What’s it like in the Old Trafford temporary stand? (a match report)

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Send your match reports to king@kingcricket.co.uk. We’re only really interested in your own experience, so if it’s a professional match, on no account mention the cricket itself. (But if it’s an amateur match, feel free to go into excruciating detail.)

Our eternal lack of enthusiasm for doing absolutely anything before a stipulated time or date meant there were only about nine tickets left for the Old Trafford Ashes Test by the time we got round to ordering. This meant that we ended up near the top of the temporary stand.

Old Trafford has had a recurring temporary stand for many years. It is currently on the south side of the ground, square on to the wicket, but it used to materialise one step anti-clockwise where there is now a permanent two-tier stand. The two-tier stand also used to be one step anti-clockwise, on the east side of the ground, square on to the action before the pitch was rotated 90 degrees. (Or at least we think it was. It can be surprisingly hard to maintain your bearings at Old Trafford given all the moving of stands and pitches.)

In recent years, the temporary stand seems to have grown larger and more terrifying, as you can see in this photo by friend of the site, Adam Collins.

Before we got to the temporary stand, we of course first had to park. We aimed for the nearby school which always offers match day parking.

Upon arrival, we realised that the school doesn’t in fact always offer match day parking, because sometimes – such as on a Wednesday – it is a school.

We therefore instead manoevred our way to Kings Road on the other side of the tram tracks to park near Morrissey’s old house. There is quite a lot of permit-only parking in this area, so Special Correspondent Mum knocked on someone’s door to double-check we were okay to leave our car outside their house. The man who answered not only said it was fine, he then rather unexpectedly offered to drive us the short distance to the ground. We felt this was a kindness too far and politely declined.

Arriving at the ground and ascending to our designated spots for the day, it was hard not to notice that the distance between amenities and seats was large and the journey steep. This is something you’ll want to factor into your match-watching behaviour. There are no quick toilet trips from the top of the temporary stand. Rush down to the bar at a break in play and you’ll inevitably end up at the back of the queue. The name of the game is consolidation. Never acquire more liquids to go in without first taking care of the liquids that need to go out during the same sortie.

We’re not sure the lads in front abided by this simple rule. One in particular adopted our “repeat until funny” mantra, deploying the phrase, “It doesn’t get any easier,” each and every time he returned.

On the plus side, the top of the temporary stand is quite a good vantage point from which to monitor queue lengths.

More distractingly, it is also a good vantage point from which to identify hills you know or houses you’ve lived in.

“I think that’s Croker Hill. And then that one’s Shutlingsloe – “The Matterhorn of Cheshire.” And then, oh what was that? Is he out?”

A certain amount of cricket was also missed while standing in the incredibly long queue at the sole cask ale tent where many an admiring glance or comment was again drawn by The Device.

The sole cask ale tent was so insanely popular, it was no surprise to see a sign in place warning would-be customers that it was going to inexplicably close for the day at the tea break.

We felt double lucky that we got to spend £6.60 a pint there because while walking towards it we were PHYSICALLY MANHANDLED ASIDE BY GLENN MCGRATH AND NARROWLY AVOIDED DEATH.

“Sorry mate,” the beanpole seamer hissed in our ear as he BRUTALLY PALMED US ASIDE by applying modest pressure to our upper arm while clearly late for a commentary stint. Fortunately, we remained upright and promptly went and spent a small fortune on beer while we still could.

Coincidentally, at that very same moment at the opposite side of the ground, Special Correspondent Tim was saying hello to a passing Moeen Ali and getting a nod in return. These twin encounters highlight the innate decency of England players versus the innate awfulness of the Australians.

As inevitably as empty pint pots follow full ones, the afternoon session brought the first beer snakes. Recent player comments about “northern crowds” has made us wonder whether all of our readers know the ins and outs of beer snake culture – such as the fact that these slithering sticky beasts have at least two songs devoted to them.

There is of course the classic, percussive chant: “Feed. The. Snake… Feed. The. Snake…”

But there is also the more melodic: “Feeeed the snake. Feeeed the snake. Feeeed the snake and he will grow,” which we rather like. (The beer snake’s preferred pronoun is ‘he’. We would be interested to know whether beer snakes at women’s matches are ‘she’. Perhaps someone could look into this for us.)

It was from around this point onwards that we were struck by another advantage of being very high up in the temporary stand. The higher you are, the fewer empties there are behind you to be flung over or into your head.

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  1. One day they will learn that opening a second Cask bar, or keeping it better stocked, would result in an increase in overall beer sales to more discerning drinkers than having a bar that ‘sells out’ halfway through the day.

      1. Apparently, according to A Man Who Knows These Kinds Of Things, they are limited in how much they can set up on cask by the limitations of the stillages.

        Usually it’s (Robinson’s) Dizzy Blonde, (Holt’s) Two Hoots or (Lee’s) MPA for a glorious few hours, followed by a terrible choice between John Smith’s, whatever lager is has done a deal with the ground this year, or Not Drinking Beer.

