United are encouraging a “Show Your Colours” campaign for tomorrow night, where all those going to the ground should bring our flags and scarves with us. Following on from great European atmospheres in the past, such as Porto ’77, Barca ’84, and Inter ’99, all reds attending are asked to sing loud and proud, with scarves and flags waving.
Sir Alex Ferguson has backed the campaign, saying, “There have been so many occasions over the years of the crowd being the 12th man in the way the supporters create such great encouragement. If our supporters bring scarves on the night it should be fantastic. We want to make sure it’s a real sea of red. If we do that we have a big, big chance [of reaching the final].”
Whilst the Old Trafford atmosphere is often slated by our rivals, particularly following Roy Keane’s decision to blast the prawn sandwich brigade, those who regularly attend the ground can acknowledge this season has seen our best and loudest atmosphere in years. When travelling to away games this season, I’ve felt bemused by the quiet greeting we are given from the fans who slate our atmosphere when sat in our away section at Old Trafford. Poor atmosphere seems to be effecting nearly every Premiership ground these days, in the times of Sky Sports and day-trippers.
I remember being on a football forum a couple of years ago and a Derby fan telling me how bad the Old Trafford atmosphere was. He had been at that weekend’s match and was less than impressed with the volume our massive ground produced. But of course, United weren’t playing Derby that weekend, and I’m sure he wasn’t the only person in the home section who wasn’t a fan of United, let alone a passionate, lifelong United fan. Every week our home seats are filled with football fans looking for a nice day out. Maybe their mate got them a ticket or a businessman is trying to schmooze a new deal, but of course having people in the ground who don’t follow United is going to have detrimental effects on the volume of singing.
So tonight is our opportunity to show this country, and the rest of the World, whose eyes will be on Old Trafford tonight, how impressive our home atmosphere can be. There will be flags on sale on all the stalls around Old Trafford prior to kick off, and Stretford End Flags have tonight informed me that all flags bought from one of the seven Robert Greig stalls around the ground (from outside the met step, to opposite The Trafford, to the Crane statues by the Salford Quays bridge) will earn you a 2007 league Champions t-shirt (more information).
I’ll be digging out the flag I bought back in 1999 for the occasion. And to all you reading this who are attending the game, bring or purchase a flag, and sing louder and prouder than ever!