Manchester United is more than a British football club, it is a friend to support and home for millions of fans worldwide. United has their stories, and I have my own stories to share. A story of Football, David Beckham, The Red Devils and Old Trafford!
3 hours on a train passing 12 stops along the way from King’s Cross Station to Manchester Piccadilly station, only meters away to the great Old Trafford! The Red Flag flying high, fans chanting, and the Red Devil boys playing in the pitch!
So Old Trafford let us hear you loud
Cheer us on and we will do you proud,
50.000 voices sing our song
Keep us at the top where we belong . . .
So here’s to Alex Ferguson
He’ll take us all the way,
We’re on the road to glory now
Winning at home and away . . . (United’s Song – Come on You Reds)
A proud and glorious moment to stand there in the Stretford End singing along the united song with The Stretford Enders! Truth be told, I wished that was the closest to see Sir Alex Ferguson and the United Players lifting the 20th Premier League Trophy. 2013 will also be the last year the great boss will take the helm as the United Manager after 26 years. What pride, what a glorious victory, what a never ending experience for those who was there! Sir Alex’s 38th Trophy lifted high. Here and now reminds me of the time I watched The Red Devils at age 6 when I fell in love with football. There are 3 stories to my life I wish to share relating to Manchester United, just three stories. That’s it, no big deal.
The first story is about David Beckham
I was 7 when David Beckham introduced himself to the World with a spectacular shot from the half way line, completing United’s victory against Wimbledon 3 – 0, a wonder kid from the class of ’92. One year later, Beckham signed a contract with ‘Brylcreem’ to represent himself and inspire the young generation like me in the past. I had Stylish hair and always wanted to take the free kicks when playing football. Beckham’s determination and hard work in training influenced me to work hard like him and helped me achieve goals in life.
I wanted to be a football player. I practiced every day like Beckham, juggling the ball, shooting free kicks in a clay pitch next to my home. It wasn’t all romantic, my family didn’t have money to buy me football gear; we also had no money to send me on a football scholarship.
I decided to put my determination in school and postpone the football dream. Although, my passion was still with football and I wouldn’t go one week without watching United playing in the Premier League. The heaviness of disappointments was replaced by the lightness of being a dreamer again. It freed me to enter one of the most burning and passionate periods of my life regarding Manchester United Football Club.
My Second Story is about Treble Winners ‘99
Up until ’97, I had only watched the Premier League. I found out about one of the biggest competitive tournament in the football world involving United, I witnessed the Semi final of the UEFA Champions League. United VS Dortmund, Dortmund went on to win the competition and I experienced my second disappointment in the football world.
None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. Football is just a game, until the unforgettable year of ’99 when my perspective of football changed forever. May ’99, I was in my village helping my family household, picking and drying my family’s cocoa plantation. I remembered watching on a small old school TV at the plantation using a parabolic antenna.
Since becoming a United fan, this was the first final I watched in the UEFA Champions League. 90 minutes full of pure drama! Munich fans were ready to celebrate, United fans ready to cry again. Just 3 added minutes, I could not forget the words of legendary comentator Martin Tyler:
“SHERINGHAM! (Sheringham scores) NAME ON THE TROPHY! As things stand we will go into extra time with a golden goal hanging like a massive shadow over this final unless Ole Solskjaer can find another . . .”
“ Is this their moment?”
“Beckham…… Into Sheringham….. AND SOLSKJAER HAS WON IT! (Solskjaer scores) Manchester United have reached the promised land, Ole Solskjaer, and the two substitutes have scored the two goals in stoppage time and the Treble looms large!”
(Final whistle blows)
“History is made, Manchester United are the Champions of Europe again and nobody will ever win a European Cup final more dramatically than this. Champions of Europe, Champions of England, the FA Cup holders, everything their hearts desire. United fans will ask where did you watch the 1999 European Final? Where did you see Ole Solskjaer win it with virtually the last kick of the final?”
– Martin Tyler (1999 Champions League Final Comentator)
To answer Martin Tyler, where did I watch the glorious victory? I watched it in a cocoa plantation. United’s willpower to not give up, always fighting to the end until the final whistle encourages hope, faith, and belief in achieving anything in life. Football is not just a hobby or my passion, it is who I am!
My Third Story is about Traveling and Wandering
I had been waiting for 9 years from 1999 to 2008 to watch United’s Champions League Final again. As long as 9 years, I got given a lot of pressure, many mocked me, questioned United’s trophy draught, but it was all answered when we lifted the third Champions League trophy once again in 2008! On the same year, 2008 was when I left my hometown wandering in East Java from South Sulawesi moving and learning.
I came this far to learn how to live independently and it was my first big step to encounter the real world on my own. I will not let the noise of others’ opinions drown out my own inner voice. Most importantly, United has given me the courage to follow my heart and listen to my own intuition. It is as if I am alone but never lonely as a Red Devils fan.
I will always put on Come on you Reds song, chanting the song to my friends passionately as if I was in the Stadium at Stretford end. And so it will always be my lifelong dream to experience the real thing. And if the opportunity presented itself to me, I will be forever grateful.
I will visit England someday. Shout United!!! from the top of my lungs through the heart and on to the pitch! If you know where your roots are, you will be home anywhere in the World. UNITED road, Take Me Home.