Thursday, August 28

Flight booking tip

Having booked my flights for Denmark and Spain tonight on Ryanair, I discovered the cheeky bastards have upped their fees to £9.

That's made up of an unavoidable £1 'handling' fee, and an £8 credit/debit card usage fee per booking, so my £25 booking shot up to £34 - booking flights for four people, for example, would add on another £36, all because you use a card they don't like.
That is, unless you book using a Visa Electron, for which the booking fee is only £1.50.

All aboard for Aalborg

Aalborg BK

Tuesday September 30
8.45pm local time
Energi Nord Arena, Aalborg (TBC)


The Aalborg Stadion has an official capacity of 13,800, 7,700 of which is seating.

It is anticipated United fans will get an allocation of about 1,000 to 2,000 tickets, though there is a possibility that the fixture could be switched to a bigger ground.

The only problem with a venue switch is that there isn't a suitably-sized stadium in northern Denmark close to Aalborg and there's only a month left to the match.


There are three possible (sensible) routes:

1. London Stanstead to Aarhus on Ryanair, priced between £35 and £150 return, depending when you intend to fly.
Aarhus airport to Aarhus on a coach, which takes an hour and costs about £8.
Aarhus to Aalborg by train, which takes 90 minutes and costs about £15.

2. London Gatwick to Aalborg on Danish airline Sterling, priced at about £100 return depending on when you intend to fly.

3. London Stanstead to Gothenberg on Ryanair, priced at about £40 return, depending on when you intend to fly.
Ferry from Gothenberg to Frederickshavn on Ferryto, priced at about £28 return, depending on your age and when you intend to sail. It takes three hours and 15 minutes.
Frederickshavn to Aalborg takes 75 minutes by train and will cost about £15 return.

More information will follow in the next few days.

Scotland, Spain and Scandanavia for reds

United have drawn Glasgow Celtic of Scotland, Villareal of Spain and Aalborg BK of Denmark in Group E of the European Champions League.

Match dates are
17 Villareal at home
30 Aalborg away

21 Celtic at home

5 Celtic away
25 Villareal away

10 Aalborg at home

UEFA have published a nifty little stat pack here.

Wednesday, August 27

Champions League group stages draw

The draw takes place tomorrow at 5pm and is live on Sky Sports News and Eurosport. You can see it online here (the links will be available after 2pm tomorrow).

Pot 1:
Manchester Utd
Inter Milan
Real Madrid

Pot 2:
Bayern Munich
PSV Eindhoven
Werder Bremen
Sporting Lisbon

Pot 3:
Zenit St Petersburg
Steaua Bucharest
FC Basel

Pot 4:
Shakhtar Donetsk
Atletico Madrid
Dynamo Kiev
CFR Cluj
AAB Aalborg
Anorthosis Famagusta
BATE Borislav

Thursday, August 21

Bank Holiday bar fest

If you’re one of the 2,500 intrepid souls making the long trip south to Portsmouth on Monday, you’ll probably be wanting a pint on arrival.

Here’s a selection of local alehouses that’ll welcome your business with open arms…and a word on those that won’t.

For starters, a decent meeting point is the Good Companion, at 2 Eastern Road, which has offered a warm reception in the past and, according to temporary managers Holly and Ben, will do so again this year.

It’s a big pub with a dining area (with three TVs) and a ‘sports’ area, which is basically the part of the pub with a big screen and a pool table, though the table will be covered later in the day.

Lager on tap is Carling (£2.50), Fosters (£2.70), Stella (£2.90) and Becks (£2.80). Guinness is £2.90, Abbots is £2.65 and IPA is £2.45. There’s also bottled lagers like Becks and Bud available.

Food wise, there’s a matchday menu, which includes sausage and chips, burgers, chicken burgers, veggie burgers, curry, scampi, fishcakes and gammon as well as desserts. A typical meal will cost you between £5.25 and £7.25.

It opens on the day from 11am until 11pm or midnight, depending on how busy it is and the pub is a five-minute walk to the ground.

If we get lucky for once and enjoy some decent weather, the Brewers Arms, at 170 Milton Road, is a fantastic choice.

Landlord Richard is not only putting on a rockin’ ska band called the Racketeers at 3pm, but he’s also laying on a free barbecue (though he does warn that the food won’t last for long).

