FAN NEWS & BLOGS

21/05/2008 11:02, Report by Johnny Sharp
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Blood, sweat and superstitions

Reds fan Johnny Sharp blogs on the lengths supporters go to in the name of victory...

Maybe I should have prepared better for my second Champions League Final. Maybe I could have stayed up all night, slept rough in a stairwell, made a 2000-mile round trip by trains, planes and automobiles and narrowly avoided assault and/or arrest... before sitting down on my sofa to watch the match.

Somehow a big game just doesn’t feel that big unless you’ve personally shed blood, sweat, tears and travellers' cheques to get there.

Turin '99

The most memorable United game I ever went to, possibly even topping the Nou Camp on 26 May 1999, was the Turin semi-final second leg against Juventus in April that same glorious year. That’s partly because of the depths of despair I had to plumb before I could scale the heights of ecstasy, Brian.

Despite Ryan Giggs’ priceless late equaliser to secure a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in the home leg, United were not favourites to progress, but as me and my mate James flew in to Turin via Paris (yes, you guessed it, all the direct flights had gone) on the afternoon before the second leg, we were cautiously optimistic.

Before we even set off for the Stadio Delle Alpi, however, we got the distinct impression that this wasn’t to be our day. We caught our connection in Paris after a late departure, but my bag, containing my lucky scarf from the previous round, didn’t. Yet we didn’t have time to wait for it to turn up on the next flight, so we headed into Turin, to find that our ‘pensione’ was double booked, and there wasn't another vacant room in the entire city. Then I couldn't find a buyer for my spare ticket - another £45 out of pocket.

We hatched an alternative plan to catch an overnight train from Turin to Paris, and catch the second part of the return flight there. But that would mean getting back into the centre of Turin by about an hour after the final whistle, and we realised the folly of that plan when we remembered the standard practice of Italian police to keep away fans in after the game. We were basically homeless. And within 11 minutes of kick-off, we were hopeless to boot. 2-0 down, out of Europe, out of luck, and out of bright ideas.

Of course, Keano probably didn’t believe in poncey ideas like fate, and

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