As part of the 'My United' series within Inside United magazine, Glasgow-born and Manchester-raised singer-songwriter Tom Walker discusses the wonders of Ryan Giggs and David Beckham, our infamous grey away kit and the power of Paul Pogba...
When and why did you first start supporting United?
“I moved to a small village called Chelford, just outside of Manchester, when I was three, from Scotland. Going to school there, it was always a choice between United and City. United was always the bigger team and a lot of the players were in the England squad, so it always seemed like the obvious choice for me.”
Who was your first United hero?
“I always loved Giggs and Beckham. They both performed week-in, week-out for both club and country, and to me they seemed like the most complete players. I remember so many amazing moments like when Beckham scored his halfway-line goal against Wimbledon in 1996 and when Giggs scored that absolute beast of a goal against Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-final in the Treble season. I think any of the players from the 1999 season can be considered heroes to any United fan!”
When was the first time you went to see United play?
“I went with my dad to my first match when I was about 12 years old. Manchester United were clients of my dad's company and they had seats in the North Stand, so we were in one of the corporate areas where you have a meal and entertainment before the game, hosted by one of the veteran players. The seats were in the main stand and I couldn't believe the atmosphere inside the ground. It was great to experience the crowd and see the players up close.”
Which team do you most want United to beat and why?
“I'm fairly neutral when it comes to other teams, there's no-one I particularly dislike but obviously the Manchester derby is always a big one. A lot of my mates are City fans and they take it proper seriously, so it's always nice to have one up on them when we win a derby. Liverpool are one that stick out too. It's always a good game against them, so those fixtures are always exciting.”
Who is your favourite current player and why?
“I really like Pogba. A superb player, it's hard not to pick him out. His World Cup victory for his country was amazing and his style of play is next-level!”
Can you pick your favourite United goal or goals?
“Going back to Giggs in the FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal in 1999 - that is definitely the one. He was an absolute beast. Even watching that goal back today, it fully holds up, whereas a lot of goals you look back on don't hold up to what you remember.”
What is our all-time favourite United memory?
“For sure, it was when I got to go along with my dad for the first time. There have obviously been so many amazing United moments over the years, but getting to see all your heroes for the first time right in front of you was the absolute stand-out.”
Would you like to sing or play a gig at Old Trafford in the future?
“Name the time, date and I'm there! As long as you don't expect me to get on the pitch and play, I'm not sure that would go down too well at Old Trafford. Maybe for a charity thing one day for a good cause.”
If you had a time machine, what player or team from United's history would you like to see play?
“George Best. There's so many stories around him and his goals. It would be amazing to be there to see him score the European Cup goal against Benfica in 1968 at Wembley. To be there on that night must have been one of the greatest footballing moments for anyone, let alone a United fan!”
MY FAVOURITE UNITED KIT
Tom comes from left-field by choosing a kit often maligned for its association with a certain defeat at Southampton...
“My favourite kit was the grey kit in the 1990s, I can't remember the exact year now. I just remember the game at Southampton in 1996 when United changed kit at half time from the grey one because the players couldn't pick anyone out and were a couple of goals down. You don't get stories like that these days. There was also the red and black home kit around the 2002/03 era, and the advertising slogan was 'Sorry Eric, no collar'. That was genius!”
WHO IS TOM WALKER?
Tom spent three years studying different genres of music at the London Centre of Contemporary Music. His single Leave a Light On, written by Tom and Steve Mac, reached no.7 in the UK in May 2017 and has gone platinum and gold around the world. He appeared on NBC's Today Show with Kathy Gifford in March 2017 performing live his hit You and I. It has accumulated over 29 million Spotify streams. Tom's debut album What a time to be Alive is scheduled for release in 2019 on Relentless Records.
This article first appeared in the January 2019 edition of the Inside United magazine. You can subscribe here.