Old Trafford got a huge boost yesterday by the 12th man, as the vocal section which was being trialled made an incredible difference to the Old Trafford atmosphere.
It has been discussed many times over the years, how to fix the decline in the atmosphere at the Premier League’s top stadiums. One of those being Old Trafford, which was once home to one of the most intimidating atmospheres in world football. Teams would be scared as they walked out to the roar of the Old Trafford crowd. Sadly that has no longer been the case in recent years, caused by multiple factors. The change from the terraces to the all-seater stadium was a big cause, the introduction of corporate hospitality areas, bad stewarding and the implied link between atmosphere and hooliganism have all took their hit.
Famously Manchester United decided to put a huge section of corporate hospitality seating in the Stretford End, which was once home of the infamous Red Army and United’s most dedicated supporters. Former chief executive Martin Edwards has since admitted that this was one of his biggest mistakes whilst in charge and admits it has been one of the biggest causes in the decline of the Old Trafford atmosphere.
However, in recent years, dismay at the state of the Old Trafford atmosphere has built and built leading to fan groups and supporters taking matters into their own hands to try and change things. The Red Army group have been the leaders of this with help from other groups such as the Manchester United Supporters Trust.
They have held discussions with the club over the last few years, and the results have been several trials of vocal sections managed by The Red Army group and they have been a resounding success. We have had trials for the majority of this seasons games in the United Road section of the ground just below J Stand which have been brilliant. The sound record was actually beaten in one of those games against Leicester.
Off the back of these trials, the club has agreed to give The Red Army group approx 1200 seats for next season in the lower tear of the Stretford End to have as the dedicated vocal section, with hope to expanding that the season after. This has been greatly welcomed by our supporters and members of The Red Army group and it finally shows the clubs willingness to help improve the atmosphere.
For the FA Cup game however against Reading, in which United won 2-0, the club gave The Red Army group around 1800 seats in the low roofed L Stand, the section that usually houses the away fans. This was due to the away fans being moved to a different area to accommodate the extra away allocation for FA Cup games, and the result was astounding. Many said it was the best atmosphere Old Trafford has seen in years. I can attest to that, I was in that section and it was unreal.
We sang and chanted from the first minute till 20 minutes after the game finished. Its how it should be, standing with your mates, cheering on your team and enjoying the football. That’s why there has been an incredible buzz about these vocal sections all season by those in them and more so after the success of the trial in L Stand on Saturday.
One of the main doubts has been, how will this be different from the club organised “Singing Section” in J Stand, that has not been a great success. In that section, a lot of the seats go to those who don’t chant and many of them will be sitting on their mobiles all match. And the answer is, due to the fans wanting these sort of issues not to occur, and the fact you have to apply for the sections through The Red Army fan group rather than the club, the fans are self-policing these sections along with better stewarding, which mean that this doesn’t happen and that is one of the main reasons it has been a huge success. The are is filled with like-minded supporters who are all striving for the same goal. To make the Old Trafford atmosphere formidable again.
I personally have seen a few people filming whilst in these sections during the game, so I or one of the other supporters in the area politely asked them to stop filming. The result is they put their phone away and stop, and they haven’t done it since, or they simply haven’t applied for that section for the next game. It works.
You can see the success yourself in some of the videos below.
Those videos speak for themselves, and that is why the supporters and The Red Army group are hoping to again fill that section for the upcoming Champions League tie against PSG, should the club agree to move the away fans out of that area, which can then hopefully provide the team with the additional 12th man in a game which we will most likely need it.
One thing that I really enjoyed hearing, was the comments from some of our fans who occupy the stadium’s disability seating platform which is housed directly below L Stand, usually home of away fans. One of the comments from Vicky was the below and really does make it more worthwhile hearing the difference it made to their matchday experience. And as she also stated, made a nice change from having the away fans above them, in which are usually the target of missiles being thrown by the away fans.
For those wondering .. the fansbehind me were top nothing thrown at us, sang all game and were even friendly at HT (someone shouted happy new year vicky ) 10/10 ?— vicky (@footie_lass) January 5, 2019
Are you interested in being a part of it and improving the Old Trafford atmosphere? If so, you can sign up here. You are also best giving them a follow on Twitter at @TRA_MUFC so you can keep an eye on when applications open.
Featured Image provided by Abz Heywood, a United Supporter and local artist, you can check some of her amazing work out by clicking here. A lot of her work is Manchester United based and it is absolutely incredible artwork.