My Salford Heritage

They are easily scorned every couple of years: the St George’s flags and red-and-white bunting dripping from the thin-walled homes of the poor, glimpsed whenever you’re short-cutting through their neighbourhoods, safely tucked up in your carriage; hinting at the cheap beer and expansive beer bellies that lie behind closed doors or – now that summer’s here – the other side of lopsided garden gates. It is only when you tread the streets of such an enclave that you realize what a footerball tournament at which England attend really means to those with no work and little hope. This glorious diversion can be watched at home, with family joshing and heckling all about, and will be witnessed throughout this housing estate with more passion than ever could throb within the VIPs, on comfy seats, inside the stadia themselves. Despite my love for their game and empathy for the people, I will always be an outsider here, and treated as such (politely, contrary to popular belief – an old chap delights in telling me how there were once fields as far as the eye...) I can point to ancestors who worked and died here in the mills; to generations of United fans; to my 11 years in Manchester (plus one in Salford itself) but no – I will be judged upon my unfortunate habit of talking the same way that I write. Fair enough. Or, as they say in Salford, ‘furry muff’ (an indigenous breed of jackrabbit, or bush hare, I believe).

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