Tuesday, 23 October 2012

The Great Manchester Earthquake – One Year On

It’s hard to believe that exactly one year ago, a devastating earthquake struck Manchester, dislodging over 60,000 football supporters from their seats while millions across the globe watched on helplessly as 60,000 fans simply vanished in a whisper.

No one could have predicted such drama at a simple football match between two local rivals. There had been rumblings in the build up to the game, but it wasn’t until around 1352 local time that the first tremor struck as Mario Balotelli, the evil Italian hitman, swept the ball into the back of United’s goal.

There were further rumblings of a huge earthquake but they never came about until the start of the second half when Johnny Evans was sent off. That was the precedent for the unbelievable scenes that were to follow. Another tremor from Balotelli was soon followed by a third from Sergio Aguero. United put in place a system to stop the rumblings and Darren Fletcher managed to make them subside, however it was not enough.

The quake suddenly burst into life as three tremors in quick succession rocked Old Trafford, with the effects being felt as far away as London, Japan and the Far East. But that was nothing compared to the 60,000 people who simply disappeared from the stands without a trace.

Remembering that fateful day is Edward Stott, a police officer from South Manchester, who was on duty when the earthquake struck. “I was watching the crowds and I could hear a few mumblings of ‘it’s only 3-1.’ I turned away for a moment, looked at the scoreboard and it said 6-1. I turned back and everyone had vanished. It was very, very mysterious.”

Andrew Cockburn, a survivor of the quake from Enfield, explained what it was like inside the stadium. “There was loads of noise but when the first tremor hit, we shit it but thought we’d be okay. We were wrong. They should have abandoned the game at half time, or at least sent four of their players off. Maybe the sixty thousand would still be with us if they had.

 “The train back to London that night was unbelievably quiet. I rang my missus and told her I wasn’t one of the missing people. She openly wept into her lager top.”

One year on and the police are still investigating the missing 60,000. “I think we are close to working out what happened,” said Detective Inspector Roger Connolly-Knowles. “We thought the disappearing sixty thousand might be a one off incident, but then large volumes of Old Trafford’s Fat Lady Singing Society went missing on 30th April 2012. They had been pretty vocal up until that point then on May 13th, we never heard from them again. These are worrying times.”

Appeals for the missing 60,000 and the Fat Lady Chorus are still ongoing and police have issued a description of the victims of these two disasters.

“They would have been dressed in red Manchester United shirts, although it is likely they have returned to supporting Chelsea by now, considering the Londoner’s good start to the season.

“The smug looks and superiority complex will now have been replaced by a blank expression and a vacant stare and most likely surviving by eating their own words. If any members of the public have seen anyone matching this description, they are to contact us right away.”

The number to ring if you have any information is 0161 61 61 61.

Happy 6-1 day

May the force be with you

The Fed Up Jedi

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