? Just another email that remained unanswered by the club.
This was followed up by not getting in Blackburn away in the league. We ALWAYS got in Blackburn away.
By 2009, the numbers had diminished. Familiar faces were no longer seen at Old Trafford, some of them our mates.
We dropped the season tickets and became just Members. The only thing remaining consistent in the last few years was the European away application process. As members, we still had the right to apply. Having been to the Moscow and Rome finals, we continued as members to enjoy the European campaign.
Despite only being a member, we still managed successful applications.
Take last year’s champions league campaign. Last 16 against Marseille – went there, quarter final against Chelsea – went there. Semi final against Schalke – went there.
And then, breaking news ….
Cup final at Wembley – season ticket holders only. We are not even entitled to apply.
This was almost the final nail in the coffin. But United had one more nail – and this season they’ve used it.
The new season started and sure enough, I’ve been going. Disappointingly, the Euro away applications have now become unsuccessful, the last one being a rejection letter for the Ajax game.
Having been to all the home games, I have now been unsuccessful in my application for the Liverpool game this Saturday. There was still hope though – my application would be entered into a second ballot. That was also unsuccessful.
But I can pick my seat for the game against Fulham in two months time.
There’s only 3 of us who still go. Me, my dad, my brother. The latest rejection has once again stirred the “why do we bother” question and today, 9th Feb, marks the day that United finally managed to kill us off.
I have just received a text message from the club, saying that I can buy a Season Ticket for the rest of the Season, and if I do, it will include a seat for the game on Saturday. This is the game that I can’t attend because my application was unsuccessful (twice).
I write this nearly 30 years since my first ever game – Brighton v United FA cup final replay in 1983. My younger brother – home to Southampton, 1985 his first game
My dad .. well, he saw George Best playing for us
United’s website has a new advert encouraging us to not settle for watching it in the pub. “The Dog and Partridge versus The Theatre of Dreams” it proclaims
The Dog and Partridge it is then…….