As some of you may have picked up from my blog title I am a Manchester United football (Soccer for my North American friends) fan. The blog title is the first line from a well known terrace song and tells the tales of following the Reds domestically and abroad. Being a fan of one of England’s most successful club means we are (almost) annually involved in European competition meaning I get to combine two of my favourite hobbies of football and travel.
Following them abroad has allowed me to go to some cities I may well have visited anyway, think Rome, Barcelona, Amsterdam. However I doubt I would have ever seen the likes of Wolfsburg, Galati and Eindhoven without United drawing one of their teams for a European away match. For me I look forward to the group stage draw for the Champions League like a kid does for Christmas. I love the randomness of where we could end up and then the mad dash to secure the cheapest flights soon after.
Being a foreign football fan in these cities is different to being a regular tourist as you cannot easily merge into the crowd, especially in the smaller places where they do not get many visitors. This makes it more tribal and means fans tend to congregate together in the bars and cafes more. I have had some scary moments. Being chased by rival fans, tear gassings by police, and getting badly lost on the outskirts of foreign stadia on more than one occasion. However the positive experiences far outweigh any of these negative experiences. I just love that my football team takes me to these random places that I get to explore before getting to the game cheering on the Reds.