For years I worked in an office that overlooked the pitch at Emirates Old Trafford. When special matches were being played there, I’d try to catch a glimpse of the pitch and wonder what all the fuss was about. Friends would tell me how lucky I was to have a few of that tiny patch of green and yet for some reason, I’d never actually stepped foot in the grounds until this Father’s Day. Neither had the rest of the family!
So it was quite a moment when Dorothy (aged seven), Phill and I went to see Lancashire Lightning verses Durham Cricket, a fixture that marked the beginning of the Festival of Cricket celebrations.
Since it was part of the Festival of Cricket, the stadium was surrounded by a fan village boasting dozens of stalls sharing information about health, family fitness and sport. There were carnival games, challenges, live music, food and even entertainers on stilts!
Obviously we loved the carnival-like atmosphere before the match, but we genuinely found the cricket to be quite interesting. On the one hand it’s quite a drawn out affair, but on the other, because it’s broken up in to innings, Cricket is a little easier for children (and adults like me ) to stay focused on.
Children were quite clearly considered throughout the planning of the day and the stadium in general. In fact there are dedicated family friendly stands were alcohol isn’t permitted and as you move from space to space, the many members of staff are quick to engage with younger guests.
As the match went on, I started to be able to follow what was happening…sort of! But even without a deep understanding of rhe game, we enjoyed the experience. Fans had been given sheets with numbers on so that they could wave them in celebration of runs and you wouldn’t believe how well this was received. Every now and again a wave of colour would spread across the stands as grown ups told their kids ‘quick wave it now’ and gleefully they did.
Sadly the Great British weather put an end to our fun and we had to leave before the game was complete. Lancashire Lightning were announced the winners.
Accesability was a bit lacking throughout the stadium with almost all seats being up multiple flights of stairs. However I did note that there’s a huge amount of construction taking place at the moment, so hopefully I’ll be able to visit in a years time and report that there have been vast improvements.
It’s very easy to get to Old Trafford Cricket Ground, with a step-less tramstop just metres from the entrance and several parking options for those who choose to drive. The food and drink are, as you’d expect, rather expensive but I noticed during our security checks, that bottled drinks were allowed to be taken in. So that’s something to consider before your visit. It would also be very wise to remember that there’s very little shelter in the stands. Come rain or shine, you really are open to the elements, so bring a hat, sun cream, a rain coat, jumper, bikini etc. Because you never know!
All in all it was a wonderful day. I realise that we benefited from additional entertainment because of the Festival of Cricket, but it was clear to me that Old Trafford are going to a lot of effort to welcome and accommodate families at every game.
Tickets start from £10 for an adult and £5 for children so as sporting events go, it’s a very reasonably priced day out. lancashirecricket.co.uk