Date: February 6, 2010
Score: United 5-0 Portsmouth
My first United game was a tough one. I had been to Old Trafford the previous summer, but of course that was only for a tour as there were no matches on. My friend contacted me and said he was given tickets to the match and asked me to fly over from Los Angeles. I asked my boss for three days off and booked my flight to London. I knew I’d only be there for 3 days, that my friend had to work all day for the first 2 days, but it would be worth it purely for the game at Old Trafford.
On the train up from London, my friend got a text that his mom had not been feeling well and had checked herself into the hospital, but seemed to be okay. We arrived in Manchester and went to the Trafford for a few pints, then walked over to the ground. As we were finding our seats, my friend got a call and stepped back inside. About five minutes after kickoff he walked back to his seat, sat down next to me, and slumped over with his face in his hands. His mom had just passed, suddenly and unexpectedly. I was shocked, as I had known her nearly 20 years myself. I pleaded with him to leave and head back to London but he insisted that we stay. I felt terrible that he might be staying simply because I flew from LA just for this game, but the match actually helped distract him. The OT staff were extremely helpful and let him use their computer to book a flight home the next day.
We watched the remainder of the match, which United won easily, in a somber mood. After all the anticipation, it was difficult to get up for the game.
Sorry for the depressing story of my first game, but I do hold that game close to me because it really did get my friend through the initial shock and heartbreak of losing his mother. We were distracted, even a little, from the awful news, and that helped so much more than getting right on the train back to London and having two hours to do nothing but think about her death.
I hope to get back to Old Trafford for another match, under better circumstances. But now United will always be part of even my saddest memories, not only my happiest. I may not be a native Mancunian, or even English, but United is now in my blood.
Fan: Andrew DeLoach, 31.