  2. Hmm. Who’s betting that England make 600+ today (Thursday) and tomorrow, and bowl out Australia in between the rain come Saturday, and win by and innings and 150ish runs?

    Can see why both captains wanted to bowl first. Weather. Timing. Etc.

    By the way, the thought of “Feed. The. Snake” ever occurring at a woman’s match is deeply disturbing. I still hold to the premise that, generally, women have more sense.

    1. Very probably, but the players on the field have little say on the crowd’s behaviour.

  3. That temporary stand is truly enormous. When I visited Old Trafford in 2019, soon after the Ashes test while the stand was still in place, “thems in the know” told me it was the largest temporary stand in Europe.

    I was able to park Dumbo in its shadow that day – my photo of those two fabled metallic behemoths illustrates the enormity of the stand:


    You must have had a great day yesterday, KC, family and Bert. I am glad.

    What are those cask bar people thinking? Which beers were on offer…when it deigned to open?

    1. A trio of very-similar-tasting Robinson’s bitters.

      Bert has inexplicably opted for a different day to us this year, but memories of The Device persist down the years.

      1. I believe it was at this very same terrifying temporary stand that I encountered The Device Supersized, and it was featured on these very pages, thus ranking among my greatest achievements.

        What’s happened to the £1/cup deposit scheme? Has this been abandoned, or are the beer snakes worth that repeated additional expenditure, even in a cost-of-living crisis?

  4. I’m curious, what’s a “temporary stand”? Does that mean it’s only half-built and ECB is not responsible for any possible loss of life or limb? Did you have to sign an agreement before buying the tickets?

    1. Those are excellent ideas, DC, in the matter of increasing profits from test matches yet further.

      Unfortunately we live in a nation where such matters are highly regulated, not least “health and safety gone mad”. 🤪.

      Temporary stands are only temporary at the individual venue. They spend their lives being carted around the UK (or in the good old days Europe) providing large amounts of additional seating at venues that only need large capacity occasionally.

      I have sat in many of them in my time, although I must say that, these days, near the top of the gargantuan Old Trafford one would probably make me dizzy all day.

      As for APW’s comment from a man who knows about stillages limiting the amount of cask beer… if your aim is to maximise overall throughput (and therefore beer profits) at a venue, then you would need to increase the price per pint of cask beer to compensate for the lower volume of throughput. This is part to do with storage and part to do with the time it takes to serve the average pint. Hence the fizzy easy-to-store-and-serve beverage is preferred by the profit hungry.

      at Lord’s, we take this principle one step further by making it easy to buy bottles of Champagne at ludicrous prices. Although, to be fair, there is usually a decent selection of cask ales to be found around the Lord’s ground…if you know where to go.

      1. Interesting, thanks for clearing that up. Though I am a touch disappointed that it is a sensible idea after all.

  5. As a systems admin who has seen too many temporary solutions go live and become an integral part of the infrastructure, I will only believe that the stand is temporary when it is dismantled and moved from the site.

  6. I can certainly testify to the height of our seats. Special correspondent dad and I ascended Nelson (111) steps, but KC and Tim had the additional challenge of 113, being one row higher. I didn’t see many other 80 plus year olds up there!

    1. The Lancashire CCC authorities really should be handing out medals to sturdy folk such as SCD and KCM. Either that or providing stair lifts. 🤪.

      Well done both.

  7. Simon King BBC Weather says he’d be amazed if there were any more cricket at Old Trafford this week.

    We must destroy him.

    1. Doesn’t look good on any of the weather forecasts I can find this morning.

      Sam – find us a better forecast please.

      1. I can’t just make stuff up. I don’t work for The Sun. (Easy on the satire – ed.)

  8. Going past on the tram, my son was adamant he wouldn’t go in that stand.
    You can almost see into our allotment from the top.
    And it tends to be kept up for concerts. Beyonce was loud.

  9. As is usually the case with washed-out ends to potentially significant Tests, there are a lot of ‘takes’ being expressed on how cricket should return to timeless Tests/build massive roofs over grounds/make rain illegal/etc

    I do have some sympathy with the idea that a drawn series could see the Ashes either ‘shared’ or not ‘held’ by either team, though, rather than ‘retained’ by whichever team won the previous series. I guess you could argue that in practice I might have a different view on that if England were regularly drawing or winning Ashes series in Australia though.

    1. “Retained” is a purely psychological concept in the matter of The Ashes, of course, as I shall still live a couple of miles away from the urn and be able to visit it whenever I fancy. 😎.

      More seriously, the bragging rights for this series remain up for grabs. Overnight message from my Aussie cousin’s cricket-mad partner, “ you were certainly the best side in this test and basically pulled our pants down”. The result of the Oval test will have a huge impact on how this series is perceived. Let’s just hope it isn’t also rain-ruined. Forecast suggests that plenty of rain will still be about, even in London.

      1. Bragging rights is probably the best term for what we’re trying to write about today, so thanks for that timely deployment of the term.

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