Manchester United players celebrate Wayne Rooney's penalty at Blackburn in 2011

The atmospheres we'll always remember

Our 'U-N-I-T-E-D' theme – capturing the essence of what it means to support the greatest club in the world – continues here with personal recollections of crowds that still give the attendees goosebumps, many years after the matches in question.

Four journalists who have stood on the terraces and sat in the stands over many years pick their favourite atmospheres below but we start with a memory from a club legend, the man who captained the Reds on an evening that went down in Old Trafford folklore...


Our 3-0 win against Barcelona in the European Cup Winners' Cup gave me the best night of my career, without a doubt. You could more or less feel the pitch shaking, the atmosphere was that good. Everybody had written us off after the first leg, but we got the goals at the perfect times and the fans were unbelievable throughout the game. What a night.

Perhaps the nadir of a wretched 2013/14 season, this home trouncing at the hands of Liverpool would belong in the furthest recesses of the dankest corners of our memories, but for the defiance of the home support at Old Trafford. United were taking a tanking, hopes of even a sixth-place finish were receding and the Merseysiders looked like our probable successors as champions, yet it felt like the whole crowd was on its feet throughout the second half, chanting ‘20 times, 20 times, Man United…’ Through even the bleakest of outlooks, a rousing display of unity for the ages.

A 1-1 draw at Blackburn in 2011 sealed our 19th league championship, taking us beyond Liverpool’s record 18. But that Saturday at Ewood Park was about so much more than just the Scousers. United’s history is about surviving dark times and rebounding to triumph – with Munich being the obvious example – and all that came full circle at Blackburn. I saw older lads – who would never have dreamed we’d get near Liverpool’s tally of titles – popping champagne open on Fernhurst Street afterwards. Inside, a young Red of eight or nine warned me he was going to go berserk and probably jump on my back if Rooney converted the crucial penalty. Throughout, the away end was loud, proud and emotional. MUFC is about good times and bad, the past and the present, all at once. And everything coalesced euphorically on that glorious day.

United fans celebrate the 19th league title success
United fans were euphoric at Ewood Park in 2011, when the Reds secured a record 19th title.

A game I’ll always remember for its atmosphere is our League Cup semi-final, second leg with Middlesbrough at Old Trafford in 1992. With the scores locked at 1-1 on the night and aggregate, and with extra time about to begin, the Stretford End – in its last season as a terrace – began to crank up the volume. ‘Ferguson’s Red and White Army’ got louder and louder and louder. It seemed to last for half an hour at least, only interrupted by Ryan Giggs volleying home the winner in the first minute of the second half of extra time. The Stretford End sucked many a ball into the net over the years, but this is one night I’ll never forget.

United Review match programme cover, United versus Middlesbrough in March 1992
Part of the match programme cover, from an unforgettable night at Old Trafford.
I've never witnessed anything like the 1969 European Cup semi-final, second leg against AC Milan in my life. There was an incredible atmosphere – it was the nearest I've ever seen to mass hysteria. The noise was incredible and the back of my neck went tense. I couldn't move my head with shouting, and everybody was the same. Normally tranquil people were on their seats, little old ladies were on their seats, shouting, and it was absolutely astonishing. Half the time during that game you felt like you weren't in control of yourself.
George Best scores against Rapid Vienna at Old Trafford in February 1969
George Best set up the Milan clash by scoring twice in the previous round against Rapid Vienna.


We also asked our Twitter followers for crowds that crackled with passion and togetherness...

Related Keywords