80 Years Ago Today The Bombing of Old Trafford

On  this day (11th March) in 1941 Old Trafford was hit by bombs dropped by the German Luftwaffe.  The highly industrialised Trafford Park had been the target and by daybreak the news of damage to Old Trafford was circulating around Manchester, although the Manchester Guardian and other newspapers did not mention the ground by name.  Due to the wartime situation the newspaper did not want to give away too much information and reported:  “Slight damage was done to dwelling-houses in one or two working class districts and slight outbreaks of fire were reported from a football ground and a training institute.”

The ‘slight damage’ saw a bomb hit United’s Main Stand.  The stand was almost completely wrecked, while the pitch was scorched by the blast.  Manchester City contacted United and offered the use of Maine Road immediately and the first home United match to be staged at City’s ground was the 5th April meeting with Blackpool in the North Regional League.  The Seasiders’ won 3-2 before a crowd of around 2,000. 

Further wartime matches followed over the course of the next four years with United paying the Blues an annual rent of £5,000 plus a share of the gate receipts.  Initially City were to use United’s training ground, The Cliff, for reserve fixtures, but both sides also used Old Trafford at times.

After the war United were granted £4,800 to help cover the costs of tidying up the venue, and then a further £17,478 was given to help rebuild the Main Stand and damaged terracing.  This allowed the redevelopment of Old Trafford to commence and between 1945 and 1949 the Main Stand was rebuilt as was the terracing at the Popular Side (United Road).

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