When that runs out, there’ll be “rolls” (barms, to you and me) available for a couple of quid behind the bar.

Drinks are slightly dearer than the GC. A pint of Stella will set you back £3 as will Kronenberg and Guinness. Carlsberg and Fosters are £2.80. For ale fans, there’s London Pride and HSB. Bottled beers are Becks, Bud and Peroni at £2.50 each.

The Brewers has Sky on TVs throughout the pub and it’s open from noon until midnight. It’s a 10-minute walk to the ground.

Richard has asked reds to respect that, as it’s a Bank Holiday Family fun event at the pub, fans keep the singing to a minimum.

That in mind, it might be worth supping up in the early evening and popping down the road to the ever popular Connaught Arms, at 119 Guildford Road.

It’s arguably the most reputable away pub at Pompey, with landlady Sue offering a warm welcome to away fans, though some home fans do pop in for a quiet pint.

Carling and Carlsberg costs £2.70 a pint, Stella is £3.10 and Guinness is £3.00.

There’s two Whitbread ales and Old Rosie cider on tap, and there’s bottles of Becks, Bud, Newcastle Brown All and Magners behind the bar.

This family-run pub’s renowned for its matchday pasties, which are £2.75 and you can choose from a range of fillings, including Cornish, beef, steak and even jalfrezi.

The Connaught opens from 11.30am until 11.30pm and is a 10-minute walk to the ground. It has a pool table, though it will be covered later in the afternoon.

The best of the rest are:
The Devonshire Arms at 29 Devonshire Avenue
The Pickwick in Milton Road
The Shepherd’s Crook, at 107 Goldsmith Avenue, near Fratton train station, which is supposed to be a home-fans’ pub but, on last year’s evidence…isn’t...and reds will enjoy the outdoor seating area if it’s warm and
The Fawcett Inn on Fawcett Road.

It’s probably best to avoid the Milton Arms, not far from the Brewers, and also give the Newcombe Arms a wide berth, as they're both home fan only pubs.

If you’re short of funds, there are cash machines by the Tesco on Goldsmith Avenue (not far from the Shepherd’s Crook) and a Nationwide Building Society one at the Total garage on Milton Road.

Tuesday, August 12

Monday night south-coast challenge

Monday August 25, 8pm
Fratton Park, Portsmouth


The ground holds 20,288.

United have 2,500 tickets in the Milton End of the ground, priced £35 adults, £26 over 65's and £15 under 16's.

All tickets have been allocated and applicants can check if they've got one through the usual channels.

Home-end tickets are now available to Portsmouth members. You can buy a membership via Ticketmaster for £40 and adult match tickets can cost anything from £35 to £42.

But any member buying a ticket for the United match must also buy a ticket for the Portsmouth v Hull match, so you'd be looking at £120 for a home-end ticket and a lot of hassle. According to some websites, the going rate for touted tickets is £140.


If you want to do it in a day, the only way is to get the coach or drive.

In a day

Coach - £30

The club is running a coach which leaves the N2 car park at Old Trafford at 1pm and is due to return at about 2.30am. Tickets cost £30. Go here for booking info.

Car - £55.28

The journey will take about four hours each way and will cost £30.68 each way in petrol.

You can save £4.11 if you're prepared to go a slightly longer way around that takes half an hour longer.

Go here to get a routeplanner for your journey and use the destination postcode PO4 8RA. Click on 'economical' if you want the cheaper, indirect route.


Available spaces are mostly on-street around the ground. There are usually spots on right hand side of the A2030 before you reach the Good Companion pub.

In two days

Train - £88.40

If you take the train back after the game you won't get back into Piccadilly until 9.20am on Tuesday.

If you're doing a two-day trip, travel both ways after 10am else tickets will cost far too much.

A one-way ticket down costs £33.50 (though there are limited tickets) or a return costs £88.40.

Best train is:
Manchester Piccadilly to Southampton Central: Leave 11:24, arrive 15:40
Southampton Central to Fratton: Leave 16:03, arrive 16:47

Search for your ideal train times and buy any tickets here.

Directions from the station to the stadium

It's ten-minute walk. On arrival at Fratton by train you pass the ground on the left. Fratton station has a footbridge as the only way out.

