Last updated : 20 May 2007 By editor

'Only the truly churlish or squeamish could deny that the sight of a dozen or so beery northern men urinating in unison has a certain power as a spectacle. Indeed, such a joint endeavour is not wholly different from the fine art of synchronised swimming.

'Yet, when the staff of the pleasant-looking Aylward school and nursery return to work tomorrow in their plush corner of northwest London, they may find the flowers in their carefully tended entrance are not what they once were. Still, the minibus of Manchester United fans cared not a jot as they continued on their overly merry way.

'The Jamshed family, Manchester United fans from Oldham, were disappointed. "I thought it would be better," sighed Ann Jamshed. "You couldn't see the arch properly." Her husband Mohammed, director of a construction company, agreed. "I know the arch is great architecture, but it doesn't compare with the twin towers. I've been to this stadium a million times with United and I miss them. I've also been to nearly every stadium in Europe where United have played and this is just like one of those. It's a standard new stadium. Standing here, we could be outside the San Siro."

"Or the Reebok in Bolton," adds Ann.

'For the Jamsheds, this was not a cheap weekend. Understandably wary of travelling down on the day, they left Oldham on Friday lunchtime and checked in at the Watford Ramada in the evening. Then there were the match tickets. Mohammed has five season tickets and fulfilled United's FA Cup final criteria of attending cup games at Old Trafford and applying for the not-always-guaranteed Premiership away tickets. "That put me in the loyalty pot," he explains with a smile. He paid for four at £80 each, irrespective of whether they were for a company director or a schoolboy.

'In the plastic bag Mohammed was carrying were five match programmes at £10 each. And then there were the burgers, legendarily priced at £8. "Well, I made sure we all had a huge breakfast at the hotel," smiles Mohammed. "But if the children get hungry I'll have to relent. It's not right though."

'So with £75 on petrol, £400 on a hotel, £360 on tickets, £50 on programmes, £10 on the underground, £30 on taxis, £32 on burgers and £11.60 on drinks to wash them down, the Jamsheds have spent £968.60 to welcome football home before extras. Who said football has lost the common touch?

'The Jamsheds were in delightful form, but in Wembley town, the atmosphere was more poisonous and few would doubt that prescience of Police Commander Robert Broadhurst's assertion that the FA Cup final needed 1,000 officers and "world-class policing". Police vans surrounded the Blue Check bar where United fans taunted passing Chelsea fans with "championi" chants, invariably to an especially slack-jawed response of "you're just a bunch of Munichs". In nearby alleys, arrests were made.

'And so, there it was. New Wembley in all its glory. In truth, little has changed. Outside at least, but, as Mohammed Jamshed concluded before the game: "If we win here today, I'll love new Wembley just as much as I loved the old."'