For years, come April break, my wife Audra and I have arranged a dogsitter for Daisy, packed up our beach clothes and sandals, and sojourned to sunny Florida. It’s a welcome break from the New England weather, which at that point in the year is a mix of chilly and rainy, following a winter characterized by short, snowy, bleak, frigid days.
Next April will be different. Next April the plan is to travel to England and attend at least two football matches. For many years, my sporting dream has been to attend a match at Old Trafford, and it looks like next year it will finally happen. Still, there are potential pitfalls: the schedule, money, travel arrangements, tickets, my wife’s tolerance, and the EPL standings.
First is the schedule, which won’t be released until mid-June. If it turns out that United’s schedule won’t align correctly with my own school break, then the trip is off. I’m not going to see United play an away game, and while going to see Arsenal at their new stadium is a secondary goal, I won’t be satisfied by that moving into the main position. No, it must be United and it must be at home. If the schedule cooperates, then the plan is to fly into London on a Saturday and attend a Sunday match at either Stamford Bridge or Emirates, but if those teams had played on Saturday, seeing West Ham or Fulham will suffice. We’ll follow that with a few days enjoying London, seeing the sights, taking in a show, or generally doing things that my wife wants to do, since I will be dragging her there primarily to watch football.
Again, depending on the Premier League schedule, the next step is to catch a midweek game at another Premier League city, hopefully on the way to Manchester. Aston Villa might be a nice midlands stop to make for a night. After the rare Wednesday night game, it’s on to spend the rest of our visit in Manchester and Liverpool. I’ve been to Liverpool before, as a twelve year old, and I’m looking forward to going back, this time with my wife, who is a huge Beatles fan. We’ll do the touristy thing (the Cavern, Strawberry Fields, Penny Lane, Magical Mystery Tour, etc.) just like I did in 1984. I also want to see the cathedral in Manchester, and take in some local history there, of course. Being a Stone Roses/Smiths/Happy Mondays fan, I’m eager to get to know Manchester, the capital of the North. Old Trafford tours are available on non-gamedays, and I’ll have to go on that. The whole trip has been building to this concluding event, and the final weekend will finally give me a chance to see United play on their home field.
How much will this cost me? Let me put it this way. I am writing this as I sit in the detention room of my school, monitoring miscreants and perenially tardy students as they serve their debt to our institution. I took this (profoundly negative) job to help raise a few extra bucks for this trip. I figure the two of us will spend between four and six thousand dollars for this trip, given the state of the American dollar and the significant cost of tickets. Once the schedule is published, and I contact travel agencies that specialize in these types of packages, I’ll have a better estimate. This summer I plan to contact Manchester United’s affiliated travel agency–Travelcare–and find out more about how to do this affordably.