'It was United and that was it'

Wednesday 04 October 2023 15:00

With the help of the United Fan Culture Archive, we're taking a look at an image that recently caught our eye, and supporter Ben Evans tells us how his great aunt kickstarted his Reds love affair.

Ben recalls: “No one was really bothered about football in my family. Except Beryl. Beryl was my mum’s aunt, my nan’s sister, and as soon as I was old enough to talk about football, there was no option: it was United and that was it. 

“The first match I ever remember watching was with her: United and City in the FA Cup, in 1995/96. If United won, everything was always “absolutely fantastic”. 

“She knitted me a red, white and black hat, which I still have and intend to pass on if I have kids.
Ben recalls leaving school early in '99 to attend United's Treble parade.
“Beryl was the one who took me to Old Trafford for the first time, in the summer of ’98. Funnily enough, it was on the same day Dwight Yorke signed. 

“And within three or four minutes of the final whistle in ’99, her son, David – an equally big United fan – rang my mum’s house. “We’re going to the parade – would Ben like to come with us?”
“It was the best, because I got to leave school early! We live in Neston, about 15-20 minutes outside Chester, where David and Beryl lived. Neston is a really small town, and we’re there on the streets of Manchester, with this wealth of people. You’re seeing your heroes! 

“I remember being fixated on the cups themselves, and just waiting for a glimpse of Giggsy… that was the big thing. 

“I was convinced Dwight Yorke waved at me! We were sat in traffic for two hours coming home, but it didn’t matter, because of what we’d just seen and who we’d just seen.
'I was convinced Dwight Yorke waved at me!'
“Beryl was ecstatic that day, and it’s still one of the best of my life. Sadly, she passed away in 2005, which is mad, because on that day in '99 you wouldn’t think she was only six years away from going. 

“Shortly after the Treble, I went with Beryl, David and his son, Lucas – who’s still United-daft – for my first game, against Bolton Wanderers.

“I went on to work in security at United for 13 years, travelling with the players, Sir Alex and Sir Bobby. I’ve still got a season ticket in the Stretford End now. Off the back of this with Beryl, my United journey was crazy. It’s a massive picture for me, and one I treasure.”