Old Trafford is arguably one of the most famous sporting venues on the planet. Located on the west side of Greater Manchester, the stadium is home to Manchester United Football Club.
With a current capacity of 75,643, it is the largest club stadium in the United Kingdom and the eleventh-largest in Europe. To some extent Old Trafford has always been a “special place” within English football. Whether away fans like it or not, it’s certainly a number one destination to visit.
Let’s have a little history of Old Trafford, before we get into the review itself. The stadium was originally designed by Scottish architect “Archibald Leitch”, who designed several other stadia including Anfield, Arsenal Stadium, Ayresome Park, Ibrox and maany more.
The ground was originally designed with a capacity of 100,000 spectators and featured seating in the south stand under cover, while the remaining three stands were left as terraces and uncovered. Upon the outbreak of the Second World War, Old Trafford was requisitioned by the military to be used as a depot. On 11 March 1941, a German air-raid destroyed much of the stadium, notably the main stand (now the South Stand).
Old Trafford Layout
Today, the first impressions of Old Trafford are as you would expect, it’s simply a stunning stadium, arguably one of the best in the world. Since the 1990’s it has had major re-development to create a premier sporting stadium, which is certainly the envy of clubs throughout the world.
The current structure of the stadium has four covered all-seater stands, officially known as the Sir Alex Ferguson (North), the East Stand , Sir Bobby Charlton Stand (South) and the West Stand (also known as the Stretford End).
Each stand has at least two tiers, with the exception of the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand, which only has one tier due to construction restrictions. This means the ground is slightly imbalanced with the smaller Bobby Charlton stand. However this stand does have it’s plus points, for example the view of the other three stands is simply magnificent, and you “feel” a lot closer to the action, instead of being higher up in a tier.
The biggest stand in the stadium is The Sir Alex Ferguson Stand, formerly known as the United Road stand and the North Stand, this runs over the top of United Road. The stand is three tiers tall, and can hold about 26,000 spectators, the most of the four stands. It can also accommodate a few fans in executive boxes and hospitality suites.
The North Stand was renamed as the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand on 5 November 2011, in honour of Alex Ferguson’s 25 years as manager of the club. A 9-foot statue of Ferguson was erected outside the stand on 23 November 2012 in recognition of his status as United’s longest-serving manager.
Opposite the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand is the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand, formerly Old Trafford’s main stand and previously known as “the South Stand”. Although only a single-tiered stand, the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand contains most of the ground’s executive suites and also plays host to any VIPs who may come to watch the match.
The dugout is in the centre of the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand, raised above pitch level to give the manager and coaches an elevated view of the game. Each team’s dugout flanks the old players’ tunnel, which was used until 1993. The current tunnel is in the South-West corner of the ground, and doubles as an entrance for the emergency services.
Arguably the most famous stand at Old Trafford is the West Stand, also known as the “Stretford End”. Traditionally, the stand is where the “hardcore” United fans are located, and also the ones who make the most noise. The stand is divided into two tiers holds around 14,000 supporters. In common with the rest of the stadium, has a cantilever roof.
The East Stand at Old Trafford is commonly referred to as the “Scoreboard End”, as it was the location of the scoreboard. The East Stand can currently hold nearly 12,000 fans, and is the location of both the disabled fans section and the away section. The East Stand has a tinted glass façade, behind which the club’s administrative centre is located. These offices are the home to the staff of Inside United, the official Manchester United magazine, the club’s official website, and its other admin departments.
Old Trafford – Away Fans
Away supporters are normally located in one corner of the ground, taking up part of the East and Sir Bobby Charlton Stands. The view from the away sections are brilliant, particularly if you’re near the front and can house up to 3,000 away supporters. The leg room between rows can be a little tight, as well as the space between the seats themselves. This results in most away fans standing during the game.
Generally you will be searched on entry to the ground, and you ticket will be read in an electronic ticket reader. The concourse can be a little cramped, but on the plus side, there is a good amount of food and drinks outlets.
From our experience, the queues never seem to get too long and the service was excellent. You will find a range of pies on sale, such as Meat and Potato, Steak, Chicken and Mushroom (all £3.80). The Club also offer a ‘United’ Pie (£3.80). Other refreshments on offer include Cheese and Onion Pasties (£3.50), Sausage Rolls (£4) and Hot Dogs (£4.40). (Correct at the time of publication) While you’re having a bite to eat, at the far end of the concourse is a large flat screen television showing Sky Sports.
If you don’t want to eat or drink in the ground, then the three pubs nearest the ground (The Trafford, Sam Platts and The Bishops Blaize) generally won’t let you in if you wear away colours. It’s recommended to visit the city centre or along one of the stops on the Metrolink before entering the stadium itself.
Speaking of transport, adjacent to the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand of the stadium is the “Manchester United Football Ground railway station”. The station is between the Deansgate and Trafford Park stations on the Southern Route of Northern Rail’s Liverpool to Manchester line, and is only open on matchdays.
Old Trafford is also serviced by both the Altrincham, Eccles and East Didsbury lines of the Manchester Metrolink network, with the nearest stops being “Exchange Quay” at nearby Salford Quays, and Old Trafford, which it shares with the Old Trafford Cricket Ground.
Both stops are a 5 minute walk from the ground. If you want to travel to the stadium by bus, the Buses 255 and 256, which are run by Stagecoach Manchester and 263, which is run by Arriva North West run from Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester to Chester Road, stopping near Sir Matt Busby Way.
As the regular home of Manchester United, Old Trafford is also used for various other sports. The most prominent of these is Rugby. Old Trafford has played host to both codes of rugby for years. Although rugby league is played there with greater regularity than Rugby union. The Super League grand final has been played at Old Trafford every year since the introduction of the playoff system in 1998, and is set to continue to do so into the future.
Aside from sporting uses, several concerts have been played at Old Trafford, with worldwide names such as Bon Jovi, the Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, Genesis, Bruce Springsteen, Status Quo and Simply Red playing.
Directions By Car
From the South:
Leave the M6 at Junction 19 and follow the A556 towards Altrincham. This will lead you onto the A56 towards Manchester. Keep on the A56 for six miles and then you will come to see Sir Matt Busby Way on your left. The ground is half a mile down this road on your left, although on matchdays this road may well be closed to traffic.
From the North:
Leave the M6 at Junction 30 and take the M61 towards Bolton. At the end of the M61, join the M60. Leave the M60 at Junction 9 and follow the A5081 towards Manchester. After about two miles you will reach Sir Matt Busby Way on your right for the ground.
From The West:
Follow M56 until its end and then take the M60 (W&N) as for Trafford Centre. At Junction 7 leave M60 and take the A56 towards Stretford. Stay on the A56 for 2.1 miles then you will come to see Sir Matt Busby Way on your left. The ground is half a mile down this road on your left, although on matchdays this road may be closed to traffic. Thanks to Brian Griffiths for providing these directions.