Me and three mates travelled by car that morning, it was about a 30 minute drive. We parked down a side street a few minutes walk from Stanley Park, and proceeded to make out way down the streets keeping ourselves to ourselves, speaking openly between us would have been a big give away to any Liverpool supporters looking to cause trouble as the three of us had Mancunian accents! I suppose we were just trying to be a bit streetwise.
Anyone who has passed through Stanley Park will know that it is a moody place, as we made our way through we spotted gangs of lads on mobile phones obviously trying to find the enemy, they were like birds of prey looking for their morning breakfast as they stood on walls to gain a height advantage watching us like hawks.
As we approached the ground we spotted the away end and made our way swiftly over, supporters of both clubs were trying to pick each other out, its a task made very difficult by some supporters choice of clothing, lots of supporters choose to dress in plain clothes and shy away from wearing club colours to go undetected, it can save you a lot of bother!
As we passed through the segregation it was time to turn and join in singing with the thousands of United supporters who had already got through the mass police presence, its at this moment the adrenalin starts pumping, the excitement kicks in, you cant wait to get into the stadium, you cant wait for the referee to blow his whistle to signal the start of the game.
The rivalry, bitterness and hostility between both sets of supporters is unlike anything else I have ever witnessed or experienced as a Manchester United supporter, the stadium was a cauldron of noise as both sets of supporters reminded each other of past Glory's. No Manchester derby has ever even come close to being compared to the hatred I witnessed during that 90 minutes of football, it was definitely an eye opener!
United supporters were taunting the Liverpool supporters about Michael Shields, the Liverpool supporter who was jailed in Istanbul after the clubs Champions League win, Shields always protested his innocence in the murder enquiry, but United supporters seen it as an opportunity to get under their rivals skin.
I remember looking into the main stand and some Liverpool supporters were not interested about what was happening on the pitch, they were making aeroplane gestures in reference to the Munich air disaster, you could cut the tension with a knife.
The only two thing I remember about the match itself, was that Liverpool won it 1-0 following a Peter Crouch goal scored at our end, and the horrific injury that Alan Smith suffered. It was reported after the match that the ambulance transporting Smith was held up by Liverpool supporters who were outside the ground, they apparently rocked the ambulance and tried to open the doors. This just goes to show the pure hatred between the two sets of supporters.
It was the sound of the referees whistle to indicate that the match had ended and what went on next that I will never forget. As the whistle sounded the stadium erupted as if the trophy had been won that day, but we unaware that Liverpool supporters were in the tier above us until a coin pinged off the concrete floor in front of me, next was a shower of beer, it was time to put my hood to good use! As we looked up the Liverpool supporters had the stewards pinned back and were able to lean over the tier showering us with all kinds of objects which was later reported as urine and feces. Chants of "Munich" were also aimed at us from all directions.
We made our way back to the car undetected and without any bother and were quickly on the M62 heading back towards Manchester. It was a disappointing result, but an experience I will never forget, the rivalry between the clubs is incredible, it will always be one of the biggest football spectacles in world football because of that reason.
Its still the game that Manchester United supporters look most forward too when the fixtures are announced at the start of each Premier League campaign.