It is an unwritten rule when studying abroad in the UK that you must perform a pilgrimage to your favourite football city.
Football just isn’t the same without the fans cheering on in the stadium. UK stadiums, however, may open to spectators again in October 2020. If you’re an international student in the UK, you can start planning your trip — and it doesn’t have to be once in a lifetime.
Making memories at Old Trafford
For Kelvesh Deshenraj from Malaysia, studying in the UK meant frequenting Old Trafford. He completed his LLB at the University of Leeds.
Then, the lifelong Manchester United fan got the chance to do the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) at BPP University, Manchester. Naturally, he was thrilled.
His favourite memories include the Manchester United v Liverpool match in 2015 — his first live game of that season.
“United was leading 2-0 when Benteke scored a brilliant overhead kick. Nervy last 10 minutes to the game. Then up steps debuting Anthony Martial to score his first goal of the game. Getting one over Liverpool is always special, even more so when you’re in attendance at Old Trafford,” Kelvesh recalls.
Tips to enjoy your favourite football city
Exciting as it is, this sort of travel can put a dent in the average student’s wallet. Here, Kelvesh shares some tips to make the most of your football travels while on a budget.
Plan (way) ahead — “Travel costs in the UK increase (by a lot) closer to your travel date. Football tickets usually go on sale a couple of months before the actual game, particularly for the ‘smaller’ games. You’ll have plenty of time to plan your travel. I’d advise taking the coach (as they call buses there), instead of the train; coaches are a lot cheaper, plus they’re safe and comfortable.”
Stay at hostels — Youth Hostels cost around 13 pounds a night (with breakfast!) This is a great option for travellers as you get to meet new people. Kelvesh says, “You’ll usually meet fellow fans in a football city on game week, which is great if you’re new to town or travelling on your own.”
Support your team at any game — It is easier to get tickets to smaller games, though ticket prices remain and the atmosphere is still buzzing. “Watching your team play against the smaller teams (like Liverpool) gives you a higher chance of watching your team win,” Kelvesh adds.
Choose the right ticket — First of all, it’s important that you only buy official tickets. Most clubs don’t allow reseller tickets, which are typically more expensive anyway.
You can get a ticket at the singing sections behind the goalposts if you’re looking for an electric atmosphere. If you’re looking to get a good view of the game, pick the long side seats. Kelvesh also advises against getting tickets too close to the pitch as the view isn’t great, and players rarely actually come to greet you.
“For United fans, the ticketing procedure is slightly different from other teams,” Kelvesh shares. “You will need to buy a membership (it’s about 30 pounds) before you can purchase a ticket. If you’re planning to attend more than one game a season, I’d say it’s worth it,” Kelvesh said.
Get in the spirit — One of the highlights of visiting your favourite football city is enjoying the experience with fellow fans. Kelvesh encourages finding out your team’s pre-game spots, especially if you’re travelling solo.
He says, “Your matchday experience isn’t complete without the pre-game pints and sing-song before the game. For ManUtd, the pre-game pubs are The Bishop Blaize and Sam Platts.”