At the top of the stairs from the platform turn left onto the footbridge (from which you can see the floodlights of Fratton Park) and exit into Goldsmith Avenue.

(Note that if the gate on the footbridge is closed you need to turn right on the footbridge and exit via Platform 1, turn left as you exit the station, walk 30 metres and go back over the footbridge to Goldsmith Avenue.)

Turn left along Goldsmith Avenue and walk about half a mile passing straight around a small roundabout (by the Pompey Centre).

Then turn Left into Frogmore Road and the entrance to the Ty and South stands is 100m ahead.For the Milton End stay on Goldsmith Avenue for another 100m and turn left into Apsley Road. The entrances to the Milton End are 100m ahead.

Bus and Train- £29

Megabus does not run a direct service from Manchester to Portsmouth on the day of the game, so the best way to do it is:

On the way there

Manchester Chorlton Street to London Victoria, leave 08:45, arrive 13:30, price £10
London Victoria to Hard Stop A in Portsmouth , leave 15:30, arrive 18:45, price £4.
Portsmouth and Southsea to Fratton Station, leave 18:53, arrive 18:50 (trains leave ever 10 minutes), price £3.40 return (but it's a three-minute I doubt you'll need one).

Then on the way back

Hard Stop A in Portsmouth to Manchester Chorlton Street, leave 09:40, arrive 16.30, price £15.

National Express is not running any service that would be worthwhile.

Plane and train - £144.98

Flybe operate a route between Manchester and Southampton, then its an onward train from Southampton to Fratton.

Best flights:
Leaves Manchester on Monday at 17:10 and arrives Southampton at 18:10 and costs £53.99 one way.

Leaves Southampton on Tuesday at 11:15 and arrives Manchester at 12.15 and costs £74.99 one way.

It would take about 15 minutes to clear security and customs. The airport has its own train station - Southampton Airport Parkway.

Best train to the ground is:

Southampton Airport Parkway to Southampton Central: Leave 18:42, arrive 18:49. Southampton Central to Fratton: Leave 19:03 arrive 19:41. A return train fare is £16.

It's high risk though - one delay and you miss kick off.Search for your ideal flights here and your ideal train times here.


Hostels - £17 pp pn

There's only really one - the Portsmouth and Southsea Backpackers Lodge. It's £17 pp pn to share room with up to 10 others or £18 pp pn four a four-bed room if four people book at once.

Hotels - £20.33 pp pn

Travelodge Portsmouth is three miles from Portsmouth train station and costs £61 pn for a three-person room.

A few people from Red Issue have already booked this hotel. The other hotels start at £47.50 for a single room or £59.40 for a twin room.

The best of these deals is at the Best Western Royal Beach Hotel in Southsea booked via Expedia. It works out as £59.40 for a twin room - that's £29.70pp pn.

Other than that, Ibis Portsmouth , which is three minutes' walk from the train
station, works out at £65 pn for a twin room, so that's £32.50 pp pn.

Bed and breakfasts (£25.00)

Best place to stay - the Market House Tavern in Portsmouth city centre. Perfect location, great price. £25 pr pn.

Another decent bet is the Birchwood Guest House £27.50 pr pn and the Esk Vale Guest House is good value too at £30 pr pn.

A pub guide is coming soon.

Friday, August 8

Champions League update

A few people have been asking about the competition so they know when to look at booking trips abroad in the group stages.

So here we are:

We’re at the Third (and final) Qualifying Round stage at the moment. The first leg of that is next week and the second leg is the week after.

Then the draw for the group stages takes place on August 28.

The group stage dates are:

1 - 16/17 September

2 - 30 September/1 October

3 - 21/22 October

4 - 4/5 November

5 - 25/26 November

6 - 9/10 December

We won’t know the match dates until August 29.

Monday, August 4

Sunday drinking – Bet on the Greyhound

There’s been a lot of rumours flying around about the Community Shield pre and post-match drinking in and around Wembley.

Just to confirm, the Torch, at 1-5 Bridge Road will NOT be letting in United fans before or after the game. The pub has been allocated to Pompey fans only and their bouncers won’t be messing about.

But fear not.

The Greyhound at 324 Harrow Road, is the pub of choice for reds near the ground.

