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England storm Castle(field)

Big screen penalty shoot-out agony on a beach in the city centre

Published on June 1st 2010.

England storm Castle(field)

Here’s the official city press release:

'It’s going to be a fan fest in Manchester this June with big screens showing World Cup matches around the city. Manchester is hosting just one of fifteen Hyundai Fan Park sites around Europe so that fans can enjoy the spirit and atmosphere of the tournament in a safe and controlled environment.

If you like your football you’ll watch anything. If you like your football and you have an office, as we do, a Steven Gerrard free-kick away from Castlefield, then June might be a work washout.

'The Hyundai Fan Park at Castlefield Arena will screen all 64 matches across the 31 days of the event. General capacity is up to 8,000 people with the area expanded to create a 17,500 capacity venue for England matches.

'Councillor Mike Amesbury, Manchester City Council’s executive member for culture and leisure said: “We have an extremely experienced team delivering this event working closely with partners such as the police and Hyundai. There is high demand in the city for somewhere people can congregate to enjoy matches and soak up the atmosphere so the fan park gives us the opportunity to provide this in a safe and controlled way.”

'Tony Whitehorn, managing director for Hyundai UK comments: “We are thrilled to be working with Manchester City Council to host one of the UK’s two Hyundai Fan Parks in Manchester, the obvious choice as a City with such a strong footballing heritage. We are committed to delivering the ultimate World Cup experience for fanatics and families alike to share the enjoyment of this the biggest sporting competition in the world.”

'Access to the Hyundai Fan Park at Castlefield is free of charge but tickets are required to access screenings of England matches. These are available from www.quaytickets.com and are limited to four tickets per household. Tickets are free of charge but there will be a booking and postal fee of £1.50 per order to cover costs. Tickets will be posted first class.

'As well as three big screens there will be music and an artificial beach recreated on the site with a 5-a-side beach football arena. Although alcohol cannot be brought onto the site public food outlets and bars are available within the fan park.

'Hyundai will also run a ‘Fan of the Match’ celebrating and rewarding the most outstanding fans at each match shown. The fan with the best costume will be presented to the crowd on the giant screen at half-time at all 38 matches. All 38 Fan of the Match winners will automatically be entered into the ‘Fan of the Tournament’ contest at FIFA.com where they will have the opportunity to win a selection of World Cup prizes including a Hyundai i10.

'Screens will also be located in Spinningfields and Exchange Square but will only be showing group stage matches, and will not be screening any England games.'

That's what the press release says. We say yippee. Brilliant idea. We love it.

If you like your football you’ll watch anything. If you like your football and you have an office, as we do, a Steven Gerrard free-kick away from Castlefield, then June might be a work washout.

There are certainly some good 1.30pm, 4pm kick-offs to tickle the fancy such as Ivory Coast v Portugal on Tuesday 15 June, with a tussle for greatness between Drogba and Ronaldo as the sub-plot.

Or the abiding delight of the Honduras v Chile match on Wednesday 16 June. Honduras together with El Salvador are the only nation to go to war over a footy match – they declared war on each other in 1969. Using the latter as an excuse to watch a match may not be the soundest of tactics but if you enjoy manufacturing complex reasons for missing work that’s a good one.

One tea time kick-off will be England v Slovenia. Let’s hope this, like all the England matches on our national team’s majestic parade to the final, will not be attended by the lead headed fools of the drinking classes who have turned being a bad loser into an art form.

Maybe Hyundai should just serve real ale from Manchester breweries, rare premium lagers, wines and good expensive whiskies, to deter the shaven headed tattooed lads. After all the real WAG for hooligans is Miss Stella Artois and her sisters Harriet Heineken and Carla Carlsberg.

But let’s not have the clouds of doubt shade our trembling joy at this. Manchester has done the right thing in bidding for the Hyundai Fan Park. If it works well it should be a fabulous summer addition to the city centre.

For footy fans it should be one big public party right up to the moment Gerrard lifts the World Cup high into the South African air.

Or at least, as Charlie Butterworth wrote in May, the moment ‘a hapless John Terry smashes his penalty into the face of Herr Gustav Winkelman sitting on Row Z of the German supporters end in the Quarter Final. The Quarter Final from which Wayne Rooney has been carried off in the fourth minute. The one in which Ledley King put through his own net with a minute to go in extra-time.

By the way the other successful UK bid came from Bristol. We need to ask Tony Whitehorn of Hyundai whether that city won because of their ‘strong footballing heritage’ as we did. Because bless Bristol City and Bristol Rovers, but we can’t recall them winning anything significant. Maybe they won because of their strong cider drinking tradition. Maybe the South Koreans who run Hyundai are partial to the odd pint of cider.

For full details click here: www.manchester.gov.uk/worldcup

To book for England vs. USA, click here: www.quaytickets.com/WhatsOn/EventDetail.aspx?EventId=5144

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Bob HolnessJune 2nd 2010.

What a lovely beach, oh and England don't have a chance. Team isn't good enough.

ThomasJune 3rd 2010.

Thank you for that insightful comment Captain Obvious. I don't think you'll find many people in this country who actually entertain the notion that we'll do anything other than maybe get to the quarter finals, but that won't stop me and hopefully a few others from getting behind the team and cheering them on. It's one of our nations traits, is it not, to support the underdog?

ConcernedJune 3rd 2010.

Do we have any idea how the organisers are going to stop people taking their own booze in? Nigh on impossible me thinks!!
Also how are they planning the dispersal of 17,000 drunken football fans right into the city centre?
I feel for anybody booked into the castlefield hotel on the Saturday night!

RaymondosJune 4th 2010.

El Nino
It does say that alcohol will be available at outlets in the fan park but I have a sneaking suspicion it will be chuffing expensive...

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