The Stretford End was once one of the most famous stands in football. It was never the largest standing are, the Holte End the Kippax fought for that award but the Stretford End for many years was hailed at one of the nosiest vibrant stands in Britain. On a Saturday the turnstiles would open at mid-day and the fans would already be queued up in their thousands ready to find their favourite place and stand with their mates, later arrivals had to contend with the youngsters in front of the fence immediately behind the goal.
The place to be was over the main entrance where a famous United flag draped over every game, unfortunately for many of us this place was all but reserved by reputation and age and more often than not was the starting point of most songs.
While probably the Stretford End’s only major competitor the Kop had a history and tradition of humour and friendly banter the Stretford End turned away from any such pretensions. The Kop had earned a reputation of clapping and cheering goalkeepers as they came towards their end, the keeper would put is arms up in recognition or clap the stand, the Stretford end took note of this tradition and clapped and cheered the keepers, the keeper naturally obliged with a thankful gesture only to be booed whistled at and heckled by every fan once he had made the acknowledgment, keeper often looked bewildered as if they had done something wrong. But the Stretty only cared about United it didn’t care how the world saw it.
The turnstiles would click for the first time for a 3.00 kick off at 12 and thousands would be waiting already, the fight to obtain the key positions began. The most prestigious spot was over the entrance to the goal where a large United flag would be draped every United game no matter what, these positions were held by the main men, youngsters would often try their dandiest to take them but were shoved aside. The terraces were usually full by 1.30 and you daren’t go for a refreshment or use the facilities as you would be lucky to get back before 3 and with little if no chance of making it back to your original position.
From 12 to the end of the game song after song would be sang getting louder and louder as more people entered, we were the 12th man and we knew it. The songs usually elevated from the converted position from above the tunnel, many of those songs still live on over 3 decades after they came in to being. Hello Hello we are the Busby boys, We are the Pride of all Europe….etc.
Today the Stretford End is no more it is known as the West Stand it is still the main area for singing and will always be known to some as the Stretford End but it has lost the fear factor, the reputation of yester year which it fought so hard to obtain. The King of the Stretford End – Denis Law has a proud statue at the top of Tier 2 a fitting tribute to a great man.
Many United fans have fought to bring back standing and have fought the authorities and stand up all the game for certain games especially Champions League games it is a tradition, the fans only sit down at half time.