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Old Trafford

Old Trafford was inaugurated in 1910. The stadium was projected by architect Archibald Leitch to host up to 80 000 spectators. The Main Stand was protected by a series of small shelters. The stadium was characterized by large tribunes on every side of the playing field, all connected by closing tiers to create one ring. This continuous ring of tiers was unique in England, because at that time all other English stadiums were characterized by separate tiers with the angles being open.

After the bombings during the Second World War, the stadium was greatly destroyed with some parts of the tiers remaining, as well as the players tunnel that still serves to guide the players to the pitch today. The rest of the stadium was built again in the same shape as designed in the original plans. In 1965 architect Ernest Atherden added a second level of tiers on the North Stand. It was the first time that a stadium contained several balconies. This innovative aspect and the fact that the North Stand contained a large protecting roof, resulted in the stadium to be one of the hosting venues during the 1966 World Cup. Shortly after, a new design led the stadium to be enlarged further.

During the mid nineties, the stadium faced another important series of transformations. All tribunes but the Main Stand were reconstructed and new services such as private boxes, a museum, and the general quarter of Manchester United were added as well.

During the years, the stadium also became the final destination of numerous Red Devils fans - as the typical Manchester United fans are called - whose last wills involved their ashes to be dispersed behind the two doors. The legendary Sir Matt Dusby, memorable trainer of Man United during the fifties and sixties, also found his final destination at the stadium. His statue can be found in front of the main entrance. On February 6th, 1958, seven Man United players were killed in an airplane accident in Munich, Germany. On an outside wall of the stadium, one can find a working clock that stands as a monument to those who lost their lives in the crash.

Old Trafford is also called The Theatre of Dreams thank to its fascination, the magical atmosphere around the playing field, also characterized by the red seats as in Red Devils. The exterior of the stadium, on the other hand, has a more anonymous character with large parts of mixed bricks alternated with large windows in Plexiglas and surrounded by an imposing structure in steel that contains rectangular supporting beams to hold the roof. Seen from a little distance, the stadium looks like a gigantic warehouse that emerges between the typical little houses in brick, recalling Manchester's history, one of the first cities affected by the Industrial Revolution.

© by Angelo Spampinato

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