Manchester United 'Old Trafford 1977' A3 unframed print. Price includes UK P&P
I decided to paint this Stadium Portrait of Manchester United Old Trafford for my own satisfaction and pleasure and also to try and recapture a retro 1970s ambience for the masses of Manchester United fans out there (albeit that I've painted a match scene of the Red Devils v Leeds United).
Manchester, being the birthplace of my grandfather will always be close to my heart. Although his birthplace was to the other side of the city in Miles Platting, just off the Oldham Road, the houses where he lived are now long gone and stood adjacent to where the new Manchester City stadium now stands.
My first visit to Old Trafford was back in 1981 for a night match to watch a England schoolboys beat Scotland 1:0. My memories of this are now fairly distant, apart from the looks of the stadium, the kits the teams played in and passing the White City Greyhound track en route to the ground.
Strangely enough, United's first home was closer to my grandfathers birthplace. The ground was at North Road in Monsall. The club was then called L & Y Railway FC and formed 1878, later to be re named Newton Heath after the companies Manchester base. North Road was surrounded by Industry, with factories, chimneys and railways lines encasing the ground.
In 1892 Newton Heath joined the Football League and moved to Bank Street, just a short distance away in Clayton. Again their latest base was surrounded by an industrial landscape, with steam and other inclement stenches wafting around the so called more superior stadium.
With the grounds location hardly being palatial, the club struggled to attract the attendances necessary to survive, and in 1902 the club went into liquidation.
JH Davies a local brewer then came to the fore, investing £500, and renamed the club Manchester United.
The finance helped pay for a new stand at Bank Street, with the ground later to stage an International match between England and Scotland.
On 22 January 1910 United played their last game at Bank Street against Spurs. After a 5:0 victory the club relocated to the south of the city to a more substantial arena, paid for with the backing of Davies.
The club paid the vast sum of £60,000 to purchase the site.
The site of the new stadium, Old Trafford where the club still exists today is, as we all know, steeped in history. Located on the borders of Manchester and Salford, a town more akin to Rugby League than football, the stadium is located close to the Manchester docks which are connected to the Irish sea via the Bridgewater Manchester Canal.
The club have always had strong Irish Catholic links. Would this be something to do with the Irish navies who came to England as migrant workers? I beg innocence if not.
The stadium in more recent times has taken many changes to the stadium we see today.
Originally the ground was developed with the pitch level being excavated below ground level, giving the stadium a tardis like feel. From the outside the terrace banks rose to a height only half the size of the interior.
You could see this from the two twin entrance tunnels at both the Stretford and Warwick Road ends.
The first main stand was designed by Scottish architect Archibald Leitch and had a multi span roof similar to the stand built at Highbury London. To the ends of the stand were covered wings which swept around to their adjacent terraces in the most dissimilar design.
In later years after war damage, the main stand roof was to take on the same lines and design as its wings. In 1959 the Stretford End took on the same design and appearance with the roof that created the famous roar.
Old Trafford remained fairly untouched from the war years until the cantilever two tier stand was built on the United Road side for the 1966 World Cup. In later years this stand was to be extended around both the Stretford and Warwick Road ends to enclose the stadium. The bottom tiers of terrace were also made all seated.
Obviously major developments since have seen The Theatre of Dreams rise above the Old Trafford skyline, making its distinctive white roof trusses visible for miles around, however , I would rather leave you with memories from its historic past, as that is what this painting and site is all about!