40 Years a Red: Lifelong United Fan Crowned Super Supporter

Why Jimmy Langland was crowned Greater Manchester’s Super Supporter in a recent competition

If you watched Manchester United’s last minute display against Paris St Germain on Wednesday, you might still be buzzing from Marcus Rashford’s penalty. There’s every chance this gentleman might have taken a modest journey across the English Channel for this spectacle.

Enter Jimmy Langland, a Manchester United fan who has followed The Reds home and away since 1979. Following a recent competition, Stagecoach Manchester has crowned him Greater Manchester’s Biggest Football Fan. The Combined Authority’s largest bus operator has recently backed Stuart Roy Clarke’s The Game: 30 Years Through the Lens exhibition, which is set to finish on the 17 March this year.

As part of the prize, Jimmy had his photograph taken by the creator of the National Football Museum exhibition, Stuart Roy Clarke. Jimmy’s photo now hangs in the exhibition alongside Stuart’s photographs, which place fans and grounds at the heart of the communities they represent.

Jimmy, who has sat in the same Old Trafford seat for the last 23 years, first began watching his beloved Reds in 1979. His friend offered him two spare tickets and he was hooked. Soon, he began travelling to watch the team home and away and hasn’t looked back.

Back in 1979, orange and white buses were seen on the 53 and 263 services. You could even get a Football Match bus to Old Trafford or Maine Road from most parts of Greater Manchester. In the dugout was Dave Sexton. In the commentary box was the late great Tom Tyrrell, also of Piccadilly Radio as well as being a matchday announcer.

Still fresh in Jimmy’s memory is Sir Alex Ferguson’s early years at the helm: “When Fergie took over in 1986, he got rid of the drinking culture at the club and tried to turn things around. It wasn’t all plain sailing though, he struggled for the first four years and I vividly remember leaving games singing ‘Fergie out!’ and ‘You don’t know what you’re doing’.

“There’s been some great times since though and I’ve been there every step of the way. I’ve watched from every stand at Old Trafford and it’s great to see the good times coming back with Ole at the wheel.”

Since 1979, Old Trafford has changed virtually beyond recognition. When Jimmy saw his first matches at Old Trafford, there was terracing along all four sides of the ground. The present cantilever roof over the main stand had yet to connect with the Scoreboard End roof over K Stand. Warwick Road continued up to Trafford Park industrial estate. The Manchester United souvenir shop was situated on a corner between the main stand and the Scoreboard End – a far cry from today’s megastore.

Jimmy was declared the region’s biggest football fan after a competition. Entrants from all areas of Greater Manchester applied with their stories, images and videos to show the love they have for their clubs.

Elisabeth Tasker, Stagecoach Manchester managing director, said: “Jimmy’s love for his football club is great to see and I’m sure the passion he shows for Manchester United is mirrored by those supporting any one of our Greater Manchester clubs.

“Stagecoach Manchester is a business which plays an integral role in so many communities across the region. We’re therefore happy to support an exhibition which details the passion for the game of football, which has the ability to bring people together like little else.” 

Stuart Roy Clarke, creator of the exhibition, said: “Jimmy’s winning entry was one of a number of fantastic stories which really showed the hunger that people have in this region for their football clubs. The exhibition displays that need for football and presents a view of the game you would not normally witness. The focus is very much on the people behind the players and it brings to life the fear, the excitement, the shock and the surprise so many football fans go through each match day.”

To get to the National Football Museum, Manchester Victoria station is opposite the glass edifice formerly known as URBIS. There are frequent trams from Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, and Manchester Airport. From Ashton-under-Lyne, every half hour by train (by tram, alight at St Peter’s Square and board any Rochdale or Bury bound tram to Victoria).

An EM60 Presentation, 08 March 2019.

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