History in the making in Manchester. New York City FC v St. Mirren from Paisley, Scotland at the brand new ACADEMY STADIUM, across from ETIHAD STADIUM and part of an £200 million campus of training fields, medical, educational and residence blocks. Four stops from Piccadilly Station via Metrolink light rail, or a short bus trip from Piccadilly Gardens.
The last time they had two 'foreign' teams play in Manchester was the UEFA Cup Final in 2008. Rangers FC v Zenit Saint Petersburg. THAT WAS A CALAMITY !! I arrived late morning 14th May and 200,000 Light Blue supporters arrived and drank and drank and drank. Piss and puke everywhere and later violence. They were only allocated 13,000 tickets. Zenit won 2-0 and when the big screen went blank in Piccadilly Gardens the Rangers fans rioted.
No problem this time. I went to the Etihad ticket office at lunchtime to be told that the Academy Stadium, capacity 7,000 was SOLD OUT. The next sales girl interrupted her colleague to say that more tickets had just been released. NO PROBLEM. After visiting The NATIONAL FOOTBALL MUSEUM and some lunch and shopping in the city I went to the new stadium at 6.00pm as it opened for the 7.00pm kick off.
A coach load of St, Mirren fans 'THE BUDDIES' made themselves heard and there were plenty of NYCFC banners but non of their fans. Tickets were as cheap as £1.00 for kids and £3.00 for City season ticket holders. However the stadium was less than half full on a bone chilling evening. I didn't fancy playing £4.00 for a halal hot dog or £2.50 for bottled water but free bags of popcorn were given away. No programme for this historic match...just free team sheets.
St. Mirren from 1877 and New York from 2015. Their big attraction is DAVID VILLA, Spanish World Cup winner, with Frank Lampard joining later when he feels like it !! Head of football operations CLAUDIO REYNA says that " Frank Lampard is ONE OF THE GREATEST PLAYERS IN WORLD HISTORY" REALLY CLAUDIO ???? The only other player I had heard of was City starting goalkeeper, 33 year old JOSH SAUNDERS, whose career I have followed since CAL STATE BERKELEY. He played for LA Galaxy and many other US clubs and even for the Puerto Rico national team.
Jason Kreis is the coach with a good pedigree while in charge of Real Salt Lake. 13,000 plus season tickets sold and they will find Yankee Stadium in The Bronx as their home for the near future. THE THIRD RAIL is their fan club, named after the rail that powers the city subway system. The colour scheme of light blue and dark blue reflect Man City and NY Yankees plus a touch of orange to reflect the cities Dutch heritage,.
Not much of a first match, fairly hum drum in fact. Villa scored the opening goal in the 32nd minute when The Saints defence gave it away and he was substituted at half time....and time for some more free popcorn! Tony Taylor scored a second after the break and 2,000 Mancunians went home for a hot dinner. Next match is on Sunday noon when BRONDBY IF of Denmark visit Manchester, before New York open their MLS season against fellow newcomers ORLANDO CITY.