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History Of Old Trafford Stadium


Full Name: Old Trafford Stadium
Nick Name: The Theatre of Dreams
Year Ground Opened: 1910
Home of: Manchester United FC
Pitch Size: x yards

Postal Address:
Old Trafford Stadium
Sir Matt Busby Way
Old Trafford
England M16 0RA
United Kingdom

History Of Old Trafford Stadium


Construction cost £60,000 GBP
Architect Archibald Leitch

Old Trafford Football Stadium (given the nickname The Theatre of Dreams by Bobby Charlton) is the home of Manchester United F.C., one of the most famous football clubs in the world. Located in the borough of Trafford in Greater Manchester, it has been United's home since 1910. The stadium was bombed in 1941, forcing the club to temporarily share Manchester City's home ground, Maine Road, until the rebuilding of Old Trafford was completed in 1949.

Until the new Wembley Stadium is completed Old Trafford will have the largest ground capacity of any English football stadium, holding just over 68,000 spectators. Work has commenced to expand this to around 76,000 by the 2006-07 season with the building of 2 new corner stands. Currently, the only larger football ground in the United Kingdom is the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Old Trafford is by far the largest club ground in Britain and is all-seater, which is a legal requirement of all higher league British club grounds and new stadia developments since the Taylor Report in the early 1990s.

It frequently hosted FA Cup semi-final matches (as long as Manchester United were not involved), and occasionally hosted England international fixtures whilst Wembley was under reconstruction. It also hosted 1966 World Cup matches and the Champions League final in 2003. With London winning its bid for the 2012 Olympics, the stadium will be used for some preliminary men's and women's football matches during the Summer Games.

Since 1998, when rugby league adopted play-offs and a Grand Final to determine the Super League champions, Old Trafford has staged the Grand Final.

The football stadium is close to the Old Trafford cricket ground.

The Stretford End is the West stand of the stadium. It is where the diehard fans have been historically situated. In the past, the noise has been compared to that of a Jumbo Jet. However, nowadays, Old Trafford is criticised for not creating a big enough atmosphere on a regular basis. This is perhaps because of the seating arrangments; the family section, the least vocally heard, is situated on the first tier of the Stretford End, togeteher with the now infamous corporate 'Prawn Sandwich Brigade' in the South Stand.



In its initial years Manchester United (Newton Heath) played on various pitches before they moved to North Road Monsall in 1880. This ground was reported to be the worst one in their league; it was enshrouded with the smoke from the nearby industry and the pitch was or hard as stone (summer) or one big puddle of mud (winter).

Visiting teams had complained so much about the conditions at North Road that the club decided to move to another ground at Bank Street, Clayton. This turned out to be not much of an improvement as the mud and stones were replaced with the toxic fumes of nearby chemical works.
Gates dropped and a bad financial situation made Newton Heath to file bankruptcy in 1902. After a restart the name of the club was changed into Manchester United.
In the following years the club became succesful, but still had a disgrace of a ground for a club that had won the FA cup and the Championship title. A new site at Trafford Park was purchased for £60,000 and on the 22nd of January 1910 United played their last match at Bank Street (Man Utd-Spurs 5-0).

The new stadium was planned to be the finest in the country with a capacity of 100,000, but after the investments soared an additional £30,000, the plans got changed and a 60,000 ground was the result.

The new stadium was terraced on three sides with a seated main stand undercover on the other side. The first match was against Liverpool who spoiled the inauguration with a 4-3 win over United. In 1939 Old Trafford had its largest attendance ever with the FA Cup semi-final between Portsmouth and Grimsby (76,962).
On the 11th of March 1941, Old Trafford was heavily damaged after a bombing of the Trafford Park Industrial Area by the Germans. This caused United to take up residence at rival Manchester City's home, Maine Road, untill 1949.

After the reconstruction of the main stand after the war, 41,748 fans saw United play their first game in ten years at Old Trafford on the 24th of August 1949. In the next years the other three sides were covered and after United had success in Europe floodlights had to be installed for the night matches.

In 1964 further improvements had to be made for the upcoming World Cup of 1966 in England.

During this tournament three matches in poule B (Portugal, Hungary, Bulgaria & Brazil) were played at Old Trafford.

