Do you remember your first United match?

Wednesday 28 July 2021 15:01

Friendlies, testimonials and youth fixtures have introduced Old Trafford to generations of young Manchester United fans, as lifelong supporter and our Senior Digital Executive Producer Scott Martin explains in his personal account...


There are numerous scenes in the Jason Bourne film series where the titular assassin tries to piece together his past through flashes of key memories. 

That’s exactly what it's like for me trying to recall my first ever experience of an Old Trafford matchday. 

I only remember a few moments clearly, with the rest being lost in the fog of time. My dad waking me (shortly after I’d gone to bed) to tell me he was taking me to Old Trafford. Walking over a bridge to see this vast stadium in all its glory. Then the memory which has lingered longest: walking up the steps from the concourse to enter the stadium bowl for the very first time. 

Closing my eyes I can still see it now.

I was instantly struck by those huge floodlights illuminating both the night sky and the mammoth pitch below. For a young boy, aged about six or seven, it really was the most breathtaking moment. 

I can’t remember much about the game at all, much to my annoyance, but those Bourne-style flashes paint pictures of a match against a team in dark blue, with Norman Whiteside scoring the winning goal. At least I think it was Norman. It could have been anyone.

Some years back I tried to research which game it was by piecing together those fragmented recollections (midweek night game, early ‘80s, opposition in dark blue, Whiteside scoring) but nothing seemed to fit. The reasons why became abundantly clear when I found out the full details about my Old Trafford ‘debut’... 

My first game at OT was actually a reserves fixture! 

Like other clubs in the 20th century, United used to run a token scheme where fans attending matches at Old Trafford could cut and collect tokens printed in matchday programmes, and use them to apply for tickets for big away matches or cup finals. 

Occasionally, reserve or youth-team fixtures played at OT yielded those precious tokens in the matchday programme – well, matchday team sheet being probably more accurate for those games. 

It transpires that I got a last-minute invite to this particular reserve match after my dad’s mate couldn’t make it, but wanted someone to go in his place to make sure my dad could legitimately get two programmes and those all-important tokens. 

So my first Old Trafford experience was to be a match token mule. 

However, regardless of who played that night, and at what level, the experience ignited a spark in me that has burned like an inferno to this day. 

I’ve been incredibly lucky in the decades since to visit Old Trafford hundreds of times (both in a personal and professional capacity) and have enjoyed some incredible days and nights in our famous stadium, but you can only have that ‘first time’ feeling once.

It’s something that I’ll always remember. 

Well, almost remember...