It has a licence that allows it to open at 7am, but the manager, Alex, said it will be open from “about 11am” on the day.

A special food menu will be on offer and you can get a pint of lager for £3.60 (Fosters, Carling) or £3.80 San Miguel.

It’s a decent pub, but it’s apparently going through a “management change” at the moment, so there’s no matchday entertainment or the like.

But it does have Sky, four pool tables (which will probably be covered up at some point), a big (ish) car park and a small porch area.

Directions: From Wembley Central:

Turn right out of the station and the pub is about ten minutes away on the left side of the road.

From Wembley Park: Go down the hundreds of stairs toward the castle of sport, but bear right onto the road (Empire Way). Walk down the road past the Plaza Hotel until you reach the High Road, turn left and the pub is ahead on the left.

From North Wembley: Turn right out of the station and then right into Llanover Road. Follow the road until it becomes St John's Road and carry on until it ends at the High Road. Turn left - the pub is about five minutes away on the left.

If you prefer something slightly quieter, head for the Windermere, in Windermere Avenue, outside South Kenton Tube Station.

It’s out of the way but the queue at the bar will be smaller and you can still make kick off if you leave 20 minutes before the game…and walk fast.

My personal favourite however is the Royal George Hotel right outside London Euston.

With everyone making their way down to London in different ways, it’s a handy place to meet with mates pre-match and get in a couple of early pints before heading to the ground on the Tube.

Or, failing that, a decent place to get a pint in while you’re waiting for the train home.

Any other recommendations or questions, make a comment.

Sunday, August 3

Monaco on the cheap

Here are a few idea for anyone still looking for a place to stay in Nice when United play Zenit St Petersburg on Friday August 29 in Monaco.


At the time of writing, these places have vacancies from at least the day before the game to the Sunday after it.
£15.78 pp pn in a 12-bed dorm.
£18.14 pp pn in a six-bed dorm
£19.72 pp pn in a four-bed dorm.

Good points: It's three minutes from the train station and five from the old town where all the decent bars are.

Bad points: It's 15 minutes from the beach and you can't stay in a private room.

£17.35 pp pn in an eight-bed dorm
Good points: You cannot possibly get closer to the train station. I've stayed here before and it's clean, safe, with decent staff and friendly guests.
Bad points: From memory, there's a 3am curfew. It's a good 15-minute trek to the beach too. There are no private rooms.
If you're going in a group of two-to-six people, this might work out as the cheapest bet.

£26.03 pp pn in a three-bed en suite room (you must book three or six places at the same time)
£31.16 pp pn in a two-bed en suite room (you must book two, four or six places at the same time)
£35.10 pp pn in a two-bed en suite room with a terrace (you must book two places at the same time).

All the above can be booked using hostelbookers. You pay 10% up front and the rest on arrival. And you can cancel anytime up until 24 hours before arrival.


They're either really expensive or unavailable at this time of year, but the best is Ibis Nice Gare.
It works out as £32 pp pn based on two people sharing a twin room for three nights. Book here.

If there's of group of three to six of you wanting a bit of freedom and luxury, you can get a great apartment deal without breaking the bank.

This two-bedroom apartment is in the Quartier Musiciens close to the town centre.
It sleeps six people and, for the week, it's yours for £397 to £635 for the week, depending on the number of people staying.
(It's only free from the day of the match for the following six days, but you can haggle with the owners on a price for fewer days).
This studio apartment sleeps four and is right near the beach. It will cost £413 to £595 for a week, but is only available on the week leading up to the game, so you'd have to check out the morning after. Ideal if you're flying home on the Saturday.

Apartments might seem expensive, but if six of you are paying £100 each for seven nights, that's £14 pp pn - cheaper than a hostel - with a lot of freedom thrown in.
Visit Holiday-rentals for many more apartments.
If you have any additions or questions, email this blog here.

Saturday, August 2

London bound

Community Shield
3pm, Sunday August 10, 2008


United have sold their allocation. Portsmouth have not and are selling what’s left on Ticketmaster

But they’ve taken steps to ensure only Pompey fans can buy them, so I wouldn’t waste your time trying to get around the system.

There was some talk earlier in the week of Ticketmaster selling neutral tickets, but they all seem to have gone.

