International Disabled Manchester United Fans

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MUDSA has many international members who take the time each season to travel to Old Trafford to watch Manchester United. Some of those dedicated supporters from around the globe reflect on their first visit to Old Trafford and what it means to be able to see their team.

Colm Loughran, Ireland

colm-loughran-albert-morganI started supporting United because that was the team my uncle supported, I also enjoyed watching the attacking football they played under Sir Alex Ferguson. My mum saw an article in a newspaper or magazine advertising MUDSA, so my uncle wrote a letter to Phil Downs and I was lucky enough to get tickets that way the first time, which happened to be the amazing treble winning season of 1999!

My first trip to Old Trafford was in February 1999 — a home game with Southampton. We travelled for two hours by car to Dublin airport to catch our flight to Manchester and I was so excited!

When we arrived at the stadium we saw the Southampton team arrive by coach. I couldn’t believe the size of Old Trafford and I was delighted with the facilities for wheelchair users. Tickets for wheelchair users were free as well which helped a lot as flights and hotels can be very expensive.

I’ve been to old Trafford every season since and the facilities have got even better with the introduction of the Ability Suite where wheelchair users can watch the other games on TV, get a snack and a drink and even get to meet other wheelchair users. The MUDSA committee people are also very good and very helpful.

Rowena Webb, South Africa

rownea-webb-and-wayne-rooneyMy support for Manchester United started in 1990 as a 15-year-old sports-mad teenager. My passion for football, and more specifically, Manchester United, has grown steadily through the 25 years I have been a passionate supporter.

Being from South Africa I had never had the opportunity to watch my team live until the pre-season tour in 2012 which brought them to Cape Town Stadium, and it made me even more eager to get to Old Trafford as soon as I could to experience the atmosphere of a live game again.

I had recently become a double amputee but it never dimmed my hopes of one day watching a live game at Old Trafford.

When I was afforded the opportunity of a visit Manchester and Old Trafford as part of my 40th Birthday celebrations in October 2015, I didn’t sleep for the last week before my departure!

From the moment I stepped into Old Trafford I felt a spiritual connection and that my heart and soul had been fulfilled. From the staff to the facilities, I could not have even begun to have imagined the extreme kindness, care and consideration made for the disabled supporters.

To top off the most unbelievable time of my life, I got to meet the entire team after a goalless draw against the noisy neighbours, Manchester City! I didn’t care about the score line — I was there and nothing could beat that feeling!

Since my trip I have lost a bigger piece of my left leg, but I can honestly say that my trip to Old Trafford has literally saved my life as seven months down the line I am still floating – it feels as if I was there yesterday with roar of the crowd.

I have made the most amazing friendships and have memories no one could ever take from me.

Win or lose Manchester United is in my blood and I will never forget my first trip to Old Trafford for as long as I live!

Thank you MUDSA for making it possible for me to realise my lifelong dream with your amazing facilities and unbelievably kind and considerate staff – they made the 19-hour flight ALL worthwhile and I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

Per Harald Larsen, Norway

per-harald-larsenPer is the Secretary MUSC Scandinavia — a supporters club with 41000 members in Norway, Sweden and Denmark. He arranges tickets for supporters with disabilities by liaising directly with the club.

Per says, “Supporters apply to us and we forward their application to MUSDA and MUFC. One of our problems is that the ballot is close to the game — usually about three weeks before, which gives us a lot of practical problems with booking flights and accommodation for those with special needs. Occasionally, MUSDA have helped with one space for wheelchair users from abroad which can be allocated at an earlier date, which has been highly appreciated by the travellers and our branch.

“Their impression of the way they are welcomed at Old Trafford is excellent. The feedback we get, without exceptions is that from when they arrive and until they leave, the experience couldn’t been be (with the exception of the result now and then!). All personnel are friendly and helpful and they really enjoy watching the match from the wheelchair platform.

“In the 2015/16 season we brought over a man who had been involved in an accident in 2013. Unfortunately, the accident led to him being paralysed from the neck down. He hadn’t been out of his town since the accident and had never been to Old Trafford before. In addition to three nurses he also brought his close family. He had an unforgettable weekend in Manchesterand for the first time since the accident his family could see a smile on his face.

“It means a lot. A trip over to Manchester and to see United is a dream for all supporters in our part of the world. When dependent on a wheelchair, it requires a lot more practical adjustments to be able to go to a match or on the tour. When the practical problems are solved, the supporters really enjoy their trip to Manchester and the Theatre of Dreams.

“The tour is, of course, one of the highlights to a supporter’s season or life, as some can just travel once in a lifetime.”

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