The fan who follows Manchester United around the world

by Sam Peoples

Gary Neville stands alongside Peter’s “One Love” flag in July 2011.

One season

140 games

11 countries

54 grounds

270 goals

One fan

Many fans claim to love Manchester United, myself one of them. I last travelled to Old Trafford to watch Benfica in November to my first Champions League game and it was a fantastic night out but my adventures look rather insignificant when taken in comparison to that of this globe-trotting man.

55-year old “super-fan” Peter Bolton from Timperley, Altrincham, has hardly missed a trick this season with Manchester United. From the very first reserves fixture away at Curzton Ashton on July 12 to watching the reserves lift the Senior Cup against Manchester City on May 17, Peter has followed United with a relentless passion and has watched 140 games this season including all first and youth team games, only missing two reserve matches when they clashed with first team games.

Over the years, Peter has built himself up an incredible set of memories in dedication to United. He has never missed a home game since 1974, clocking up over 1,060 consecutive home games. He has not missed a European away game this turn of the century and has not missed a domestic away game in nine years. It is an incredible example of club loyalty that really does define what a club can mean to a fan.

From watching United beat Barcelona 2-1 in the American FedEx field in August to the 2-0 victory over Romanian outfit Otelul Galati in the Arena Națională in October, Peter has clocked up the miles this season and sung himself hoarse along the way. Peter kindly agreed to answer a few questions about his wonderful commitment to United.

What has been your most memorable trip ever and why? 

Peter and the Club World Cup trophy in Japan, 2008.

Japan 2008 when Manchester United were crowned champions of the world. We spent 12 days in Tokyo and the Japanese people made us feel so welcome in the country. At the stadium in Tokyo, the trophy for the World Club Cup was on display and you could have a picture of yourself with it. Some United fans and I were singing near it with our “One Love” flag on display and we ended up attracting a longer queue of fans wanting to take a photo with our flag than with the trophy itself. The Japanese are fanatic about United.

Here is a story that typifies that. Someone told us it would be great to go to visit Mount Fuji so we got on three trains, a bus and a taxi to get to the base camp of the mountain. However, when we got closer, we were told that as it was December the thick snow meant we couldn’t go any further. Undeterred, we had a drink in the village near the foot of the mountain. When we went to the bus stop to go back, the next bus was due in Spring. We were stranded. Nobody spoke a word of English and we were miles from anywhere. After hours of failed hitchhiking, a Japanese tourist bus stopped at a junction. We tried to get on but they didn’t speak English and didn’t understand we were stranded, so they wouldn’t let us on. I unzipped my jacket and showed them my Manchester United shirt and they let us on straight away with open arms. The power of Manchester United goes as deep as the wilds of Japan.

What was been your worst  trip ever and why?

Galatasaray 1993: Welcome to Hell.

The whole day in Istanbul was frightening. From the moment we stepped off the plane to us arriving at the ground, it felt like the fans of Galatasaray would of killed us if the police had not got us into the stadium under their riot shields. The intimidation and hostility I felt from their fans was something that has never been matched since. I have been to Fenerbahce and Besiktas on other occasions but it was just nothing in comparison to this. I was glad once I got home because I didn’t know whether we were going to get seriously hurt or not.


What was the best match you witnessed this year? 

Arsenal 8-2 at Old Trafford. I don’t think United fans in the stadium could believe what was happening, I know I couldn’t. The team just slotted together like pieces of a puzzle and everything worked. After City thrashed Tottenham 5-1 at White Hart Lane, I think we all just thought ‘whatever City can do, we can do better’. I remember the midfield being superb (Cleverley + Anderson) with Welbeck and Rooney being unstoppable. The game summed up what football is all about. One week we thrash old foes Arsenal 8-2 but another week we lose to the now relegated Blackburn 3-2. That is the beauty of football.

Peter in the San Mamés, Bilbao

Who were the most welcoming fans this year? 

Without a doubt it was the Athletic Bilbao fans, both home and away. They were fantastic at Old Trafford but even better when we made the trip to the San Mamés in Spain.

They were extremely welcoming and I made some great friends on the trip. All they wanted to do was buy us drinks, which I wasn’t complaining about of course.

I remember them celebrating Rooney’s goal at the end and that is something you don’t see very often. They were very respectful in both legs.

You saw all the games against Manchester City this year. Do you think them winning the Premier League this year marks a power shift in Manchester? 

We played City four times this year and lost only two of them, so no I don’t think there is a power shift going on in Manchester. Fans have to remember that clubs have tried to knock us off our throne before and in all of those occasions, we have come up trumps.

Blackburn in the mid 1990’s. They came with money, won the title but despite all of this, we saw them off and reclaimed the title the next season.

Arsenal’s “Invincibles” in 2003. They went the entire season undefeated and looked like an untouchable force, that is until United stopped their streak at 49 by beating them at Highbury and since then, they haven’t had a trophy in seven years.

Chelsea and their Russian bankroll. Chelsea were a great threat and looked like they had the potential to change the power in the Premier League but we stopped them and won the title back. This season, they finished 5th.

Now, we have Manchester City. They may have won the title this season but we will be back to claim our throne next year.

You have been married for 34 years. Your wife must be very understanding. 

I have been married to my wife Frances for 34 years. The crazy thing is that she isn’t even into football at all. She has only been to one home game, back in 1976, and one reserve game this year. Despite this, she has never stopped me going to a game because of how much it means to me. I really have a wonderful wife and I love her dearly.

It is a shame I can’t have a flag saying “Two Loves” on it, the flag wouldn’t have the same effect would it?

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