With no fans at games for the foreseeable future, it can be said that I have seen my last game of the 2019/20 season. In this piece, I take a look back on my five best games, including the Manchester Derby and a Champions League game in Belgrade.
5. Manchester United 4-0 Chelsea
This was my first game as a season-ticket holder at Man United, and it could not have gone any better. United played some lovely counter-attacking football in Frank Lampard’s first game as Chelsea manager. That said, the result came as a complete surprise and I left Old Trafford with a lot of optimism for the season ahead.
The win was topped off by Daniel James scoring to make it four on his debut – one of the best moments of this season in my opinion. With it being one the biggest margins I’ve seen United win by for some time, against a team of Chelsea’s stature, this game had to make my top five.
4. Portsmouth 2-1 Altrincham
After a number of tricky fixtures in the previous rounds, Altrincham were rewarded with a trip to Fratton Park in the second round of the FA Cup. Around 600 Alty fans, including myself, travelled down to the south-coast. Having the opportunity to see my local non-league side at such a famous and historic English ground was pretty surreal to say the least.
Alty were completely written off beforehand but we put up one hell of a fight. We were set for a replay before Pompey nicked the winner with virtually the last kick of the game. The result was heart-breaking, but the day-out was class and will live in my memory for a long time.
3. Red Star Belgrade 2-1 FK Suduva
One of the more unique games I went to this season was the Champions League first qualifying round second-leg tie between Red Star Belgrade (FK Crvena Zvezda) and FK Suduva. I went interrailing around Europe with some mates last summer and we could not resist buying tickets for the match, which coincided with our stay in Belgrade.
From receipt rolls being thrown onto the pitch before kick-off to an ultra leading the chants with his megaphone and flares being set off, it had a proper European feel to it and the atmosphere was second to none. The game was an eventful one too – three goals and one red card. To the delight of the ultras who we stood with, Red Star edged their opponents and made it into the next round. Red Star eventually made it to the group stages, facing Spurs, Bayern and Olympiakos.
2. Manchester United 2-0 Manchester City
In recent years, I have been lucky enough to go to many Manchester derbies, although I had never witnessed a United win before this season. This changed just before lockdown with a 2-0 win, helped by some calamitous mistakes from Ederson in the City goal.
McTominay’s long-distance strike in the last minute of stoppage time was the icing on the cake, sparking wild celebrations in the stands. Finally, I was able to see my team beat one of our fiercest rivals and there is definitely no better feeling than that. Looking back, I am relieved that this game was able to go ahead as the season was halted the following week.
1. York 0-1 Altrincham
It was a close call between this match and the derby for my best game of the season. I have chosen the York-Alty FA Cup match purely because of its significance. York were on an impressive 19-match unbeaten run prior to the game and the odds were firmly stacked against Alty. Yet, it was Alty who advanced to the next round, setting up an away day at Portsmouth.
York failed to take their chances and even missed a penalty before Alty went up the other end and scored through Tom Peers right in front of the away supporters. It was a tense encounter, but the jubilation after Alty scored and when the final whistle was blown was immense.
On a final note, I was able to tick off Bootham Crescent in York’s last season at the ground. Whilst it has seen better days, the football-league ground has a lot of character and a charm that you don’t get with the new football grounds of today.
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