From the 60's untill the 80's 58,000 fans could pack into Old Trafford. In these years gradual improvements were made to the stadium. In the 80's the stadium was totally covered. It had terracing at the front and a large seated section behind.

In the early 90's, after the Hillsborough disaster and the following Tayler Report, all top clubs in England were required to have an all-seater stadium. This reduced the capacity of Old Trafford to 44,000 seats. Around that same time the developments to the ground had finished and United had a beautiful arena.

But with the growing popularity of United in the 90's the stadium was just too small. This led to further expansion in 1995 with the construction of the three-tiered North Stand, bringing the capacity to 58,000 seats. Further expansions of the East & the West Stand in the year 2000 would bring the stadium in its present state with a capacity of 68,000 seats.

In 1996 Old Trafford hosted some matches during the European Championships in England, including, among others, the semi-final match between France and the Czech Republic.
In 2003 Old Trafford hosted for the first time an European Cup final (AC Milan-Juventus 0-0).

Recently, works have started to extend the capacity to 75,000 by filling in the corners of the North Stand.

The long-term plan is to rebuild the South Stand and fill in the corners to a capacity of 90,000, but due to the lack of space outside the stadium there are no immediate plans for this redevelopment. Still, Old Trafford is one of the most impressive stadiums in Europe and totally does justice to its nickname 'Theatre of dreams'.



The above words were written on Old Trafford's opening day in 1910. Manchester United had just moved from their old stadium of Bank Street, Clayton, to a new stadium in the Old Trafford area of west Manchester. Built in 1909, for the then huge sum of £60,000 it was terraced on three sides with a seated main stand undercover. The stadium was designed by famous Scottish architect Archibald Leitch, who also designed stands at Hampden Park, Ibrox Stadium and White Hart Lane.

In 1911 and 1915 it held the FA Cup final and in 1920 it had its largest ever attendance of 70,504 for a league game against Aston Villa. The FA Cup Semi of 1939 of Portsmouth vs Grimsby would top that with 76,962. The stadium was heavily damaged in World War 2 and for a while United played at local rivals, Man City's Maine Road stadium from 1946-1949. Old Trafford was a venue for the 1966 World Cup and also held the 1970 FA Cup Final replay between Chelsea and Leeds. Old Trafford became the first stadium to erect perimeter fencing in the 1970's to combat crowd disturbances.

Roofed cover was later added to the other three sides of the stadium, however all these stands suffered from obstructed views because of old fashioned roof-post design. In the mid 1960s development of modern cantilever stands began on the north and east of the ground in time for the World cup. The new design had terracing at the front and a large seated section behind. Gradually the entire ground was redeveloped over the decades, culminating with the Stretford End in 1994.

In the 1960s, 70s and 80s, over 58,000 could pack into Old Trafford. However in the early 1990s after the Hillsbrough disaster, the Taylor Report required England's top teams to have all-seater stadiums. The Old Trafford design master plan of the 1960's was now complete and the stadium was a perfect bowl, but with United more popular than ever the reduced 44,000 capacity was just too small.

This led to further expansion in 1995-6 with the construction of the giant three-tiered North Stand, holding 26,000 and bringing capacity to nearly 56,000. The North Stand, reaching around 200 feet in height has four lift towers and the largest cantilever roof in Europe. This massive, brooding structure towers over the pitch, intimidating opposing teams. Costing £19 million to build it also houses the excellent United Museum on three floors (open on non-match days) and glittering trophy room (hopefully always full) as well as the Red Cafe restaurant and two layers of executive "Sky" boxes.

The South stand is the main stand at Old Trafford, containing the managers bench area, the directors/ television/ police control boxes and luxury restaurants and executive suites. Here, the seating slopes at a different angle to the rest of the stadium, making it slightly lower than the other stands.

Interestingly, the first 20 or so rows of seats around all four sides of the ground are below street level. The South stand is rarely seen on television as it contains the TV gantry, which looks North. The players tunnel used to be at the centre of this stand but in 1993 it was moved to the South-west corner. The old tunnel still remains and is opened for special occasions and stadium tours.

