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Thursday, May 27, 1999 Published at 12:18 GMT 13:18 UK


Manchester plans huge victory party

Manchester has been promised a party to beat all parties as the victorious United squad return home from winning the European Cup in Barcelona.

United's treble triumph
About 700,000 people are expected to line the streets of the city on Thursday evening to welcome their heroes and celebrate their historic victory after clinching the treble.

Manchester United, a goal down for most of the match, made their fans' dreams come true when they beat Bayern Munich 2-1 in dramatic fashion by scoring twice in the dying minutes.

The players, in an open-top bus, will parade all three trophies - the FA Cup, the Premiership trophy and the European Cup - through the city, before a reception at the Manchester Evening News Arena.

The BBC's Kevin Bocquet : "It was a celebration for which they'd waited more than 30 years"
The traditional display of trophies had been called off because of fears about the security of thousands of fans lining the streets.

But after meetings with Manchester City Council and Trafford Council, it was decided the celebration should go ahead.

Manchester City Councillor Pat Karney, who is organising the parade, said: "We're going to see history on the streets of Manchester tonight.

"We're going to have the parade of parades, the greatest street party that Manchester's ever seen.

[ image: The celebrations in the streets of Barcelona have been noisy but peaceful]
The celebrations in the streets of Barcelona have been noisy but peaceful
"We've got all the plans in place. Everyone's good natured, it's like Christmas day in Manchester.

"Everyone's going round with big smiles on their faces even if they're from other teams. It's going to be the greatest day in Manchester's history."

Cllr Karney said Thursday seemed to be an "unofficial day off" in Manchester, the quietest he had ever seen it in the morning.

But 700,000 people would be on the streets of the city on Thursday night.

Ecstatic scenes

Thursday's celebrations will follow those held by fans across the world as the match reached its dramatic climax on Wednesday.

About 45,000 United fans were in Barcelona, either inside the Nou Camp stadium or in bars nearby, to witness history in the making.

Jason Mills reports: "Manchester United generates a huge interest in New York City"
United's only previous European Cup victory was in 1968 when Sir Matt Busby's team of George Best, Bobby Charlton and Brian Kidd - Denis Law missed the final - beat Benfica.

For 31 years the club have sought to recapture European glory and they achieved it on what would have been the late Sir Matt Busby's 90th birthday.

Bayern Munich fans stood in dejected silence as substitute Teddy Sheringham equalised Mario Basler's early goal and then, deep in injury time, fellow sub Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scrambled home the winner from another corner.

Bayern Munich coach, Ottmar Hitzfeld, despite the huge disappointment, was full of praise for the European champions.

"Manchester are great champions. They deserve to win the Champions' League because they have played excellent football," he said.

But the jubilation of United fans in Barcelona was mirrored by ecstatic scenes in the centre of Manchester and in pubs and homes all over the city and across the UK.

'Over the moon'

The delight was shared by United supporters in the United States, Africa, Australia and Asia.

In Barcelona, some British fans alleged that Spanish police had harrassed them before and after the game.

Police in Manchester said the good-natured celebrations in the city had been marred only by isolated scuffles resulting in a "small number" of arrests.

Manchester United Company Secretary David Beswitherick said of the parade: "We are delighted that we have been invited to take part in what is a celebration for the whole of Manchester, and we hope everyone has a good time."

[ image: Alex Ferguson called his players
Alex Ferguson called his players "incredible human beings"
The parade will start in Sale and travel along the A56 past Trafford and through the city centre before reaching the Manchester Evening News Arena.

It is expected that the trophies will go on show at the Arena, and that United's Manager Alex Ferguson will say a few words.

A total of 17,500 tickets for the Arena event have gone on sale at £3 each, and the proceeds will be donated to Mr Ferguson's charity testimonial.

Leader of Trafford Council David Acton said: "We are glad the parade can go ahead. A sit-down discussion with the two councils, the police and Manchester United resolved some security issues we had.

"This will be a once-in-a-lifetime occasion in the Manchester area and for the people."

Supporters arriving back in Manchester from Barcelona on Thursday morning said the full impact of the win had yet to sink in.

Becky Cathcart, 18, from Denton, Greater Manchester, admitted she had given up all hope before injury time and United's thrilling comeback.

She said: "I'm over the moon, I still can't believe it. I was gutted when I thought they were going to lose, but when Sheringham scored, the stadium went mad. They're all men of the match."

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