UEFA Cup 2008 Final – Behaviour of Fans – Rangers & Zenit St. Petersburg

Piccadilly Station - trains ready for the offI left Manchester by train from Piccadilly station in the early morning yesterday.

I’d got the tram in from Bowker Vale (on the Bury line) and I’d seen thousands of Rangers supporters in Piccadilly Gardens, with at least one enormous screen, as I passed.

I arrived back at Piccadilly about 9pm to an enormous crowd of Rangers supporters milling around the station. It was great to see that despite losing the singing crowds behaved really well.

I made my way to the Metrolink station beneath the mainline station and noticed the tickets machines all had a label on saying out of order. Anyway, we all hung round waiting for the next tram.

Eventually a Metrolink loudspeaker message informed us we couldn’t use the tram from here. Instead we were told to get the tram from Victoria for Bury or G-Mex for Altrincham. Basically the tram system wasn’t operating over the Piccadilly Gardens no-go area.

Note to Metrolink: It would have been a lot more use if there’d been a notice so we didn’t even go down to the Metro station!

I was carrying a heavy but fragile box containing two wine glasses, a bottle of wine, home-made lemon curd, home-made mincemeat and a few other glass containers with goodies in. So I didn’t relish traipsing across to Victoria. Still it had to be done!

I went out into the warm night and set-off towards Piccadilly Gardens. The litter was amazing, there were bottles, broken bottles and mashed up newspaper, paper and other debris strewn all across the pavements. The bottle fragments crunched under foot as I walked through the vast hordes of Rangers fans to get a tram from Victoria.

I got to the Gardens and was turned away by a line of police with riot shields. They were being less than helpful to people who talked to them. That said, one or two fans were just being stupid and almost daring the police to have a go. As I turned to look back I noticed one Rangers fan who’d been next to me talking to the police get “tapped” on the head with a riot shield – I bet he’s got a headache this morning.

So I had to go the extremely long way round via Waternewton Street, past the old Post Office and then down past “The Band On The Wall” and the CIS building until I eventually walked into the urine drenched place we used to call Victoria station. The station was populated by another heaving, sweating army of Rangers supporters, who were quite noisy but well behaved. Once there I joined a queue of people buying Metrolink tickets who were all having the usual problem of not being able to pay with a note – despite using valid £5 notes, and having the Queen’s head uppermost and last and not being a new note. People kept trying note after note.

Note to Metrolink: Sort out the nightmare of the ticket machine – we should be able to use debit cards!

Finally I got me a ticket and got home. An hour and a half after arriving in Manchester – normally it takes me at the most 20 to 25 minutes.

And even thought the Rangers and Manchester United match was vitally important to both sets of fans the huge majority of fans behaved very well. As I wandered the streets I kept bumping into people with my heavy box and the fans were the first to apologise. Others made way for me and gave me space to stagger down to Victoria. Yet others kept me amused with comments to each other. All in all the majority of Rangers fans were a credit to football and their club.

And by the way, I saw Zenit St. Petersburg fans too and they were absolutely impeccably behaved.

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About Jim Symcox

Manchester is great. At Manchester University I take part in Gilbert & Sullivan productions each year. I'm a Manchester-based business growth coach and marketing evangelist and like to help companies grow more profitable, more quickly.
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