Collecting Manchester United autographs

Just before Christmas we moved house, moving into my Mum’s house, as she moved into a retirement flat. Whilst moving my Mum was having a look through some boxes and found my old autograph book from 1987.

I had not seen this autograph book since the early 1990s at least. I had honestly thought that this was lost, as it was last seen by me in the house before that, which my parents lived in. My Mum must have seen the autograph book back in the 1990s out in the house somewhere and put it away safely in a box, but forgot about this. I was so happy to see this again.

This was a special autograph book as it had the first autographs I ever got of the Manchester United players, with the likes of Paul McGrath, Jesper Olsen, Gordon Strachan, Kevin Moran, Bryan Robson and Norman Whiteside in there. Not only that, it also had autographs from the likes of Sir Matt Busby, George Best and Bobby Charlton in there too.

Looking through the autograph book got me thinking of what autograph collecting was like back then, compared to now. The contrast between then and now is quite significant.

Back then, if you waited outside the stadium forecourt or what is now called the Munich Tunnel about 3 hours before a match or about 1-2 hours after a match you would normally to easily get to meet most, if not all of the United players, as they walked out of the stadium, through the tunnel, across the old stadium forecourt, to where they parked their cars on the car park, where the Trinity Statue stands today.

The more popular players would usually have quite a few people surrounding them asking for autographs, but they usually always signed everything. If you didn’t want to wait around before or after the match, you could also easily meet the players most days at The Cliff Training Ground.

Nowadays it is a lot different and much more difficult. You can still wait for them before and after the game, but you will be amongst thousands of other fans. It is usually only a small number of players that will sign autographs for some of the fans waiting there. Other times, for example after the recent Burnley League Cup match, none of them signed any autographs for the fans waiting there.

You could also wait outside the entrance to the Manchester United training ground at Carrington, but this can be quite hit and miss too. The situation outside the training ground has not been helped by a number of autograph dealers that waited outside every day trying to get a lot of autographs to sell on to fans for lots of money.

I feel incredibly lucky to have been around during those days in the 1980s to meet the people I did. My only regret is that I never really took a camera with me anywhere at that time and there were no camera phones until the 2000s.

Great memories, that I will treasure.

To all you reading this, do you have any particular memories of being able to meet any current or former Manchester United players and managers?

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