Branch History - Chapter 5

After The Lord Mayor's Show

Following on from such a great season things got a bit quiet but over the next few years we ran buses to Glentoran and Coleraine in Northern Ireland, Antwerp in Belgium, Arnhem in Holland and our final journey was to Brondby in Denmark. There is a separate chapter later on giving details of the trips to Coleraine, Brondby and Arnhem.

The trips to Antwerp and Arnhem were memorable for very different reasons.

Antwerp

We took 2 buses to Antwerp and we had a large number of younger members in the 16 to 18 age group who were attending a European away match for the first time. As usual Richard had got things organised and had contacted the Antwerp Supporters Federation. As a result we were met on the outskirts of Antwerp by 2 motor cycle policemen who escorted us to 2 bars well outside the city centre. We were kept out there for our own safety because Belgian supporters had “previous“. When we got there we discovered that tables were set and meals were provided for a nominal charge. We stayed in that bar all day and had the sing song to end all singsongs. As a result our younger members discovered that even although Belgian beer was served in small glasses it was a good deal more powerful than anything they had experienced back home and quite a few of them paid the price for over indulging. The policemen stayed with us all day and the joined in enthusiastically, got their pictures taken with us and could not believe how well behaved we were. They told us that their normal job on match days was to march the away fans down to the stadium from the railway station and back again after the match. If truth be told they had a few shandies themselves but were still able to get us to the match on time. Just as well they were not breathalysed.

Arnhem

The trip to Arnhem was memorable for a totally different reason. At that time we had 2 elderly brothers John and Pat Donnelly who were died in the wool United supporters. They never missed a match home or away or even in Europe.

The thing was that John was totally blind having been blinded in the second world war and Pat gave him a running commentary during the match. John took it all in and on the way back he would get involved in conversations just as if he had seen every ball being kicked. For the trip to Arnhem Richard had done his usual professional job and made all the arrangements. On this occasion we also had a piper with us and we had a march with John to the war graves monuments and laid a wreath. This was a very touching moment (Flowers of the Forest playing as a backdrop to the laying of the wreath resplendent with the club badge) and proves that all football fans going abroad are not just out for a good time.

For all his sterling work in organising the overseas trips Richard Robertson was made our third Honorary member.

These glory days now seem so long ago but the memories of some of them will stay with supporters for ever.

The chapter at the end of the script gives details of some of these trips and it is fair to see that the memories of these adventures (because adventures they undoubtedly were) will never be forgotten by those of us who did go abroad with United.