Mona meets her hero David Beckham
Each week we ask someone why they support a particular cross-channel team, and find out some of the highs and lows that they have endured as a fan. This week we get the thoughts of MONA FRIEL. A lifelong Fanad United and Manchester United supporter, Mona is assistant secretary of the Donegal branch of the Manchester United Supporters Club
Why do you support United?
My parents and uncles all supported United. Living in London during the 60’s they regularly made trips to watch Charlton, Law and Best and United were often the topic of conversation at home. And so United became a way of life for me from a very young age.
Tell us about some of your childhood memories supporting Man United
There wasn’t much live football in those days. I remember watching results come in on World of Sport and then Match of the Day on a Saturday night.
I loved FA Cup Final Day, getting up early, watching the team leave their hotel for Wembley and the interviews on the team bus. The 1985 Final is a stand out memory for me with Norman Whiteside’s brilliant goal.
What football gear or memorabilia did you have?
I have countless ticket stubs and match programmes and I have jerseys signed by David Beckham and Roy Keane. My prized possession is an autograph book which is filled with the signatures of Robson, Hughes, Keane, Cantona, Giggs, Beckham and other United heroes.
A momentous farewell - Sir Alex says a final goodbye to his adoring fans at Old Trafford in May 2013. Mona and her sister Donna were lucky to be there
Select three major highlights as fan
I am lucky to be spoiled for choice here. United have provided their fans with many memorable moments throughout the years, most notably completing the Treble in the Nou Camp in “Fergie Time” in 1999.
I have chosen these three as I was at the games:
1. Champions League Final 2008
I travelled to Moscow with my sister Donna and friends Martin Devenney and Fergus Mc Ateer. After scoring his 42nd goal of the season, it was unthinkable that Ronaldo would miss his spot kick but John Terry’s slip set us up for great celebrations as Van der Sar saved Anelka’s penalty. United were Kings of Europe again!
2. Man United vs Spurs 16/05/99
United were head to head with Arsenal for the league and despite going 1-0 nil down, Beckham equalised and half time sub Andy Cole came on and lobbed Ian Walker. It was like it was in slow motion, Old Trafford erupted and the Third Tier Stand was shaking under our feet. Little did we know that day that it was the first leg of a historic treble.
3. Sir Alex's Final Game at Old Trafford 12/05/13
Myself and my sister Donna were very lucky to be in Old Trafford on this very emotional day. Grown men were crying. It was the end of an era and it will be very difficult to match his record again.
The Donegal Branch were honoured to have Sir Alex as our special guest at our 25th Anniversary function.
United fan Mona Friel
Select three major disappointments
1. The ‘94/‘95 Season
United lost the league title on the last day of the season despite Blackburn Rovers losing to our biggest rivals Liverpool. We could only manage a draw away to West Ham in a heart stopping game. We then lost to Everton in the FA Cup Final, 6 days later to compound our misery!
2. Champions League Final 2009
I was delighted to secure a ticket for my second European Cup Final in a row but it turned out to be a disappointing trip as United lost 2-0 to Barcelona. United never got going that night. Retaining the trophy was not to be.
3. 2011/2012 Season
The title came down to goal difference on the last day of the season between the red and blue of Manchester.
Despite United beating Sunderland 1-0, City came back from 2-1 down in injury time to win 3-2. Many people will be delighted to know that Martin Tyler screaming Agueroooooooooo will haunt me for the rest of my days!
First time you saw Man United live
The first time I saw United play live was a friendly in The Brandywell, Derry in August 1990. Denis Irwin made his debut that day.
My first trip to Old Trafford was October 16 1993. The opposition was Spurs who we beat 2-1 with goals from Roy Keane and Lee Sharpe. I’ll never forget walking in to the stadium that day. Its something I never take for granted.
All-time Man United XI
This was very difficult, so I’m going with players I’ve seen play.
Schmeichel, G Neville, Ferdinand, Stam, Irwin, Keane, Scholes, Beckham, Giggs, Cantona, Ronaldo.
And also worthy of mention
Best, Charlton, Mc Grath, Robson, Hughes, Rooney, Vidic, Evra, Solskjær, van Nistelrooy
Name some players who never got the recognition they deserved
Denis Irwin never got the plaudits he deserved. Mr Reliable every single game. Steve Bruce also, hard to believe he was never capped by his country.
Other teams I have a soft spot for
More than a soft spot! Fanad United. Just like Man United, Fanad have enjoyed tremendous success. I’ve followed them all over the country throughout the years. Their 3-2 victory over Derry City in The Brandywell in August 1987 will live long in the memory of all of us who were there that day.
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