Yes putting 100,000 football fans in Manchester city centre was a good idea

Well yesterday was interesting if only for one thing. UEFA cup in Manchester Rangers vs St Petersburg, a game which not being a footy fan I was blissfully unaware of until I got off the bus at Picadilly Gardens in Central Manchester at 9:30 and was hit by a tidal wave of blue shirted Rangers fans, most of whom had already started drinking. The reason why there were so many in Piccadilly  was that it was one of three fanzones (Albert Sq and Cathedral Gardens being the others) set up with a large screen, a bar (with two petrol tankers full of Carlsburg) and festival style and scale portaloos.

Got over to my office on Oxford Road, and during the day you could here gangs of fans coming down the road into the city centre chanting and singing. A colleague summed it up, it was like Day of the Dead with Footie fans.

Walking across Picadilly at about 5:15 to get the bus home was amazing. I’ve never seen so many people in one place before except perhaps at some of the rock festivals I’ve been to in the past. My bus stop was moved about 2 mins walk out to the old station on Lever street, and it was quite intense walking through the generally well behaved fans (although one yahoo thoughtfully threw a crushed up can directly at me as I hit the fringes of the mass at Picadilly station). Even on the bus ride home the blue crowds didn’t go away until we were well down Oldham road almost into Newton Heath which is a good 5 miniutes out of the city centre.

Of course predictably that many people which that much alcohol, there was some rioting later on when the screen in Piccadilly Gardens failed. This article in the Independant online seems to give the best detail on the events – Manchester bears scars of UEFA violence.

This morning when I got in by the bus at 9 the clean up operation had just started. Piles of newspaper, cans and bottles everywhere right up to the shops along Oldham road and also along Portland street as well. Picadilly Square itself just reeks of stale lager and several of the bus stops are smashed up as well as some of the fencing around the fan zone. Won’t be surprised if they are still cleaning up when I go home at five.

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