Posted: 3/4/2007


    The Manchester Museum of Science and Industry is a fascination place-all steam engines and cotton machines and built round the first ever passenger train station in the world, Liverpool Road Station which opened on 15th September 1830 as a party of dignatories including Prime Minister,The Duke of Wellington, his successor Robert Peel(who started the first police force, nicknamed Peelers,and later Bobbies), Home Secretary William Huskisson and others left Liverpool for Manchester at over 15 miles an hour. George Stephenson's ROCKET had won the earlier time trials over The Novelty and the Sans Pareil and for rail to surplant barges and stage coaches as the faster means of travel. Sixty three bridges, plus cuttings, embankments and tunnels were built and passenger trafficc was ten fold the expectations the first year, over 1,000 a day. Huskisson didn't make it.  Half way the train stopped and other engines came past. The Home Secretary had his thigh crushed stepping out of his carriage. "I have met my death"  he exclaimed and he died that evening.

  "Where there's muck, there's brass" is an old Lancastrian saying I learned as a child. It meant that where there was dirt, grime and worse, there was brass, or money to be made with the Industrial Revolution and the dark and satanic mills and factories and cheap labour.  The whole area was in sad decay by the mid 20th Century, but nowadays in the shadow of Old Trafford, canals are spruced up, used for water sports, and hotels, restaurants and huge residential and office developments are taking place.  It was unfortunate on this bright sunny day as I was taking photos of the Theatre of Dreams, that outside the huge East Stand by the canal were  piles of trash-and there hadn't been a match for a week. Perhaps Paul Scholes, sent off at Anfield, should lead the clean up brigade. Its a disgusting sight for sore eyes.

   A couple of miles away at THE LOWRY HOTEL,, one of those minimalist creations, that the great artist LS Lowry would never have entered, the FIFA International Football Association Board (IFAB) were having their bi-annual meeting. It was inaugurated at a meeting in Manchester in 1886 prior to the formation of FIFA in Paris in 1904.  In 1958 it was agreed there should be 4 representatives from Britain: The FA, The Scottish FA, The FA of Wales and the Irish F.A, and 4 from the Rest of the World. Well, thats pretty fair !!.  They meet in different locations, and why the FA didn't choose Sheffield, since the oldest club in the world SHEFFIELD FC,  is celebrating 150 years in 2007, I don't know.  Gone are the days when Sheffield was called The People's Republic of South Yorkshire, due to its militant workers, and it's now quite a pleasant place.   Anyway, FIFA  hasn't quite understood the Open Meeting Laws, and the public and press were not allowed to watch these great men until a post meeting press conference.

   I first of all wandered into the wrong room and there was the Great One, President Sepp Blatter stuffing himself, alone at the lunch buffet, while the law makers were in another wing dealing with the media. I arrived in time to hear about the big story- GOAL LINE technology.  Already used in tennis and cricket, by HAWK-EYE,  FIFA will look for technology that must pass four criteria 1. only be used for goal line decisions, 2. 100% accurate 3. must be relayed to the referees head set immediately, and 4. only to the match officials. Brian Barwick, Chief Executive of the host association, The F.A. thought that it would be some time in the future 'But quicker than getting a man on the moon". There were some stupid Canadians with a political agenda asking for girls and women to be able to wear headscarves, The Hijab, but that was dealt with swiftly.

   There was some rosy cheeked twenty-something media whallah from the FA wanting to finish the press conference so that the dignitaries could hurry to the buffet before the non-appearing Blatter had scoffed all the pies, and then they were off to Manchester City vs Wigan 0-1 at The City of Manchester Stadium, rather than the other more attractive matches in Greater Manchester: Stockport County vs Swindon Town 3-0 at Edgeley Road,  or Rochdale vs Accrington Stanley 4-2 at Spotlands. Stockport County set a 119 year old Football League record by recording their 9th successive win without conceding a goal.  Well done The Hatters. Stockport was famous as a hat making town.