Football Commentator & Columnist
Manchester United: Martin Tyler shares his memories of Old Trafford
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Last Updated: 06/04/20 9:59am
At a time when football grounds have closed their doors, we've asked Martin Tyler to share some of his favourite facts and memories of the homes of the 20 Premier League clubs.
In part 12 of the series, Sky Sports' Voice of Football takes us on a virtual visit to Manchester United's Old Trafford with memories of the birth of 'Fergie Time' and the first trophy in 1999's famous treble.
You can watch Manchester United's game against Tottenham from 1999 in full on Sky Sports from 8pm on Monday evening.
Old Trafford: How I get there
By train. As with Manchester City assignments, I take advantage of the excellent rail service from London Euston to Manchester Piccadilly. There are a number of good hotels near the station when overnight stays are required. Old Trafford is further away than the Etihad so a taxi is necessary to complete the journey.
What's it like to commentate there
The main gantry has been unchanged for decades, though the stand in which it is incorporated has been renamed after one of football's true legends, Sir Bobby Charlton.
The entrance is through a small door at the back of the hospitality area on the top floor of the inside of the structure. Through the door is a flight of steep steps which takes you onto an enclosed walkway over the roof of the stand. Then there are a few more steps which drop you down onto the gantry.
The only disadvantage is that it cannot be extended and, at best, caters for four or five channels on any given matchday. There is an overspill broadcast area alongside the press box among the seats in the stand but it is off-centre and not ideal.
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Did you know?
In May 1921, Old Trafford staged two Football League games on the same day. In the afternoon Manchester United beat Derby County 3-0 in the First Division. Later Stockport County, who had been banned from using their own Edgeley Park, played out a goalless draw with Leicester City in Division Two.
My most notable memory of Old Trafford
The two Steve Bruce goals, which very late in the game turned a likely 1-0 home defeat to Sheffield Wednesday into a hugely significant 2-1 win, would be very high on the list.
United were embroiled in a tussle with Aston Villa to be the first champions of the Premier League and after Bruce's 96th-minute winner, Sir Alex Ferguson's team never looked back. It was one of the first of many late deciders and the term "Fergie time" was born.
Eight years earlier I had witnessed another remarkable comeback, a second leg recovery against Barcelona in the Cup Winners Cup which saw Old Trafford at its most fervent.
The Catalan giants with Diego Maradona in their ranks arrived in Manchester with a two-goal lead from the first leg and huge experience of European competition. Bryan Robson, Captain Marvel, scored twice and Frank Stapleton struck the decisive goal on a momentous night for Manchester United.
I have commentated on plenty of trophy lifts at Old Trafford, but the most important for the club would surely be in 1999 when a 2-1 win over Tottenham cemented the first part of the treble, with the FA Cup final against Newcastle and the Champions League climax against Bayern Munich still to come.
Yet again United needed to come from behind to clinch the Premier League. After Les Ferdinand struck the opening goal and Spurs were in the odd position of helping Arsenal retain the title, goals just before and just after half time from David Beckham and Andrew Cole ensured that the presentation would take place in Manchester.
I will also never forget the Old Trafford pre-game tribute on the 50th anniversary of the Munich air disaster which devastated Manchester United and English football. The match, which fell on that date in 2008, was the Manchester derby and there were fears that the period of silence would be marred by shouts from the City end.
In fact, the visiting fans behaved impeccably and the occasion was worthy of the memory of those who had perished in 1958.
What I like about Old Trafford
Sir Alex Ferguson is still around.
I have had the hairdryer treatment a couple of times but it has been fascinating to watch him from close quarters throughout his lengthy and extraordinarily successful tenure at Old Trafford. He was a tyrant but a benevolent one. A hard man but with a heart.
On Tuesday: Martin brings us his guide to Newcastle United's St James' Park