Lifelong Red and Hastings branch member Stephen Ellis, from East Sussex, talks us through his matchday experience…
For a 3pm kick-off, say, what time does matchday begin for you?
Matchday for me actually begins two or three days before, with one constant question to my wife, ‘What time does the coach leave again?’ It takes around six hours to get to Old Trafford so for lunchtime kick-offs matchday begins as early as 4am.
What’s the journey like to Old Trafford? Is there a lot of singing and pre-match chat on the way?
Due to the early start the last thing on my mind is talking and singing – I’m more interested in getting into my seat with my pillow and having a kip! It's fairly quiet until we reach our first stop on the M6 around four hours into the journey - the last two or three hours is when it really livens up with a bit of pre-match banter. The singing only really happens on the way back unless we lose then six hours feels like 12!
How many of you travel up for games?
We normally have a full coach for all weekend games, around 45 people. There are a good few diehards who follow the team everywhere - Brian, who organises the coach, is the biggest fan I know, he never misses a match. I've only been a season-ticket holder for two years but a member of the Hastings branch for about five. I spend over 300 hours a season travelling on the coach which is more time than I spend with my wife in a year!
What time do you usually get to the ground?
Dependant on the M6 we normally arrive about two or three hours before kick-off. I usually head straight to the megastore, buy my programme and pick up a pork and stuffing baguette. I sit and read the programme outside the stadium for a bit before heading to my seat in North Stand.
Do you have any pre-match rituals?
I have a flag at home which must be straight before I leave for Old Trafford. I also make sure I have my lucky United ring on and when walking up the stairs from the turnstile I must take the third row.
What time do you get home? We hear you have to leave matches early...
At weekends, I get home anywhere between 11pm and 2am depending on the kick-off time. The leaving early bit started on my first visit to Old Trafford. I left after the