Saturday, 15 October 2016

Manchester



I can barely even believe it, but there was a time, many moons ago, when Saturdays didn't revolve around football. When my bookshelf wasn't filled with autobiographies from Paul Scholes, Roy Keane and Harry Redknapp to name but a few. In fact growing up with my single parent mum, football was pretty much non existent in our house, and the only vague memories I have of it were from  my Happy Meal toys from the World Cup France '98.
Munching on Mc Nuggets was the closest I got to supporting the cause.

 Upon meeting Stuart, I had no idea how much of a diehard football fan he was. In hindsight, the MUFC tattoo emblazoned across his stomach should have been the very first giveaway, but...  I was young, very in love (and still am, if you're reading, Stuarty boy)  and I quite happily sat in Lavery's eating my Sunday dinner underneath the widescreen, surrounded by a hundred odd United Supporters. Not quite romantic walks, Paris in Spring, but I was so happy to participate.

Over the last few years there's a few things I've learnt, some the hard way, when it comes to the sport.

  •  You'd only have to be a complete fool to ask your partner to choose between  a 'day date' with you or watching the match . They'll most likely surprise you by choosing the latter- leaving you royally, mugged off.
  •  In the words of Stuart himself  'Girlfriends, come and go, football is always there. Wives come and go, football is always there. Every man will tell you that, Sarah' ... i'll take your word for it, Stuart.
  • Don't ask 'stupid' questions, particularly at critical times through the match ( Try to refrain from commenting on players dodgy man buns, ponytails, awful tooth to gum ratio)
  • If their favourite team looses a big cup game, make no direct eye contact and whatever you do, don't give your own post match analysis 'They were crap anyway'  Swiftly remove yourself from the situation, and preferably open him a beer on your way out if you're feeling generous (which you probably won't be, after enduring 90 minutes of him screaming at the tv, laughing hysterically and wondering why they even need official commentary when the man sat beside you appears to be the real expert)
  • Laugh hysterically through Football's funniest moments (1, 2 and 3) or you'll be subjected to him asking you to  'Watch this one'  on repeat. Be a good sport, watch it once (they're all the same). Even if it's just for Chris Kamara i.e the only funny thing about it.
  • Always, always, always turn a football shirt inside out before ironing it. It's no laughing matter having to hand your partner over the  melted plastic logo off their favourite shirt. It makes a bloody big mess of the iron too.

With Stuart's 30th looming I knew I wanted to take him to Manchester to return to Old Trafford where he had last visited as a young boy. After a little bit of research I discovered that some former 'class of '92' players (Giggs, Butt, Scholes, Neville) had opened up Hotel Football, built overlooking Old Trafford. I knew there and then that a travel lodge just wouldn't cut the mustard now.
Some reasons why I loved Hotel Football?

-I had visions of it being tacky. Football memorabilia, photos on the walls... Not at all. Everything was so tastefully designed, with just subtle football hints ie: the toiletries, the menus, modern artwork on the walls. Put it this way, You don't even have to be a football supporter at all to enjoy your stay here. 



-The rain head shower. Before becoming a mum, showers used to be relaxing. Now that Eva is a toddler I can just about wash all the soap suds out of my hair before clambering out of the bathroom half naked just to press 'skip ad' on a nursery rhyme video. Having a child free weekend, I really made the very most of my time and this shower was heavenly. So much so, I was paranoid I was going to get a water charge bill when we went to check out.

-The location. Right on the doorstep of Old Trafford which was amazing for Stuart who sat by the window, glass of bourbon in hand looking emotionally over at the 'Theatre Of Dreams' while it was also in the perfect location for me only being a five minute walk from a bus stop which took us straight to the Trafford Centre which might I add was amaaazing.

-The Breakfast. Sausages, pastries, yogurt and fruit?. Delicious. 


- The staff were genuinely really lovely and couldn't have been more helpful suggesting places to eat and hooking us up with a late night Dominos after a bar crawl 'round Manchester city centre. The mini fridge with complimentary sweets was restocked every morning and the turn down team let a little packet of chocolate footballs on our pillows. It's all in those little details isn't it?

It's definitely worth checking the hotel out, especially if you are visiting during  a match day. There's an basement bar the 'Old Trafford Supporter's Club' and many match day hospitality packages to choose from. 

In all, he loved it. I loved it. And i'd go back in a heartbeat, and do it all over again. Even the Old Trafford tour which suprisingly turned out to be my favourite part of the trip. I don't know what it was, maybe all those afternoon gin's went to my head.. or whether you really have to go somewhere, emerge yourself in all it's history before you can really fully appreciate it, but I have a new found respect for football. No, I probably won't be sitting down to watch it with him, in fact i've dodged the last few matches, and you'll never witness me in a football top, but at least now I can say I 'get it'.






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