Welcome to a brand-new addition to The Mancunion. On the Loan is not just about giving you a match report, but a review of the whole experience from different teams in the North-West. It takes the wealthy world of football and asks, can it be enjoyed on a student budget? We start with Manchester United Women against Sheffield United Women.
The Match: Manchester United Women were playing their first home league game in 13 years, having been disbanded in 2005 in order for the club to focus on their youth set-up. Having won their first game in the Women’s Championship a resounding 12-0 away at Aston Villa, we were expecting big things from a side with a young and promising squad.
Alex Greenward, the former Liverpool player now turned Manchester United captain, said in her programme notes that the target of the club this year was to return to top division having re-entered in the lowest (second) division. Given their performance on Thursday night, this ambition does not look particularly challenging to achieve. With England legend Casey Stoney watching on as the new United manager, they set to work against Sheffield United on a wet Thursday evening.
After twelve comfortable minutes, Lauren James was brought down in the area, and Katie Zelem cooly converted the penalty. Later, Sheffield forced a rare, but exceptional, save from veteran keeper Chamberlain. Hanson, however, ruined any chance of an equaliser for Sheffield by adding United’s second, cutting in from wide and curling an effort over Hobbs in the Sheffield net.
If the first half proved how dominant United could be, the second half had us staple them down as title favourites, with Lauren James — just sixteen years old — pulling the strings in the midfield and playing both attacking and defensive roles, such was the space open to her. She will be a commanding influence wherever this exciting United team end up. Substitute Lizzie Arnot wrapped up the points with a tap-in midway through the second half. A comfortable 3-0 win confirmed United remain top of the table.
This is the area where Manchester United Women may struggle gaining student support. They play their home matches at Leigh Sports Village, where buses are more frequent to Wigan, rather than Manchester. To get there from Fallowfield we had to drive an hour and a half, and although we have travelled further for matches, the Manchester rush hour traffic was infuriating. That traffic is made unavoidable given that the games kick off at 19:00.
There are a lot of more local games that we will cover in the coming weeks and months, but we recommend going to watch Manchester United Women if you have a car, not least because of the excellent price.
The reason we started On the Loan was to find football to watch without having to go over our student budget. Manchester United Women offer excellent value for money. A £5 ticket with a free programme — although that may have been due to it being their first home league game — makes this one of the cheaper teams to attend in the local area.
I will admit that On the Loan has caused my pie intake to rise exponentially and, with no meat and potato available, I resorted to the cheese and onion. What surprised me about this was that it didn’t taste like sick in a pastry, but actually quite nice. The pie and a Pepsi set me back £4.30, and I also had to provide a few quid for petrol.
Overall, a night at the football cost me £12.30, which in the modern age, is extremely reasonable, especially as you are seeing one of the best up and coming teams in English Women’s football.
8.5/10 – We can’t find any fault in the cost, but we did get rained on a fair bit and the second half was a bit flat with United looking so comfortable.
On the Loan can also be found on Instagram, @ontheloan for more football experiences both in the UK and abroad.