In more straightforward times, Andy Greenhow would have celebrated 60 years of coming to Old Trafford by taking to his seat in Tier Two of the Stretford End.
Of course, the circumstances meant that could not happen. But our fixture with Brighton on 4 April still represented a poignant, reflective moment for the semi-retired teacher who, on 1 April 1961, made the short journey from his home on Cressingham Road, Stretford, to attend United v Fulham.
“My dad was in Stretford CID and helped set up some of the security at United in the ’60s – he was probably on duty at my first match!”
“So my grandad took me.
“There’s still glimpses of it in my mind’s eye, and I’ve looked it up many times since. The ironic thing is I can’t remember our three goals – only the Fulham one!
Andy’s United hero, Bobby Charlton, found the net in the very first game he attended.
“But I remember being at pitch level at the corner of the Stretford End and what’s now the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand. I couldn’t get over it.
“I remember a lady coming round the sides with drinks – as a seven-year-old, that’s important! – and a seller on the bridge back out towards Chester Road. Grandad bought me badges for our scorers: Bobby Charlton, my absolute hero, Dennis Viollet and Albert Quixall.”
Life has taken Greenhow across the world in the years since – he moved to London, and then spent two decades in Dubai from 1988 – but he never managed to shake United from his bones.
“It was a given I’d be a Red,”
“My birthday is 6 February – I was four when Munich happened – but it was a very cultural thing. We’d see the players getting on the coach around Urmston Lane, because some were billeted out there. We grew up around people who knew them. My aunty used to go dancing with them in the Stretford Locarno in the ’50s! Duncan Edwards… the whole lot.”
While exiled, Greenhow always made sure to visit for two or three games each season, and when he returned in 2008, to Altrincham, he took up a season ticket alongside his son, James.
“I took him to his first game, against West Ham, in ’93 and that was very special,”
“I’ve got two grandsons called Ole and Ted [Theodore], which, honestly, is an accident! But I intend to take them and my granddaughter, Bea, one day.”
The Busby Babes were not just local heroes – they were also a part of the Stretford and Urmston community.
Andy picks the ’90s as the decade he would love to revisit –
“what Alex did was outrageous”
– but also harbours a fondness for the Tommy Docherty era.
“I was at the first Second Division game at Leyton Orient, and it was just an amazing experience.”
But for the vast majority of last season, revisitations were not the order of the day. Getting back inside Old Trafford is the primary objective, and Andy is restless.
“I just want to get there again. I so, so miss the matchday experience,”
“When you live away, you accept it’s not going to be as regular, but when you’re a season-ticket holder and you’ve loved the team for so long, it’s difficult. It’s part of your way of life. I’m a Stretford Ender, born and bred.”