The East Stand was home to the diehard K-Stand United fans (most of whom have relocated to the Stretford End) as well as the away fans enclosure in the South-East corner and disabled section. It was formerly known as the Scoreboard End, so called because of the large scoreboard that resided until the late 60s, when an electronic one was installed. This scoreboard was recently replaced by two modern electronic scoreboards in each corner of the North Stand.

Further building redevelopment added a second tier at the east end in January 2000, making a 61,000 capacity. On the outside is a large tinted glass front, similar to a modern office block. Here stands the Sir Matt Busby Statue, Munich memorial plaque and the famous clock commemorating the Munich air crash on 6th February 1958. Its also the location of the huge Manchester United Megastore where every type of club merchandise is available.

The west side of the ground for many, will always be known as the legendary Stretford End. In the days before all-seater stadia the Stretford End was a heaving mass of almost 20,000 standing United fans who were amongst the loudest in Britain. It was once measured that the roar from the crowd was louder than a Jumbo Jet taking off. The old terrace was replaced in 1993 and in August 2000 a second tier of seating was added here, bringing a total capacity of 68,217.

The West Stand holds the Family seating area and beneath the corner is the players dressing rooms/tunnel and lounge. You can also see many banners draped over the upper deck, created by United fans to celebrate past history and taunt rivals. It also has a statue of 60's striker Denis Law in the upper concourse - Law was known as "The King of The Stretford End".

Old Trafford was a Euro 96 venue hosting a Semi-final and is now an annual venue for one of the FA Cup Semi-final's. On 28th May 2003 the stadium had the honour of hosting the Champions League Final between AC Milan and Juventus, which Milan won 3-2 on penalties after a 0-0 draw. Many claim the atmosphere at Old Trafford is not as good as it once was, ironically it is the legend of the Old Trafford atmosphere that has brought the tourists yet they are partly responsible for its decline. Sir Alex Ferguson has often complained about the lack of singing and low noise levels, therefore the upper West Stand tier has designated singing areas to try and recreate the days of old.

There are currently plans in place to fill in the corners at the North-West and North-East, making a 75,000 capacity and restore the bowl effect on two thirds of the ground. Expansion work on the South side is not in the immediate future because of restricted space around the stadium. The nearby railway track could be built over, but the club would have to buy up to fifty nearby houses at great expense and disruption to local residents. However the long-term plan for the stadium remains to rebuild the South stand in a similar style to the North and with filled corners, make for a whopping 92,000 all seater capacity.

Old Trafford is undoubtedly one of the greatest and most famous sporting arena's in the world. In an era where many clubs are moving from their traditional homes and although down the years it has changed beyond all recognition, the magic of Old Trafford will always remain. On a big match day or European night the atmosphere is as good as any venue in world football. The Theatre of Dreams (as Bobby Charlton named it) is the biggest club ground in Britain and a fitting home for the world's most famous football club






Newton heath's first ground was at North Road, Monsall, and was set in typical Victorian northern industrial surroundings. When the Heathens joined the Football league in 1892, their playing surface was one of the worst in the competition and could be a mud-bath at one end and rock-hard at the other. The changing rooms were half a mile away at the Three Crowns public house.

In 1893, the club moved to Bank Street, Clayton. The pitch was little better than the one at North Road and the smoke-billowing chimneys provided a similar backdrop. The only real improvement on the first ground was the subsequent erection of a 1000-seater stand, the result of J.H Davies, Newton Heath's first major benefactor, investing £500. On 4 April 1904, the Football League beat the Scottish League 2-1 at Clayton.

It was Davies who, in 1909, donated the huge sum of £60,000 for the purchase and development of a site at Trafford Park. The new ground, to be called Old Trafford, was ready for use in 1910 and on 22 January that year, United played their final match at Clayton, beating Spurs 5-0. Their first game at the new stadium nearly a month later, saw 45,000 cram in to witness a seven-goal thriller, won by Liverpool.

The Clayton ground had been sold to Manchester Corporation for £5,000 in January 1909, one week before plans for the new Old Trafford were approved by the Stretford Council.

Old Trafford, with a capacity of 80,000, then had only one stand, situated where the Main Stand is today, but it offered untold luxuries - tea-rooms, tip-up seats and attendants to politely point the way. The nearest the ground cam to being filled to capacity was on 27 December 1920 when Aston Villa were the visitors and 70,504 packed the ground to register what is still United's record home attendance, not withstanding the 80,000-plus crouds who saw them play at Maine Road after World War Two whilst Old Trafford was being rebuilt after war damage. And the actual attendance record for Old Trafford stands at 76,962, for the 1939 FA Cup semi-final between Wolves and Grimsby.

