Sunday, November 23, 2008

Old Trafford - Manchester United`s Theatre Of Dreams

Old Trafford Football Ground is located at - Sir Matt Busby Way, Old Trafford, Manchester.

Sir Matt Busby Way was created in 1993, and was formerly known as Warwick Road North.

The ground`s nickname is the Theatre Of Dreams

Old Trafford has been Manchester United`s home since 1910, with the exception of an eight-year period from 1941 to 1949, when it was bombed in the second world war. During that period United played their `home` games at the ground of their rivals, Manchester City - at a financial cost of course. They had to pay City for the privilege consisting of a flat fee, and a gate percentage.

Old Trafford`s current capacity is over 76,000. It`s hoped that in time it will expand even further to 90,000 with greater capacity in the South Stand.

The ground has frequently hosted FA Cup semi-final matches as a neutral venue and several England international fixtures while the new Wembley Stadium was under construction. Before Wembley Stadium was built in 1923 the FA Cup Finals were played around the country, with Old Trafford hosting several of these.

Manchester United were formerly called Newton Heath, but it was decided in 1909 to build a new stadium. Designed by Scottish architect Archibald Leitch, the ground featured seating in the south stand under cover, while the remaining three stands were uncovered terraces.

In 1965 the old roof pillars were replaced with modern-style cantilevering on top of the roof, allowing all spectators a completely unobstructed view. This was an important step, as the World Cup was to be staged in the UK in the following year, 1966. Old Trafford was one of the venues used for the tournament.

By the 1980`s the capacity had dropped to around 60,000 due to all the improvements in the ground. The capacity dropped still further in 1990, when the Taylor Report recommended, for safety reasons, and with the Government`s agreement, that all stadia be converted to all-seaters. The changes followed the terrible tragedy at Hillsborough at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. The Taylor Report concluded that the police`s control was very poor, and that barriers at the front of stands should no longer be used. Sadly, the final death toll at Hillsborough reached ninety six.

Old Trafford's most recent expansion, which took place between July 2005 and May 2006, saw an increase of around 8,000 seats with the addition of second tiers to both the north-west and north-east sections of the ground.

Further redevelopments saw United buy up additional land round about.

The Old Trafford pitch is now surrounded by four covered all-seater stands, officially known as the North, East, South and West Stands. The West End is the `Stretford End` where the diehard, most vocal, United fans sit.

On 29 May 2008, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Manchester United's first European Cup title, a statue of the club's old stars of George Best Denis Law and Bobby Charlton, entitled "The United Trinity", was unveiled across Sir Matt Busby Way from the East Stand.

The ground continues to break attendance records. The newer Emirates Stadium, home of Arsenal FC, has a lower capacity, just over 60,000. Only one football ground has a higher capacity than the Theatre of Dreams, and that`s at the new Wembley Stadium in London.

Manchester United supporters have an insatiable appetite for watching their team play. It seems that however big the ground gets, the seats will almost always be filled. That`s what success on the pitch does for this wonderful game, and this glorious team that is Manchester United.


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