Bringing the learning home (Australian Learning & Teaching Council)

Manchester United

I spent Christmas with relatives from my dad’s side of the family in England. On Boxing Day I was lucky enough to have my dad’s cousin Dave take me to see the greatest football team in the world, Manchester United, play (and win) at their home ground, Old Trafford.

It was an absolutely incredible experience! Even if you’re not a football fan, or a sports fan in general, I think you couldn’t help but enjoy yourself. There’s so much atmosphere and so much energy, it’s contagious. I had a brilliant time, even though by the end of the match I was frozen to the seat.

One of the things that most struck me though is the intensity of the rivalry between Manchester City and Manchester United. Having a father who was born and bred in Manchester and has been a United support since he was 5 years old, I’ve always understood that they were rivals, but seeing it unfold in front of you is completely different. The hatred between the two teams is so intense that even when they’re not playing each other, United fans are still singing songs like “knick knack paddy-whack give a dog a bone, why don’t City f**k off home!” I saw United play Sunderland on the day that I went, but that little rhyme was sung loudly and proudly many, many times.

It’s something I really think we don’t have in Australia. We love sport, but this is on a whole new level. My 85-year-old great aunt has a framed picture of Eric Cantona hanging in her hallway next to pictures of her great-grandchildren, that’s how much this matters to people. I don’t know anyone back in Oz who not only loves their team that much, but who hates their local rival that much as well!


One response

  1. jangothard

    What a great experience! I am sure Greg could tell you more about this as he is a sports anthropologist, but it is a fascinating observation. As an historian I would be looking at the original class and ethnic differences between the two teams – class more likely in the UK, as it is an old rivalry. The only thing comparable I can think of in Australia, in terms of rivalries and hatreds, are some of the older rivalries between the ethnic groups who constitute some of our soccer teams, especially in cities such as Melbourne – thre was enormous rivalry, and hatred, between Croat- and Serb-dominated teams in earlier days.

    I would love to have seen soccer played at that ground! Sport is a great way to start appreciating cultural differences too.


    January 6, 2011 at 11:57 pm

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