EWM EXTRA UPDATE MIDNIGHT BST WEDNESDAY 26 MAY 1999

IT'S A COOL, CLEAR NIGHT IN MANCHESTER, and thousands of people have gone out onto the streets to celebrate Manchester United's historic win in the European Championship final against Bayern München this evening. "Unbelieveable" is the word they keep on saying to describe those few short minutes - they felt like seconds - when impending defeatturned into incredible victory for United - and shattered dreams for the players and supporters from Germany.

I've just been for a drive around Manchester - and it feels more like Italy on a steamy cup-winning night than chilly midweek north-west England after pub closing time. At Old Trafford, on Deansgate, on Albert Square, in Piccadilly, on Oxford Rd and in St Peters Square, fans are dancing on the streets, prancing, waving their arms, climbing up traffic lights scaling statues, balancing on benches, even riding on makeshift trailers, shouting "Man Uni-TED! Man Uni-TED!". Girls in white dresses and high heeled shoes swagger in front of the car chanting, yelling and screaming: "Go on the Reds! Go on the Reds!"

Cars are cruising along roads in and around central Manchester, flags flying and horns sounding, but they're hitting traffic jams on entry into the centre. Deansgate has been sealed off by the police and is the venue for a massive street party. Portland Street is jammed solid, Oxford Street too. The sound of cheering and the incessant "b-beep, b-b-beep, b-b-b-beep, b-beep" is mixed with the echoing wail of sirens, as the police rush to deal with public order incidents - we saw one on the corner of Whitworth St and Princess St - a minor collision led to flared tempers.

Only in Castlefield was the mood subdued - maybe they were City fans, or Bayern supporters.

Manchester people are friendly enough at the best of times, but now it seems that thanks to the awesome power of football, on every street corner, in every car window, at every bus stop, everyone is your best friend.

This is certainly a good night to be in Manchester.

Aidan O'Rourke www.aidan.co.uk/ewm

 

 

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