Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Canada takes centre stage at Theatre of Dreams

Canadian fans outside Old Trafford in Manchester, England.

Jeff Blair/The Globe and Mail

Old Trafford. The only time I've walked into a sports venue and had the same feeling was the first time I walked into Yankee Stadium for a World Series game. You cheer for a club like Charlton Athletic and you need a Premier League fallback, and for me it's always been the Red Devils. George Best and Eric Cantona were the first reasons for that, soon followed by Roy Keane and Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs. It is where Canada and the U.S. women's team will play their semi-final game Monday and, in the words of Christine Sinclair, that is "outrageous."

Most of the women on Canada's team follow the Premiership, so for them playing in venues such as St. James' Park and now Old Trafford has made it a little easier to be away from London. In some ways, I wonder if this hasn't explained the team's sudden change of face: whether this has brought them close to the game they loved as children.

I visited all the touchstones at Old Trafford – the statue of George Best, Dennis Law and Sir Bobby Charlton. Got my picture taken under the Sir Matt Busby Way sign and stopped at the plaque near the Munich Tunnel, so named in honour of the members of the Busby Babes who perished in a place crash on Feb. 6, 1958 in Munich.

Story continues below advertisement

Never doubt the power of the IOC: Old Trafford's club shop was shuttered, as was the case with club shops at Newcastle United and Coventry, so that the IOC could enforce their precious sponsorships. Spectators have had to scratch around for souvenirs: there are tents selling Man U nick-nacks but only a wee official merchandise trailer that was only selling Wayne Rooney and Shinji Kajawa jerseys. Nary a Ryan Giggs or Chicharito in sight.

Report an error Licensing Options

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at