Saturday, October 26, 2013

Manchester Malady

To be fair to Manchester, it was horrible weather and I was miserably ill for most of the trip.  Having said that, it wasn't necessarily my favorite city ever.  I could possibly be persuaded to go back; there were museums that I thought seemed interesting that I had to cut out of my trip due to being sick and wanting to get back home to Oxford ASAP.  And by all means I'd return for some sporting events, hands down.  But otherwise, I don't mind if I don't ever cross paths with Manchester again.

But let's start at the beginning, which indeed is a fabulous place to start, because I wasn't sick yet and that's when I saw the mother of all sporting shrines.  Now, before we get to the major Old Trafford, the one everyone wants to see, I did pass another Old Trafford Stadium.  I couldn't go inside this one, but it would be fun to visit for a match for sure!

 A few blocks away from the Cricket Stadium, I came across the Old Trafford that most people are familiar with, the stadium of Manchester United.

I first stopped by the team store and picked up a couple items (sorry Ju, they didn't have any socks...)  I booked a ticket for the stadium museum and tour, so I went through the museum first  before the tour.  It was actually pretty interesting and I learned quite a bit about the team.  My favorite part though was the massive tribute room to David Beckham.  They really get on these tribute things fast after people retire around here.  I feel like both Beckham and Ferguson just retired a couple months ago, and now half of the stadium is devoted to either one of them.  Also, just to clarify, I do not appreciate Beckham only because he is good looking.  He is decent looking, but honestly he probably doesn't even rank in my top 10.  And I actually did see him play live, and watched him score one of his infamous "Bending it like Beckham" goals (my video that I took: and even better, I saw him get red-carded after drop-kicking a ball straight at an opposing player's head from halfway across the pitch.  If that isn't pure talent, I don't know what is.

Also, in case anybody was wondering, Man Utd have won a trophy or two in their years.

There were some other cool things in the museum too, like jerseys of old players (Ronaldo for you, Ju!), hats that they used to award players when they won (apparently that's what you still get, but they're a little nicer now), and they had some really interesting displays about a plane crash in Munich in '58 where 8 players died on their way back from a match in Europe, and of course more tribute to old famous players that I know nothing about.

The tour of the stadium itself was cool, but at the same time once you've seen one stadium, you've seen them all, and as an athletic trainer, I have definitely seen some stadiums in my day.  But Old Trafford was definitely nice, I'll give it that.  Certainly not as posh as any major team in the USA would require, and I'm still fairly skeptical on their "physio" care over here in European soccer, but the pitch looked pretty, and what more can you really ask for?

After the tour it was time to go to Chorley, where the Preston Temple overnight accommodations are at.  It was pouring, and I was starting to feel really ill.  By the time I got to Chorley, I just wanted to crash immediately.  Instead, I was sharing the room with a 65 year old British lady who had just met someone in person for the first time after chatting with them online for a bit, and wanted to spend a long time chatting about "boys".  It didn't help that she was really hard of hearing either, so it made it mostly a one way conversation with me nodding a lot.  (She was super nice though, so I shouldn't be too judgmental.  What girl doesn't want to rehash meeting her crush for the first time?)  When the lights finally went out, I didn't sleep a wink the entire night.  I was in uber amounts of pain, and by the time the morning came around I was horribly nauseous as well.  In addition to being sick, I was so upset because I had wanted to go to the temple to badly.  I needed to feel the peace that comes from the temple after so many weeks of sorrow and stress.  Not only was I too sick to go, but I was also 3 hours away from home, and had no idea when I'd have the opportunity to come back to the temple.  I finally decided I needed a Priesthood blessing ASAP.  Luckily, when you're staying in temple accommodations, it's not so hard to find someone who can help out.  One of the workers and a random patron who had come all the way from Portugal were able to give me a blessing.  It helped a lot, and settled me enough to go do a little bit of work at the temple, even if it wasn't all that I had been planning on before.  Even though my time was short in the temple, it was absolutely lovely.  I really did feel at peace and felt the love of my Heavenly Father so strong.  The temple is my absolute most favorite spot on the whole face of the earth.  I know it really is the House of God.
After the temple I had to go back to Manchester to get my train back to Oxford, so on the way to the train station I made very brief visits to two of the places I had originally wanted to spend time at.  The National Football Museum would have been super fun if I wasn't sick, or if I was a little British child who heard my parents talk about lots of football growing up.  As is, it was still okay.

The John Rylands Library was fascinating, mostly for the old architecture and all of the hidden dragons around the building.  It didn't necessarily hold any items or old books of interest, but still worth a 15 min detour.

My walk to the train station also passed the Manchester Cathedral and Town Hall, and they were pretty cool too.  Most of Manchester was newer buildings, so the old buildings were pretty cool when you saw them.

So, all in all, not my favorite trip ever.  I still haven't decided which Premier League team to root for.  Man Utd makes it so easy to like them, but I don't really care for the city itself, whereas I adored the city of Liverpool, but I don't really know enough about either of the Liverpool teams to state that I'm a fan of theirs.  So for right now I'll just stick with Oxford United, very much not in the Premier League, and hope someday I'll develop a meaningful attachment to a good team.