I am 63 years old and returned home from last weekend’s protests at Old Trafford black and blue after being struck by police batons while trying to protect others.
Has it put me off demonstrating against the Glazers? Not at all. I’ll be back and if we can get the Liverpool game disrupted in any way or postponed again this Thursday, I will consider it a good result.
I’ve supported Manchester United since I first went with my dad in 1967. These current owners are vultures. They take everything and put nothing back. They are threatening the club legacy and their bond to generations of working-class supporters dating back to Sir Matt Busby’s time.
As a member of MUST, and Shareholders United before that, I don’t feel the Glazers’ latest statement on Friday defuses the situation. I’ve been rallying against them for 15 years and will continue to. Last Sunday had a major impact and since then many more people have said they’d attend any future action.
Going back to the events from a week ago that saw me beaten, I arrived at Old Trafford with my son and a group of friends, placed our ‘Love United Hate Glazers’ banner on the railings outside the North Stand and joined the protest on the forecourt. When we heard people had got inside the ground, we couldn’t believe it but we thought it was fantastic.
There weren’t many police to begin with but for some reason things stopped being peaceful after the match had been called off — when people were already starting to disperse, having achieved their aim.
Why the police got heavy-handed at that stage, I don’t know. A couple of friends close to the area where the crowd was thickest, and where the police seemed to be protecting an entrance, said they had been pepper sprayed a few minutes before the officers started to push people back.
Whether it was to stop people urinating against a nearby wall or they’d heard one of their colleagues had been injured at The Lowry, I don’t know. But it seemed unnecessarily aggressive all of a sudden.
We had been on the way to collect our banners when we heard the new rumpus so we walked down the slope from the Super Store where a crowd had gathered. We saw bottles and beer cans strewn over the floor and police striking people with batons. One of the officers was almost foaming at the mouth and gesturing at fans, trying to goad them.
What upset me was the majority of fans there were ordinary people, not troublemakers. I saw one middle-aged guy with his arms folded get flattened by the police. I went to help him up and was then hit seven times in 20 seconds by two different officers, one of whom was aiming his baton at my son.
Because of the adrenalin, and it all happening so quickly, I didn’t realise until I got home and saw the marks how many times I’d been struck. My arm, the top of my legs, the top of my shoulder were badly bruised.
Nobody condones violence towards police from supporters, and that has been well-publicised, but fans like myself were also victims.
I’ll still be on the next protest and if the United supporters decide to try to get a game cancelled, I will do everything I can whether it’s to obstruct the coach or cause disruption outside the team hotel, without anyone getting hurt.
You’re not going to get in the ground again because I imagine the police and security will be immense. I doubt they will use The Lowry Hotel pre-match, they will go somewhere else, but people will find out and try to stop it.
United are scheduled to face Leicester at home on Tuesday but I think the rearranged game against Liverpool on Thursday is the likelier target. It’ll be difficult to be as successful as last Sunday but if protests are organised there will be plenty like me willing to do their bit. Some will be put off after last weekend, but others are keen to join after the publicity.
Without a doubt, I will be back. Those blows haven’t stopped me eating, talking or walking, and they certainly won’t stop me protesting. Like any demonstration with a lot of people, there were a small minority who had had a drink and young kids caught up in the heat of the moment but the majority were not thugs or anything like that.
United is in my blood and my son’s blood. What happened to me makes me want to get out there more.
People like Graeme Souness have asked if it would happen if we were top of the league. Yes, it would because we were winning things under Fergie and thousands jacked in their season tickets. Lack of success is not what this protest is about.
The European Super League has been a catalyst for getting rid of the Glazers because it was a reminder of what they are like. I’ve taken some hits, literally, for the cause but I won’t be intimidated.