When Old Trafford was bult it was one of Britain's great stadiums, but by the outbreak of World War Two, because so little improvement had been made, it no longer stood out as one of the League's outstanding venues. By 1945 it could not be used at all. During a raid on nearby Trafford Park industrial estate, on the night of 11 March 1941, German bombs landed on the ground, virtually destroying the Main Stand, part of the terracing and badly scorching the pitch.

Makeshift offices were erected and United, as determined as ever, set about the long rebuilding job whilst sharing Manchester City's ground for home matches. The worst hit of all league clubs during the war, United were awarded £22,278 by the War Damage Commission to clear the debris and rebuild the ground.

A massive 120,000-capacity ground was planned, but financial restrictions prevented it and instead only the Main Stand was replaced. On 24 August 1949, United played their first Football League game at Old Trafford for ten years when 41,748 saw them beat Bolton.

United's venture into Europe in 1956 saw them erect floodlights to cater for mid-week matches. The first European Cup match under the Old Trafford lights was the semi-final against Real Madrid on 25 April 1957. For their previous European games that season United had to return to City's Moss Side ground.

The first League game under lights at Old Trafford was on 25 March 1957 when Bolton were the opposition and United's biggest league crowd of the season, 60,826, endured a 2-0 defeat.

One of Old Trafford's most emotional occasions saw nearly 60,000 urge United to FA Cup victory over Sheffield Wednesday in the first post-Munich match. The following Saturday, a crowd of 66,124 saw the visit of Nottingham Forest.

As United moved into the golden era of th 1960s, Old Trafford saw its greatest phase of improvement. The Stretford End was covered in 1959, sheltering 22,000 standing fans from the worst of the Manchester weather.

In readiness for the 1966 World Cup Finals, work started on the magnificent cantilever stand in 1964. Upon its completion, at a cost of £350,000, there remained only one part of the ground still uncovered, the Scoreboard End. In 1973 that was rectified and the next major improvement was the replacement of the Main Stand roof with a cantilever.

Three World Cup matches, in Group Three, were played at Old Trafford in 1966, 40 years after the first full international was staged there - the 1926 England-Scotland match, which the Scots won 1-0.

Bradford City won their one and only FA Cup Final when they beat Newcastle 1-0 in their replayed Final of 1911 at Old Trafford. In 1970, Chelsea beat Leeds to win the Cup at Old Trafford, the first time a Wembley Final had to be replayed. United's ground had been chosen for only one Cup Final, replays excepted, and that was the 1915 game between Sheffield United and Chelsea. It was called the 'Khaki Final' because many of the 49,557 crowd were soldiers either on leave, or about to embark for the trenches. The choice of Old Trafford for that game ended the 19 year dominance of the Crystal Palace as the Cup Final venue.

Old Trafford's 50,000 capacity was reduced considerably during the 18-month programme of development was undertaken to upgrade the ground. Work started in summer of 1992 with alterations to the Stretford End which greatly reduced the Old Trafford capacity to 34,000. Naturally, with attendances previously averaging in excess of 40,000 this posed a major problem. Away fans were to be banned, and those United fans fortunate enough to gain admission would have to pay increased charges to compensate for the reduced capacity.

This move brought about much unrest amongst fans and they set up a pressure group call HOSTAGE (Holders of Season Tickets against Gross Exploitation). It is unfortunate that the fans are made to suffer at such a time, but when the redevelopment is complete, Old Trafford will re-state its case as one of the finest soccer grounds in the world and will again be a delight for players and fans to visit.

The new West Stand, or the Stretford End, as most United fans would rather call it, was completed for the beginning of the 1993-94 season, to make Old Trafford a 'bowl'. The North Stand was demolished at the end of the 1994-95 season and was rebuilt as a three tier Stand making Old Trafford once again the biggest club stadium in England, with a capacity of 55,000.

The summer of 1996 saw the European Championship in England, Old Trafford was of the venues, and was the venue for the semi-final clash between France and The Czech Republic.



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