Five Reds nominate their favourite PL away grounds

Wednesday 10 July 2024 12:00

United’s 2-1 win at Luton in February was notable for Rasmus Hojlund becoming the youngest-ever player to score in six consecutive Premier League appearances. But, for the travelling Reds in the Oak Road End, the Hatters’ 119-year-old stadium provided almost as much enjoyment.

Kenilworth Road holds just 11,050 and the entrance to the away end, famously, is set between terraced houses. It’s a throwback to a bygone era for many time-served Reds, which inspires memories of much-loved traditional grounds long replaced by newer stadiums.

Debates over the pros and cons of new versus old, modern versus historic, are legion within all football fan bases. So with the Luton game marking a notable milestone – our 50th Premier League away opponent – we thought it an ideal time to open the floor to some Reds who have followed the team up and down the country since the division was rebranded in 1992.

What are United fans’ favourite grounds to travel to, past and present?
90 in 20: Luton v United Video

90 in 20: Luton v United

Watch the extended highlights of a hugely entertaining and at times stressful match at Kenilworth Road...

“One of the best grounds, if not the best, was Highbury. It had everything, and those marble halls. I first went there in February 1985 – it’s scary how long ago that was! I was going quite a lot then, home and away, even though I was only 14.

“I went many times and have many great memories: the Cup game when Choccy missed a pen; the Lee Sharpe hat-trick; the league game that virtually won us the title in 2003, when we drew two all, when Sol Campbell was sent off. And, of course, the John O’Shea game, with Roy Keane in the tunnel.

“It’s sad that they had to move, but I think it’s really good that Arsenal have maintained a connection with Highbury. They’ve kept the centre circle and the archway in tact. It was a great, great ground. A wonderful ground with loads of history; a proper old-school football ground. It’s just a shame they couldn’t have kept it, really.”

Pete Boyle
“My favourite ground, and one I miss the most, is/was Upton Park, also known as the Boleyn Ground. It was everything a football stadium should be. It had history, it had atmosphere, it was situated in a bustling area surrounded by pubs, shops and markets. It was part of the fabric of the area and its community. Playing there was always an occasion.

“West Ham fans always gave it a lively (if not always very welcoming!) atmosphere, and the back-and-forth between sets of fans was always, shall we say, high-spirited. I’ve seen us stage incredible comebacks (a 4-2 win featuring a Rooney hat-trick in 2011) and be absolutely thrashed (West Ham winning 4-0 in the League Cup in 2010), and games there always seemed to be memorable.
“I’m sad that such a historic old ground has now gone, but am sure I’m not alone in saying I’ll carry memories of events that happened both inside and outside that ground with me for a lifetime!”

Carly Lyes
West Ham United 2 United 4 Video

West Ham United 2 United 4

2 April 2011: Rooney scores a second-half hat-trick as United come back to win one of the games of the season...

“For me it would be between Goodison and White Hart Lane. Goodison was my first-ever away. It would have been a year before the Premier League started. But I went a lot of times during the Premier League. I can remember a really late Ruud van Nistelrooy goal to win 4-3, with Louis Saha scoring as well.

“Just the fact that it’s so old-fashioned, with that mad old stand, and the enclosed streets... and the fact that it was in Liverpool just gave it a real edge, I think. It’s just one of those proper old grounds; one that’s just about to be replaced.”
Andrew Lindsay
Everton 3 United 4 Video

Everton 3 United 4

7 February 2004: Louis Saha and Ruud van Nistelrooy each scored twice during an incredible game at Goodison Park.

“The words ‘Villa Park’ always sounded exotic. The grand, red-brick façade of the Holte End pointed to a bygone era, when the European Cup was housed within. My early visits included some all-time classic United FA Cup wins and Villa Park always felt special. So much so, we dubbed it ‘lucky Villa Park’, making sure to spot it (for luck) from the M6 whenever we were travelling to games further south.

“In the league, there was that Scholes screamer, countless comebacks, late goals, a Moyes Christmas miracle, and a Phil Jones masterclass (complete with winning
goal). Sometimes overlooked is the early kick-off of March 2003; United’s title charge was yet to really kick in. Beckham scored, Barthez saved, the points came back with us on the jubilant-yet-relieved train, as did news from Blackburn. Arsenal were losing and murmurs of ‘just two points behind...’ went around. Two games later, we thrashed Liverpool 4-0 to go top. And United stayed there, as Arsenal dropped more points... at ‘lucky Villa Park’.”
Neil Meehan
Aston Villa 0 United 1 Video

Aston Villa 0 United 1

15 March 2003: Another important victory for United as David Beckham got the winner.

United We Stand fanzine editor, Andy Mitten, a self-confessed football ground-spotter, shares some of his memories of following United away...
“I’m predisposed to like any ground, because I like football grounds. Even stood on an open terrace in the rain, well, if you’ve seen United get a late winner there, like I did at Southampton in ’92, it colours your memories. I know The Dell in Southampton wasn’t fit for purpose at all and yet it was full of character. And it had a good pub behind the away end...
“I love Goodison – it’s the Wrigley Field of English football. I love how it’s packed into the community. I think Liverpool have developed Anfield really sensibly. I loved the ambition of Newcastle in building those two huge stands, and the location atop the city, looking down over the Tyne towards Gateshead in an area surrounded by bars and pubs.
“When I look back to some of the grounds when I first started going, they really were dank, dangerous places. The away end at Derby County, the toilets... I wouldn’t wish them on anybody! Cramped and dirty. I loved seeing Blackburn boom up. I loved the intensity of West Ham, the atmosphere, the closeness of the stands to the pitch, the ‘Chicken Run’, the edge that you’d get going to West Ham. QPR was tiny, but because you were so close to the goal, and because it was so tight, and because it was so steep, it meant that the atmosphere was really good in the away end. Huddersfield Town does deserve merit, architecturally, and I think it won the Building of the Year award. That’s a smart ground, and I never ever imagined seeing Huddersfield play in the Premier League.
“I love a simple, steep terrace, even if it’s only 12 or 18 steps’ deep. I love imagining the community that you find on that terrace. It provokes thought within me. And I’ll often just be looking at the stands within games, which I shouldn’t do, but you can’t help who you are.

“My favourite? I can honestly see merit in any ground, because you wrap up your perception of them with your memories of being there. I’ll happily talk to you about football grounds for five or six hours!”