World Ticket Shop is doing its usual thing of selling tickets at extortionate prices (£111.75 for the United end).

It’s another example of how stupid the system is when a team who can’t sell out is given the same allocation as a team who can easily sell out.

Anyone going down without a ticket shouldn’t worry just yet though. While people haven’t had too much look hunting down spares on Red Issue, there’s a long history of people getting hold of tickets on the day of the game for face value.

Getting there

Coach - £32

Official club coaches leave OT at 7am, cost £32 and get back at about 9.30pm.

Coach/Tube - £28.50

Megabus costs £20.50 from Chorlton Street to Victoria Coach Station in London.

Outgoing times are: Leave 06:30 arrive 11:00 or Leave 08.45, arrive 13.30.

Return times are: Leave: 18.30, arrive 22.55 or Leave 19.30, arrive 23:55 (if you go on the later one, it’s £24.50 return).

Wembley Park is the nearest tube stop to the stadium. It's in Zone 4 on the Metropolitan Line and the Jubilee Line. It’s £8 return from any central London stop.

Here’s a sample way of getting from the Megabus stop to the stadium:

Walk from Victoria Coach Station to Victoria Tube Station
Tube from Victoria to Westminster on District Line green: Leave 12:37, arrive 12.45
Tube from Westminster to Wembley Park on the Jubilee Line grey: Leave 12.46, arrive 13:15.

But beware that there are Tube improvements on the day of the game, so give yourself plenty of time to get to the stadium on the Tube.

You could also go on the train from Victoria to Wembley Stadium, but it’s £2 dearer and takes slightly longer.

Sample times
Tube from Victoria to Embankment on the Circle Line or District Line: Leave: 13.05, arrive
Maylebourne: Leave 13:05, arrive 13.15
Tube from Embankment to Marylebourne on the Bakerloo Line: Leave 13.15, arrive: 13.25
Train from Marylebourne to Wembley Central: Leave 13:33, arrive 13:42

Search for your own train times here.

Train - £70.50

The cheapest route by train is:
Train from Piccadilly to London Euston
Walk from Euston to Euston Square (five minutes)
Tube from Euston Square to Baker Street
Tube from Baker Street to Wembley Park

All journey times on Sunday are about four hours and, even if you were to get the earliest train, which leaves at 08:44, you could still end up missing kick off with one fuck up.

Train costs £62.50 for a saver return and then you can buy an £8 Tube ticket.

The only train I’d risk is:
Train from Manchester Piccadilly to London Euston: Leave 08.44, arrive 11:36. The rest of the journey takes about 23 minutes.

Coming back, it’s the reverse route. Trains leave Euston at 18:29, 18:45, 19:01, 19:31, 19:46, 20:10, 20:51 and 21:56. Search for your own train times here, but buy tickets with Virgin Trains.

The return to Manchester is jibable, but it’s always recommended to buy a ticket. You can, however, buy a saver single for £31.20 with Virgin.
You can also get off Euston-bound trains at Watford Junction and go to Wembley Central from there. So that's
Train from Piccadilly to Watford Junction: Leave 08:44, arrive 11.06.
Then train from Watford Junction to Wembley Centre: Leave 11:21, arrive 11:45
That'll work better if you're not meeting people in London or if you're happy to put up with few pubs near the stadium or in Watford. Thanks to ZebeDee on Red Issue for that one.

Fly - £127.70

If you can’t be arsed with an eight-hour round trip and don’t mind paying more to get there quicker, try this:

Fly Manchester to Gatwick on British Airways: Leave 10.30, arrive 11.30. Price: £78.70

Fly Heathrow to Manchester on flybmi: Leave 20:50, arrive: 21.55. Price: £49.

It might sound steep, but mixing and matching, you could get the Megabus down for a tenner and then fly back. That work out cheaper than a return train and mean more drinking time.

Drive - £59.32

Add on £6 if you go by the M6 toll both ways.

Get door-to-door directions here.

Pub information coming early next week. If you can recommend a decent pre-match boozer for reds, email here.

Blues deadline extended

After getting permission from the police, Peterborough will sell tickets for Monday’s game up until 5pm on the day.

So you can get your tickets online 24/7 or at London Road on Monday in person until the deadline. See Thursday’s entry for contact details and other stuff.