Scotland on Sunday, May 11, 2008
[Amusing guide to Manchester, published for the benefit of Rangers fans attending the UEFA Cup Final. Not enough of them read it, apparently.]
The Smiths. The Stone Roses. Oasis. That whole Madchester scene. Welcome to Manchester, England’s hippest city, reborn as the host of the 2002 Commonwealth Games, and now drowning in posh shops, tasty restaurants and a social life which matches its claim to be a great European destination. That’s the good news, and even better for Rangers fans on the march, you can still find a pint for £1.50 and buy your chips with mushy peas.
Rangers headquarters - Albert Square
You can’t miss the city’s most famous square which is earmarked as Ranger’s fans “dedicated area”, because it sits under Manchester’s vast Town Hall. There’s a big screen and outlets for as much over-priced official UEFA merchandise as you can carry. Convenient for the adjacent Bootle St police station.
The Briton’s Protection - a home from homes
Almost too good to be true. One of Manchester’s best traditional boozers, complete with union jacks, great beer and more than 150 whiskies. And, at 50 Great Bridgewater St, The Briton’s Protection is just round the corner from Albert Square.
What the IRA did for the Manchester – Exchange Square
In 1996 the Provisional IRA detonated the largest bomb to explode in Britain since the Second World War. A large chunk of Manchester was blown away, but so was its clothcap image, as outraged Mancunians set about rebuilding the “Millennium Quarter”. Exchange Square was born, with its trendy pubs, cafés and shops.
Nightlife: Theatre or dance?
The city council’s helpful “fan information guide” recommends that brainy Rangers fans attend the Library Theatre, the Opera House or the Lowry Centre. The rest of us will be in the Fab Café, 111 Portland St, a dark cave filled with daleks and sci-fi weirdness, or at 42nd Street, at the junction of Bootle St and Deansgate, a Manchester indy institution.
It’s queer up North
Don’t be a square, Albert. Manchester’s throbbing “gay village” is close to Rangers fans’ city centre HQ. Try Manto, 46 Canal St, the “mixed” style bar which started a revolution. Or take a taxi to Cupid’s, a swinging club on Sutherland St, Swinton, with a reputation for satisfying Glaswegian clients. Make sure it’s not your round when the £50 membership charge is mentioned.
Where’s the tripe?
Old fashioned delicacies like cowheel, tripe and sarsaparilla may be off the menu these days, but there’s plenty of good grub. Try Stock, 4 Norfolk St for superb Italian food, and Gaucho’s, 2a St Mary’s St, decadent, opulent and Argentinean. China Town, close to Albert Square, is packed with cheap restaurants – try the Pan Asia for a-better-than-average buffet.
Cathedral Gardens – clean, wholesome fun
Part of the Millennium Quarter and on Wednesday home to a wholesome three-a-side football tournament for local kids. Adult refreshments are available in the nearby Printworks bar and restaurant complex.
The beautiful game
It’s just a tram ride to Manchester United’s club shop and museum, offering a chance to gaze on the many trophies won by Sir Alex Ferguson and his merry men. Alternatively, step out early for the cup final, and visit the Manchester City Experience Museum, where you can admire the carpets.
Have a shufti inside the John Rylands Library, the City Art Gallery or the Town Hall, and take in their stunning Victorian opulence. Once the pubs have opened, beetle off to Castlefield, where the city’s industrial heritage has been refurbished in a variety of popular venues, including BarCa, Duke’s and the Rain Bar, which takes its name from the prevailing weather conditions in the city.
The Beetham Tower is the soaring skyscraper which dominates the city, and Cloud 23, at the top of the Hilton Hotel, commands a stunning view. It’s a 15-second elevator ride to the summit - but you might have to book.
Dining at the City of Manchester stadium
Thai is the flavour of the month and Swedish meatballs are off. But try the dish named in honour of the Sky Blues’ most famous fans, the Gallagher Brothers. That’s the Oasis Soup – you getta roll with it.
“Now then, our kid” - “Hello, my friend.”
“Y’alright, our kid – “Hello, my friend.”
“Ay up, our kid” – “Hello, my friend.”
“Sound” – “I am well, thank you.”
“Booger. Me keks are soaked wi' Boddies.” - “Oh dear, some beer has been spilt on my trousers.”
“Bobbins” – Dreadful. As in “Zenit are bobbins.”
“Ref, tha’d mither a boathorse till it dropt in t’ cut” – “Referee, your persistant interference would cause the horse pulling a barge to fall into the canal.”
“Yer not gerrin in. Yer look like wreck o’th’Esperus.” – “No entry without a tie”