I’ve been extremely fortunate during my time at The Boulevard Academy in regards to visits and excursions with our students – Buckingham Palace, Houses of Parliament and Barclays HQ in London, York University and York Dungeons to name a few. However, when the chance to take 15 students to the Theatre of Dreams revealed itself, I knew in an instant this particular outing would be in a different league.
Once I had been given the green light to make it happen the single best thing I’ve had the privilege to enjoy as a teacher was to inform the students – all of which had been nominated by their Heads of Year based of hard work and commitment to their studies. The smiles and disbelief of their faces was a joy to witness and hands down my favourite moment in the job.
When the big day arrived myself and Mr Webster had the pleasure of attending, Mr Webster kindly offering to drive us all there. 3pm was out departure time with students under strict instruction to have the best time ever! This gave us ample time to arrive, spend time around the stadium, grab a bite to eat and soak up the atmosphere.
As we passed through the turnstiles the excitement was obvious and clear to see, from me and Mr Webster especially. We were seated in the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand between the dugout and the tunnel, and just below the Sky Sports commentary studio where we could see ex Tottenham and England international Darren Bent alongside fellow ex England international and Liverpool captain Jamie Redknapp. Each of them must have heard the shouts and gave our students a wave.
During the warm up we were able to witness the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Jessie Lingard and David de Gea showing their full array of skills before Jose Mourinho and Frank Lampard led their teams out for the match. 3 minutes in and it was 1-0 to Manchester United thanks to Juan Mata and it remained so until half time. 15 minutes to grab a pie and the second half began, and the excitement levels were increased 10 fold. Derby scored twice, including a free kick later described by Darren Bent as one of the best he had ever seen, the United goal keeper was sent off for handling the ball outside the box and when Marourane Fellaini equalised in the 96th minute the students witnessed an Old Trafford eruption! The game finished 2-2 meaning the added excitement of a penalty shootout. 9-8 was the score with Manchester United and England defender Phil Jones stepped up and missed – Derby County through to the next round.
The result didn’t dampen the mood, and chat about the match remained for the majority of the way home. Throughout the day, from the 3pm start to the 1am finish the students were a credit to themselves, their families and the school. All getting along and looking out for each other, regardless of age or year group.
I would finally like to thank the school and the parents of those who attended for allowing the visit to happen. Witnessing elite level sports performance can only add and raise our students’ future aspirations, and their first game at Old Trafford will be one they will speak about long after their time and The Boulevard Academy.